Monday, 24 July 2017

Detoxification


The rural idyll is trying my patience.
I am once more in the midst of an enforced digital detox, due to a lightning strike to my phone line.  AGAIN.
And because it is summer and the trees are in full leaf, I have to go to the top of the hill to get a mobile phone signal.
Sigh.
This has its advantages.


Out in the fields, all by myself, I can get bit wild and crazy.
Sometimes I run.
Sometimes I swing from the trees.
Other times I lie on the trampoline and stare at the sky.

It is the ideal opportunity to ask THE UNIVERSE for A Sign.
I ask a question, and if the answer is YES, I  will find a four-leafed clover.

Twice recently I have been delivered of a FIVE leafed clover.
LOL


Yesterday I found one of each.
And I wasn't even looking very hard.

Now, while there is probably a good scientific reason for this mutant botany, I am all about The Signs.
FL had very little time for my belief in Destiny.
But it worked out well for me and him, on balance.

But... whatever next?!

Part of me has had enough of the enforced isolation of this farm life.
There seems little point in living in a romantic wilderness if you are alone.
Unless I embrace the poetry and become a hermit.
Always an option.

Being cut off from the rest of the world can be unnerving.
Particularly when The Universe seems to be saying it has plans for you.

I would say "watch this space" but my connection with the blog is a little fragile right now, in more ways than one.

Hopefully, it will all be fine.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Cirque-elling

Is that not the most perfect image?
Me, in a previous life, clearly.
Not even joking.

In aerial news, I had a major breakthrough last night when I successfully inverted, unaided.
In other words, I flipped myself upside down in one smooth movement on both silks and trapeze.
This is a fundamental skill, without which progress is impossible.
And it is not the sort of thing you can practice at home.
I eyed the monkey bars at the gym this morning, wondering if I dared try a modified version, but in the absence of a crash mat it seemed like a bad idea.

I realise I have not blogged about my recent circus-themed sewing.
I bought this rather lovely inky-dot patterned cotton from Backstitch, and initially planned to make a Merchant and Mills Heron top... until I realised it doesn't have significant sleeves.


Key to my design plan was to embroider "very very CIRCUS" on the sleeve, as a sort of test tattoo.
No sleeve?  Bit of an issue.

So I decided instead to make a modified Marilla Walker Mercury Top, with 3/4 length, slightly narrowed sleeves.
It took me a full day to complete, from start to finish, including the embroidery.
Thoroughly absorbing.


It is a lovely cool top - so light and breezy  for summer weather.

I am slightly shy about wearing it in the workplace, as I feel like I am wearing my heart on my sleeve.
Ha!  If ever there was a statement to explain the curtailment of my arm-tattoo plan, that is it!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

New Song: Magnet

OK... so I was just told I looked like I was singing along to Elton John.
Noooo!
I need to update my dancing style.

Enjoy!


Saturday, 15 July 2017

Yarn Tasting: BritSILK from The Knitting Goddess

When Knitting Goddess Joy put out a call on Instagram for yarn tasters  testers I barely paused to draw breath.

Disclaimer:  I love Joy's way with colour.  I have been a huge fan of her sock yarn for years, and have been really excited to see her experiment with new bases, with an emphasis on British wools.
So my starting point was one of eager anticipation.

And when this little package popped through my letterbox...?


I believe my exact words were:  "Oh MY!"

This is BritSILK 4 ply in the Almost a Rainbow colourway.

40% BFL, 20% Wensleydale, 20% Alpaca and 20% silk.
Each full skein will have 100g / 400m and will sell for £19.50


I'm sorry - can we pause just to appreciate that halo?
The glow and depth of colour?
And while it is fairly soft, it has a certain crispness, an underlying resilience.

And breathe...

The first thing I did was to cast on 56 stitches in the round on 2.5mm dpns and worked an inch of stockinette, as if I was knitting the cuff of a Rose City Roller sock.

The colours started to blend together on the reverse side, becoming altogether more muted.


As you can see from the photo above, I rebelled against such subtlety, whipped out a 4 mm crochet hook and ran a row of 3-stitch picots along the edge.

Oooh!  Pop Pop Pop!
I love how the rainbow came to life in crochet!

I started to imagine some fingerless mitts with some eyelets and a picot bind off...


This is still on 2.5mm needles.
The BFL-heavy base gives the yarn-overs plenty of structure at this gauge.

Ooh yes - fingerless mitts please!

I decided to play a little more and threw in some shaping and cable-crosses.


OMG those colours!
As my stitch count decreased, the rainbow definition increased.
Imagine the potential for stripey fingers!

However, I was also keen to see how the yarn played at a looser gauge.

So I took the other end of my ball and cast on 30 stitches on 4mm straights.


