Yeah, that’s not going to come as a surprise to anyone! This is the decade where I spent my teenage years and, although I wouldn’t return to being a teenager if you paid me, I am truly grateful that those are ‘my’ years because when I look back on them they were so much fun. Okay, so it was a period of political upheaval in the UK, with the Irish troubles constantly making headlines and trades union actions leading to regular power cuts and the introduction of the 3-day week which, as I recall, didn’t apply to schools so I didn’t benefit!
Yet, set against that, here are five things that I look back on with immense fondness.
Oh, yes. From Glam Rock to Punk: T Rex singing “Ride A White Swan” in 1970 to Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass” in 1979, I was there! Roy Wood of Wizzard was my pop pin-up and I had a big poster of him in the bedroom I shared with my sister. There will never be a Christmas song to top “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” and I will brook no argument on that. I patiently waited until I was in my 50s to see Roy Wood live and also got to see another 1970s favourite – The Stylistics – around the same time. But the 70s were also the years of Don McLean, Bread, Alvin Stardust, more Don McLean, Neil Diamond, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and a host of others who provided the background music to my adolescence.
Marc Bolan of T Rex, pretty and hairy
The Stylistics – suited and booted
Blondie – who ddn’t want to look like Debbie Harry?
Just in case you’re unsure of the impact of a large Roy Wood poster
We had transistor radios and listened to Radio 1 and Radio Caroline. We had cassette recorders on which we could tape music off the radio (and make mix-tapes for our loved ones) or play our favourite albums bought legitimately on cassette (Andy’s Records was the big Norwich seller at the time). We still had record players and bought on Vinyl too. My oldest sister even had an 8-track player which provided my introduction to Leonard Cohen. Now the big thing is music streaming services and where is the romance in that?
For a long while the 1970s were labelled as the decade that style forgot, and there were some hideous crimes against fashion in that decade – from Glam Rock to Punk! However, for me it was also a very classically fashionable decade and provided the bedrock of my wardrobe for ever more. What I remember best are the a-line skirts hitting between the bottom of the knee and the middle of the calf and the trousers actually reaching to your waist. There were Oxford Bags and a lot of other 1920s influences like Fairisle knitwear, and there was plaid, not to mention the ever-present Laura Ashley mini floral print. Wool coats for winter and cheesecloth for summer. Men in suits – what heaven for a heterosexual lady was the 1970s office full of men in suits and ties.
The photo at the top of this post shows me in one of my favourite outfits of the later 1970s – a soft pink tweedy skirt and lightweight cotton blouse which if I recall correctly had little pintucks and a line of embroidered flowers on the front. Accessorised with a big shoulder bag, heels, and the worst hair cut of all time! Love it.
You can all chant along with me as I go through this list! Alias Smith and Jones, Kojak, Starsky and Hutch, Blake’s 7, Dr. Who (Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker shared the decade). Yet there were also gems like A Horseman Riding By, The Day of the Triffids, Survivors, The Quest (American cowboy series with Kurt Russell and Tim Matheson), The High Chaperral (more cowboys), The Devil’s Crown (historical drama from the height of the BBC’s reign, about the Plantagenets), the start of the BBC’s epic task of televising all of Shakespeare’s plays.
It might well be that you will be sitting in the year 2059 still awstruck by how good Killing Eve was, but I am not entirely sure that will be the case. I think we got the best of the best in the 1970s.
I had one foreign holiday in the 1970s – two weeks on Crete with my sister, brother-in-law, and a friend of theirs. It wouldn’t count as exotic or even, probably, enviable nowadays, but it was a great adventure for me. Other than that, I happily pottered about the UK with my parents and had lovely, simple times that were just plain enjoyable. From the early 1970s in a camper van in Scotland to the later 1970s of the above photograph, visiting Canterbury; via the Isle of Wight where we stayed in an old house with no TV and where I bought a book which really boosted my newly-revived interest in knitting. I loved my holidays every bit as much as the trips to Thailand that are obligatory for teenagers now.
Will anything sum up the loved-and-lost nature of the 1970s as well as the Swisskit? I loved these fruit and chocolate and meusli bars for an intense period in the mid-70s and then they disappeared, never to be seen again.
It isn’t conceivable that they were as good as I remember them, but I often think now how good it would be to sink my teeth into a Swisskit again!
So, yes, this is my ode to the 1970s, decade of my youth, and the years that made me the decidedly odd person I am now (heaven only knows how it fared for the ones who took drugs!). Let’s raise a glass of Blue Nun to the memories.
