>101 in 1001 Item 9…

>

Complete NaBloPoMo

… has been completed!

This is the 38th entry I’ve posted to this blog this month (of which I think 36 are public).

I have enjoyed pushing myself to post everyday and I do like seeing that every day this month has a link to it on.  But it was also harder than I expected and I wouldn’t want to keep it up for too much longer.

And I still think I might shut this blog down.

>FO: Witchy Blanket

>This is the last project I started in 2008 (I started for the last time the Monday before Christmas) and is also my first FO* of 2009. I finished knitting it about ten days ago. Then my mum sowed it together for me. And ever since I’ve been going “where are my bloody camera leads?!”

The pattern technically is for a shawl (and I have previous knitted a shawl using it) – Swamp Witch. I was going to just do a stockinette blanket but I got bored so I frogged it and revisited this old favourite pattern.

I skipped the fringe just like when I made it before otherwise I followed the pattern. I used Sirdar Bigga and Sirdar Demin Ultra held together throughout. Six balls of the Bigga and the demin ultra balls have more yardage per ball but to save on having to keep adding in yarn and to have less ends to weave in (another job mum did! yay!) I started new balls of each yarn each time I added on. So there are six lots of denim ultra remnants in my stash at present, maybe enough to make a scarf of similar. I made two, it was going to be three but I wasn’t sure I had enough yarn. Something I did consider was using the remnants of the denim ultra to knit a border (just a thin one in plain garter stitch) but I don’t think it needs it.

If I knit another blanket in this or another pattern I would probably use a long circular needle so I could knit it as one piece and skip the seaming/sowing together. Must admit to being a little annoyed I didn’t think of that sooner! Particularly as I have seen several people post about using circs to avoid seaming over on ravelry.

Final note is that I think these photos have a blue-ish look to them but the yarns are actually light purple colours. The denim ultra is called Lilac frost, I think and the Bigga is just “lilac” if memory serves.

Blanket in it's entirety spread over the floor
Blanket in it's entirety spread over the floor

 

 

 

Close up on the stitches of the blanket
Close up on the stitches of the blanket

*FO = Finished Object

>The Vagina Monologues, Vagina Pagina, etc

>When I was surfing the blogcarnival site the other day I noticed the featured carnival was Advice for Women from Women.  Which is hosted on the blog of the same name.

I’ve read a few posts from the last edition and they seem interesting.  At my first glance of the carnival I thought not much would be relevant or would appeal to be.  But this seems to be a very large carnival and as I scrolled further down I did find interesting posts on reusable menstrual products and also on letter writing amongst other things.  Hopefully when I have more time I will remember to go back and read more.

And seeing that carnival reminded me that for ages I’ve been meaning to share the link for Vagina Pagina (literal translation: vagina page).  

This is  great community over on livejournal and it’s own domain as well.  It has an absolute wealth of information and advice for women about health and other feminine issues.  There is a similar community for men but I don’t know it.

It’s a designated safe space and you can literally ask any question and get support, advice, encouragement whatever.  There’s fun stuff too.

You can leave your post open so anyone can read it or lock it so only community members have access.  People post for friends too sometimes and occasionally a VP maintainer will post for someone who wants to remain totally anonymous.

I always learn a lot when I go there and I’ve never felt uncomfortable posting on the few times I have.

Also, going off on a slight tangent I was going through Pasta Queen’s “best of section” and came across this entry showing the very fun cakes she made for a friend who took part in the Vagina Monologues.  I totally love them but you might not want to click on the link if you have kids around or your boss or something.  I love how she celebrated feminity and all things female in the form of cakes!

Oh and finally, most of you will know that I love The Vagina Monologues but in case you haven’t see my entries on it, this is the show  and the book entry is here

>Green!

>I’m really enjoying my contemporary knitting course and I’m pretty much decided I will sign up again for the next five weeks when this one finishes (two more weeks).  In fact I would have done so today if not for the fact that when I went to get my card out I discovered I’d left it here.

I’m currently working on a random piece which I just plan to make a piece of art and hang on the wall (probably in my bedroom but maybe in the hall).  Some people have projects in mind or are using anything at all.  I’m knitting with anything at all as long as it’s Green.

So far I’ve used ric rac, thin ribbon, tapestry wool and raffia.  I’ve got more ribbon (both thin and thicker) and tapestry wool to use as well as cross stitch thread, some left over DK and a load of green beads.  Oh and one of the others in the class cut up half a green bin bag and let me have the other half.

