Alison Crowther-Smith

Archive for January, 2018

Dear Diary

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Do you keep a diary? I mean a record of your days, rather than an appointment book?

I don’t, but I have tried to in the past, with very limited success.  Like (I think) all school girls, I used to start a diary every January and confide my thoughts to it.  These usually seemed to consist of lists of food I had eaten.  The agony of ‘crushes’ on boys sometimes got a mention, along the lines of:  ‘AB at rehearsals today.  He didn’t speak to me, as usual.’  And:  ‘Have just heard that AB is going out with Janet P!!!!  How can he???  Went to the pictures with Ann.  Ate a whole family sized bag of Revels.  Why coffee Revels??? Ate them anyway.’

One entry reads: ‘Had my hair permed today!!! It’s not what I expected.  Is in fact ginger frizz now. I look even more awful than usual and obviously cannot go to school.  Wonder if Mum will let me stay at home until it is grown out???  Had beans and Angel Delight for tea. Watched Doctor Who.’  And later:  ‘Mum says I need to sleep in rollers to get the perm to be curly not frizzy.  This is absolute TORTURE, even the foam ones.  Very disappointed.  Look nothing like Frida in Abba!!  Went round Ann’s and we had fish and chips from the shop.’  Then:  ‘It is the school disco tonight and Mum says I am not allowed to wear makeup but I am taking eye-shadow and lipstick anyway!!’  Later:  ‘School disco was V V V GOOD!!! Had a slow dance with MB at the end!!!  Linda G went round the back of the pavilion with a boy from the 5th year!!! Had a drink of pineapple juice and a bag of crisps.  AB not there.’

I never kept a diary going for more than a few weeks.  My life was so tedious, even to me, I couldn’t face recording it for long. I am glad I did some entries though and I have kept them, along with my school reports and some hideously cringe-worthy poems I wrote as a teenager.

If I was to keep a diary now, I have a feeling it would once again degenerate into a series of lists.  Lists of tasks to do/completed; lists of meals, seeds sown, knitting projects…but if we wrote truthfully in our diaries, what would we say?  I am afraid mine would be along these lines:

Monday: Up V V early to drive to Manchester.  Would be very sorry indeed to recount my feelings about this.  Manchester, from where I have been absent for at least 13 happy years, is the place of my birth and early childhood.  I then had an enforced reunion with the city and especially its neighbour, Stockport, when my parents inexplicably moved back up there.  This baffling decision led ultimately to years of hospital visits as Mum became very unwell and infirm…client v nice.  Odd canteen/cafe arrangement for staff, where I note they serve giant Yorkshire puddings, filled with mashed potatoes.  I had the cauliflower soup, served in a tall polystyrene cup.  Luckily I had a stash of emergency cold sausages and some carrot sticks.  Consumed this secretively as was overcome with shame – why?

Wednesday:  Unpacked a Christmas gift – a day-light, anti-sad lamp.  I asked for this.  I am hoping that it will alleviate customary profound January – March melancholy.  I have it beside me now, as I type, bathing the left side of my head and shoulders with dazzling white light.  Can this really work, I ask myself?  Answer comes there none but so far I feel the same.  Along with this, I am also taking turmeric tablets plus black pepper as said to convey almost magical properties of healing/illness prevention for almost all known conditions.  Am I, as I strongly suspect, a shallow fool, easily lured into false beliefs?  I will let you know, dear diary.

Friday:  The highlight of my day is the menu planning, shopping list activity that I do every week.  In this, I compile 2 lists.  One is the week ahead in menu form.  This is only for evening meals as even I cannot plan every breakfast and lunch.  It is annotated with notes about who I am expecting to be at home, and any other activities that might impact the list.  These are exclusively gym classes as am now v painfully aware that I have absolutely no social life and furthermore, actively do not want one.  The other list is for Things To Buy This Week.  I have audited the freezer and this informs me that I (still) urgently need to prepare a meal of soya-protein sausages (Q:  why did I buy them?  A:  none supplied), plus frozen soya beans and other home-grown beans from the allotment.  This seems too focused on soya and also beans.  I write it down for Tuesday anyway, fully aware that come Tuesday I will be frantically substituting something nicer.  Or that if I do serve it, there will be silent rebuke from the family as they balefully shove different incarnations of soya about their plates.  Cheer myself up by brief audit of cleaning cupboard and toiletries cupboard. Note that my hoarding is now becoming critical.  No-one, not even a professional cleaner which I certainly am not, needs 24 sponge scourers.