“Come on, Frank, an officer files things in his head. He doesn’t remember them until they pop up, you know that: a face, a street, a name, a number, zabba-dabba-doo, like that…”
Lieutenant Theo Kojak/1976
Listen to – Gladys Knight and the Pips “So Sad The Song” (I know that we both talked it over, said it’s best to forget)
Read or watch – Ray Bradbury “Fahrenheit 451” (people memorising stories because the books are being burned)
My avid consumption of books and videos about various methods of time management/planning has led me to an interesting juncture; a conundrum which is summed up by two equal and opposing concepts:-
“Use it or lose it”
“Your brain is not for storage, it is for creativity”
Most planning systems are based on the second of these two ideas and posit that you cannot trust your brain to store and organise all of the information about your life. You therefore need a trusted system to capture all your memories, all your thoughts, all your ideas, everything you need to do and everywhere you need to be so that your brain can be clear.
There is a barely disguised suggestion in this that life is so complex and so fast that your brain is not big enough for it.
However, there is an increasing amount of media coverage about the first of the concepts, advising us on how we need to exercise our brains and do crosswords, or Sudoku puzzles, or memorise poetry if we are to avoid our brains atrophying.
Oh, you are not memorising poetry yet? I have several large passages committed to memory and am currently working on “Meeting Point” by Louis MacNeice: I know all the verses, but struggle to keep them in the right order.
The idea of being able to trust my brain appeals to me, perhaps because I have never really been a list-maker and regardless of how many hand-written or device-orientated “to do” lists I have, I tend to do what is uppermost in my mind. Conversely, I find the idea of not being able to trust my brain very upsetting because I want to be in control of my direction; I don’t want to cede that control to a leather-bound planner or a whizzy device, however much I enjoy owning and playing with such items.
My brain, when I choose to use it, is actually pretty good at recalling things, and at prioritising what needs to be done. When I begin to lose track it is usually because I have become over-burdened, either with tasks that need doing or with more insidious “input”. It is not that I have forgotten what is most important at the time, more that I have successfully over-written it with fluff. In fact, I feel that often failure to accomplish something because “I forgot” is inaccurate and I should instead say “I chose not to remember”.
Of course, I am not espousing the rejection of all written or recorded material in favour of brain-power alone, just a more organic and more thoughtful use of both. And now I have to refer back to Kojak to illustrate a way of working that could be relevant now, either between managers and their team members, or just within your own personal task-setting.
Here is the scene – Kojak is sitting in his office and he yells “Crocker!” Detective Crocker appears and Kojak barks one concise instruction at him. Crocker doesn’t need to write it down, he has a single, well-defined task to do and he shoots off and does it. If it involves finding some information, he comes back, maybe with a brief written note, and tells Kojak the answer and that progresses the investigation. (I accept that sometimes even Kojak is a little blurry – like the episode that contained the line “Crocker – do it all.” On the whole he’s pretty good with his instructions.)
You will note that they didn’t have to book a meeting room and work through a long list of items of varying importance which they could only recall because they’d written them on a @Kojak/@Crocker list. I think in the modern workplace we can get bogged down in detail and lose immediacy. If we were giving our brains the leading role in our work, we might focus more on the really important and the really urgent and leave behind some of the purely bureaucratic and petty tasks that we consider so important in our current endeavours.
It is useful to write down times and dates in a diary, to remind ourselves of things that we need to attend to at a given moment and sometimes it is necessary to write a list of everything you need to do because you lack focus on that day, or in that hour. I just don’t want to delegate everything to some other system when using my brain could be a better way all-round.
So, this week I am trying to think hard about what I need to do next to make progress on the important things in my life and I am treating pen and paper, and my electronic devices, as aides-memoire instead of using my brain to assist the all-important List. I hope I will feel more human this way, because no-one wants to be just an organic limb carrying out the demands of a non-sentient catalogue of tasks.
Yes, I have no doubt there will be a lot of things that I forget, but I think that is how we sieve out that good ideas from the not so good ones. I wonder if, somewhere along the line, I might find that my brain is exactly the right size for my life.
I had a bit of a knitting frenzy over the weekend and finished my Isambard socks. I have small feet and my socks don’t take long to knit if I work on them consistently. I love seeing all the amazing sock patterns that other people knit, but I only like knitting plain ones myself. I have no idea why that should be unless it is because I love my socks to be wildly coloured or have tons of variegation and those type of yarns just don’t play nicely with patterning. Or perhaps I am just lazy (actually, no perhaps needed there).