I’m doing the same number of stitches and on the same needles but it’s interesting to see how different it comes out each time.

>Here and Now

>You know when you know that soon something won’t matter?  That tomorrow morning or maybe the next day you’ll wake up and certain frustrations and upsets will just totally be a thing of the past?  And you know that good things are going to come from this hurt?

It helps… but it doesn’t help in the here and now.

Tomorrow will be here soon and it will be better.

>No Deja Vu

>I remembered this blog entry last night – Deja Vu

And I remembered it with relief and no small degree of happiness. Because this years version of that meal was last Wednesday.

And whilst the access was crap and I was struggling and people got a bit of an education about that – there is no other name on that list or at least no recent addition. And I didn’t spend the meal educating and talking about disability rights etc.

I’m happy it went so well I forgot about that hope. And even happier that long ago hope came true.

>Thing A Day

>I realised the other day that this month wasn’t a good one for me to have chosen to do NaBloPoMo.  I have been enjoying it.  I like looking at the calender over in the sidebar and seeing everyday of this month so far has a link indicating an entry (or more than one!).  But I’ve also been looking forward to going back to my usual day or so off every now and then random schedule of blogging.  

However as another part of my 101 in 1001 list, I’m also committed to participating in Thing a Day this year.  Which is in February.  And part of that challenge?  Blogging everyday on their site about your efforts.  Meaning when I committed to blogging everyday for a month with no breaks, I actually without realising it committed to blogging everyday with no breaks for two months.  Oh well.

So… daily blogging will continue next month but may not be here.  I may cross post but I’m not sure.  The only posts which will definitely be here and only be here are my book posts as and when I finish reading books (until such time as I get annoyed with doing them).  And the other weekly type post I’m going to start doing as soon as I find the leads to my camera (hopefully tomorrow will be the day that all is revealed).

I tried Thing a Day last year and enjoyed it but didn’t manage it.  This year I’ve had a lot more time to plot and plan in advance so I have more ideas and am going to do it.  I think the challenge (to create something from scratch each day) is a great one for me and will stretch me in many ways.  Something which I think can only be good.

>Change of Heart ~ Jodi Picoult

>I’ve come to the conclusion that for want of spoilers (and given that I just learned how to do so) I will put the body of most of these book entries behind a cut tag.  I’ve retconned all of the entries I’ve done on this so far this year so hopefully you can choose whether to be spoiled or not.

Jodi Picoult is almost definitely my favourite author.  When we started the Creative Writing course (both times) you had to introduce yourself  to the person sitting next to you then they introduced you to the group.  Both in September and then when we restarted in January one of the questions was “what is your favourite story and why”.  And in September I really didn’t know, kinda panicked and just went “Chronicles of Narnia” which I do love.  But then afterwards sat there for ages going “argh my favourite story is Pride and Prejudice why didn’t I say that?!”  So this time round I remembered

One of the other questions which was asked in September was “Who is your favourite author and why.”  And that question I knew the answer to easily.  My favourite author is Jodi Picoult.

On Thursday after my contemporary knitting class, I spent maybe 20 minutes chatting to a friend who was in the coffee shop.  We were talking about books and reading and I was telling him about my goal to buy less new books and how i’d decided not to buy any new books until I’d read certain ones I already had.  Or March.  Or both.  Then I went to get some food shopping and saw Change of Heart had been released in paperback and was £3.50.  Yeah, a brand new book by my favourite author for basically half price, knowing you won’t find it cheaper if you try?  Straight into the basket with the book and straight out the window with that goal.

I read this through in less than 24 hours.  I started in Friday night before bed, intending to read till about page 50 (I like to read at least that far if I can when starting a book) then go to bed.  I was a little past page 200 when I admitted I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer and called it a night.  And picking it up again was one of the first things I did Saturday morning.

What I really like about Jodi Picoult books is how they take a gritty subject and make it real, make you care about the characters.  And how they make you think.  With Change of Heart that’s definitely true.  Organ Transplants, the death penalty, religion and Gnostic gospels all combine with exactly the right pace and realistic admirable characters to produce a fantastic story.

I particularly liked the cameo return of Ian Fletcher from Keeping Faith (and an even briefer return of Mariah and Faith from the same book).  It was nice to see how they’ve “moved on” however briefly it was.  And once again I totally failed to spot the twist when it came (or even that it was coming).  The mini twist on the last page was also good.