Saturday:  Customary silent struggle with Self precedes attendance at the gym for 2 morning classes.  I go, but am angry (unreasonably and pointlessly) with Self for going but also know that feeling of disappointment in Self if I shirk it will be far worse. Wish I had not worn patterned leggings when I accidentally see myself in the partially steamed-up mirror and am painfully reminded of the widening effect of geometric stripes.  Note that I am, again, clearly the 2nd oldest person there.  Am not proud of feeling of satisfaction when far younger, fitter and definitely more attractive class-mate gets cramp in the brutal Leg Session of BLT.  Spend entirety of second class thinking about food.  Decide definitely on a salad for lunch, enlivened by maybe some tuna. In the end, go to Asda and buy a tiger loaf with which to consume c1/2 lb of salted butter. Pop salad back in ‘fridge…

Sunday:  Watch Netlix for far too long.  Worry (but not enough to stop) that I am becoming addicted to programmes made by The Hallmark Channel.  Definite softening of brain function appears to be side effect.  Do not care.  Have finally and absolutely abandoned any pretext of intellectual capacity, preferring instead programmes about Canadian Mountie and school ma’am sweetheart.

Monday:  Am dismayed by appointment in diary, in my own hand-writing, committing me to a social engagement this evening that is not a gym class.  Recall, yet again, that writing in dates when still weeks away confers a feeling that it will never happen, despite absolute certainty that I understand the concept of time.  This will require me to get dressed in something other than pyjamas or gym clothes and actually leave the house.  After dark.  In January.  Toy with brief and wild fantasy in which I go to Devon or somewhere not that far away, for a few weeks, starting today.  But then cannot bear scenario which flashes through imagination in which the dogs pine away and die while I selfishly bury myself in countryside escape.  So do go out with group of acquaintances.  Spend evening in freezing corner of pub which is also so dimly lit I cannot really see and has such a low ceiling that conversation mainly eludes me, noise buffeting off the ceiling in booms.  Am introduced to nice looking woman who I am told knits and crochets; mutual acquaintance tells nice woman that I am a knitting designer and teacher which naturally instantly causes NW to never speak to me again all night. Come home and sit by open oven door for half an hour.  Decide once and for all that I will never go out again, except with family or to gym.

Tuesday:  Go to village meeting this evening in village hall.  In most un-motherly way, also force Lily to come with me.  This is a crazy departure for me as I have only been in the village hall about 4 times, usually when bullied into something by Hilda.  This meeting is about the imminent closure of the village Post Office which I very much regret.  I attempt to get into the hall, but am brought to a sudden halt by vision of about 6 or 7 elderly people, wearing what I think are pyjamas or very baggy tracksuits, occupying entirety of hall, slowly moving arms and legs in manner observed on a programme once about old people in Japan.  Naturally I assume I am asleep and dreaming, OR that I have the wrong day, but a man walks past and I realise the meeting must be in Another Room, Round the Back.  We stumble round hall path in inky darkness and shove sticky door open hard, into elderly lady, and surge into a tiny room, packed with about 60 villagers only 2 of whom I recognise.  Think that old Tai Chi people could have easily fitted in here and decline invitation to sit down so close to someone I might as well have sat on their lap.  Realise at once that I am not in agreement with the main suggestion that we all BUY the existing PO and run it as a community venture but feel I cannot just walk out not least as exit now barred by further late-comers.  Spend very uncomfortable and hot hour standing up, and imagining the viral soup which is brewing in the now fetid, slightly damp atmosphere.  Sprint home, drenched in icy sweat. Agree with Lily that we will Not Join Committee as we have no idea how to raise money to buy and then run a PO.  Not to mention slender time resources. Break soya-based meal news to family who become mutinous. I hastily substitute frankfurters but remain firm on question of soya beans. Not a success…

So you see, the passage of time has really not enlivened my life enough to make it worthy of record.  If anything I think the school disco days were rather more fun.  I’ll spare you any further insights – unless something really exciting happens such as turning out the apple store…

 

The Shetland Adventure – and some Fairisle Nerd Stuff

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Here’s a nice write up by Muddy Stilettos about the tour I am heading up this summer.