I have been knitting my socks for the past couple of years on 2.5mm needles, but I am coming to the conclusion that I might go down to 2.25mm for my next pair. I think I used 2.25mm when I first started knitting socks and they lasted rather better than my more recent socks, not that the more recent socks are problematic in any way.
I really enjoy how this wool knits up and the dyeing is very pleasing to the eye. Those blues and golds on the grey-beige background make me very happy.
Pattern: Vanilla sock based on free pattern circa 2006/2007, came free with a ball of sock wool Size: To fit UK size 4 1/2 shoe Materials: Mr B sock yarn 75% superwash wool/25% nylon, 100g (I usually use around 55g) Needles: 2.5mm KnitPro Zing metal double-point needles, 20cm long, pack of 5 (I use 4 with half the stitches on one needle, and a quarter each on a further two needles, working the live stitches onto the fourth needle)
The pattern I follow has a heel flap and gusset construction which suits me very well. The toe in the pattern is pretty standard, decreasing equal amounts on both sides until 12 stitches remain on both needles, then doing a Kitchener Stitch join. I learned how to do the Kitchener join using the knitting needles instead of having to thread up a tapestry needle and that made a lot of sense to me. However, last year I discovered the Barn Toe which gives a slightly deeper and more rounded toe shape and I like that a lot so I used it on this pair.
I particularly enjoy the fact that with this toe shaping you just keep decreasing until you only have four stitches left and then you cinch them shut using the end of your working yarn. It is so quick to do and there’s none of that inclination to stop just short of the end because you need to look up the Kitchener instructions again.
As well as finishing these, I have made significant progress on my Inigo cardigan. I have all-but completed the back and have made a start on one of the sleeves. I thought, as my gauge is not exactly as per the pattern, it made sense to wait to finish the armhole shaping on the back until I had a sleeve complete so I can make sure that the pieces fit together well. Forethought – that’s a new one for me!
Whilst I was working on the Gaudi cardigan I logged it on Ravelry. I have been very lazy about Ravelry for quite a number of years, rarely using it and not logging any of my projects, although there was a time when I was quite diligent with it. Now I am suddenly getting back into using it to keep the project details and I am enjoying it once again.
There has been one drawback to my knitting endeavours this past week, which is that one of my fingers has developed a slightly alarming ‘click’. I have consulted Dr. Internet who informs me this is “trigger finger” (sounds like it is a surfeit of Kojak rather than knitting that has caused it) and since I am not in pain and my finger merely feels odd rather than actually seizing up, I am limiting the amount I work on my knitting for a few days to give it a rest.
I hope you have enjoyed seeing my finished socks and I hope your knitting, or other creative endeavours, are going well. For now, I think it’s time to have a nice cup of tea.
I’ve been working recently on re-composing my inspiration board. The board itself is marvellous with a lovely summery beaches-and-boats fabric. When I was a little girl I had a dress with a sailboat print, and I keep looking every summer to see if anyone manufactures anything similar to bedeck the more mature me. Until that day, the board is going some way towards meeting my need for yachts.
At the moment the board mainly represents my ideal office space, with one photo of a real office I worked in in the mid-1990s and the other my fantasy office at Manhattan South (courtesy of Kojak). Both of these images remind me of the kind of space that I am happiest in; there is technology, but there is paper too.
Today, though, I’m really taken with the quote “Smite the sounding furrows” on its happy yellow background. This is my ‘get up and go!’ quote and it chimes better with me than many of the popular so-called boss-girl quotes which abound on the internet. It is a line, from Ulysses by the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, about setting off on a voyage and not being sure of the destination, but with a determination that knows no bounds. I believe it holds us accountable to our own potential. This is no easy voyage, indeed “it may be that the gulfs will wash us down”; we need to work hard to get to our destination.
For those not too familiar with nautical terms, the phrase means to take a reading of the depth of water, particularly useful when navigating close to the shore, leaving or coming into harbour. In this case, the sailors will know they are on their way as the readings show the water deepening. There is a similar need with the things we choose to do when we are on land – we have to take regular readings to see how we are progressing.
With my inspiration board, I am currently under sail, but not nearing my destination. I think that next it needs something aspirational on the fibre/fashion side of things which I am looking forward to researching, and by research I mean pootling about looking at magazines, knitting books, and doubtless digging out my copy of Chic Simple Women’s Wardrobe which will remind me just how much I want some of the outfits in it.
2018 is singing a triumphant closing number and 2019 is poised to make its entrance so what better to do today than reflect on some key themes from the year? You might want to make yourself a cuppa before you head into this – it’s going to feel like you’ve been reading for a whole year before you get to the end!
