Sunday, October 05, 2008


Couldn't think of an apt title to convey how I feel. It's been a very strange week and my thoughts keep returning to 2 people who are no longer with us. Both were taken before their time and both deaths have launched me into the throes of introspection, a mixture of sadness, loss and such affection.

I found out on Tuesday that my old boss had been killed over the weekend. He was out in Norwich, saw a gang of youths pick on a young couple and went over to intervene. The gang turned on him and basically kicked his head in. His injuries were so severe he had to be taken to a specialist hospital in Cambridge where he later died leaving behind a devoted wife and 2 daughters aged 7 and 4. I saw the headlines, clicked on the story and was shocked to see his photograph. Frank was a Brixton boy made good who did a Law degree and worked his way up the ranks forging a glittering career in the city. He was extremely well-respected amongst his peers and a charismatic leader who inspired loyalty amongst his staff. We were willing to work our socks off for him because we knew at the end of the day that he would always stand behind us and support us if needed. He gave me a 10 grand payrise after my first 6 months in recognition of my hard work, he could be intimidating and brusque at times but at the end of the day, he was always fair. I'm somehow not surprised by his actions that night, he could persuade the most pig-headed city traders to see sense and he must have thought he could use his powers of reasoning to defuse the situation. And he had a a great sense of humor too - when yours truly here got far too blottoed at a team dinner (in her 3rd week of joining the firm) and called both her bosses 'losers', Frank took it in his stride and laughed it off the next day. At the time though, I was completely mortified and thought I'd be given my marching papers pretty pronto for showing an MD such blatant disrespect. I've been trying to process it all and it's just horrifying that someone who was trying to do the decent thing and protect some strangers could meet with such an undeserved end.

Which brings me onto Tash - on Wednesday, in lieu of our usual Wednesday night knitting we all went over to Helen's to take care of Tash's stash. We managed to rehouse most of it but surveying her yarn collection and choices made me feel closer and yet so separated from her at the same time. Tash, you've left such a huge gaping hole in our hearts that all the yarn in Christendom could not fill.

At university, one of my favourite classes was one called 'Women & Poetry'. I had to write a paper on the thematic treatment of death and one of the poems I chose to analyse was this one by Christina Rossetti - I like to think it's some kind of message from the other side.


Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Happy Blogday to me......

Hurray,.... it's been 2 years and so much has happened. I haven't been great at documenting the passing of time but I'm going to make more of an effort going forward. To celebrate, I made yet another cake from this book which was given to me by a vegetarian friend hoping to turn me over to the 'green' side. Most of the cakes I've made from this book have turned out fab which has made me more open to their savory stuff and that's been pretty good too. It's a good thing I'm working on my fitness given all the cake I've been making and eating!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Fabrications

I stumbled upon this book whilst surfing through blogsphere and bought it specifically to make the alphabet sorter - it's for a dear friend's little boy who is turning 3. She and I were housemates at university and I have been meaning to make him something for quite some time. (He has inspired the start of many projects but none of which have actually reached completion - oops!). We don't see each other very often but I have many fond memories of the late night chats we used to have in each other's rooms.

I have given up on garments as my projects for him tend to languish for too long in relation to his rate of growth. Hence the sorter - this book by the way is full of lovely things with pretty simple instructions.

My mastery of the sewing machine is still an on-going battle and I disliked the way the applique stitches came out. So I decided to go down the labour-intensive route of handsewing all the letters which has been fun but SLOW. My friend is the crafty type though so she will appreciate the effort.

I tried different types of edgings to give it some variety.

At least he won't grow out of it and will be able to use it for a good many years to come.

My typing is a little slow today due to an achey right arm which makes blogging a bit painful. It's not from excessive knitting but from yesterday's tennis session. I used to play loads when I was young but have not picked up a racket for a very long time. I walked the 3 miles to the tennis center, played 90 minutes of tennis and then walked back again. It's part of my new fitness regime to combat the inertia of too much crafting on my couch. But yesterday's spurt of exercise wiped me out so much I was in bed by 10!

When the membership lady at the leisure center asked me if I was working or a student, I said I was unemployed and she must have seen my crestfallen face because she gave me a huge concession without asking for proof. Hurray!! Right, I'm heading off to the pool now - I may blog-in on Sunday with a spinning update but in the meantime, have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Twist in the Tale

The slow creeping darkness into our days has sparked off a severe case of startitis in me. Perhaps it's the realisation that winter will soon be upon us that's made me want to rush into knitting overdrive. I started 3 new projects in the last week but can't say that I feel guilty about this one (given that it will go towards finishing a UFO) - do you remember it?