This is possibly a little too loose.
I would try again at 3.75mm if I was swatching for a full-sized project.

Hold it up to the light?

Yeah - a little bit too airy for my taste.

When I squoosh the stitches together you can see how this might behave on a larger scale.


It holds its shape well:  not at all floppy.
Great for pleats?
Are pleats a thing in knitting?!

OK so now I am thinking it would work well with an i-cord edging.
Something geometric...
Ooh - how about a Clincher?


Imagine the contrast of the garter stitch, with the colours blending into one another, set against the pop pop pop rainbows when the same yarn is worked as an i-cord?

Ooh yeah baby!

You want some now don't you?
Me too :)

It will be launched at Fibre East at the end of this month and Joy is adding it to the shop on Friday 4 August.
Form an orderly queue, please.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

This is not a Crisis


When I was a child I fell in love.
And it was madness.

So no surprise
That I still look for you
That in truth I see you.

Every day
A glimpse
At the edge of my vision.
A movement
And my heart stops
Dead.

I hear you speak in another voice.
He says my name and I fall apart.

I blaze.
I flare.
Consumed by the shame
By the flame
Of my teenage crush.

It's not you, it's me.
It is Him, not You.

So sudden
I am older.
One day I wake
And understand
That I am old.

How unfair, I think.
To be free of my fertility
When all that men can see
Is my absurdity.

I reinvent
Reconfigure.
I am fragile
I am strong.
No spare flesh on these fine bones.

My clothes are black.
A widow's web.
None small enough to fit
The fragments that remain.

My locket is silver
Our child asleep within.
My amulet.

Rest?  Rare.
Peace?  Impossible.

I dance.
I sing.
I paint.
I write.
I throw my self
on the pyre
that is love.

Who am I?
I am a risk-taker.
Un-mitigator.
I lose my inhibitions.
I have nothing else to lose.
For all is lost.

Except...

I am alive.
More than before.
Fierce and free
I am ME.
Vibrant with energy
Afraid of nothing.

Except myself.

Oh yes.
Believe.
I am afraid of me.

I am dangerous.

Beware, take care.
You!
You who are not Him?
Stay well clear.
Guard yourself.

Trust me when I run away.
It is for the best.
For this shy mess
Is not to be trusted.

Leave me alone to haunt the fields.
To rattle in an empty house
Like the skeleton I have become.

But

If my hand creeps out to you,
Seeking connection.
Please stand strong.
Let me hold on
For dear life.
Until the pain subsides.

I promise to let go.
Releasing that ring
That brands your finger.


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Going with the Flow

July.
The mid-point of the year has passed.

Sometimes it feels like time is running away from me, and other times it seems to screech to a halt and I am a rabbit in the headlights.

I have a terrible compulsion to over-fill my days, for fear that if I stop I will have to confront myself, and my alone-ness.
Tsk.
Sunday is my "day off" from exercise and inevitably I get twitchy and take to stomping round the fields or dancing madly to Radio One, because I cannot bear to remain still.
I find myself standing with my car keys in my hand, thinking I will just pop to the gym for an hour, because there I will find my balance again.
NO.

Union Square pattern by Mina Philip
So I try to settle down with my knitting.
All of the socks, all of the time.
I am working through the New York Sock Collection by Mina Philip.
I have finished one pair and have another two on the needles.
Two further patterns in the series have been published and I plan to cast those on soon.

Avenues Socks by Mina Philip
 And I have almost finished my first Mercury Sock, using a Baerenwolle speckled yarn in the "Birthday cake" colourway, with mad neon heels, cuffs and toes using mini skeins from Hand Dyed by Kate in "Sunglasses Not Included".

Mercury Sock
My happy place is at the circus fitness studio.
I am by far the oldest person there, but I do not feel judged.
It is hard physical work. 
One week I am better at aerial silks than trapeze.  The next time, the opposite.
I tried aerial hoop too... and it was fun... but I can't do everything.

Mermaid pose - my hand should be lower down the rope, to fall further
I discovered that I am far less bendy than I assumed myself to be.
In my head, I am still that drama student who can touch her forehead with her big toe.
Ha!  Not so much.
So I have added a vinyasa yoga class to my regime.
I was so relaxed at the end of my first class that I had to drink a strong coffee before I felt alert enough to drive home!

Flexibility and balance - much needed.
Allowing myself to go with the flow.
Letting life wash over me.
Open to possibilities.
New adventures.
Sometimes peaceful but never quite at peace with myself.


Saturday, 24 June 2017

The Need For Narrative

My recent reading has been scattered.
I start a book and think it is exactly what I need right then, that it fills a gap in my life... and then I set it aside and weeks pass by, while its spine develops a permanent crease.

