No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better...

Monday, February 28, 2011

There at the beginning

Hello there,

I was going to write a review of The King's Speech which we saw in the park two nights ago.  But from what I'm reading on blogland, pretty much everyone has seen it.  So, I thought I would give you this instead to celebrate the Oscars.  Enjoy!

(Sorry - couldn't resist...)

Friday, February 25, 2011

The antidote

Having stropped around a bit more yesterday, I woke up this morning determined to forget about the whole Morris & Co debacle. And what better way to do so than with a coffee and a yarn.

What a fab place!

It's bright and airy and has friendly staff who will serve you tea while they help you get around the tricky heel of a sock (not me you understand, but a rather lovely man who tutted a lot to himself before eventually asking the experts).

They even have one of these...

... like Annie and Laura have at Nimble Fingers and Steady Eyebrows, which I am coming to see as the mark of a pukka wool shop.

The man with the wayward sock and I sat at the same table, and there, invitingly, was this:

Exactly like at Grandma's but without the intimidatingly cool waiters. So, after I'd sipped my tea for a bit, I did just that. Actually, I knit four rows quick smart before I knew what was happening. LOOK!

Apart from the random blue bit that was part of the yarn, not bad for the first time in 25 years. (Just to clarify, mine are the knit and purl rows at the top. I could be wrong, but I think the person before me wandered in after a session at Grandma's and fancied a go...) To celebrate, I resisted the urge to buy (yet more) yarn but instead got myself some knitting needles... pink with white dots on that remind me somehow of fairy tale toadstools. I had it in mind to knit a tea cozy (well they had some in the shop...). But then I found this...

...hidden away in this basket... a junk shop down the road. I know, it's cheating a bit, but I think the pink and white stripes are rather lovely.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I know that the etiquette of blogland dictates that I should not swear on my blog so i will restrain myself. But you should know that I am swearing to myself as I write this. I'm so cross I could spit.

I went to see Morris & Sons today. Neither he nor his sons were there. Instead I spoke to a succession of women, each of whom told me the same thing. They don't accept the return of books. Period. Something about past experiences with customers photocopying the books and returning them. And they could only accept the yarn cutter (the cheapest item) for a store credit. I countered that I am here on holiday and if I wanted to cart paper around with me, I would have kept the book, and that I could make no use of the store credit because I live on the other side of the world. "Oh but we can ship to anywhere" I was told. Doubtless at great expense. At that point I was feeling so peevish I said that I wanted to return the wool. No problem. They could give me a store credit. We went round like that a few times until I accepted the futility of arguing with the inflexible gatekeepers of this inflexible policy. So I left in a huff.

Now I am cross beyond imagining. It's useless to tell me that the return policy was on the receipt. And that I shouldn't have been so profligate to begin with. I know all that. And yes, I am cross with myself as well as Morris & Co. And tomorrow I will get on with it and open the book and chunter a bit while I figure out how to do ripple. But just for now allow me to wander around muttering to myself about the injustice of it all.

A pox on Mr. Morris. And his sons. Bah. Humbug.


A rush of blood to the head

Two Christmases ago, my sister bought me a scarf from Brora.

I now carry it around with me like a child with a blanket. I'm in Australia. It's hot here. But here it is with me.

It actually turned out to be pretty useful on the plane. The combination of tiredness and over-zealous air con meant that the extra warmth and comfort was just what was needed (I know - I sound like a granny...).

Anyway, inspired by this cashmere loveliness, and having mastered (sic) granny squares, I have decided to try my hand at ripple.

So, the other day, I went in search of a yarn shop and found Morris & Sons where I had a great chat with a very nice woman about my ripple scarf. There was some delicious cashmere yarn, but it was eye wateringly expensive, so I settled instead on some baby Alpaca:

So far, so good. But it didn't stop there. No.

Realising I didn't have a clue how to do ripple stitch, I had a look through the crochet books and found this: excellent book with all sorts of useful instruction and pictorial tutorials, including some great ideas on ripple. And while I was at it, I also picked out a yarn cutter...

