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Saturday July 7, 2018

Colourful Kit Bag

ColourfulKitBag2.jpg

I've been neglecting weaving spinning and dying lately - I admit I went to a "Brioche" class last week which was interesting, and did make me think of redrafting my fisherman's rib hat in two colours in the future.... But apart from that, it's been far too hot to think about sweaters (and hats!).
What I have been involved in is making up a rather posher version of my Pattern of the Month for July. This bag (or the illustration of it) really "spoke" to me through the ages as it were, when I first found it in a 1940s magazine. As is often the case, the actual bag and the instructions were fairly rudimentary and I changed it quite a lot in the making. I am so delighted with the result - better than I ever expected since it involved working with leather - and just as well given the amount I spent on materials. [So much for the make do and mend ethos of the original bag!].

I did stick with the idea of using oddments I already had, but I used mostly chunky yarns so I did not have to work with the yarn doubled - which can be a bit of a nuisance when doing crochet, even though many old and new patterns seem to suggest it. As I selected my yarns based on colour, some of them were used double to achieve the thickness I wanted.
I used a 4mm hook with my chunky yarn, and worked in double crochet (American single crochet) in order to achieve a firmer fabric.

For the base, I used 2mm thick leather, which was tough to work but made up surprisingly well. I made the base to be an oval shape to suit the offcut of leather I had and I made rudimentary leather handles, plus a clip-on shoulder strap.

The only element I've so far failed to completely solve is the closure at the top - the bag will gape open when the shoulder strap is used - so still working on that, and nothing wholly satisfactory has presented itself yet.

Posted on July 7, 2018 at 10:28 AM. Category: Knitting.

Saturday June 30, 2018

Books in June

  • H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald [read by the author] BOM-HIsForHawk.jpg
    I heard about this acclaimed book and thought I should read it, but was very nervous as it was said to be about "loss", which did not appeal so much. However, it is a wonderful book - so everyone was right.
    And, if I had to say what it was about, I would probably say "loss" - and also "a goshawk" - which is fairly evident. I did not realise until after listening to it, that it is narrated by the author - which makes it even more special as she is (presumably) reading it exactly as she meant to write it - perfect.

  • The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear [read by Julie Teal]
    BOM-TheMappingOfLoveAndDeath.jpg I moved back to a Maisie Dobbs novel somewhat earlier in the series. Although the books do revolve around Maisie's personal life as well as the mystery plotline, I did not feel victim of any major spoilers. It does seem to be a thing, though, that the murder victims are always presented as highly sympathetic characters and you are regretful all the way through that they are so definitively.... gone. I remember a friend having trouble coping with Requiem for a Wren for the same reason; (Nevil Shute - now there's an author I have not thought about for a long time... and the friend... I haven't thought about him for a long time either...) .

  • Want You Gone by Christopher Brookmyre BOM-WantYouGone.jpg
    [read by Avita Jay, and Angus King]
    This is the latest (8th) book "starring" Jack Parlabane - and make no mistake - he is a star. Far from being stale, this book is very lively - very thrilling and very humorous.
    It involved a lot of computer hacking and scamming techniques which I really enjoyed - proving the point (in spades) that it's people that are the weak link in any security system.

  • Unnatural Death, Strong Poison, and Have His Carcase
    by Dorothy L Sayers [Dramatisation]
    I downloaded this little collection of Lord Peter Wimsey plays to listen to at bedtime.
    I found Unnatural Death a bit complicated to follow just before sleeping, but the other two I am well familiar with. As I had just seen a reprise of the TV adaptations, I know them almost backwards - and in fact to my surprise the scenes, plotting, and scripts seemed almost identical. With my eyes shut I could even will myself to imagine that it was Edward Petherbridge providing the dialogue rather than Ian Carmichael, so similar was the performance, even though previously I always thought Carmichael was a bit more over the top (don't ye know).
    BOM-UnnaturalDeath.jpg BOM-StrongPoison.jpg BOM-HaveHisCarcase.jpg

Posted on June 30, 2018 at 12:58 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Thursday June 7, 2018

Trioperas

Trioperas.jpg

All I can say is... this was not at all what I was expecting.

