Tuesday, 13 December 2011


Yes, I decided to use this blog again! I figure it's a good way to keep track of my crafting.

I've been setting up a list of things I would like to make, now that Craftaganza has ended for the time being (we did brilliantly! Weird thinking about people paying for my stuff, but I'm not complaining...) We're not even at Christmas and already I'm planning ahead. I've not made much in the way of presents this year, with the exception of some (requested) bed socks for my auntie.

So, my future projects, in no particular order:

William Morris 'Bird' tapestry- I'm also toying with some William Morris inspired cross-stitch too.
Trousseau shawl
Alice in Wonderland mittens

Throw in some bog standard socks, a few from a couple of books I have and whatever else pops up and I'm sure you'll agree I have quite a bit on my plate!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

I have a new website!

So, as promised, I set up my own website! It's all my writing stuff, with links to the tea blog  and the Ladies in Monochrome. I'm not sure whether I'm going to keep this site up, as my blog roll is getting quite long these days! However, I don't think I'd like to lose this site. I might just keep it going for craft bits.

Who knows?

Sunday, 23 October 2011

I meet Caitlin Moran and make some decisions

So, it's been an interesting week here- work was incredibly stressful, so there's a well earned break ahead (in which I don't have to get up at 5.45 am, yessssssssss!) But it's been interesting nonetheless. On Friday, I met this lady:
When I say 'met', I actually mean "saw her across the road from Starbucks eating soup and waiting for her family, so I ran and accosted her." It is, of course, the terribly funny Caitlin Moran (and she's nice- she didn't even get me arrested and was very charming. Buy her book!) She was lovely and chatted with me about feminism, the book and how I should have bet my friends money that I would actually go and see her. I love her writing and it's great to see that she's as funny and warm in person as in print.

But this also got me thinking- why couldn't I try and get more writing work? At the moment, I'm working part time, so I do have time to do more writing work- I keep doing bits and pieces, but if it's to really take off, I need to do more of it (preferably paid...) Writing is my first love and the thing I enjoy doing most. So I've been looking into setting up my own website, showing off the work I've been doing, on and off, for the last ten years. It may not work, but I have to try, right?

Speaking of writing, I've had another piece published by the Bookseller (I have my teacher hat on for it and I must get a new, up-to-date picture done. Maybe once I've had my hair done on Friday. I'm hoping for a Louise Brookes bob, but I'll probably end up with Bride of Frankenstein) Anyway, it's a piece about using graphic novels in schools, an idea that I'm firmly in favour of.

So, yeah. The thinking hat is firmly on.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

An update about life in general

Oh, how does time fly so quickly? In August, when I last posted, I was happily embroidering with neary a care in the world. Then life just gets busy and I neglect my blogs. Again.

So, the new school term started and, joy of joys, my timetable changed every week. Brilliant. So I've had the usual back to school exhaustion, coupled with some very stressful confusion. Not great. But I am trying to keep my head above water and get on with it. My classes aren't bad and I'm teaching some interesting stuff. It'll soon be half term and Benn has the week off. (AND I bought some undyed sock yarn that will become approximations of colourways in expensive brands. Hooray!)

I've also been working feverishly away at creating stock for Brighton Craftaganza on December 10th. I'm knitting some scarves and doing a lot of stitching, so that hopefully I will have something worth selling on the day! We shall see. I'll post pictures nearer the time.

Writing has been pretty neglected because of all this- the creative stuff has just gone out the window, so I'm hoping that that can be revived once all the madness has died down. I still write down snippets that come to me- but they usually arrive in my brain when I'm out walking or half asleep and too lazy to reach for pen and paper.

I have managed to write some bits for a couple of blogs- this piece on crafting and feminism for Bad Reputation and one on the Bookseller that will hopefully be live in a few days' time. I'm thinking of setting up a website as a place to put all my writing in one place, which might be a good way of getting new writing work. Any ideas/recommendations welcome!