The designs for this are at the prototype phase – in my head and my note book.  I know I am going to design a throw that can be steeked – indeed, it must be steeked or remain a tube for ever.   I think this will possibly have a miniaturised version – a tubular scarf.  This is dependent on the design for the Fairisle chart.

For example, this design would be perfect for throws, scarves or cowls:

But this one (still a WIP), not so much for scarves, though it would be very possible with an off-set addition, as it is motif based:

None of the above will be the new Shetland designs, but as an added bonus, you can choose any of my other Fairisle designs as a gift-pattern, including my all-time favourite (so far) the Bee Designs:

One of the many things we will be teaching on this tour is the importance of the top or dominant yarn when knitting Fairisle.  Because we will also be teaching you how to carry yarns in both hands, you will be able then to choose which yarn – say A or B, or the background and the motif shades – you prefer to ‘dominate’ the pattern you are creating.  I think this is fascinating stuff, but then I am HRH, The Queen of Nerd, as you will find to your delight on Shetland.  You see, if you carry A in your right hand and B in your left, and A is your motif, it will sort of stand out more.  This is more of an issue if you are knitting with closely matched shades.  This difference in appearance is about how the wrong side stranding lies.  All will be revealed on Shetland.

There will also be another version of the same basic design that will not be steeked and the problem is I keep changing my mind about whether this will be a hat – possibly a tam; or mitts; or a cowl.  Nice dilemma though.  I do want one to be fairly small so it might be finished while we are away!

But the main thing I want is to pass on my absolute passion for this style of knitting.  I know my Fairisle is not super traditional, but that’s why I love it so much – this ancient knitting craft is so adaptable to both traditional and modern designs.  I am sure you will love it too. And if you already do, you will love it more.

The flight info for this tour has now been added to the ECT Travel website.  I would really love to share this adventure with you!

 

Your Voice

Monday, January 1st, 2018

It’s good to look back.  In fact at the very threshold of a new year, it is almost inevitable.  2017, you were good.  There was a lot of new.  New teaching events, for example, notably Knit Camp which dominated my knitting year in a number of amazing ways.

I have been blogging here for ages now.  Rambling on.  It’s always been my aim to make it a blog by a knitter, not a knitting blog.  So this is my knitting voice.  Mainly, plus a fair bit of my personal voice.  My personal life is so intwined with knitting that they are often just the same.  But once or twice I have got into a spot of bother for saying things that a few people objected to.  At the time, it really did bother me.  In fact, in one instance I actually apologised.  I really, really wish I hadn’t done that.  I wish I had (politely) but publicly told them to F off and scroll on by if they didn’t like or agree with my views.  And I still think, beautiful through it is, St Ives is so far up its own back-spout, it can see daylight. So there.

But I have other life areas – other voices – that hardly ever make it to this blog.  For example, I have another ‘job’, in which I use a totally different set of clothes.  And probably an almost totally different set of ‘skills’.  The other job is about corporate governance and it enables me to draw on work experiences from previous what-I-lightheartedly-call-careers. In a nut shell, I work for a company that carries out formal and independent reviews of plc Boards, to assess their effectiveness across a range of Board responsibilities, activities and duties, with regard to the UK Corporate Governance Code.

I really do love this work.  It is varied, it can be challenging, and it is always interesting.  Usually, these two lives do not meet, except for the time I left a bag of knitting in a Board interview and had to be summoned back by the kind but very baffled Chairman, in order to retrieve it.

I don’t blog about this because it’s not my business.  Also, it’s confidential.  Also, unless you are carrying out the work or the subject of it, it’s probably not *that* interesting.  But in this work, I certainly have a different voice.  And no pink in my hair.  Apparently.

Do I have a different ‘private’ voice? Of course I do.  I know I share with you my thoughts on recycling, cabbage white fly and cycling for example, but the day to day mundane is something I spare you.  You’re welcome.  It makes me think though that we probably all do, don’t we?  There is, from time to time, discussion on the interwebs about makers, designers, artists etc finding and using their unique voice as they establish their brand.  I don’t think this applies to me.  Maybe it should!

Happy 2018 to you. May the yarn only be knitted, and never be knotted. May the beads always sparkle.  May your stash never fall upon you.  If you have never been on a workshop with me, why not try it in 2018? There are still a few places left on the 2018 events at Court Cottage and I have also accepted some new teaching invitations this year – more on these soon.  Best wishes and thanks for popping in, dear reader.