And if I were to say the Wushi Lion Bull creature that featured in Carmen along with a keystone cops chase scene on trampolines were quite amusing - then I would have to tell you about the rest of it.
And the rest of it was pretty damned poor - not even bad enough to be funny. In truth I wanted my money back. The face value of my stalls seat was £59 which is staggering considering a comparison with the top price £64 stalls ticket for a seat to see Network at the National.

The hype for this "show" (where the intervals are - in this case fortunately - longer than the actual acts) beggars belief: "A spectacular, high adrenaline, unforgettable journey of love, vengeance, tears and laughter."
Or possibly just tears of suppressed fury and hysteria at wasting my time and money.

Posted on June 7, 2018 at 5:27 PM. Category: Days Out.

Thursday May 31, 2018

Books in May

  • Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly BOM-TwoKindsOfTruth.jpg
    I'd been looking forward to reading the next "installment", but as I started the book I began to think my increasingly poor memory had let me down about which books I have actually read. However all was well - memory still poor but I'd just read the first few chapters as a taster in the previous book (it seems so long ago...).
    Anyway - still on top form Michael, and all the characters, old and new, as fresh as ever. The usual excellent plot with a new and an old case where the "two unrelated cases wind around each other like strands of barbed wire".

  • Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham BOM-LoveLikeBlood.jpg
    Pleased to have a Tom Thorne storyline with Nicola Tanner in a central role. It is interesting that Connelly and Billingham are moving on to key female detective protagonists. Both have had books centred on female characters previously so not really new I guess but they seem to be .. grommin them... if that's not too creepy.
    I read a review saying that Tanner was "unappealing" - and I would not disagree entirely; however, MB has clearly tried to make her a very different character from ones we have seen before - maybe one he does not completely understand himself yet. Helen, for example, was a very appealing character with whom no doubt we could all empathise - but there is only so far you can go with such a character, and now she is (firmly I hope) embedded in Thorne's personal life. So I am looking forward to Tanner being fleshed out even more in further books; maybe, meanwhile, it's right for her to be mingled with characters we already know and love. She held her own well enough in Die of Shame but it was her interactions with other people that I felt made her more 3 dimensional (ie other characters found her less than appealing too!).

  • Dandy Gilver and A Most Misleading Habit by Catriona McPherson BOM-AMostMisleadingHabit.jpg
    So here the third book this month from one of my favourite authors, although to be fair it's Dandy that's my favourite in truth, rather than the author. I say "to be fair" because what I mean is I have not read any other of CP's novels - and feel I should, as I find her writing wonderful - the way she evokes the era and language in these books is quite brilliant.
    In this one we see Dandy condemned to spend some time in a convent with its obviously limited facilities in the way of luxury; Alec appears somewhat luckier in all but home cooking, in which skill the convent excels.
    The fundamental causes of the unravelled mystery turn out to be, as usual, wonderfully of their time.

  • Calling Out for You and Black Seconds by Karin Fossum [read byDavid Rintoul]
    I finally felt brave enough to go back to Karin Fossum, and was very pleased to find audio versions read by David Rintoul whos is just perfect for these books. Interestingly, although these are police procedurals in essence, with Inpesctor Sejer in the driving seat, they are very much more than that. To me they have a slight Ruth Rendell feel to them as more psychological thrillers. These two alone serve as good examples as to how she manages to create plots and writing structures totally different from one another. The only thing they all have in common is how poignantly sad they are - reminding myself yet again that all murder stories are in fact going to be tragic.
    I would also say that I am bound to agree with other reviewers that Callling Out For You is really very chilling as you are left at the end thinking that the horrible crime may be unsolved.
    BOM-CallingOutForYou.jpg BOM-BlackSeconds.jpg


  • Fallout by Sara Paretsky [read by Liza Ross] and Hard Time [read by Jean Smart]
    Fallout is the latest VI novel (18th), and is excellent. I loved the plot and the descriptions of the detection methods. I also loved that it was wrapped up with chemistry/physics/biology (which we may call "science" - but it was specifically those - o and government cospiracies to boot). I do agree with one reviewers comments that VI's niece is a total pain and I find it hard to believe that the VI character would put up with her for one second without being driven to commit murder herself. However, I can see that the author needs all that as a plot device - VI herself is pretty sensible and effective as a PI so everything would run far too smoothly without such irritations.
    Hard Time is a fairly old novel (9th) and I was less keen on it. One reason was that the audio book I had downloaded was somehow scrambled and not only played some chapters out of sequence but also had some chapters entirely missing. [I was driven to read several chapters of the actual book to catch up with what was going on]. Very frustrating - but still not my favourite story - whereas Fallout does rank among my favourites.
    BOM-Fallout.jpg BOM-HardTime.jpg