Chapter 1 – the ignominy of scriptwriters
I’m going to start with Kojak, but I promise I will bang on a lot less about this subject in the New Year (maybe!). Today I want to talk about how cruel script-writers can be. Since July, I have sat through four series of this excellent show from the 1970s and in almost every episode, Detective Bobby Crocker has crossed a busy New York road. Every time he crosses a road, he does it perfectly – he looks in both directions before he crosses, he carries on looking both ways as he crosses, if a car approaches, he calmly and politely alerts the driver by holding up his hand, if a car stops he generously raises a hand in acknowledgement and thanks. I am not kidding, every time I cross a road now, I think about Bobby Crocker and his road-crossing technique!
I therefore consider it a betrayal that, in Series 5, the scriptwriters decided that he should get knocked over by a car whilst crossing the road! This scene could have been done with any other detective in Manhattan South and been utterly understandable. But no, they had to choose Crocker!
(It’s okay, he only banged up his elbow and lived to fight another day, but that’s not the point.)
Chapter 2 – knitting
So, on to the serious stuff. At the end of 2017, when my knitting spirit was slightly under par, I decided to set myself the goal of knitting one garment and three pairs of socks for each of the four seasons, with the year divided at December 21st 2017; March 20th 2018; June 21st 2018; September 23rd 2018 and ending on December 20th 2018. I actually knitted three garments (the chunky sweater, sleeveless top, and maroon superwash sweater) plus two pairs of socks (both in Mr B Yarns – “Where the Wild Things Are” and “An Inspector Calls” colourways). I am not downhearted because that’s an improvement on the previous couple of years. Also, I am only counting my personal knitting – it would be a lot more impressive if I added in stock I’ve knitted for my Etsy shop, and the Christmas gift jumper.
The most important thing is that I love and wear the items I’ve knitted this year, so I consider it good, solid progress. What I am taking forward into the new year is a renewed commitment to work on the project/s I have on the needles every day, rather than to revert to my normal ‘boom or bust’ nature. A tiny bit of progress every day is the best way to go, and I find if I pick up something intending to only knit a couple of rows I will probably still be there at the end of an hour thinking ‘just one more row’. This is especially true of the Gaudi caridgan I am currently working on.
I do like the idea of dividing the year into the four seasons and I will continue with that for the coming year, just in a more organic, less goal-driven way.
Chapter 3 – reading
I haven’t read as much in 2018 as I intended to, although I have read more than I did in the previous few years so, again, there’s been a bit of progress.
The reads I have recorded were:-
“Frenchman’s Creek” Daphne du Maurier – re-reading of an old favourite
“Eight Girls Taking Pictures” Whitney Otta – gift from my daughter and a thoroughly fascinating book
“Hypothermia” Arnaldur Indridason – Skandi-noir crime-thriller passed on to me by my daughter
“The Great Gatsby” F Scott Fitzgerald – another re-read; another old favourite
For Christmas this year I received four books as gifts, so these will be my initial reads going forward:-
“Little Miss Christmas” Roger Hargreaves – read this as soon as I unwrapped it on Christmas morning
“Iceling” Sasha Stephenson – science fiction, really keen to read this as soon as I’ve finished the Murakami
“Killing Commendatore” Haruki Murakami – new book; my favourite author; lovely dustcover, but simply stunning covers underneath it; started reading this on Christmas Day
“Uncommon Type” Tom Hanks – I’ve seen so many snippets about this since it was published and I’ve been thinking about getting it, so great to receive it as a gift, and keen to read after I’ve read the others
As with the knitting, I am finding with reading that if I do a little each day I achieve more than if I think I will spend a big block of time reading something.
Chapter 4 – creative writing
Back in the early part of summer I put in a lot of work on my creative writing and I hit 10,000 words on the first draft of what I like to refer to as my novel. Then I stopped. I had good reasons for stopping, not to do with lack of enthusiasm for the project, just that my attention was needed elsewhere. Towards the end of the year I’ve been thinking seriously about short fiction pieces, and looking at Medium as a platform to get some of my writing past the draft stage on into an arena where it stands a chance of being read. I intend to write more about this in the next couple of weeks as I firm up my plans.
Chapter 5 – weight and health
I think in 2018 the most beneficial thing I have done is change my diet, lose weight, and become more active. It took a big change in my lifestyle to prompt me to do this; I had been unhappy with my weight and generally feeling lumpy and unfit for a long while, but I was stuck in a rut of spending too much time on work I didn’t particularly enjoy and not enough time on creative things that I would enjoy, then compensating myself by over-eating.