Yes, the infamous boob tube! I started this last year and had a few problems with the pattern. When I was next at Liberty's I asked the lovely Rowan lady about the decreases, she was also confused and remarked that I was the first person she knew who was knitting it. Although it is essentially a boob tube, I was seduced by the cables and the model made it look so chic. Hmmm, we shall see! It's coming along nicely and I've forgotten how addictive cables can be. Ended up having to frog the first 18 rows because I discovered that one cable was twisting the wrong way and my anal self was unwilling to let it rest.

There has also been some sock knitting, my 7th pair this summer but what's there not to like about socks? The gratification's quite instant and best of all there's no finishing involved or nasty sleeves which is 10 times worse than second sock syndrome in my book.

I had also made a vow to use up something from last year's Ally Pally haul before going to this years. Started out doing the Monkey pattern which is quite easy once you get over the initial fear factor but it was a little too busy for this yarn. Opted for the straight-forward Crusoe instead which is quite a fast knit. Apologies for the upside-down shot...

Before I go though, I thought I'd give you a quick update on how my orchids are doing...

Haaaannnng on.... WTF is that??

My little plant seems to have attracted a massive butterfly, is it some science experiment gone wrong, an alien insect from outer space or are my windows just very dirty?

It is in fact made from denim and a very clever, crafty ad from a well-known jeans company. I love living opposite a billboard but this one really took me by surprise - I guess it could serve as inspiration for my sewing tomorrow.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

BakerRooney on the West End

What excuse can I give for being such a slack blogger? Absolutely none. My new thespian life has led to large swathes of unstructured time disappearing into some black hole. These days, just getting the washing up done counts as a major accomplishment. Strange to think that a couple of months back, I was busy dealing with banking issues, stressed-out analysts and monitoring reviews. It hasn't helped that I put Radio 4 on the minute I wake up - it is pretty hard to listen and write at the same time! There's almost always some excellent programme on that I get passively absorbed in.

But I really must blog more, in fact I need blogging even more now that I've lost the daily human interactions the office brings, no matter how trite the office talk was it still meant you were communicating regularly with people other than your partner.

Aside from intermittently sedate moments this month, I had quite possibly THE most exciting week of my life. You see, when I was growing up in the far east, my sister and I along with our circle of friends were obsessed with musicals. Cats, Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera... we lapped them all up with a passion that only pre-pubescents can demonstrate. Our favourite musical though, the one we dreamed about staging was Les Miserables, we got our sweaty, tropical hands on the full libretto, practised playing them (very badly I might add) on our piano and sang the songs with vigor tearing round the garden. Yes, I know - we were SO uncool! And we had just discovered pop music too.

Last week though, my dormant, inner musical-geek finally got the chance to step out of the shadows when I got an audition for a musical and got to sing one of my favourite Les Mis songs on an actual West End stage. I was so excited to just be there that I belted out my song to the last row of the balcony and promptly got a croakey voice for quite some days after. It turned out to be a crazy week as I had 3 other auditions which meant that I was running around town like a headless chicken. Given that it's been such a looooooong time since i've sung properly, I had to go for singing boot camp which meant missing the iknit day. But my little return to singing has made me want to put in more practise and work as I would bloody love to be in a West End musical some day. My poor long-suffering neighbour and Gruff have tolerated hours of my singing exercises with unconditional grace so I may have to thank them with cake.

Yes, I have been baking on a weekly basis and scoffing the results so quickly that there have not been any photo opportunities. No evidence therefore remains of the 2 carrot cakes I made for various birthdays, the walnut sandwich cake for our spinning afternoon at Lucy's, the lemon drizzle for Helen's sewing workshop, the ginger treacle or Gruff's birthday banana cake. I have only just learnt to keep my gluttony in check and can proudly show you the last of the mascarpone mango cake I made for Tuesday's sewing day with Pauline and Gail.

My next post will be a knitting update I promise! I have also been sewing, oh yes!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

And so our summer ends...

Despite knitting furiously over the last few days, it is highly unlikely that Gruff's birthday socks will be ready. Boooo.... I managed to finish one last night but when we had a fitting, the sock turned out far too tight and small. Damn you Jaywalkers!! As chopping and filing Gruff's feet down to size ugly step-sister styley is out of the question, I had to grit my teeth and rip it back down to the ankle where I went up 2 needle sizes up. Grrrrr...

So to ensure that Gruff had at least one handmade present, I whipped this up after modifying instructions from this fab site.

It's a bag for a vintage microphone that Gruff carries around to recordings. I hope it bloody fits - I haven't been able to check as said mic is at Gruff's work. Pauline had this fabric in her stash and I was compelled to track it down.

Found it on Kittycraft where I've been spending far too much money.

Have also found some great sewing blogs and Cassie introduced me to Burdastyle which is the sewing equivalent of Ravelry and facebook - I have already 'queued' several projects - so many projects, far too little time!

My Trafalgar square street performance turned out to be an amazing experience.