...because yanking the lovely wool apart with my fists didn't seem quite the thing. In short, I got a bit dizzy with it all. So, when I came to pay and the very nice woman asked for an amount equivalent to the GDP of a small country, I handed over my card like the shorn sheep the yarn around me came from.

It was only after I got home and that lingering sense of over-indulgence wouldn't go away that I hit on the idea of having a look at how much these things would have cost online. Oh my goodness! How does anyone do any crafting here? Without getting into the sordid detail, for two minutes on Amazon and Clover, I averted the need to call in the IMF just yet. So, Iwill be paying Mr. Morris and his sons a visit tomorrow to return my spoils.

But I am pleased to report that the yarn was pretty much the same price here as online, so I get to keep the baby Alpaca. Good.

Am I the only one losing my head when all about me are keeping theirs?


Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunshine on a rainy day

It was overcast when we woke up this morning and the weekend crowds had left with the sunshine, so the beach had the feel of a dancehall on a Sunday morning.

So we spent the morning reading...

...and spying on the local wildlife...

...before taking ourselves off for a lazy lunch at a place where they keep the sunshine in the napkins...

...followed by some wistful gazing through the windows of a Monday-closed shop... all the things we realised we need, if only the shop were open...

...the kind of place where even a dish mop look special.

So we cheered ourselves up by looking at the sun hats...

...and eating ice cream (fig and mascarpone - yum)...

...and mooching around the bookshop...

...and drinking endless cups of coffee...

...all rounded off with a trip to the cinema... see...

...which turned out to be FANTASTIC...

.....and because the cinema was empty...

...the projectionist invited us into the booth... see the cutting edge technology.

I really hope it rains again tomorrow.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Where crochet meets the sea

When I was little, seaside holidays were all about primus stoves and sand in your sandwiches, piled into the back of the car with my sisters, and the dog who always had bad breath. And huddling for shelter behind the rocks while the Atlantic pounded away in front of us, and my Mum rubbing the sand from our legs with a rough towel.

They do things differently here.

But it's still about hunting for weird sea creatures on the shore...

...and finding weird and wonderful rock formations...

...a getting Mr. P to sport the latest swimwear courtesy of The Rocks Push.

And in case you think it's all lolling about with no craft thoughts, I have found the most amazing project, which is (and I quote) "a woolly celebration of the intersection between high geometry and feminine handicraft". Don't you just want to meet the person who came up with THAT sentence! The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef aims to raise awareness of the destruction of coral through the deterioration of conditions in their natural habitat. But above all, it's a display of the most fabulous crochet. I doubt I'll get to see it, but it's on at the moment at The Smithsonian in Washington DC and The Craft Council in the UK is showing a version of the same thing in Salisbury until 26 February. If anyone gets to go, I'd love to hear about it. Of course it was in New York until recently, but I was blissfully unaware. Ho hum.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Best laid plans

Mr. P played golf today, which left me with a morning to entertain myself. I fully intended to spend it with the Terracotta Warriors which came to London awhile back but I never did see. That was precisely what I had planned. Really.

But then over breakfast, I was leafing through Time Out and came across a page on shopping in Balmain and the fact that Shearling Antiques stocks "sewing and textile relics". And the next thing I knew I was on the bus to Balmain.

Oh my goodness, what a treasure trove!

I got chatting to the owner's husband who was minding the shop and we put the world to rights. And I found a match for some lovely linen napkins that my sister bought me years ago; somewhere among my many moves I'd managed to lose one:

But my real find was this:

A 1950s knitting bag. I've been using a canvas bag from Urban Outfitters (I don't own anything from there and don't ever remember going in there but somehow I have their bag...), but this is much more the ticket.

My granny squares will be quite at home in here.

I also went to The Essential Ingredient which to anyone who's ever cooked, or thought about cooking, or just eaten anything ever, is the best cookshop you could possibly hope to find. (Their website is also one of those things the web was invented for.). I somehow resisted the urge to buy yet another cookbook, and bought this instead:

No idea if I'll ever actually use it, but honestly, how could you not?
And the perfect kitchen hand towel:

Yesterday, I saw an old book about crocheting towel tops. But somehow I think that falls at the knitted knickers end of the crafting spectrum.

And I can always go to the warriors next week.


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