Sunday, 11 November 2012

Beaumont cowl

I designed this cowl while staying in a lovely little village in France, called Beaumont. 

You will need: 
22-24” 4.5mm circular needle 
22-25” 5mm circular needle 
170 metres DK yarn 
one stitch marker 
cable needle 
tapestry needle 

This makes a cowl with a 24” circumference, to make it larger or smaller simply increase or decrease by 12 sts, but this size should fit everyone. 

Using 4.5mm needle CO 156 sts using cable CO, join for working in the round and remember to place the stitch marker! 
K2, p2 rib for four rounds. Change to 5mm needles. 
Rows 1, 2, 3, and 4: *K6, p1, k4, p1, repeat from * to end of round. 
Row 5: *C4f, k2, p1, c4f, p1, repeat to end of round. 
Rows 6, 7, 8, and 9: Same as round 1. 
Row 10: *K2, c4f, p1, c4f, p1, repeat to end of round. 

Repeat these 10 rows four times, then repeat row 1 four times. 
Change back to 4.5mm needles and k2, p2 rib for five rounds. 
BO using a 5mm needle – this will help the rib to fan out and fit on your shoulders better. 
Weave in ends and you're done! 

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

I dream Star Wars dreams

I'm planning on making a whole LP based on Star Wars places that I love. The tracks are weird and glitchy, and made using VSTs that I've made myself.

A morning

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Art kids

I read about the three children whose art has been chosen for the Royal Academy of Arts' summer exhibition, beating 11,000 other entrants, and it got me thinking; not just about the usual "a five year old could have done that" argument that some modern art can elicit, but about kid's art in general.

The three children who have had work selected to appear alongside some fabulous artists such as Tracey Emin and Michael Landy are aged nine and ten. Pretty young, I'm sure you'll agree, to be making art of such note. It made me think about why I appreciate modern art. My response to a piece at the most basic level: do I like to look at it. I want to feel something in return, yes, but I also want to know more about the process the artist used; not just how they made it, but why they made it. I adore Tracey Emin's work, but at first glance you might think "oh, anyone could have done that". But not anyone did. She did, and her work explains why she did. Where the beach hut came from, why the bed is unmade.

We've all seen art in galleries and thought, goodness me, what were they thinking when they did that bloody mess? But if I have a sense of what the artist wanted to say, that usually trumps what it even looks like - for me, at least.

I've only seen two of the children's pieces. Tree, by Felix Chadwick-Histed, and Poppy Sendell's lino print (of trees as well).

Poppy Sendell with her lino print

Trees, by Felix Chadwick-Histed

Both pieces are lovely. I enjoy looking at them, but I have neither emotional response nor attachment. To have that, the artist needs to have put it there in the first place. How much angst, unhappiness, love or emotion, can a ten year old really have experienced?

Read more in the Guardian.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Quick and easy flatbreads

A super easy and very quick flatbread recipe.

Makes 2, all tablespoons are heaped
You will need:
6 and a half tablespoons SR flour
2 tablespoons hummous
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon of water (you may need to add a little bit more)
Small handful of freshly chopped herbs of your choice (I normally use parsley or chives, but a good few pinches of dried herbs works well too)
Pinch of sea salt, pinch of black pepper, good pinch of cumin seeds, ground together in a pestle and mortar (ready-ground cumin isn't as good)

* Add everything into a large bowl and bring together into a dough, adding a few more drops of water if needed.
* Turn out and knead for a minute or two.
* Half the dough and press both bits into two rounds with your fingers, to about half a centimetre thick (no need for precision here!)
* In a dry frying pan on a medium heat, cook the flatbreads for 2-3 mins on each side, or until golden and a bit brown.
* Leave to cool on a wire rack for a minute.

Great with curry, tagine or stew.

You can replace the hummous with a good dollop of Greek yoghurt
Replace the olive oil with peanut oil
Add some turmeric to add a lovely golden yellow colour
Try caraway seeds instead of cumin
Use coriander seeds and fresh coriander
A dollop of tomato ketchup instead of hummous

...all delish!

Designing baby shrugs

I have been busy designing baby clothes for my gorgeous niece. Here they are:

Ruffles (these aren't names, they're descriptions, 'ruffles' would be a terrible name for a shrug!)

Lace and cable

Stripes and crochet

It's actually more difficult designing baby clothes, well it is for me because I'm crap at knowing how small babies are. The stripey shrug will probably fit my niece when she is three!

Not sure about selling the patterns yet: separately, or as a little booklet? Maybe if I come up with another two, then a booklet of 5 patterns would be good value for a tenner.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Stripey cardi

I recently commissioned some wool from in a very special colourway - it's called Jabba's Palace! I'm a massive Star Wars geek, yes. But I didn't want to waste the beautiful wool trying out a pattern for the first time, so I bought some cheap Sirdar Click DK and made a little cardi from this amazing pattern. I'll blog about my lush new wool once I've taken photos.

