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Becoming Less of a Magpie?

The Football World Cup has begun. I'd be happier if I could knit my way through every match, but my wrist is still bothering me. A colleague recommended arnica gel as a possible short-cut to future happiness knitting. I am not one for herbal remedies, really, but I get twitchy if I have nothing to occupy my hands. During my "downtime" I have been doing a lot of thinking. Yet another fantastic Cargo Cult Craft blog post sent me thinking about the things I create and why I create them. This spring I made Millbrook, a lightweight cardigan, and it has turned out to be one of the pieces I reach for again and again. I want to knit things I will actually wear and I think I need to be far more discerning about what I chose to make. I think I have been a "magpie knitter" in the past - making things just because I thought they were really, really shiny rather than because I needed them.

I love knitting triangular lace shawls which I wear as scarves - but do I really need more than four or five? Instead, perhaps, I should look into knitting fine-gauge lace cardigans and pullovers, because a) I will wear them and b) they fit with the rest of my existing wardrobe. Fine-gauge lace cardigans and pullovers will provide the challenges I love in my knitting, and while they may take much longer, they will actually see some use rather than languish in a drawer somewhere. I'm thinking along the lines of Geno, Arisaig, Shirley .. but pattern suggestions are very welcome. My queue is long, unwieldy and does not contain many realistic knits. I am looking for winter-appropriate patterns as well as more summery knits.

Susannah at CCC makes a great point about realistic wardrobes. I find my wardrobe is very geared towards "vintage-inspired casual" but I struggle when it comes to dressing up. Recently a good friend became engaged and I had a moment of panic, because I have nothing I can wear to a wedding. Fortunately the wedding is some years away, so I have time to find a solution, but it was an eye-opener. I tried on this dress (I liked the silhouette), but I am struggling to see how a party dress fits into my lifestyle. Weddings come around every five years or so, not every five weeks. Susannah's point about realistic wardrobes comes in handy here. If I did have a realistic approach to clothes-shopping and -making, I would have a little shift dress I could pull out whenever an occasion arose. I would have matching shoes and a little handmade cardigan.

Another thought-provoking blog post about clothes and bodies come courtesy of ProjectRunGay. I know, I know, but their fashion recaps of Mad Men has been hugely enjoyable - and I don't even watch the show! This post about "Joan Holloway" (aka our Mrs Reynolds' Christina Hendricks) was a particular favourite of mine because I have a similar body shape and took a lot from how Mad Men's costume designers dressed Hendricks. I might be able to apply some of the logic to my own clothes. In a realistic way.

PS. I wholeheartedly recommend the Glasgow Boys exhibition currently on display at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. I think it will become a touring exhibition, so keep an eye out if you are in the UK. I was particularly taken by George Henry's Symbolist landscapes and Japanese watercolours as well as Arthur Melville's impressive watercolours.


april-126Do you think reality TV beckons me? I'm thinking of entering one of those "Britain's Got Talent!" shows with my uncanny ability to acquire a massive amount of books without spending much money. This week's haul is pictured to the left. Fourteen books adding up to a whopping total of £4.50. Okay, so the top one was a bookmooch and the bottom four were purchased with a five-pound note I found on the street, but it is still not bad going.

The selection is suitably eclectic (for me, anyways): some bestsellers, some fluffy Georgette Heyers, a historical novel which had been recommended to me by my old mentor, some Booker nominees/winners, a bonafide classic and some slightly obscure novels.

I'm a chapter into Heyer's Cousin Kate and will also start Crumey's Mr Mee as soon as possible.

Some links for your perusal:


It is times like these that I wished I smoked. Tough decisions to make and it is (unsurprisingly) tough to make them. I knit to relax and (again, unsurprisingly) I have finished a hat within two days. So, let's distract myself with interesting links. It usually works..

+ Unusual Architecture does what it says on the tin. I rather like Poland's Crooked House and am in love with the Kansas City Public Library.

+ A Map of the Galaxy's Most-Travelled Space Port Stations. As someone points out in the comments: "A word of advice: do not use the restroom at the Eagle Nebula station. I know it means you'll just have to hold it for 30,000 years until you reach Carina, but trust me, you'll be glad you did."

+ A really interesting grid: Human Variation - The Height/Weight Photographic Grid. I'm particularly intrigued to see how I'd look if I followed my doctor's advice..

+ Libraries' surprising Special Collections.

+ And, finally, a soul-destroying link: The Waste Land .. LOLCat-style. I don't even find it funny, but if you are of a less serious disposition than me you might find some sort of enjoyment in "fonician in teh whirlpoolz,  spinny/ spinny fortunes’ wheel. / in teh fonician, ponder ur fate!" Grrr..

+ Finally, finally: foxes on trampolines. Just because.