In this context I am reading The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie.
I seem to be saving it for "the holidays" - a conscious decision, because it is the sort of book that deserves to be lived with and carried around to be dipped in and out of as time permits.
Time has not permitted recently.
Only a couple of chapters in, I can report that I care about these characters.
It is most definitely Scottish, written in a confiding "come sit with me by the fire and I will tell you a story" style.  Couthy?  No, not exactly.  And absolutely accessible to a non-Scottish reader.

I have been moving more quickly through my chosen audiobooks, because I can knit or sew at the same time.
Media of The Walworth Beauty
I enjoyed "The Walworth Beauty" by Michele Roberts.
It has similar themes to "The Essex Serpent":  Victorian morality, something ghostly, the place of women... but an easier read.

And then I hit a strange impasse with a couple of books I expected to love.
I won't dwell on that just now, because I don't blame the books.
It is me, not you, books.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Hardcover  by

I became really really engrossed by "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine" by Gail Honeyman.  I polished it off in a  normal working week, which is good going for me these days.

It is by no means my perfect novel, but it had me hooked.

I was occasionally irritated by feeling that the author wanted me to laugh at Eleanor, when my instinct was to empathise. Eleanor doesn't know the difference between a Brazilian and a Hollywood (bikini wax).
Me neither, love. 
There is the suggestion that Eleanor is old beyond her years and "out of touch"... and yet she seems pretty clued up in other ways.
The novel follows Eleanor's progress as she comes out of her solitude into the social world.
I squirmed with embarrassment on her behalf.
Oh lord, love, me too, me too!
But she is such a resilient character (for reasons which gradually become clear) that she does not give a hoot about what other people think.
Or does she...?
I won't ruin it for you by giving away the plot.
Just read it.
You might need a strong drink.
The Keeper of Lost Things
My latest download is The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan.
I have only listened to the first two chapters but I can already tell it is going to be a good companion this summer as I wander the fields in the evening sun.
The opening description of the rooms in Anthony Peardew's house made me wistful for a home to call my own.
I am still not there.
I felt inspired to throw some more energy at the one I live in now.
If anyone were to visit me, they would assume this was all of my choosing, and it really is not.
Best get on with it, Roo.
Just in case.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Sewing: A Perfectly Simple Sleeveless Top

Here we are in June and I am sewing again, for the first time this year.


Now that I have toned arms, I have no qualms about letting them out to play.
Yes, I am feeling strangely body-confident, thank you!
I might even add a tattoo... but that is a different story altogether :)

I bought two 1-metre lengths of Japanese jersey from The Eternal Maker last year (sorry - it is no longer on the website).
It was narrower than I had expected, so my original plan (long sleeved Renfrew tees) came to nothing.
As warmer weather loomed, I decided to reinvent the wheel and merge the best bits of my favourite patterns to create a perfectly simple sleeveless top.


I took the body of the Sewaholic Renfrew in a size 2.
The front neck and armholes from the smallest size of Merchant and Mills' Bantam Top.
And for the back neckline, I used the front scoop of the Cali Faye Basics Tank.
Got that? :)

The shapes were pretty easy to blend together, once I got going.

The binding is based on the Renfrew neck binding:  a 7-centimetre wide strip of  fabric, folded in half and stretched quite tightly while sewn to the neck and sleeve openings  with a 1cm seam using a straight stitch and a ballpoint needle.

I then used a zig zag stitch close to the seam (but on the main part of the garment) to hold down the two layers of binding fabric, trimming away the excess pretty aggressively.

The side seams are held together with a "universal stitch", which looks like a combination of a straight stitch and a zig zag.

My original plan was to have a curved hem back and front, but my first attempt resulted in a woeful wavy mess of ripples.
So the red and cream version has a straight hem.
Having learned my lesson, I stitched a line of straight stitching along the point where I intended to fold the fabric, then used a zig zag to secure it.


In the interests of variety, I tried a curved hem at the back of the blue and cream version.  It has a tendency to roll up, so I probably won't bother next time.

Next time?
Oh yes!
I wore these two tops time about while I was in Hull, flung them in the washing machine, and wore the red and cream one to work the next day.
Because:  summer!
They are comfortable and fit me really well, with no fear of strap-exposure, so I have no problem baring so much to the world.



Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Back to Hull

Hull Old Town
This past weekend I went to Hull for a City of Culture / alumni event.
I did not meet anyone I knew, but I soaked up plenty of culture and sunshine.

"Get out your phones and Instagram this!"
Two immersive theatre performances, an indie nightclub... and a polite soiree where I found my inner gravitas and.. networked.  Ha!