Now I am two stone lighter than I was; I have eaten well, though not to excess, over Christmas without either gaining or losing any weight; and I feel a hundred times better about myself than I have for a long while. The trick (for me, at least) is to recognise what your particular downfall is and then just apply yourself to correcting it. For me, it’s snacking – I never have been one for eating huge meals, but will happily graze on sweetery until the cows come home. Forcing myself into a routine of eating three meals a day and not snacking in between has been the key as far as eating goes, and I think if I maintain this then I have a good chance of establishing a weight that I am happy with and can maintain.
That is one side of the equation. The second, equally important thing for weight loss is EXERCISE. I don’t think you can lose weight just by changing your eating (input); you also have to address your exercise (output). I initially committed to doing at least 30 minutes of exercise a day and quite quickly upped this to an hour a day. About 50% of the exercise I do is walking because it’s the thing I enjoy and I can easily do and I find it beats cycling into a cocked hat for general fitness.
The other 50% is down to that blue plastic step! No, it isn’t pretty; no, it isn’t exciting; but, boy, does it work! I don’t use it for fancy workouts; I don’t follow some wonderful programme – I literally just step on and off it for 30 minutes. Sometimes I listen to music whilst I’m doing it (Dusty Springfield is great!); sometimes I watch TV (The Professionals; Alias Smith & Jones); I just make sure I do at least one session a day – two if it’s rubbish weather or there’s some other reason I don’t want to go out for a walk.
The third element in my fitness triumvirate is the Apple Activity App (and it’s only the Apple Exercise App because I choose to live within the Apple ecosystem as opposed to the alternatives). I use this to keep me accountable for exercise and general movement. It tracks three things:- Move – I keep this target purposely low; it’s currently set to making sure I burn 360 calories per day and most days I will double this, every so often I will triple it. ‘Move’ is hard to define as I notice I get a higher ‘score’ if I sit and knit than I do if I actually go out and walk, but you take it as it comes, really. The app also tots up your Move streak and at the moment I have met my Move target for 110 consecutive days. Exercise – I have this set to 30 minutes per day; again, I usually achieve more than this. Both timed workout sessions and general exercise count in this one, although you have to go for a brisk walk rather than a general amble for it to be deemed exercise. Stand – This is always set to a minimum of 12 hours ‘standing’ per day – which means that you have got off your chair and moved around for a minimum of a minute in each of those 12 hours. It’s a good one because it is surprisingly easy to remain relatively motionless for huge stretches of time, and on this one sitting knitting doesn’t count as ‘standing’ – you do actually have to get up and walk about.
Using this app has shown me that I am very motivated by achieving targets, no matter if they are completely arbitrary and even if I don’t really understand what constitutes a particular achievement. Give me a big, shiny, virtual medal and I’ll obey you!
Chapter 6 – stationery
My love of stationery has continued to thrive in 2018 and I have been lucky enough to be able to use my fountain pens and lovely notebooks even more as I have gone through the year. In February I took part in InCoWriMo for the second year and totally sucked at it! I will do it again in 2019 and I’m determined to succeed in sending out 28 letters this time. I’ve corresponded with some lovely and interesting people doing this challenge and it is well worth it.
I didn’t increase my store of fountain pens during the year, and I don’t have any intention of doing so in 2019. I did receive two lovely new bottles of ink as Christmas gifts. These are from Lamy’s new Crystal ink range and they are both simply gorgeous. I feel rather ho-hum about Lamy’s standard inks so wasn’t sure if this higher-end range would inspire me, but I am very impressed with the initial try-out. Although they aren’t huge bottles (30ml compared to 75ml in a bottle from Graf von Faber-Castell), this keeps the price at a point where you can comfortably put it on a gift list. (I am a normal person some of the time and I can completely understand that people who don’t use fountain pens might baulk at shelling out £23-£29 for a bottle of ink from lines like Graf von Faber-Castell and Pilot Iroshizuku.)
I am still a sucker for a pretty, or simple but incredibly well-made, notebook. In fact, I choose my handbags based on how easily I can fit an A5 notebook and pen into it. On that front, I received a further very thoughtful gift at Christmas, a leather case to carry three pens which is proving to be such a good item to take in and out of your bag.
