It’s not that I’m anti-summer, but…

… well, this is the time of year I start dreaming of cold, crisp nights and lovely evenings in lit by the warm glow of a gently scented candle. Why, I hear you ask, what on earth could tempt me to wish my life away when there are sunny days, barbecues and flowers in the garden? Why would I swap the balmy days of summer for days of living in jumpers? Because I’m planning my winter knitting.


There are a couple of reasons for this:

1) This is Britain we’re talking about. The summer weather here is bloody awful- it’s pretty much a given.

2) I’m a freckly red-head. These Celtic genes don’t sit well with the sun and I really hate suncream, especially on my face. I spend any warm days we have either indoors or covered in fabric, wearing a hat that would make Van Gogh look jaunty.

3) I’m a knitter. Summer is not the time of my people.

Number 3 is the main reason my mind turns to autumn and winter every year. It also doesn’t help that I felt cheated last winter, when we got very little snow or sub-zero temperatures. I got very little wear out of my handknits. So now, naturally (!) my mind turns to what I’ll be wearing when the cold weather hits. I’ve actually already bought my new winter boots (don’t judge- you can get total bargains in June; I got a pair of Rocket Dogs for £35 off!) and I’ll be off work when it all goes hopefully icy.

So, my wishlist of patterns this year, which will probably all be knitted in grey yarn, as I have a surplus of the stuff, is as follows*:

Woolly Wormhead’s Scala– since watching the terrible Liam Neeson film ‘Unknown’ a couple of weeks ago, I became obsessed with Diane Kruger’s hat. I decided that this will be a very good addition to my collection of grey hand-knitted hats. (I would also totally make a scarf like that to go with it too…)

Lace Legs legwarmers– Legwarmers have come on a long way since the 80s monstrosities worn by fitness instructors way back when. These will be brilliant with boots, or just for added warmth while schlepping round the house. I also like to think I’m one of those cute, quirky girls who could wear these with a pair of brightly coloured tights and look cool. I’m not really one of those girls. Guess what? These will also be a calm, winterly grey.

Cookie A socks– I’ve had a couple of books of Cookie A’s for a couple of years and I’ve decided that this summer is the time to tackle some of her brilliant designs. I’ve managed a dead simple pattern a couple of years ago, but not had the the  guts to try something else. I know that, come the end of October, I won’t have as much time to knit, so now is the time to have a go. These socks will be in, *gasp*, orange. I’ll decide which pattern to do when I have time to actually think.

*Disclaimer- I get really distracted, so these patterns may not get knitted in their entirety before 2017.

“I’m not a feminist, but…”

A pet peeve of mine is when someone (usually female) says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist but…” and then rails against some indignity. When did feminism become a dirty word? If you believe that human beings are equal regardless of gender, you’re pretty much a feminist. You may not be a feminist of the placard-carrying, writing to politicians variety, but you do hold feminist views. That is not a bad thing.

By decrying feminism, we are turning our backs on our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and anyone else who fought for such rights as the right for all to vote, the right to decide whether or not to have a family, the right to work and so on. As the writer Linda Grant wrote on her revealing International Women’s Day twitter feed, “Whatever rights you have are because feminists went out and grabbed them for you. Feminists, not shoe designers or chocolate manufacturers.” If you are a woman who works, has an education, takes the Pill and votes, you have feminists to thank.

Although I was brought up in a family with strong feminist leanings, I became a self-identifying feminist in my early twenties, oddly enough through knitting. I had just moved to Brighton and my aunt taught me to knit in the hope that I would make some friend (not that I’m anti-social, but I didn’t know anyone when I moved here.) Through learning to knit, I discovered Debbie Stoller, who not only wrote the beginner knitter’s bible, but also edits the feminist magazine Bust. My conscience was awakening and I devoured everything I could on what it meant to be a modern feminist and I’ve since gone on to write for feminist websites and magazines. Interestingly, when I wrote about crafting and feminism last year, I was roundly, viciously criticised by someone on my Facebook page for not writing about ‘serious’ issues relating to the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia… a bit random, considering that I had been asked to write a fun piece about something I knew lots about. Of course, there are serious issues in feminism which we should all work towards eradicating, but sometimes, even feminists have to have fun. Although, as the great Suzanne Moore said recently, “The thing about being a feminist is you never run out of people to disappoint.” I guess I disappointed someone on that day.

I am proud to be a feminist. I am a skirt-wearing, lipstick-applying, writing-to-my-MP feminist. I think that everyone, regardless of the genitalia they were born with, should be paid the same money for doing the same job. I think that men should have more rights when it comes to paternity leave. I think that women and girls around the world should be equal to their male counterparts. I wish we didn’t live in a society where the sexualisation of young girls is commonplace. There is still so much to do.

Happy International Women’s Day.





Spring Goals

I figured, as it’s nearly the end of February and we’re predicted a really warm end of the week, I thought I would look ahead and set myself some goals for the next few months; the period between now and June is busy at work and I need to make sure that I’m not just doing work stuff. So, with that in mind, I’m going to set some goals for the time period until June 1st.

1) Read more fiction- and enjoy it! I’ve written about this and I’m determined to continue with it. I’m slowly getting to grips with the problems I’ve had. Maybe I read a few rum books, but it’s getting better. I am currently loving Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Vile Bodies’, so I will read more of his books in the coming weeks.

2) Be positive- it’s really easy for me to get bogged down in my job, so I’m going to try and take everything as it comes. This target also means I need to not allow stress to envelope me. Which leads me to…

3) Get into exercising- I started both jive and yoga this weekend and I really want them to become things I really, really enjoy, even when the novelty has worn off. I’ve started to read up on the history of both and this is really helping me get my head around what I’m doing.

4) Do more writing- and be brave about it! I need to make sure that I start work on the ‘novel’ and maybe put myself forward for writing competitions, solicit some work (perhaps) and really get going with the work. Writing is the thing I love doing more than anything. I should do more of what I enjoy.

5) Knit some yoga socks!

6) Make something with my sewing machine.

7) Buy some utterly brilliant shoes that I will actually wear.

I think that’s a pretty comprehensive and achievable list… Do you have any goals for spring?

Losing my mojo

Today has been a bit of an odd day. The cold weather I have wanted for so long has finally come (any chance of some snow? Please?!) and I’ve kind of gone into ‘hibernating mode’.

I usually, when this happens, pick up my knitting needles. But I have no desire to at all. It’s been the same all week. At first, I thought it was just because I have had an insanely busy week, which looks to continue into next week too. I tried to do a bit of knitting. It wasn’t fun. I tried a bit of the Ongoing Monster Tapestry* that I have knocking around. I did a bit, but then got bored. It is weird having no creative juices at all. Even my writing has gone to pot. There is nothing in my head- not one creative thought excites me. I have no desire to make anything, or to write a sentence of the ‘novel’ I’m writing. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

This troubles me. I am used to running around like a mad thing, my head fizzing with ideas, my brain all keen and enthusiastic to such a degree that I would out-perk even the perkiest, most wholesome Mid-Western college student in a rom-com. I know I am tired and a bit stressed and a bit listless. But this is ridiculous.

Instead, I spent today sorting out my Ladies in Monochrome blog, buying a proper domain name, importing the whole thing over to WordPress, setting up a dedicated Twitter feed and scanning and sorting photos. All a bit boring, really. It’s all I could manage and the sorting and organising made part of my brain very happy indeed.

I’m going to try and rectify this grave situation by sitting down with The Killing season 1 and hoping that I can muster up the energy to knit a bog-standard, no thought sock.

*The Ongoing Monster Tapestry is actually a really very pretty, if large, William Morris design.