Hepworth's Arcade
So much about the city is unchanged:  Hepworth's Arcade is still home to Fanthorpe's hifi shop and Dinsdale's Carnival Novelties shop, where you can buy a rainbow crocheted willy warmer.
(I did not.)
The place is absolutely buzzing with life and excitement and energy.
Chips from Bob Carver's, because I can :)
This City of Culture thing is REAL.

Walking down by the docks in blazing sunshine it was like being in the South of France.
Music everywhere.
Art everywhere.

And even in the rougher parts of the city, the regeneration is making a difference to the lives of ordinary people.
I wandered for miles.  
I sat in the park and in cafes and on benches in the street, just being there.

The English Muse, Newland Avenue
Up on Newland Avenue, I discovered a gorgeous little cafe, The English Muse, where I enjoyed the best ever vegan gluten free chocolate brownie and watched the world go by with absolutely no fear of seeing anyone who might know me.

It felt like freedom.

I bought a handmade vintage dress in the Dove House Hospice charity shop that could have been made for me.
I wore it to the soiree and a complete stranger told me it was gorgeous.
Boom!
Airbnb studio on Bowlalley Lane, Hull
And on my final day, I followed the crowds round the corner from my bijou airbnb studio to the finish line of the Hull 10k.
I stood next to a loudspeaker and let the music from Viking Radio vibrate through my bones and watched the runners, with tears in my eyes.

For old times and new beginnings and the past and the future and all the things.

Entrance to Exchange Alley

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Song of the Week



A moment, a love, a dream, a laugh, a kiss, a cry, our rights, our wrongs

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Making in May?

Who remembers the days when Roobeedoo was a sewing blogger?

This morning

This strange new energetic life of mine leaves little space for thinking about sewing, let alone performing it.

But this morning I got up a little later than usual, after a particularly taxing trapeze session last night (with the rope burns to prove it) and saw SUNSHINE!

And I realised that my last wardrobe purge may have been fatal.
Summer clothes?
Um... not really.

I wore my only sleeveless top on Monday, under a sweater.
On Tuesday I still needed a sweater over a camisole.
On Wednesday I wore a plain black tee shirt - I currently own a grand total of three tee shirts.
Today...  rummage rummage rummage - my Marilla Walker Mercury Top.


And it feels so cool and breezy and effortless.
Why don't I have more of these?
Why don't I MAKE more of these?!
I still have a fabric stash after all!

Watch this space.
I haven't booked an exercise class tonight :)

Oh -  in case you are wondering, that's my Angelus Novus cardigan I am wearing.

I rather fancy another one of those too!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Very Very Circus


Jazzercise just wasn't doing it for me anymore.

I was barely breaking into a sweat and the music wasn't as good as at my Saturday Sh'bam class.
I considered other dance classes, but they all seemed to be in the wrong place at an inconvenient time.

And then the other day, I joked with a work colleague that I was going to run away and join the circus...


One quick internet search later, and she came up with Inverted Aberdeen, a Circus and Pole Fitness Centre.
Wow!

Fast forward a week and I found myself explaining to Most Huge Boss that I was going to my first trapeze lesson... and invited him to visit me in hospital the following day.
I must say he took it very calmly. 

The standard response has been "WHY?!"
One colleague started laughing and probably has not stopped since.

But guess what?

Yes -  that is a manic grin

I absolutely loved it!

Not only that, but apparently my daily planking and resistance training has paid off.
To succeed in aerial silks, you need a strong core, for all that shimmying up lengths of fabric and dangling in mid air.

Within the hour I was literally flying!

You are supposed to point your toes for this to work

Trapeze?  
A little less elegant!

By that point I had done an hour of hard physical work, and dangling upside down with nothing but my knees gripping the bar...?

Not so much.


And you have to start upside down to get onto the swing.

But I got there, and I even did a "mermaid"... though mine was more of a beached whale!

Am I going back?
You bet I am!
It is so exhilarating to discover a "sport" that I might actually have the right sort of body for.

It's early days yet, but this could definite be A Thing :)

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Mayday May Day

It was not a holiday on my desk, by any means.


The weekend included a 12 hour writing binge: a very odd decision which does not bear analysis.


But there was also some knitting and some running and some dancing and some singing.


And a wonderfully circus-rhythmed new song.


And now I must go, as I have to see through the consequences of my insanity.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Always in My Heart

I finished my latest shawl project.


This is Always in My Heart by Isabell Kraemer.

I used a DK BFL / Masham / sparkle blend by The Knitting Goddess.
Two skeins of tealy green and one of charcoal.

I made the large size and came perilously close to losing a game of yarn chicken with the contrast in the final section.
Ha!


But I could have made the green eyelet section larger.

I will do that next time.


Because I am pretty sure there will be a next time.

It is a great big snuggly comforting hug of a thing.
Just what I needed.

Have a new song.
Shrugs.


I was so much younger yesterday.