The big project I've embarked on (which you will know about if you follow my Twitter feed!) is Ladies in Monochrome. I started picking up pictures in junk shops and decided to stick them on the internet. So everyday, a new picture goes up. It's costing me a fortune, but it's a very enjoyable way to do so!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

What kind of stitchery is this?*

So, I have been doing a LOT of stitching recently and I'd like to show you the embroidery I've been doing. It's now no secret that I'll be selling stuff with the other Brighton Craft Guerilla ladies at the Brighton Craftaganza fair in December. I'll be selling various bits and bobs and I'm really looking forward to selling some needlework I've been doing. These butterflies were embroidered onto tea towels as a wedding present. The bride has a blue butterfly tattooed on her wrist, so I chose to replicate this:

 I found the images on Graphics Fairy and adapted them to suit my purposes.

I'm hoping to sell some more natural history inspired tea towels at Craftaganza. What do you think??

*Apologies to the late, great Ms Winehouse for abusing her lyrics to create a rubbish pun.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Happiness and inspiration

It's summer, so I'm working on a few bits and pieces. I'm still recovering from a hard few weeks, work wise and I have a few important decisions to make in the next few weeks, but I'm hoping that I have time to really catch up on those areas that are neglected when I'm working.

(By the way, my pic here is of my bookcase- those sweet peas are growing outside; remember when they were but shoots?)

I have some exciting stuff to prepare for and I really, really want to get into my writing. I also have loads of ideas for my crafty projects and there also seems to be a slew of babies to knit for, so I may be some time with the knitting needles!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


So, I am determined to write more. I suffer crippling self doubt when it comes to my own writing, both fictional and non-fictional. I haven't had much of the latter come my way recently (I have submitted an idea a while back to no avail, will do more when I have more ideas...!), so I figure I have to do more of the former. I figure that if I keep going, I'll get better and feel better about the work I'm producing.

This is not a fishing entry, I'm just trying to work out the writing process. When I write, I find it excruciating. I read the words in my head and just think that they're crap. I always have done, whether it's stuff that's been published (which is rarely horrendously subbed, if at all save some punctuation) or whether it's stuff only I will see. I don't show Benn because I think he'll think it's rubbish.

Anyway, the upside is, I'm going to try and write a bit each day. I'll be looking at writing sites and reading widely, particularly fiction. Practice makes perfect, right?

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Being a grown up

There has been a silence on my blog, but there has been a very good reason. Two weeks ago, I did the most grown up thing I have ever done.

I got married.
It was a brilliant day and I am very, very happy. 

Although there were some stressful bits and some annoying bits about being a bride, the whole day was amazing. I saw people I haven't seen in ages and to have people I love and care about under one roof was amazing. People met each other who had only ever known of each other through my ramblings. There was dancing too, as well as fish and chips and some bloody beautiful flowers. A little girl tried to steal my shoes (almost successfully!)

Although I am not one for public displays of affection, I will say this- I am incredibly lucky to have an amazing husband. We have been together for five and a half years and getting married to him is just the icing on the cake!

However, I'm not going to lie- I'm glad it's all over! The stress of planning and the fact that some people couldn't understand why we didn't want a big do meant that I was very, very busy in the early parts of this year. Taking the time to relax this weekend (we'd been to Paris on our honeymoon, so last Saturday was mad with travelling) has been lovely.

Anyway, after the brief, loved up interruption, normal service should soon resume!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

The times, they are a-changing

So, the worst term of the year is finally out of the way and I am now on Easter holidays. The spring term is always difficult, as it is a short term and it's also when all the stress of preparing Year 11 is at its peak. This is when teachers are often up to their eyeballs in reports, coursework marking and moderation and after-school catch up sessions. In three words, it's not fun.

But when I consider where I am now, compared to a year ago, I can see that I have made leaps and bounds in my own self.

Last March, I tried to resign from my job. Not just my job, but teaching altogether. I could no longer cope, I thought, and the best way to deal with this was to find something else. Something that, yes, paid less but was closer to home. So, I went to see my then-boss. She sent me home to my doctor. He tried to sign me off for depression and anxiety (I was already on a small prescription for this and had been, on and off, for two years). I refused, I needed to be in work. So I took a doubled prescription instead. I also agreed that I would begin to work part time, from September, as a way to deal with my depression.