Chapter 7 – being a fan
A huge part of this year for me has been about being a fan, primarily of Blake’s 7, but also of Dr. Who, Kojak, Alias Smith and Jones, and the hundred other little flames I keep burning across the years. Being a fan brings me so much pleasure and it is a joy that I share with my grandson which is even better than experiencing it alone.
This year was a happy one as we went about celebrating 40 years since the first showing of Blake’s 7, and we pushed the boat out with a weekend convention where I met loads of lovely people: fans, crew and cast members. I am still smiling with pleasure every time I think about it. It was sad, too, as the inimitable Jacqueline “Servalan” Pearce passed away; a tiny, but larger than life lady who leaves behind the most marvellous memories with all who met her, however fleetingly.
I know it has also been a tough year for Ian Kubiak who organises the Cygnus Alpha conventions and I just want to ackowledge how much poorer my life would be if I had not stumbled upon his web page in 2016 and reignited my love of Blake’s 7. Ian, his family and all who help out at the conventions have earned a very special place in my affections.
Chapter 8 – word of the year
I am not keen on New Year’s Resolutions, but for a few years now I have chosen a ‘word of the year’ to give me something to focus on. These have been “Return” (2016); “Flexibility (2017); “Home” (2018). Whilst I didn’t really manage to be terribly flexible in any way at all during 2017, I think keeping home in mind through 2018 helped me a lot and it was very successful. I have always been very much a homebody – it is where I feel happy and free to be creative. For me, there is nothing better than shutting the door and knowing that nothing needs to intrude unless I will it. Except, of course, for those lovely people I don’t actually know who like to spread joy by phoning me from foreign climes to suggest that my broadband will be disconnected unless I give them control of my computer.
For 2019 I have chosen “Establish” as my word of the year and this is to help me focus on getting things onto a firm footing through 2019 whilst trying to be more the person I want to be and less the person that convention suggests I should be. I am looking forward to seeing how this works through the upcoming year.
Chapter 9 – visitors on WordPress
I have loved writing my blog this past few months, but I think even more than the writing, I enjoy seeing all the countries where visitors have logged in to view my posts. In 2018 these have been (from lowest number of visits to highest number):
Switzerland – Thailand – Philippines – Netherlands – Austria – Japan – United Arab Emirates – New Zealand – Ukraine – France – Portugal – Egypt – Russia – Croatia – Indonesia – Sweden – Hong Kong – Finland – China – South Africa – Australia – Romania – India – Ireland – Germany – Canada – United States – United Kingdom.
So, if you are the person who visited from Switzerland today and read my Quote of the Week from Bob Dylan, thank you, I hope you enjoyed your trip. And, of course, my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has come to look at my tiny plot on the internet and has enjoyed what they have read here.
Whew, this is a mammoth blog entry. I would like to end it by wishing everyone all the best for the coming year.
The good news is, I have a finished object! The less good news is that I can’t show a picture because it’s my super-secret Christmas knitting. I’m pleased to have this finished in good time for gifting, and to have it finished just in order not to see it in my work basket any more. Now I can get a bit of colour back into my life.
Previously, I mentioned that although I’m halfway through my old gold/mustard cardigan, I am not totally sure it’s what I want to be knitting with this wool. I thought the time away from it doing the Christmas knit would resolve that, but I am still just as undecided. By that, I mean that my head is saying I should keep on with the cardigan because I’ve already put in a fair amount of work on it, whilst my heart is saying knit a chunkier jumper because that’s what I would wear right now. I think most people who know me think it’s a given that I will follow my head, but actually I always follow my heart then quickly think up sensible-sounding justifications. So the chances are I will cast on for a chunkier knit this evening. I’ll let you know.
In the meantime, I’ve thought a fair bit over recent months about the question of whether it’s okay to knit in public and, if so, whether there are times when it is appropriate, or inappropriate, to do so. My good old friend, Kojak, has helped me out here. If you recall, we previously encountered our lovable, sexy, bald, dew-eyed cop as he prowled the corridors of the court-house, hand-knitted sock in hand. This, however, is not the only time knitting happens in the series. The still above is taken from an episode in Series 4; two desperate gunmen have taken hostages and holed up in a church. The younger of the two women being held decides this is the time to get out her knitting – a lovely big red jumper by the looks of things, being knit on a pair of straight needles. She, clearly, is a fan of knitting in public and also knows a thing or two about how knitting can help you de-stress. I am not so sure I would get my knitting out under those circumstances. The chances are that at least some of the people are going to get shot and that alone would put me off. I know the blood wouldn’t show against the red wool, but even so, what if a stray bullet should damage your jumper before you’re even half-finished?