Highly recommended.

>A week in the life of a moaning minnie constructive complainer

>I’ve sent multiple e-mails of complaints about things this week.  I’m a complainer and I kinda like it because if we don’t complain how will things change?

I e-mailed my care agency and really threw my toys out of the pram so to speak over an issue.  They reply that they have noted my comments and will be discussing them.  Good.  They didn’t apologise which is a little annoying but given I fully expected (from past experience) they wouldn’t reply…

I did kinda feel like I was going over the top in what I said but it was what I felt and sometimes making nice doesn’t get results.  The thing that I find interesting here is how everyone I’ve mentioned it to who is also disabled finds my comments fair game and everyone who is able-bodied who knows of my wording has exclaimed in sheer shock that I would say such things to them in a complaint.

Then I e-mailed the theatre in Oxford.  Their lift is broken and has been since October (or at least that’s when I found out).  It has to be replaced and is supposed to be “top priority this year.”  They have a ramp they put down on these stairs (seven of them!) and take you down.  It’s horrible and they manage but I question it’s safety.  And mum and I have tickets for the end of next month.  For the farewell tour of Riverdance.  I’ve never seen Riverdance and I really want to go – I’ve seen Lord of The Dance amd loved it and I want to know how to two shows differ.

So I e-mailed them and said pretty much that the ramp sucks and makes it basically impossible to get to the loo in the interval.  Will the lift be fixed for riverdance?

Their response?  They apologise for my “obvious discomfort” and admit they are trying to have the lift replaced but it’s expensive, being “completely honest” she doesn’t believe it will be fixed by the time Riverdance is on.  It’s not policy to offer refunds but in this case if I want I can have one.  And they will keep me informed of developments if I’d like (I intend to take them up on this).

That’s such a great response.  I don’t think I will take the refund, it’s my last chance to see the show and it’s not on anywhere else local.  But as I wrote in my final complaint of the week what I need about access is total honesty because it allows me to be prepared.  I was very pleased by this response even though it obviously didn’t give the answer I wanted to hear.

I don’t usually complain this much in any one week but this week just forced my hand.

I went out to eat with a group of people this week.  The group had been to the venue before but before I joined (I’m the only wheelchair user) and I’d never been.  The organiser and I both separately called and checked about access.  I asked pointed questions and probably for more detail than the organiser but we were both satisfied there was level access and a disabled loo.

Well, they were 50% right/honest… there is a (pretty good but not great) disabled loo.  But there’s also a step to get into the building and one into the bar.  Then to get from the restaurant (which is step free) to the disabled loo?  Up the step and through the bar.

They got staff to help me and from that point of view, OK.  But I’m not a child and I shouldn’t have to ask to be allowed/taken to the toilet like a child.  I was ranting about this to several of our group when we were there but wish I’d just said it to a staff member.

I did have to crack a small smile when one of the people I was with went to find a staff member for me and returned saying “Emma, I’ve found you  NICE YOUNG MAN to help you.”  But only a small one, it was a pretty tough night.  The food was nice and it was nice to see people I rarely do but… put me in a situation with poor or no access and I panic and get anxious.  Fun times.

And after helping me to the bathroom said nice young man disappeared and she had to hunt him down again to help me back to our tables.   Mum did say that’s a difficult one because what is appropriate, wait outside or go off?  I agree with that and it may be he intended to go back but we were faster than he thought.  But she also (my mum) said at least they tried and a lot of pubs don’t.  I don’t really care about that.  Although I must say I’d have been a lot less annoyed if they’d just admitted “we’ve got two small steps but can help you if you want” when I’d called and asked.  I probably wouldn’t have gone but if I had I’d have been prepared at least.

So I sent them an e-mail of complaint and pointed out to them that their steps could be easily ramped and not doing so breaches the DDA.  And I told them how i’d felt infantilised by having to ask to go to the loo.  The biggest thing I tried to get accross was about how what I needed was total honesty and how I’d have been less annoyed about access if they hadn’t lied.  But without undermining my points.  Not sure if I was successful.

The other thing I didn’t mention to them because I’m not clear on is the fact I think by lying (or not telling me the full picture whichever you prefer – although I’m sure I did ask specifically about level access) they have broken the Sale of Goods Act.  Because it states specifically that “goods and services should be providing as described.”  I have a question in to Trading Standards about that for future reference although I haven’t given them details of which venue it was as I don’t feel at this point I need go that far.