I worked hard. I didn't miss a day of work, even on those days where I thought I would never get out of bed or where I couldn't face standing up in front of a class. Unlike a lot of jobs, teachers can't really just hide behind a computer. We have a myriad of guidelines telling us how a lesson should be, that if even one child is off-task that that would be considered a failure in OFSTED's eyes. But on the other hand, if I didn't go in, I would have the nightmare of having to set cover and worrying that my exam classes wouldn't have what they needed. So, I went in and I pushed myself to the edge of exhaustion. I struggled. I cried when I got home. At the same time, I was also in a redundancy pool. Life was, to be honest, a bit rubbish. Benn would come home to find me curled up on the sofa, mindlessly watching TV. I didn't knit or interact with the cats. I just stared.

I began to work part time in September and loved having the day off, but soon came to realise that the old feelings of dissatisfaction and the issues I had were coming back. The only difference was that I had one less day to deal with a lot of stuff and was still just as stressed. However, by this point I had thrown myself into my writing, made sure that I saw my friends and just tried to forget about work, even for a little bit. I made time for reading, I researched my family history. I soon found that I was forgetting to take the tablets, the very things that I had relied on to get me through the day. Eventually, I stopped taking them, through sheer forgetfulness. This time, I had no bad side-effects, as I had had eighteen months earlier, when I'd stopped them too quickly. I just didn't need them anymore.

Today, I am happy. I still haven't taken any time off from work, except for a funeral and this stands me in good stead when I apply for a new job. I am planning a wedding and I am getting fit and healthy for a sponsored event in July. My writing is in fits and starts, but at least I am writing, even if no one ever reads it.

It annoys me when people who have had no experience of depression claim that people use tablets as a crutch and that, although they themselves are depressed, they won't take the tablets as they don't need them. That's fine for them, but gross overstatements are completely out of line. The first time you have that prescription in your hand, you do feel a little shell-shocked and you do question whether or not you are mad. But, as my grandma (who worked as a mental health nurse as a young woman) said, "If you had a broken leg, you'd wear a cast, wouldn't you? These tablets do exactly the same job."

And she's right.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Making do and Mending

Modern clothes (at least the kind I can afford on a teacher's wage) are rubbish. I tend to buy my clothes from various brands of one clothing giant and I've noticed recently that they are just not lasting the course; cardigans that develop holes in the seams after a couple of wears or a wash, trousers where seams are not properly sewn. I have a sneaky feeling that clothes companies are trying to squeeze profits in at a time when everyone is suffering by lowering the quality of their garments, yet charging the same price. Bad form.

I also buy a lot of clothes off eBay (I have a weakness for Monsoon skirts and they are very expensive to buy new... they are also not the brand I am complaining about) and find that the quality of older clothing from aforementioned clothing giant is better- thus backing up my theory.

You may ask why I don't take things back- usually because a) I've lost my reciept or b) I notice too late to take advantage of exchange policies. So I've decided to declare war on my clothes before I look like someone who doesn't care how she looks.

For example, I am going to repair those trousers with a bit of black thread and a needle. I have a skirt (also known as the 'cabbage' skirt because of the pattern; I think it is supposed to be a peony pattern) that I have worn on and off for nearly four years. I love it, yet the zip is broken and the black and white colouring bores me. Hey presto, new zip and a dye bath- new skirt. I have socks with holes in them- I am lucky to have the skills and the resources to knit new ones with easy to fix modifications.

But what irritates me a lot about the 'make-do and mend' movement is that I find a lot of the websites inherently patronising. Make do and mend shouldn't just be the preserve of ladies who lunch and yummy mummies, but a lot of the sites and books appear to be aimed at those core groups. What about skint officer worker? Struggling pensioner? It's nice to be able to afford high quality stuff and do it to make your clothes look a bit different and/or save the planet. But what if you're doing it because you genuinely can't afford new clothes or a sewing machine (or are scared of them, like I am)? What if you can't afford Amy Butler fabrics or new clothes from quality labels?

