Archive for the “A Writer's Life” Category

I was hoping to review a new book today for you, but RM didn’t deliver on time I’m afraid, so it’ll be next week’s post. Instead, I thought I’d share my workspace at home.

I snapped this picture a week or so ago after a particularly messy day, the kind of day where you rush from one thing to the next, digging through boxes and dragging out stuff you forgot you had to spin a couple of yards. I can hear you giggling - but yes, I do tidy up each night before Neil gets home.


The window is the focus of the room, it faces southish and there’s loads of light. The stool behind the spinning wheel is where I do almost all of my photos, and you can just see the sheets of white card standing there that I use to reflect the light back for a shot. In the corner behind my spinning chair is a standard lamp for the evenings - not as good as natural light, but still adequate. If I’m knitting, I’ll sit at the window end of the sofa to make the most of the light as well.

It doesn’t make for the tidiest room, but I really like everything to be where I can get at it. The bookshelf behind my spinning chair holds equipment: lazy kate, charkha, spare bobbins, maintenance tools, prep tools etc. There’s boxes of buttons and sewing kits and knitting needles. On top of the bookcase are baskets with ‘current’ (ish) spindle projects in them. The bookcase used to also hold all my craft books, but it was overflowing and they were very hard to get to, so I have a new bookcase now which you can’t see, it holds all the books and baskets full of handpainted fibre. On top of the bookcase are neatly stacked 10 11litre plastic boxes full of yarn, and jars full of spindles stand next to the books.

The black suitcase under my desk holds the undyed fibres, bulk lots of BFL, alpaca fleeces from the farm, other class supplies. It’s amazing what you can squash into a huge suitcase! Also under the desk are a couple of project bags with wips in them. The little boxes on either side of the TV hold the overflow, one’s full of cotton, one has dyed mohair, another has silk supplies for the luxury fibres class. Spin-Off magazines live on the shelves under the TV, also easily accessible and they like to lie flat.

The latest addition to the room is the basket by my wheel. I bought it at a country fair last year and I absolutely love it! It’s the dumping ground for anything in the categories ‘working on at the moment’ or ‘hoping to get to this very soon’. At the moment (I cleaned it out a bit) it holds the yarn and pattern for the current Sock(topus) Club socks; a couple of balls of handspun which I am thinking of knitting something with, but probably should put away; the second half of the gold silk that I’m spinning for the next Spin! series - it’s been languishing there for ages while I get distracted by other stuff; the next fibre for the SoFA fibre club, and also, an odd sock and its yarn - never going to be finished I’m fairly sure!

Last but not least, my loom lives under the coffee table. You can’t really see it, but it’s behind the box, which stores all the bits and pieces that I need for weaving. I’m standing at Neil’s desk to take this photo - it’s his only corner of the room, poor guy. But he doesn’t really seem to mind. Luckily, we have a separate eat-in kitchen (not common in a 1 bed flat) because there’s really not much more to the living space than you can see here!

So what’s your space like? Do you take over everything like me? Or pack yourself neatly into a little corner :-D I’m pretty sure Neil secretly longs for the days when I had a whole other room upstairs away from him…

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Just a quick one to let you know that there are a couple of new classes posted for this year, including new beginner dates as many of the classes have filled up. Check them out here on the classes page.

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I’d love to talk about Iknit, but I have no photos, and really the day is a bit of a blur! I helped Alice out on the Socktopus stand and we were completely swamped from the minute the doors opened to the time the Yarn Harlot started her presentation. I caught up with loads of people, including many I hadn’t met before ‘in the flesh’ and it was a great day - in spite of the mayhem :-)

As I said, I took no photos, but if you want to see a hilarious one of me then pop over to Dots and Yarns.


P.S. News of the day - you can also catch me in the current issue of Spin-Off, hitting shelves this week. The thrill of seeing your name in print never wears out!

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After eighteen months of faffing around and telling myself that ‘all new businesses take a while to get established’, I have taken the bull by the horns and started listening to that inner voice. What’s it saying? “Do it properly - this is a real business”.

So this is what’s been happening today:


And I need a little help from you guys out there! Please take a few moments to fill in the survey below. It’s anonymous, but leave me a comment to say you’ve done it and I’ll enter you in a draw for a yarny prize. Survey closes this Sunday evening UK time.

There’ll be a lot more new stuff going on around here - including a total overhaul of the website. All your input and constructive criticism will be much appreciated.


P.S. Pollen seems to be lying low for now - I slept flat last night Woo!

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In the interests of keeping me sane and as a distraction from Looping, Emmms has tagged me for a meme:

The rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people & post a comment here once you post it to your blog, so I can come see.

The nearest book to me is actually wrapped up as it’s a present for someone from a friend in Australia which I’m supposed to be delivering but, well… um, the next nearest book is a French pocket dictionary which may be a bit dull (p123: fantastique; fantôme; faon; farce; fard; ahemwhere was I?).