The reply I had from the restaurant/pub was the usual we’re sorry you weren’t happy.  They say they’ve now told all their staff to make the exact details clear in future and will be considering my comments etc etc.  Intention of staff is to help not demean or embarrass which totally misses the point that simply by having to ask for the help means announcing to the world that you need to go to the toilet and that is demeaning in and of itself.

But they also end the e-mail by hoping that now I know what it’s like there I’ll have the “confidence to return soon.”

Um, no.  Are you freaking kidding me?!  Either that’s one of those stupid “things people say when closing letters and e-mails fake platitudes” in which case totally irrelevant and inappropriate.  Or they totally missed the point of my e-mail.

So to sum up in closing, I will always be making complaints because how else will the world change.  And when you reply to me I prefer you to be completely honest and to think properly about what you have to say.

>How to Knit

>One of my blog readers sent me an e-mail the other day saying that they’d been out and bought needles and wool and wanted to learn to knit having been inspired by what I write about it.  They wanted to know if I knew any good websites.

knittinghelp.com has great videos which show different techniques.  Not all have sound which can make things a little difficult.  A friend and my mum both helped me to learn – my first project they did the casting on, the adding of yarn and the casting off and I did the actual knitting.   They both cast on for me several times as I messed up repeatedly.  And then the final time that scarf got cast on it wasn’t because of a mistake but because i’d gotten it so much that my later stitches were much neater than the earlier ones and I wanted that the whole way through.  My second project I did the lot.  And having the opportunity to watch those videos again and again whenever I wanted was great.

I also really like Ravelry (my username on there is funkyfairy22).  You have to request a (free) invite to join but it’s usually only a few days wait.  I’ve found some great patterns on there that I’ve enjoyed and you can always find pictures of stuff and lots of inspiration.  The forums are something I occasionally lurk on and don’t post to often but when I do I find helpful answers from friendly people.  I keep thinking I should make more use of it.

If you go onto You Tube and search for knitting there are a lot of instructional videos.  But it can take some looking to find exactly what you want as some videos are shot from too far away to make techniques particularly clear or go too fast etc.

Knitty is a fab and fun online knitting zine.  I intend to attempt the knitted earrings in the last issue during Thing a Day.

I used to really enjoy listening to the Cast On podcast.  But for no real reason haven’t listened to the last several episodes.  I must as they are fun!  I particularly like the “Pick up your pointy sticks it’s time to cast on…” at the beginning.

Livejournal also has several different knitting communities some of which are aimed at different abilities etc.  In fact if you think of any subject at all there will more than likely be a community for it over there.  Do a search (site&user or interest are probably the searches to use).  I’m rarely on livejournal comms as more than a lurker (I post more on people’s blogs on there) but my user name is cyberpurple.

I’ve also had a go at writing some basic “how to cast on, knit and add yarn” instructions.  I’m not sure how clear or correct they are (they work for me!) but they are under the cut.

Leaving a small tail, make a knot in your yarn.  A slip knot is best but I suck at making them so I usually just make a regular knot.  

 

Insert one needle into the middle of this knot

 

Holding this needle in your left hand, take the second needle in your right hand and insert the tip into the knot.  (or hold both needles together and tie the knot round before before holding them as described).

 

Wrap the wool around your needles once (you’re supposed to go anticlockwise but whatever works for you, I go clockwise) then pull back through the stitch on left needle.

 

This is the knit stitch.  When casting on you then transfer the stitch on right needle onto the left and continue as described above until you have sufficient stitches on the left needle.  When you have finished casting on there should be no stitches on the right needle.

 

When you have finished casting on you continue as described from the last stitch cast on.  However instead of transferring it to your right needle you drop the stitch you’ve just knitted into off of the left needle.  When you reach the end of the row and the left needle is empty you switch needles so the full needle is again in your left hand and the empty in the right and keep going.

 

A good rhyme that’s used to teach how to make the knit stitch is

 

In through the front door

Run around the back

Out through the window

And off jumps jack.

 

About 20 stitches (depends how thick the yarn is and how wide you want the piece) and knit every row makes a good scarf.  Keep going until you think it’s long enough.  If you finish a ball of yarn you can knot the ends of the old one and a new one together but it’s best to do so at the end of a row to avoid a bump in your work.  I tend to misjudge this more often than I would like however!