Anyway, I must dash. I have some darning to do.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Forward thinking..

At the moment, a lot of my view of life appears to be focusing on the things coming up in my life. I'm never very good at doing this at the start of the year, so I've decided that the end of February is pretty apt.

Spring is on its way. I have proof: the first sweet peas of the year have poked their heads above soil:

I love sweet peas. I find that all gardeners have a plant that they love above all others. Mine are sweet peas. I love them because they are lanky and all about instant gratification. I only planted these last Sunday and I could see one rising yesterday. When I got up, seven others had decided to shoot up overnight. This year, I am protecting my pretties from slugs by growing them indoors as long as I can get away with.

(Oh, and they are a mixture of heritage sweet peas- the Spencer and Grandiflora- so I have no ideas what colours I'll be getting)

I've been having my first go at colourwork and finding it rather pleasing- these are Fiddlehead Mittens, which are totally not as scary as I thought they would be. Now, you may think that I'm just showing these off (which, yes, I am), but they also fit into the 'forward thinking' category, because it is highly unlikely that we will get snow down here in the south east until the end of this year. Therefore, they shall have to be put somewhere safe. They are VERY small, which is fine for my freakishly small hands and if you were to knit them for usage in the UK, I would advise against lining them. If you must, maybe some light cotton to stop the yarn snagging against jewellery, rather than a knitted lining.

Of course, the major thing in my life right now is planning a wedding; I have found my family and friends to be so generous when it comes to helping us out and I am genuinely excited, despite the fact that a few relatives on either side have seen fit to throw obsticles in the way. At the risk of sounding twee, at least these stroppy relatives make you appreciate the good ones..! Anyway, a lot of the wedding stuff is now done.

I have decided that I am going to seriously look for a new job. The old one is just... old now. I've been there for four years and it's time I tried somewhere new. I'd like a few things to be different in a potential new job, but we'll see what comes up. The only criteria I'm holding myself to at the moment is that either it's closer to home or, if it's a similar distance, there are other factors to make my life easier (such as my own classroom or earlier finish time) So I'm not being unrealistic, I think.

Add to that I'm planning Benn's birthday stuff for the 28th, I'm going to just have to make sure I get some breathing space in the next few days/weeks/months.

Friday, 11 February 2011

A post about writing

Writing, for me, is one of the most enjoyable things I do. Yes, it's lonely and yes, I am very, very self-critical, but I love it. Before I trained as a teacher, I trained as a journalist. Some days, I wish I had stuck with the journalism route. If I had, I might enjoy my work more. But que serra, serra and all that. I've made choices that have led me down certain paths and, for now, they might just be the right ones. Who knows.

My brain frequently pops with ideas for articles and novels. I am trying to write a novel and I find it very, very hard. Whoever said that everyone has a book in them probably never wrote one. They are hard things to write and everyone has an opinion on how you should do it and you probably won't agree with them. I know I don't always agree with things some people say to me, no matter how much I respect their viewpoint. This has happened to me today and, although the idea is a good one, it will not work with what I'm writing now. But I will take it on board... who knows, tomorrow it might work.

A dream of mine is to be paid to write, although I'm not sure how I would go about achieving this (I also have various other dreams- a farm, my own business... it seems I am an unfaithful daydreamer...)

However my life turns out, I know I won't always be a teacher.

Saturday, 29 January 2011


I always hate the term after Christmas. Busy, busy, with not a lot of respite. I am being awful at keeping up with my friends and my writing, in whatever form is non-existent. But I am still here! Just with work and a wedding, my time is flying by.

Speaking of weddings, lots of ours is now planned. Just waiting for the invites to be done by my brother's girlfriend and then off we go.

This is the song that will be played at our wedding:

I think it just sums up everything and you can't really go wrong with Pulp, can you?

More soon x