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New Erssie Knits Card

Here is a new card from Erssie Knits. Raid Zero did this photo for my Valentine's canvas, and I liked it so much I put it on a card. Profits from the card go to Essex Greyhound Rescue service.

Gothic Trio
New booklet with the three ex Anticraft patterns

£4 for all patterns

The patterns included in this collection were originally submitted to the Anticraft for inclusion in their book Knitting, Beading & Stitching for the Slightly Sinister.

Sadly the Anticraft book is out of print but I am able to offer these three patterns in this thirteen page booklet; Gothic Trio.

I have updated these patterns with two new charts which were not included in the original book and in addition have had the patterns re-edited by my technical editor to make the patterns even more accessible and in my own style. The errata on the original book have been corrected and are not included in these versions of the patterns.

The patterns are also available as single patterns but obviously downloading the whole booklet is cheaper and saves a total of £3.00

Belladonna Sleeves

£2.00 for a single pattern

Gothic Glam Yule hat

£2.00 for a single pattern

Pop Art Skulls Pillow and MP3 Players Pillow

£3.00 for both pillows pattern

The latest Book...........

I am loving The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. She's one of my favourite authors. Her language is fluent and rich, the spaces she leaves in her description are so emotive too

''I held my arm beneath his shoulders, so that after the injection had taken effect he sank on myhand, and I felt the faltering of his heart against my palm, and then the failing of it''

The book's narrator is a man but never once do I feel that he has a woman's perspective and he makes any sexual references in such a circuitive way that I feel he is true to both his class and his era. He is an antidote to some of the hysterical behaviour in the house in the setting of the supernatural parts and it is his matter of fact descriptions that make the strange happenings even more real. I like the fact he tells the story in its entirety and never once does the story move to another narrator even if he was not present for the parts of the stories he describes. It is true to his voice even when he has to explain the incidents through the eyes of the other characters. Although this is set some time after World War II I love the little references as well of how the war extended beyond Victory and touched a post war Britain in every aspect of their lives from their memories and neuroses to their finances and attitudes towards class. For example, the guilt that Mrs Ayres feels at having owned anything fine or extravagant during the war (talking of donating fur coats to chop up as blankets), even though she has less to live on than young people who now work shifts in factories

Her historical research is so ridiculously thorough and her emphasis on women in history enlightening. I have enjoyed every book she has written, and thoroughly recommend her.

She is connected to a friend of ours (her partner is our friend's sibling), and at our friend's wedding I was just dying to go and gush about what a fan I was, of the writing itself not so much of her as I don't know her, which I suppose is less embarassing....but acutely aware that she was in 'private' mode so never got to a chance to get into conversation with her as it would have been false and inappropriate.

Here is a list of her other books
Fingersmith - is my number one favourite
A 19th century gothic tale, with a sting and a twist you might not be ready for
Affinity - love this
A tale of ghosts and mediums and brilliant background of theosophical societies and women's prisons.

Tipping the Velvet - love this
A saucy and enlightening tale of Sapphic relationships and societies in the early part of the twentieth century, music halls and the early suffragette movement.

The Nightwatch - not my favourite of the five but good nonetheless
A tale of women's roles in wartime Britain and the opportunity it gave for some women to slot into predominantly male occupations.

And her latest one, I would slot that between Fingersmith and Affinity or Tipping the Velvet. The Little Stranger is a supernatural tale but is a brilliant tale of post war Britain, the downfall of the gentry the rise of middle classes and a claustrophobic relationship of two people representing both.

If anybody has read these, do comment. Waters' first book published was one of the reasons I got right back into fiction after a break due to illness. I thought I could not get fired up about reading again and that I had exhausted all the classics but since then there has been a surge of brilliant classic writing on the market.

Some other recently read books I can recommend are
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a fast paced thriller set in Sweden
The 19th Wife, an amusing and informative tale of the birth of the Mormon movement.

It is hard to keep up with the amount I read. I rarelycomplete a bad book. If I don't like something, I give it a chance and then won't complete because there is a wealth of books to choose from. If you want to see what I could recommend, there are 452 books which I have read mainly over the past 10 yrs or so on the website GoodReads.

If you are an avid reader I would recommend this book site because even if you don't want to join in with the social networking it is linked to Amazon and you can queue books for your 'must buy next' shelf, put books you have read on your 'read' shelf and make a list of books 'to read'. The 'must buy' next has been brilliang for Christmas pressies because I just point people in that direction if they know I love to read but have not a clue what to buy. I don't stop buying books in the months leading up to Christmas, I just make sure I leave the 'buy next' list for other people and buy off the 'to read' list instead. Means I am never deprived of something to read and then disappointed if it does not turn up on the Christmas list.

What's next on my list? An old book actually, Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey. I didn't read much at the time this came out and so missed it. I have read other Peter Carey stuff and love his style so am looking forward to this. Then after that I have The Girl Who Played with Fire to read whch is a sequel of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Eastenders Live Episode

Normally I can take or leave a soap but I was mesmerised by the last live episode of Eastenders..oooooh it was good wasn't it? The actors go in through the doors of the Queen Vic Pub, then camera cuts away and those poor actors have to get on a buggy and be transported to the studio for the Queen Vic interior.

