Tuesday, 24 July 2012

On Travel

Blurry view from a coach window. Brown, green and grey.

Blurry view from a coach window. Brown, green and grey. Clearer than previous one. Pylon outline.

Blurry view from a coach window. Brown, green and grey. Two trees.

I like travel. Especially when I'm alone and not driving. Trains are my absolute favourite, but coaches get some of the way there. It gives me a great sense of purpose and even capability. I can successfully get myself, complete and unharmed, from one side of the country to the other with minimal hassle and fuss. There's a certain comfort to not being in control - the train being late is a fact, there's nothing I can do to stop it being late and it's not my fault, I can just go with it.
I love looking out of the window and seeing the countryside (or city or town) go by, not interacting with it myself but just observing. I feel very serene.
If I want to I can distract myself with crochet or postcard-writing or even buy a newspaper in the station and do the Su Doku. I'm already using this time productively by travelling so I can indulge in my favourite idle pastimes, the things that aren't coursework and homework and don't really matter, that are definitely Not Work. Committing time to enjoyment is something I'm not terribly good at (I usually end up with a miserable mixture) but being on a train helps me leave that behind. I tell myself that I couldn't reasonably be doing anything else so it's alright. I think that this is how my art therapy sessions worked - someone was telling me that for this hour and a half every week I *could* play with paper and scissors and paint and just be in the moment and lose myself in the creative process.
Perhaps I'm reading a bit much into this but I really do love being on trains.

Blurry view of motorway verge. Approaching a bridge. Reflections of blue lights.

Sarah Rooftops wrote a post today about watching things go by from train windows, which inspired me to turn these photos into a blog post. Thankyou Sarah :)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


Four square photos: origami cranes, an overgrown window, Tyntesfield House, purple flowers
Origam cranes in the aviary, an overgrown window, flowers, the South-West side of the house.
For my Mum's recent birthday we took her on a day out to Tyntesfield House at Wraxall, near Bristol. It's owned and looked after by the National Trust but has only been with them since 2002 and they are still actively restoring and sorting through the house and contents. It was a grey day when we went and not brilliant for picture taking so I thought I'd set myself a sort of challenge to take photos of all the lovely little details around the place.

Stained glass in a hallway, the overgrown window from inside, fireplace tiles, first floor landing and the old entrance hall.

The underside of the staircase, some very ornate wallpaper, stained glass outside the chapel, wallpaper in a bedroom.

The chapel's chandelier, stained glass at the chapel entrance, a strange flower in a greenhouse, the chapel from outside.

In a greenhouse, a relative of cow parsley in the lady garden, sweet peas in the kitchen garden, wilted agapanthus.

Neat rows of veg in the kitchen garden, a well-trained cherry tree, logan berries, the cherries themselves.

Meadow-like flowers near the orangery, unusually coloured acquilegia, dahlia in the shop(!), ceramic tiles in the rose garden.

I hope these make nice viewing, I'm definitely keen to go back on a nicer day and see it all again. The volunteers said that they have different sets of rooms open over time so you won't necessarily see the same things each time. I imagine nicer weather would suit the garden better, and the rose garden would be more spectacular earlier in the year. Since the boy and I were both given National Trust membership for Christmas we can visit for free as many times as we like. Definitely a good present for two camera-keen people :)

*As published the photos clash with my sidebar. I'm going to try and make my layout a bit wider as I want to be able to have XL pictures. Please give me a shout if I've made it worse!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Crochet Stars: Step-by-step

I came across this pattern post for crocheted stars on A Foothill Home Companion via One Sheepish Girl and thought I'd give it a go. Until recently I've been pretty terrible at following crochet patterns but I found YouTube videos have really helped - seeing how stitches are formed and knowing I've got it right is really useful!
So I worked through this one, translating US crochet terms to UK ones in my head and squinting at the pictures when I wasn't sure and it worked out alright. Then I thought it might be useful for people to have a step-by-step guide and possibly a UK translation of the pattern. So I made another little star and took photos along the way.