What can I say? I love it! It knitted up really quickly, and it's comfy and nice to wear. Bloomin' marvellous. I even have enough wool left over to make my baby niece a shrug in the same colours - she'll match Uncle Andrew! How cute will that be?

I added the three square pics because I am currently addicted to Instagram for my Android phone.

I even have a Tumblr to show off the results (and a few things that tickle my fancy!)

Empty Alphabet EP

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A Provincial Life – Sherman Theatre Cardiff

I was very excited to go and see this play, my first time in the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff since it has been renovated. Renovated is totally the wrong word, it has been re-made, and it’s beautiful! A lovely bar and waiting area, the theatre was amazing, and the toilets were super clean!

I don’t think I had ever seen a Peter Gill play before last night, and I don’t think I’ll bother going to see another. A Provincial Life is based on Chekhov’s story My Life, where an educated, privileged young man struggles with his conscience and decides to become a worker. The Sherman’s blurb told me it was about a struggle for equality, but I felt it was more about the class divide than a struggle. The only characters who seemed to be concerned about equality were Misail, the protagonist, and the Doctor (can’t remember his name).

The staging was brilliant. All the characters would carry in the props – tables and chairs – at the start of every scene, and carry them out again at the end. It was bare and bleak, and fitted the story perfectly. The costumes and props were amazing; it’s always satisfying to hear a saucepan lid clang as it is supposed to. Sadly, that is all the praise I can give it. The acting was shockingly amateur, and the whole thing had the air of a school production. The play did feature some big Welsh names: William Thomas is one of my favourite actors. His performance was undoubtedly the best, which only served to make the younger members of the cast look even worse. The big names: William Thomas, Helen Griffin, Ieuan Rhys (or Glyn the Policeman, as I will always think of him) and rent-a-Welsh-granny Menna Trussler, acted the rest off the stage – yet they were given a scant few lines. The exception being Clive Merrison, who was as hammy and over the top as usual.

Nicholas Shaw, as protagonist Misail, wasn’t very good at all. I don’t know if it was his real accent, or if putting an accent on was giving him trouble, but he had an intermittent speech impediment that made it hard to listen to him. He made several speeches with his back to half the audience, and stumbled over quite a few lines. He started his lines early, and also made a rather huge mistake in his final soliloquy: his sister was pregnant and had been expecting a boy, but she died and he now looked after his niece. In his speech he said “my sister was convinced it was going to be a girl, but the child was a boy”. He got mixed up and mixed up the line. Shoddy. He also had a very annoying habit of smiling at the end of many of his lines, not at anyone in particular, just a smile which did not fit with the line or the situation.

I can’t apportion all the blame of a bad play on the actors, the fault lies with the writer. Even superb actors like William Thomas can only do so much with bad lines (but actors as bad as Clive Merrison take them to new levels of horror!) Gill’s dialogue is stilted and incomplete. Characters hardly conversed in the play, they merely spoke sentences, sometimes those sentences related to the last sentence another character spoke, but we were lucky to have that happen – most of the time they were unrelated nonsense: “I have to put my boots away”, “They have turned me into a house-keeper”.

The characters did not show any emotion either; they spoke aloud how they were feeling. I am so tired, I am worried, I have had enough... I thought everyone had heard about show don’t tell. Not Gill, it seems. There were also long periods of silence while the actors either walked around the stage, or folded picnic blankets or pretended to drink tea. It was amateurish, and very dull to watch. Gill obviously knows Chekhov’s story intimately, forgetting that perhaps his audience aren’t as familiar with it. I certainly wasn’t. So he glosses over parts of the story, as I know one must when adapting for a different medium, but he neglected to explain things sufficiently – this was balanced with a desire to include other ridiculous details to the detriment of the plot. The train guard Ivan might be an important character in the novella, but he is superfluous in the play. I suspect he’s there to provide comic relief, but Gill’s clumsy attempts at humour come off as just that, attempts. The brief moments of humour in Gill’s play are not the dark, bitter humour one finds in Chekhov’s work. The subplot of Ivan’s mother having an affair with Moesi (no idea how to spell that name) and Ivan subsequently chasing him with a gun, is never developed further than that. The audience is given a glimpse at a story, then it simply stops. I would rather Gill had erased that character and back story and had more with Andrei Ivanov (played by wonderful William Thomas).

At the end, I clapped as that is only polite, but the cast took so long in coming out to bow, that the clapping nearly died out before Nicolas Shaw had even come back on stage. As I walked home, a young couple who’d also been to see the play summed it up perfectly. She turned to him and said “Well, that wasn’t very good, was it?”
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