Bradley manages to seamlessly shin up a drainpipe like 'e woz goin' up apples and pears, edge his way round, scream out from the roof and then fall backwards off the roof....it was a shocker to see it live! Once again, the production was amazing because they edit away, then put a stunt man in....but this is all totally live just like a theatre production.

None of the characters knew 'who dunnit' (killed Archie) until just before going live. There were a possible 10 murderers and they recorded 10 possible endings, for the actors to learn their bits etc and then none of them knew if it was going to be them

It was a good 'un. And I am not sure how they are going to have a pre-recorded episode ready for Monday, if the actors didn't know 'who dunnit' how could they have learned their lines and recorded an episode following the last live one?

Cor blimey guv'na, they is good! 'Appy Burfday 'Stenders!It's 25 yrs old. What was I doing 25 yrs ago? I was working on an arts magazine called EAR for short, or East End Arts Review and I remember inwardly rolling my eyes at a review my colleague had written on the new East End soap (this one of course).....he used the word iconclastic to describe a pint of Churchill's in the Queen Vic pub, so even in a down to earth TV review of a drama based on the common man, he had managed to be a total ponce!
Valentine's Day

I had a bunch of roses, a box of chocs and a beautiful canvas with arty black and white photo of Lily (don't tell Dizzy) to put on the bedroom wall. This is not it, this is the photograph that Steve used to make the canvas which is huge!

He worked for hours on the eye so that the eye is coloured and has depth and it is funny to lie in bed and see Lily's beady eye looking at us. I have tried to take a few pics of the canvas, but the scale of it is just not coming out. I might have to borrow a dog to stand by it.

Also, my Valentine took me out to see Avatar in 3D. It was amazing! I was looking forward to seeing Avatar anyway but had no expectations of the new digital 3D as it required wearing glasses and I already have eye problems. I was expecting it to just give the fuzzy 3 colour outlines of 60's and 70's 3D.
However, I was truly amazed when figures seemed to jump towards me. Avatar is science fiction and based on a ficititious planet Pandora which is green exotic and beautiful and some of the sights really did seem to float in the air before us in front of the screen. I thoroughly recommend giving it a go and seeing something exotic as it really does enhance the film.

Anyway I have not made any new Valentines charts for today, but a year ago I made these charts to be used freely for personal use on knitting, crochet, stitching or tapestry.

Designer Knitting (formerly Vogue Knitting)

Ever since SoHo Publishing changed the name of this mag for our territory, I still keep referring to it as Vogue.....and I think I am not the only one. I usually prefer the cover of the Vogue version too, and wonder if perhaps there are slightly different patterns included...does anyone know?.

Anyway, I got the Winter 2009/2010 today, and actually, it is a little more down to earth than normal. Sometimes I am wowed by sculptural work, but see it as a work of art and might not make it. In this issue, there are quite a number of tunic type sweaters, that I would wear. I picked out my favourite and of course, it is by Jean Moss and it made it to the cover on the Vogue version of the mag which I prefer.

I also liked this cabled tunic, isn't it beautiful...even photographed flat it looks interesting. The designer is Suvi Simola

I quite liked this striped hoodie. Its simple and classic, but a knitted shape that I think a lot of men would actually wear without feeling an idiot. I like this designer's work, his name is Josh Bennet from BoyMeetsPurl

What did I not like?
I wasn't particularly taken with the mittens designs. I didn't hate them, just as a colour designer myself who enjoys a little charting, I think I could have made them slightly more interesting....but anyway, they fitted in with the stories so they are not so bad....just not brilliant. One of the designers has done brilliant colour work before, and I thought this did not represent her best work.
The Inside Loop

The Inside Loop was the British magazine featuring articles and patterns which were free to the readers. In order for them to have decent patterns, they paid fees to designers for their work. This however, had to be recouped by advertising and sadly in this economic climate, it just was not working out for them so the editors decided to close the mag.

I had one design in it which was reasonably popular; Ondine: Sleeves for a Mermaid modelled by Jennifer Gwiazdowski.

The pattern is now available via my Ravelry store and can be downloaded from there free until 31 January 2010. After January I will be selling this pattern for £2.00. I had to do this, because I needed to do more work on the pattern to reformat it and have it checked before putting it up again as it is now on my template rather than The Inside Loop. Nothing has been taken away from the original design but I have made it easier to download with the pattern on just one page and the rest of the details on the cover and back pages.

At the moment, I am beginning to feel that rather than free patterns being appreciated and attracting more business, the whole free thing is devaluing patterns. I spend quite a bit of money on my patterns not just in my labour but the modelling and photography and the testing and technical editing of patterns. I realise, that some patterns are more like personal notes but this is usually a quick process and does not guarantee accuracy. I can see how popular free patterns are by the number of downloads from my store, which is in the many thousands for the free patterns e.g. about 4,000 for a beret pattern that has been there less than a year....if only the ones for sale sold that well too!

However, I honestly don't think that the patterns which go through a professional process are heard above the noise. I will still leave the patterns that are on my store as freebies, free for the moment but if I have to take time out to update or reformat any patterns, then I will be charging for it.