Click through to see the rest of this post. The photos made it rather long so I thought I'd better put a jump in here :)

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Oh Hello

Wow, June was busy!
Exams, birthdays, ball, wedding (not mine), shopping for the above, making use of my freedom, getting my results (relief!) and packing up my Bristol life for the return to the parental nest are among the things that have been keeping me away. But here I am sitting at my desk in my childhood bedroom (it seems a bit strange calling it that seeing as I am but twenty two and I've not had a proper home away from it, just halls and student flats).
I've spent much of the last week sorting out the epic mountain of stuff which came home with me, and even going through some older stuff that was already here. The really old has been thrown out to make way for more recent acquisitions. Since I've apparently not cleared things out really properly ever, there was a lot I could throw away pretty painlessly (ringpull collection anybody? I was a strange child.) but I'm only part way there. My old method of tidying seems to have been chucking everything into shoeboxes and stashing them so now I'm going through those boxes one-by-one, separating the junk from the treasures. Hopefully I'll emerge from this process several cubic metres richer in space and feeling like I know what I have.

And now for assorted bits of nice:

Sushicake! Made by me.

My friend had his 22nd birthday a week or two ago. We lured him to the park and fed him beer and surprise sushi cake. He had his guitar with him and I brought a board game to give back to S so we had a thoroughly lifestyle-y time sitting in the sunshine singing, playing and lazing about. A couple of the boys climbed a nearby tree too. All rather lovely.

Why do I still have them all?

This, worryingly, is just part of my knackered shoe collection. What this photo actually represents is "shoes of the year" - all these pairs have been worn to death over a particular period of time. Each of these pairs performed the semi-miraculous feat of fitting my oddly-shaped size 8/9 feet and going with everything. For that I honour them!
The two pairs of boots are the same (I scoured eBay for the second pair) and got me through my first two and a half winters in Bristol.The navy ones in the bottom left are from back in 2007, and the others from various years in between then and now, with the tan loafers being this year's pair of choice. All but those and the pointy ones in the bottom right were unwearable and are now gone.
They're mostly New Look shoes with the exception of the Barratts boots, River Island cherry shoes, and Jane Norman spotty-soled shiny ones. New Look has a pretty decent range of shoes which go up to a size 9 (and it's a 43, their 8 is a 42 - none of this 41=8 nonsense) plus a wide-fitting line (although those normally fall off my heels), and my local New Look is pretty big (I think the chain started in Taunton?).

Pretty wrapping paper is just here for the pretty
A bonus of being home

My newest crochet project is a blanket for my sister. It's a treble crochet wiggle in three colours, each stripe is made of two rows. It was supposed to be a Christmas present last year and, shamefully, I've only just started it. I have been otherwise occupied though, with that degree thing, plus I've been making...

Note the brown edging
It's big!
This! My friend M's blanket, her Christmas present last year. It's been pretty slow but there were long periods where I didn't do anything with it at all. It became impractical to carry about pretty soon what with three balls of wool hanging off it all the time. I elected not to cut and weave-in the ends as there were just too many, and not cutting meant I could easily undo it all if need be.
It's all double crochet - each stripe is two rows so all the colour changing happens at one side. I covered this up by making a brown dc border around the whole thing and I think it's neatened it up considerably.
I now have the best part of three balls of wool to turn into something else. I'm thinking of a scarf in some sort of fancy stitch from my new Handbook of Crochet Stitches. I've obviously got a bit less of the brown, having made the border, but it looks like I've still got far more beige. Strange.

I started adapting a blouse into a Sorbetto while I was in Bristol but that's been put on hold by all this moving business and now I've got plenty to be doing with my project and my tip of a room. I'd intended to get it finished for the Summer Spark Sewalong which I have the badge for in my right sidebar, but it's not looking like getting there yet. Boo. I'll get it out and take some pictures in the next few days though, and probably ask for some advice on how to proceed. I remember it being a tad wonky...

Right, back to sifting through the shoeboxes.