The nearest non-boring, non-wrapped book to me is: The Freelance Writer’s Handbook by Andrew Crofts.

p 123: “Tell them you’re going in search of drug barons of Colombia and you’ll elicit a better response than if you say you’re going to tour the vineyards of France. A visit to the caves of Bin Laden in Afghanistan will score a great deal higher than a visit to the Eiffel Tower. You get the idea.”

Page 123 happened to fall smack in the middle of a chapter on travel writing. I wonder what sort of hits my blog is going to get this week…

In my turn, I tag Kai, Kate, Ali, Alice, and Daisy. In fact, the usual suspects. Have fun guys!

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Designing for publication can be an immensly long and drawn-out process. A design can often be rejected by several sources before finally finding a home and each new venture is taken separately, as almost all publications have a no-simultaneous-submissions policy (and fair enough too).


This beret has visited a few editors over the past year and I have been waiting impatiently for a chance to share it with you. The contrasting sections are formed sideways using short-rows and then it all comes together with a 3-needle bind-off and a picked up band. I used my own silk/merino handspun and Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk for the contrast sections.


Check it out now over at Spindle and Wheel, and make sure you have a look at the other fab stuff Allena has found for this issue as well!

(P.S. doesn’t Michelle make a great model!)

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Firstly, thank you so much for all your comments on the mag. Kate and I really hoped that what we envisioned would be the kind of thing people wanted and it seems we were right for the most part. Feedback has been wonderful and inspiring and we have been trying to respond in person to as many people as we can.

We really tried to listen to potential readers and create a site that would meet the needs of people out there. We had great ideas and feedback as we were building the magazine and some of the most welcomed features (e.g. the printable pages) have been ideas from you guys out there.

We will continue to listen, and although we know we can’t please everyone all the time, we will always keep in mind that this is a magazine for you and it should reflect the needs and preferences of the public readership. So please keep in touch!

As a result of one email I received on Wednesday I headed out last night to meet up with Helda and the London Crochet Meetup group. Kate and I decided from the first that we didn’t want the mag to be exclusively for knitters and the crochet crowd has responded positively to the inclusion of their art. It was a good night, I met a lot of new people and we talked about ways that crochet’s image can (hopefully) change. Knitting still attracts flak from many sources and crocheters get at least a quadruple dose. I really hope that the Loop can help to let people know that it’s not all sparkly thread and granny squares out there (although I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the awesome granny square).

In honour of the occasion (although they certainly don’t ban knitting at LCM!) I thought I’d take some crochet along and decided to start Treenah from the mag. I chose Blue Sky Alpaca Silk and I’m loving it!


I’ve just started the trellis pattern at one end - have I ever mentioned how FAST crochet is?! I’m going to be finished this one pretty soon and I’ll leave it on display at Stash for a while until it gets shipped off for an antipodean winter birthday.

I sound like I’m on a bit of a craze here I know but I have always enjoyed crochet, I have never used icky acrylic and hardly ever skinny thread. There is definitely a place for it and it deserves a better wrap than it traditionally receives. Why not dig out a hook this weekend :-)


P.S. Who’s going to be at Spinning Group tomorrow morning :-P


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Go check out the first ever issue, and let me know what you think.

The Inside Loop

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How did that happen? The other day I was in the bank having my passport copied and the girl happened to mention, “Oh yes, your visa’s fine till October…” October!! This is a two year visa - where did it go?! I mentioned the matter to my SIL last night and she was equally flummoxed. It really feels like we just arrived.

In a smidgeon more than 16 months there have been many life changes. Exactly 11 months ago I rebelled against early Monday mornings and the horror of British school children and quit teaching (I found the post I wrote that day here). It was quite a while before I stopped calling myself a teacher but it took no time at all for me to discover that I could relax, enjoy myself and really love my work as I attempt to make it as a writer/designer/anything that will bring in money.

11 months on, I am about to launch my own online publication with a dear friend, and I have managed to get myself published in print and online a few times.

I discovered I make people’s day :-D


Thank you so much Moggle and Alice!

And I can only imagine what the next 11 months will bring. I have decided to aim high - why not!

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I didn’t really tell anyone in case it was all really a dream and wasn’t going to actually happen. And I couldn’t quite believe it until I saw it.

The Winter Issue is up and you can now go read My Article over at Knitty.


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Okay, my estimate of finishing off the green monster lovely lacy thing by the end of last week was obviously hugely wrong. I have finished the lace, and am now going round and round, seemingly endlessly.

216 sts per round. 10 rounds/inch. Lucky I’m not tall.

Amazingly, I have found someone just as nutty as myself who is … get this … eager (!) to pattern test for me :-D

Sorry there’s no photos but I don’t have my camera with me. I’ll try for one tonight.

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