  • The Dead Sea Cipher by Elizabeth Peters [read by Grace Conlin]
    BOM-TheDeadSeaCipher.jpgAnd so last - and probably actually least.
    I always spell it cypher but although it seems this is a "chiefly British" spelling, it seems in "modern usage" it should be cipher - and having got that out of the way - on to the book:
    This has shades of Dan Brown, and James Bond, but mostly Mills and Boon. The heroine has an improbable occupation (opera singer) and is embroiled in a mystery while on a tour of the Middle East; she is pursued by two men - one is an irritation and the other handsome and charming. Guess which one is the baddie. The End.
    Amusing enough to listen to as an accompaniment to crafting.

Posted on May 31, 2018 at 8:48 AM. Category: Books of the Month.

Sunday May 20, 2018

Roman London

RomanLondon1.jpg

Today we went to the Museum of London for a short guided tour of the Roman walls. We got ourselves in the mood by wandering around the excellent free exhibits while waiting to join our party. As was explained to us - the view above is not really very Roman but much later. The actual Roman parts are only the first few feet of the visible walls.

RomanLondon2.jpg

However this gloomy interior below was what we had really come to see: a locked area of the car park with the remains of a gate and probable guard post area.

RomanLondon3.jpg

The angles for my photos were limited owing to the low lighting conditions. [However, the cool interior was a welcome relief from the remarkably hot weather we are experiencing here at the moment].

RomanLondon5.jpg

Posted on May 20, 2018 at 11:25 PM. Category: Days Out.

Friday May 11, 2018

The Future Starts ... at the V&A

FutureStartsHereV&A.jpg

We went to the preview evening for The Future Starts Here exhibition - and unfortunately some of the exhibits had not actually "started here" - the house robot had absolutely HAD IT UP TO HERE with sorting the laundry (haven't we all) - but that probably did not affect the overall experience so much. It surprised me that it was really quite "political" if that's the right word - with items questioning if democracy was really working for this century, pointing out the truly appalling consequences of rising worldwide temperatures (for whatever reason), and catering for the increasing number of single people living and dining out alone ("We are now all connected, but are we still lonely?"). I tried out (sat in) a prototype driverless car/taxi, and was particularly taken with a tree project designed to help keep public spaces and trees healthy by having the public report in by email if they see issues with the trees; what happened was a wholly unintended performance art project, with people writing to specific trees (and getting replies), or penning odes to their favourite trees.

Really not sure what I took away from it all though - it seemed quite glum. It was intended to show "now", to avoid having to look back in future years on inevitably foolish predictions, but also to show that any particular future is not inevitable - we can make choices. Some found it "refreshingly hopeful" but it seemed to make it clearer to me that we aren't getting to grips with making any helpful choices. Now I feel much as I did after watching the documentary series All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace which showed (among many other things) that our attempts to influence our environment* have all too often ended in making things worse.

FuturePlanetStartsHereV&A.jpg

* when I was at school we were told about an idea put into place to stop the high rate of water evaporation from reservoirs in hot climates by putting a layer of another less volatile liquid on top. This meant that the water underneath the top layer heated up - not a problem in itself - until in the end it reached a temperature such that the rate of evaporation was equal to what they had started with. I can't find any reference to this pre-1970s project on the web (I've probably misremembered it) - but there are many references to more recent scientific research still trying to solve the same problem in Australia and California today.

Posted on May 11, 2018 at 11:16 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Thursday May 3, 2018

Union Chapel

FreyaRidings.jpg

Another outing with Rob to the Union Chapel to see a bright young thing. In fact I was not taken with the music although she is clearly very talented and has a beautiful voice (and was very struck by having packed out the chapel).
I was very taken with the free roses though, and struggled home on the train with a bunch - they seem to have stood up to the trauma very well indeed.

FreyaRidingsRoses.jpg

Posted on May 3, 2018 at 11:13 PM. Category: Art and Culture.