How about you? If it was 1976 and you were holed up in a church with two desperate criminals, would you be knitting?
To begin, just a brief update following Monday’s post – I am back on track with the Christmas knitting. The problem that had discouraged me responded well to a quick fix and so, with a huge sigh of relief, I have continued on my merry way. Having a day or two away from it was definitely the best way to go.
So, on with today’s post. You may recall that last week I was in limbo as far as my planning/organising/diary keeping for 2019 goes; now all is resolved. I am the happy (ecstatic) recipient of the 2019 bound diary from Mark + Fold as part of my subscription to their quarterly stationery box service. I will be so sad when this expires, but I’ve got a good stock of items I have received from them so it isn’t as if I will suddenly be doing cold turkey on the posh stationery front.
Receiving this parcel means, naturally, that the planner binders I unearthed last week will return to their repose. I will doubtless get them out again this time next year. They are not dissimilar to one of Dickens’ ghosts – come Christmas, they remind me of what may happen in the future, and then they disappear whilst I lean from my window bestowing bonhomie upon confused neighbours. I don’t do the whole trying to buy the biggest turkey in London thing because, frankly, I am not that keen on turkey.
I have said before on the blog how much I have enjoyed using the bound diary this year. The way in which I have used the relatively simple page layout has varied during the year, but over the past few weeks I have really got into my stride with how it can best work for me. I think this is something that will/does change as one’s life changes, so it might not stay the same for the entirety of next year, but it’s working at present. The thing I particularly like about this diary is that you can change up how you lay things out in it quite easily – a useful attribute when you’re inclined to get bored as soon as you’ve done things in a particular way for a short while.
It is also time to move from one journal to another as I finished the last page in my current book on Saturday morning. This changeover is like-for-like, but I shall have to see how it goes when I have filled this Rhodiarama notebook. The first entry on the completed one was on 2nd October 2018 and I have been very consistent, only missing two days between then and now. I am not going to depress myself by going back to check how many of those entries mention Kojak – I’m afraid it might be every single one! In fact, every entry might just be a synopsis of the plot of the previous day’s episode, not very cleverly disguised as a journal entry. I need make no excuses; I am a highly focused individual – a trait I share with my beloved grandson – and at the moment Fortnite and Kojak happen to be the things that we are focused on.
I had to undertake a bit of a seek and locate mission over the weekend to find some paper I wanted to use with one of the Christmas cards I am writing. In the process, I happened upon a box of old photos so I seized the opportunity to dig out some that I either want to scan or want to show to relatives as I see them in the coming weeks. I am particularly keen for my grandson to see one of his mum at about the age he is now and she will get a kick out of it as it features a toy she has very fond memories of. Some of the photos have sneaked into the picture with my new journal.
In the dying light of Sunday afternoon I got out my fountain pens and had a session filling them with a selection of colours in preparation for writing letters and Christmas cards this week. I plumped for purple, brown and green inks. Yesterday, at last, I had the chance to visit The Writing Desk shop in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. What a charming shop! The service was great – unobtrusive, but friendly, and advice proffered just to make sure I was buying appropriate items. I hope to have the chance to visit again in the coming months.
I hope you are all having a good week. It has been fun looking back and looking fowards.
I was fascinated by the appearance of hand-knitted socks in one of last week’s re-runs of Kojak (Series 4, Episode 3 – Law Dance). One of the numerous things I love about Kojak is how he is portrayed as being fascinated by everything. Most episodes see him fiddling with something – blowing bubbles in a country store, leafing through a huge book about insects, trying on the cologne left by a suspect in a hotel room – or throwing off-hand remarks that are very esoteric. I don’t know if that came totally from the writing or if some of it is input from Telly Savalas’ interpretation, but I love it.
In this particular episode it was knitted socks – the lady handed them to him to carry whilst she cleaned her glasses and throughout their conversation as they walked along a corridor he was intently studying the needles and stitches. Later in the episode there was a close-up of the socks being worked on during a courtroom scene and again Kojak was looking down at the knitting, not up at the courtroom. The knitter in me was impressed. (The socks, of course, were brown and beige – it was the 1970s after all.)
So, sadly, Kojak is not knitting socks, but rest assured if he had been, they would have been the sexiest socks in the universe.
In other knitting news, I am having a bit of a crisis over the lovely gold cardigan I am knitting. Having completed the back and one side of the front, I am suddenly wishing that I was using the wool doubled to knit a thicker jumper, inspired by this one currently on sale at Marks and Spencer:
I hope it’s just a passing whim and I will be back on track with the cardigan when my super-secret Christmas knitting is finished – or started, the knitting wool delivery is so super-secret even I don’t know when it will come.
