Saturday, 5 November 2011


So now I've taken on another challenge. What is it about me and challenges? NaNoWriMo; write a novel in a month. Yeah right. A. I don't have the time, and B. I probably don't have the skill. Well I don't know about the latter, I'll never know if I don't have a go. The feedback I've had from the Arvon courses I've been on are that I do have writing ability and that I learn quickly. What I probably lack is application. And that's largely because I get distracted by all the other things I've got on. But I say quite often to staff and students "You find time to do the things that are important to you". So if my writing is important to me I need to find time to do. NaNoWriMo feels manageable. Writing 50,000 words is imaginable. I wrote 80,000 for my thesis, many more if you include the pre-edited versions. So 50,000 is not impossible. And the brilliant thing about NaNoWriMo is that you go for quantity not quality. Yes that's right, quantity not quality. It's all about writing with self-edit turned off. It doesn't matter what you are writing, what matter is that you are writing. It's day 5 and I'm a bit behind with my daily allocation - the 50,000 words works out to 1667 words a day, every day, for the whole of November. I've still got 537 words to do today to get back on target but that feels doable. Especially as it's only 6.30 in the morning and it's a Saturday. I'm sure I can bang out another few hundred words today, even get ahead of myself again and bank a few more hundred against days when I am struggling. After all I am writing this aren't I? I clearly haven't run out of words yet. NaNoWriMo is getting me out of bed early in the morning. I feel the urge to get up and get cracking. I need to get at least a chunk of my word count under my belt by the time I set off for work and then with this notebook I can carry on typing on the train which is brilliant. And it is so liberating just typing without going back to check anything. Just type, and type and type. So here's to NaNoWriMo and the long days ahead. Roll on end of November and those 50,000 words.

Friday, 26 August 2011


Now this might be a bit daft considering all the other stuff I've got going on at the moment - new business to set up (Glorious Gluten Free Foods), a full time job, lots of WIPs in the wool department (including 400 balls of locally produced Aran wool to knit), Twitter (which has become alarmingly time consuming due to my fixation with not missing anything), a Kindle full of books to read (including War & Peace of course) - but I've just agreed to take on an allotment. About 3 months ago I put my name down on what the local allotment society website said was a 12 year waiting list. That 12 years just became 12 weeks and OH and I went over last night to have a look at our potential new project. Yes there were lots of reasons why we shouldn't be taking this on but it was just too tempting. So I am about to phone to accept a half plot (only a half, but it's still a lot of digging). It is currently very overgrown but I am assured that those are just very easily pull uppable weeds and that the person who used to have the plot (before the people who let the weeds grow) had a very productive piece of ground. I have already harvested a few broad beans from amongst the weeds and they were scrummy. So tomorrow we're off to Liverpool to meet up with some Norwegian friends of ours who are over at a Beatles experience weekend, and then Sunday will be allotment day! How very exciting. I think. I think this is a good time to take it on as we can do some digging and weeding now, harvest whatever we can from the plot and then do lots of planning over the winter, armchair gardening is so appealing. One day I'd like to set up a farmers' market in the village and encourage everyone to shop locally; maybe this allotment is the first step. Any tips anyone?

Friday, 19 August 2011

What a lot to do!

I am still knitting, some successful projects, some not so successful. Most annoying thing was finishing a jumper for my daughter and taking care for once to finish it off properly. And it was a disaster! She tried to pretend it wasn't but it was too small (me having worried most of the time about it being too big) and my picking up for the neckband was very messy. So it's back in my bag awaiting unraveling and re-knitting. You may get it for Christmas Jo! I have also taken the plunge and launched a new venture - baking gluten free foods. I have a friend who is coeliac and have discovered just how difficult it is for her to find good quality delicious baked goods. I have baked for her for a while and have now done some market testing. There is definitely a gap in the market big enough for me to wriggle into. I've started a separate blog to post about my new venture and market my delicious cakes and biscuits. Exciting times and busy ones too as I've just taken on an allotment. There was a 12 year waiting list according to our village website so I thought a few months ago I had better get my name down. 12 years seemed long enough away not to have to worry and I could always decide nearer the time if I really wanted one. Then I got a phone call to say I was at the top of the list and one had become free. A bit of a shock but I thought it too good an opportunity to miss. It's all about organisation and time management..... So I sing, I ring, I read, I swim, I knit, I bake and now I have an allotment. I need to go and lie down now.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Long time no blogging!

Haven't blogged on here for a while - a long while! But have been busy knitting. Have also joined Ravelry and am in process of putting photos of my projects on there. Have been doing lots of knitting, mainly for Gracie my adorable granddaughter born August 15th 2010. Have also set up another blog to post about my experiences of being a grandmother. Am going to try to blog more frequently and advertise the fact. Have got a period of change coming up so will write about that as well as posting pictures of some of my knitting projects. Have written a short story today - An Old Woman Falling - and am looking for a suitable competition to enter it for, or a magazine that might be interested in publishing. Have finally understood that the reason I am not published is because I don't submit! Am following Writers Mistakes which is very supportive and sensible. My plans for the future include writing, writing, writing. As well as the knitting and baking. All three are creative so hopefully will feed one another, as well as me.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Back with a bump and a spinning wheel!

