A new dawn

Walk to work

I am slowly regaining my balance after a hectic autumn into which I have crammed enough life experiences to see me through at least a couple of years. I am enjoying my new job, settling into my new home, and just beginning to feel myself unfurling from the inevitable tension all these changes incur.

Since I moved flat, I have been able to walk to and from work (a journey of 2.1 miles each way) which is proving good for my fitness. Whilst I am still technically living within the city, I am in a rather more open area than I was previously, and the photo above is a taste of part of my route. It is good for my soul to have views such as this to enjoy, whilst still having the security of walking by a well-lit and well-used main road; indeed I feel I am enjoying the best of both worlds.

Part of the romance of the flat I am now renting is that it is close enough to the railway tracks to hear the hoot of the trains. I had a pleasant surprise the morning after I moved in when I realised I could see the trains from my kitchen window. When we stayed with my maternal grandparents in York, we loved being able to hear the trains in the distance as we sat in my grandpa’s music room, and I am sure that is why we retain an affection for the railway.

My new home is just slightly larger than my old one, although it is still a one-bedroom flat. The extra space has allowed me to reinstate some items of furniture from my family home that had been stored in my garage for the past fourteen years. These came out in amazing condition, needing just a good clean to be as good as they were the day they left my parents’ house. These include the dining table from my grandparents’ home in York, and the wardrobe that my parents owned and used for many, many years and which I always coveted. It is good to see such old friends again and to know they are back in use.

As part of my re-entry to normal life, I have booked my place at the next meeting of the writers’ group that I was attending before circumstances rudely interrupted my routines. I am starting, too, to think of my next knitting project, although I really must put some effort into finding homes for things around the flat before I go too far down that road.

It is good to reconnect with my blog and to write a bit about my new home. I’m looking forward to slowly picking up where I left off, and to having some new projects to share with you in the coming weeks.

I hope the last few months have been kind to you and that you are approaching the last few weeks of the year with a happy glow. Whilst this season can be chilly, dark and tiring, it is also full of shining lights and happy faces if you look in the right places.

Take care, and I look forward to being back again very soon.

 

A weekend chez moi

18-02-19 Pretty Norwich
How pretty was my city?

Good morning, my friends. I think today I am going to do a general round-up of things that I did over the weekend. Firstly, though, just how pretty does Norwich look with its wonderful watercolour sky?

On Saturday, I visited the Norfolk Makers’ Festival with one of my best friends who is also a very talented knitter, photographer and jewellery-maker. The Makers’ Festival is a celebration of local artisans and an opportunity for everyone to get involved and try out things they may never have done before. Some items are on sale, but that is not the main focus of the event. There are also lots of displays of creative items, including an entire knitted reproduction of the Golden Mile at Yarmouth in the 1970s – quite a sight! Two of my favourite works were the Poppy Curtain and the Suffrage Quilt.

My friend pointed out that it is very encouraging to see not only so many people at the event, but the number of young people having a go at a whole variety of different crafts. It certainly seems to grip the imagination every bit as much as the modern technologies.

18-02-19 Chopstick Spin
Gateway drug….

Whilst at the Festival, I decided to buy a little introductory Chopstick Spinning Kit. I have long been sitting on the fence about spinning; in some ways it intrigues me, but I feel it has the potential to just add clutter to my life without being something I really love to do. This kit seems the ideal way to try it out with very minimal investment just to determine whether it interests me enough to warrant putting time and money into practising it. Although it is quite limited, this kit is ideal to introduce the concept of adding twist to fibre, pinching it, allowing the twist to travel into the next part of the fibre, and plying the strand to make a length of yarn. After only a few hours playing with this, I can confidently predict that there will be a drop-spindle in my life in the very near future. It has also occurred to me that I will prefer to spin dyed bumps of fibre to natural fleece because you know me and colour – I am far more likely to want to keep spinning if there’s pretty effects happening as I go along.

The Festival runs until Sunday 24th February 2019 and I would highly recommend a visit if you are in or around Norwich this week.

18-02-19 Norfolk Makers
Love the irregular Granny Squares making up these blankets/hangings

I think that visit has led me to have a number of crafty thoughts throughout the weekend, and to clarify some things that I have been pondering for a while now. That hopefully means there will be some different items making their way into my very static Etsy shop between now and Easter. Prototypes need to be worked on.