Finally, a lament – I have finished my favourite perfume. The bottle is, as my mum would have put it, a “dead man” (something that is completely used up). The perfume is Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez and I have worn this, on and off (more off than on because it can be difficult to get hold of), since the late 1970s. I read a story recently that Elizabeth Taylor wore it during the filming of Cleopatra, and apparently after that she gifted it to Michael Jackson who wore it for the rest of his life. Eek!
Do you have any favourite knitting scenes from TV or film – such as Dumbledore’s famous comment about knitting patterns in the Harry Potter films? Do you ever get part of the way through knitting something and wonder if it should be something else, and do you change, or do you persevere? Do you have a favourite perfume or just chop and change as the mood hits you?
So it’s time to update you on the inks in my fountain pens, now we are heading through October.
Colour me satisfied
I finished up the Graf von Faber-Castell Violet Blue ink very soon after my previous update and inked up the Waterman Hemisphere Blue pen with a cartridge of Caran d’Ache Chromatics Ultraviolet.
After that I worked my way through the cartridge of Graf von Faber-Castell Moss Green in my Waterman Hemisphere Rose Cuivre. I waited a while before refilling this one as I am searching for a decent purple ink. My favourite was the Lamy special edition Dark Lilac and nothing really comes close to that from the brands that I enjoy using. I have just bought some cartridges of Waterman’s Tender Purple to try out in this pen.
I am also constantly checking out red inks to find a favourite – I want a nice vibrant red, either a true red or one towards the bluer end of the spectrum. My favourite to date is J Herbin’s Rouge Caroubier. I decided to try out the Graf von Faber-Castell Garnet Red in my wetter-writing Visconti Rembrandt to see if it brought out more of the red, but this remains at best a dried-blood shade whereas the fictional Crime Scene Investigator in me wants fresh, arterial blood spatter!
I am currently nearing the end of the black cartridge in my Lamy LX Rose Gold and this pen may sit out of rotation for a while, although I love it dearly and will no doubt ink it again within a couple of weeks of making this decision!
I use my pens how?
It has struck me during the past month that although I will often have multiple fountain pens inked with different colours, I tend to use them pretty monogamously. Whichever pen I am using at a given time, I will use for pretty much everything I write – journal, appointment diary, catch-all notebook. Occasionally I will break out a different pen, usually if I need a contrasting colour for some reason, but I don’t seem to rotate between the pens I have inked during the same time period. I quite like the way this gives a visual represenation of the time when I was writing particular things, especially in my journal when I have a stretch of entries in one colour, followed by a further stretch in a different colour.
I thought it might be good to put in an example of my journal-writing, just in case anyone is reading who thinks that what you write in your journal needs to be exciting, or momentous, or even vaguely readable!
I journal in an A5 Rhodiarama notebook, by preference the Sapphire colour cover which comes with orange end-papers, ribbon and elastic to keep it closed. Over and above my preference for colour, I am strict about journals having fountain-pen friendly paper and strongly, strongly prefer lined paper. These Rhodia notebooks have 7mm ruling and I would say that’s about right for my handwriting.
Crocker’s Pen Day
That was going to be it for today’s entry, but I watched what might count as the best episode ever of Kojak over lunch today and have decided to nominate today as Crocker’s Pen Day.
In this episode, which had me roaring with laughter on many fronts, Detective Inspector Theo Kojak and Detective Robert Crocker travelled to the middle of nowhere, Nevada, USA for reasons too complex to get into. Crocker lent Kojak his pen to sign in at the Motel and they left it sitting on the register. Now, I am sure any pen user watching would have been shouting along with me “Don’t forget your pen, Bobby!” As they exited stage left to their room, a suspicious-looking dude entered stage right – he had been dispatched by the bad guys to find out who these New York cops were.
Have you guessed? Yep, he picked up Crocker’s pen, wrote some information with it and pocketed it, despite Crocker returning and telling him it was his pen. The infamy! Later in the episode Kojak and Crocker got involved in a spectacular bar-room brawl, mainly due to Crocker not being able to let this guy get away with nicking his pen – perfectly reasonable if you ask me.
And here, for your delight, is the moment of the pen theft.
I believe there is a lesson to be learnt here about never letting suspicious-looking dudes get their hands on your pen!
Playlist: If this doesn’t make you want to take a listen to Elvis Costello “Watching The Detectives”, I don’t know what will!