We had a lovely two weeks in Norway mainly staying with our friends Kari and Peter in Uvdal and then Oslo. I had a look for some Norwegian wool but didn't really come across much. I did buy some in Uvdal but now find it's made in Italy! Not quite what I wanted to bring back but still lovely wool for felting. Shetland was a different experience. Wool and knitting is still highly valued there. I found a beautiful cobweb lace knitted shawl on the island of Yell and went to visit the lady who knitted it. A real heirloom piece to be treasured for many years to come. I am very inspired to knit one but need to get some other pieces finished first. The jumper for my husband is coming along nicely and once that's finished I'll start on socks again and get a few pairs in hand for Christmas. Back to my Shetland purchases - I didn't come back with much wool, just a couple of balls hidden away in the bottom of my rucksack. What I couldn't hide was the spinning wheel and fleece! The spinning wheel is handmade by Hamish, again on the island of Yell and the fleece is from the woolbrokers in Lerwick. One slight problem is that I can't actually spin, but hey nothing ventured, nothing gained. The fleece cost £4 and weighs just under a kilo. As long as I don't take my hours of labour into account then I could end up knitting a lovely throw or knobbly wrap with my first lot of spun wool for just £4 (plus the cost of the wheel plus the carders I've just ordered, but who's counting?). I just need to learn to work the wheel! The fleece has now been washed in my bath and dried. It looks fabulous piled into a wicker basket on the floor beside the wheel. Very evocative. I have to keep imagining it turning into wool as I sit by the fire and spin! I'm off to the Lakes this weekend, swimming! Hope the weather brightens up but then we'll be getting wet anyway. We're doing Buttermere, Crummock Water, Grasmere and Easdale Tarn. I'm going with a company called Swimtrek ( This will be my third trip with them and they are great. Really looking forward to it. Happy knitting and happy swimming!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Knitting Cakes

I really enjoyed knitting both the wedding cake for Jess and Niamh, and the cupcakes for a work awayday. I saw the Alan Dart pattern for the wedding cake a while ago and never thought I would knit it, however when I heard Jess and Niamh were getting married I thought I'd have a go and hoped they would like it. Apparently they do! It took about 8 hours knitting time and then an amazing 20 hours to put together. I took it over to Dublin in pieces and my daughter and I spent a whole Sunday constructing the creation. A real labour of love and this is a real one-off, it will be a long time before we do another. We did have a lot of fun doing it however and really enjoyed being so creative. The finished result speaks for itself. ( The cupcakes were a lot easier and nearly as much fun. I got this idea from an ice-breaker I did prior to a staff awayday. I asked everyone to say what type of cake they would like to be. I chose a cupcake because they are small, perfectly formed and you can be a different one every day. I then came across a pattern for knitting cupcakes and had the idea of knitting one for all the people on the awayday. They went down really well (I think). All I have left is the photo and a desire to knit another set. At the moment I also have a jumper for my husband on the go. I'm slightly put off by his reaction which is that he doesn't like the colour (a soft muted autumnal brown in my opinion, sludge coloured in his) however I am going to finish it as fast as I can so I can move onto other things. I have also got orders for socks for Christmas from Kirsty and Corinne so need to get on with those. They have asked for bright colours so I will see what I can find in the way of wool. I am typing this up in sunny Shetland. I am up here doing some writing for a book and updating my blog as a break. We are off to Norway for a couple of weeks soon and meeting up with Norwegian friends Kari and Peter as well as doing some walking on the Hardanger plateau. I had intended to pursue my Norwegian but time has done its usual job of running away with me and I am still limited to a very few stock phrases. I will no doubt come back newly inspired and as Kari and I both use Skype maybe I can have some Norwegian lessons before I next visit. Shetland and Norway are both knitting havens and I hope to buy some wool in both countries just to add to my stash. This may have to be done secretly as my husband has still to recover from me buying 350 50g balls of locally produced Hebridean wool. I have started knitting one Arran jacket but have a lot more to knit before I get through that part of my stash! Ok, back to work and a different kind of writing. Happy knitting everyone!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

New Projects!

I am trying to make sure I finish at least one thing before starting on something new but it's hard! Picked up the half-done crochet baby jacket last night and have started the second side - really enjoying it but still have the urge to cast on something new. Have my eye on some cute little knitted brooches - kitsch and cool. Knitting is so therapeutic and so creative. My job lacks creativity at the moment and knitting is one way of getting some back in my life. To anyone who is feeling low or stressed I would really recommend knitting as a way of getting things in proportion. It can be a real motivator and a destressor as long as you pick something that is within your capabilities and that you can finish fairly quickly. People love being given something hand knitted so it benefits everyone. If you can't knit ask someone to teach you. There are also lots of lovely tutorials on-line, or join a knitting group, you would be very welcome. Writing is my other big project and one which I just love once I get started. I've finished a couple of short stories, some flash fiction and have mapped out the ideas I have for a novel. I had a very creative day when I decided that as I was going on a novel writing course in the autumn I better have some idea of what my potential novel was going to be about. I had some vague ideas in my head and spent about half an hour getting them down on paper. I was amazed at how far my thoughts had progressed and how much of a framework I actually had. It was really useful - a bit like picking up lots of bits of knitting and sewing them all together. I'm not sure what the finished garment will look like exactly but I know the general shape now and the colour of the yarn. I'm getting on well with Scepticism Inc and hope to finish it on the way home tonight on the train so I can put some knitting in my bag for tomorrow's commute. I am so glad I don't drive in to work - I would lose so much recreational and creative time. Sorry to all the people who ever get inconvenienced by my knitting but I try to keep my needles out of your way. Here's to reading, writing and knitting.