By comparison, Sunday was a quiet day for me, just some knitting, some letter-writing (InCoWriMo is going very well this year, I am happy to report), quite a lot of Starsky and Hutch, and a portion of Christmas Pudding and Rum Sauce for my tea. I am so glad I decided to make a full batch of Christmas Pudding mix last year and freeze six portions to eat when I had a yen for it.

I hope you have all had a lovely weekend and that you manage to do some fun things through the week too.


 

Inspiration and a Sopwith Camel

It has been a funny old week, with me veering wildly between a total lack of inspiration and an outpouring of inspiration that didn’t know where to stop. Not the kind of week where I have been able to get things under control; and when I say “things” I mean my head.

There is a lot of wisdom to be found on the subject of inspiration and the advice unwaveringly boils down to “don’t wait for inspiration, build a solid practice of turning up to your creative deeds and the inspiration will follow”. This is good advice and it actually works. It is how people get their books written, their jumpers knitted, their paintings done, their cakes baked. I know myself just how effective it can be. That is, except on the occasions when you just can’t think of a single thing to write about (or knit, or cook, or paint, or wherever your personal creative muse pushes you).

My periods of inspiration this week have been mainly confined to the realm of knitting, partly a personal project which I will share with you later in the month (nothing major, but I worked on it yesterday and it provided me with some laughs and an interesting insight into my yarn-buying habits); and partly on a product idea for my Etsy shop which I need to complete, photograph and load up for sale. This is all very good, except my aim for this week was to balance my time between trying to find some paying work, sorting the prototype item for my shop, and doing some creative writing and only one of those three was actually getting done.

This is where the inspiration part really comes into play, because at tea-time yesterday I had a spiffing short story title pop into my head unbidden (well, actually it was something I said out loud to myself and then thought “Blast, that would make a good short story!”) so I jotted it down for consideration at a later date. When I sat down later in the evening to read the Haruki Murakami novel I got for Christmas – which is, by the way, every bit as brilliant as all his previous works – I read exactly one paragraph before I realised that I really wanted to be writing something rather than reading, so I wrote a few paragraphs of the short story. It felt very good indeed to make a start on it.

Now, to less esoteric business. Normally on a Friday I would bring you a Quote of the Week, but this week I wanted to share something I read as I was out and about in Norwich.

07-01-19 sopwith camel
The Sopwith Camel, built in Norwich by Boulton and Paul

This is part of a plaque that is sited in the Riverside complex in my home city of Norwich, UK. I think I knew before that the Sopwith Camel was built in Norwich, but it’s one of those facts I forget for long periods of time. This particularly charms me because as a teenager I was very fond of the Peanuts cartoons by Charles M Schultz and Snoopy often pretended his kennel was a Sopwith Camel.

And, of course, as soon as I think of Snoopy, I think of my favourite ever Snoopy image. I was somewhere between the ages of 16 and 18 when I purchased the following greeting card which I kept in physical form for many, many years, but now I only have the scanned image. For me, this is the quintessential Snoopy.

 

I have, thus far, managed to avoid using my little typewriter to draft any stories, but how long can it be?


I hope this little ramble has amused you momentarily and that you have, perhaps, had a more productive week than I have managed.


 

The first one now will later be last…

Christmas knit
Cables, that’s all I’m prepared to say

 

* Title courtesy of Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changing

I was going great guns, honest I was! Today I was planning to share with you some positive vibes about working on the Christmas knitting project and enjoying it far more than I thought I would. I worked over the weekend on a long, thin strip with a braided cable pattern which was just delightful to knit. Then yesterday evening the good fairies departed and the naughty elves arrived and the whole project is in need of a Christmas miracle… which apparently only I can provide. So now, rather than progressing, I am cogitating – which is to say, I am screaming ‘Eek’ repeatedly in my head in the hope that it will stir some Balrog-type creature deep in the caverns of my mind. That won’t help in any practical way, but fighting it will give me a good excuse for not actually having a completed Christmas present. Well, it worked for Tolkein when he didn’t want to write any dialogue for Gandalf for half a book.

Instead of knitting progress, I will just show you another shot of our lovely city.

Church & Sky

It is vaguely reminiscent of those Dr Who episodes where they have to set the whole atmosphere alight to purge some dread gas.

I hope your knitting, or other creative projects, are going well and I hope that I can report a return to form very, very soon.