I felt especially smug and virtuous in a 'look-how-committed-i-am-to-my-art" way when the heavens decided to piss down on us during rehearsals and various performances. The fact that our dressing room was an undisguised shipping container for over 20 of us didn't help matters either. What did redeem it all was watching the opening ceremony of the Olympic games on the massive screen they had in the square, it completely blew us away - we were just so in awe and speechless for the first hour before the tedious segment when the teams came out. It felt good to be part of it all in our own little way. You can see more photos here - mostly of the awesome East-West circus troupe that came after us.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Sweat shops & Castles

Gruff and I went to a lovely wedding yesterday. The ceremony was held here which lent a medieval, fairy-tale touch to the special occasion. This was followed by a superb hog roast, a massive piss-up in a barn and dancing to an 18 piece big band.

Otherwise, I have been setting out my Babette in various configurations these last few weeks in an attempt to find the perfect combination.

The mind boggles with endless permutations and my eyes feel over-exposed to all these retina-burning mosaics.

As a pleasant distraction, Pauline and I went over to Helen's for a sewing class. We managed to transform her lovely home into a sweat shop for the afternoon given that we were blessed with particularly scorchio weather that day. Helen kindly lent me this

Who needs a dining table when both Gruff and I have laps?

More photos of our lovely afternoon can be found here here.

This is what I managed to make for Gruff's niece.

I still need to find material in the right color for the bias binding on the arm-holes. A part of me is sorely tempted to make one for myself in that same, lovely material.

Thanks to a directory of free sewing patterns, I found this simple pattern.

This is my test piece which only took me an evening to knock up - amazing!

But otherwise, remember this?. Well, this year's blossoms have been even more abundant.

It was given to me as a house-warming present when I first moved into this flat and it never fails to surprise me when like a stealth bomber, its buds explode with color. Looking at it always cheers me up - it's my little tropical memento of growing up in South East Asia.

"What's up on the acting front?" I hear you ask. Well, a project I auditioned for and got has sadly fallen through. Perhaps it was karma for the send-up I did of my Japanese ex-housemate, who knows? But I happily landed myself another gig due to someone pulling out. Rehearsals this weekend meant that I had to give the girly knitting trip to Copenhagen a miss. I will instead be preparing for my 'West-End' debut next week wearing an orange jumpsuit and flapping bits of fabric about to play 'Earth' at Trafalgar Square, glamorous eh?

Friday, July 04, 2008

40 down,.. 86 to go!

The squares have been multiplying and I have enough for a small baby babette if I stopped now.

But I have become somewhat addicted to producing these little critters and will soldier on until I become utterly sick with these. It's a bit daunting that the next 86 are mostly the larger 3 sizes which will take me a lot longer to produce. I'm not stressing about this despite the fact that it's a such a huge project requiring stamina but will just aim to take it square by square - I'll be happy as long as it's done by October. In fact, I'm already thinking about making my next blanket. (You can tell that I'm still in a honeymoon state with my babette, can't you?) I'd choose less diverse colours for a start - perhaps different hues of one dominant shade.

Trying to mix and match various combinations for these colours is proving to be a little bit of a nightmare especially when you have the tendency to over-analyse things as I do. Being indecisive and slightly anal about things being perfect doesn't help the matter either. There are some squares which seemed a great idea in theory but have turned out looking quite lame. I haven't decided whether to give them a make-over or let the rest of the blanket swallow them up. But I do know that I'm going to sew up the different panels as I go along because I'd lose the will to live if I had to sew them all up at the end. Of course, there are advantages to the latter method because you can swap and place the squares together to ensure an even spread.

I'm off to Loop now to buy a more ergonomic hook before starting on the rest of the squares - don't want to end up with a claw-like hand!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Busy resting...

Can you guess what this is??

I've been meaning to crochet this blanket for the longest time - I went for my first lesson over a year ago, promptly forgot my skills through lack of practise which meant that I had to have a refresher at Flib's's hooker party. Now that I have an infinite amount of time on my hands... waiting to hear about auditions and the results of castings I have attended, the best way to temper the idleness, boredom and anxiety is to keep my hands busy. It's been tough learning to read the patterns and I started out with a few practise squares...

The middle one is particularly 'special' but given that ALL the squares in this pattern start with that tricky first round, I thought it best to get it right. It's been slightly easier thanks to Ravelry but it is still hard to understand these instructions without the help of someone to physically show you. I even tried drawing a diagram to visually map out the stitches but it was still confusing

I think I'm getting there though,.. have a look at these. (Note to self - do not use variegated yarn when you are trying to figure out unfamiliar crochet stitches!)

Another result of being unemployed is that it affords you the luxury of gratuitous yarn buying... especially irresponsible as I ended up going to Liberty's three times during this last summer sale week.

Guess I'd better crank up the de-stashing!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Curtain-up & curtain-down...

You pooter along in disenchantment and then life suddenly takes a dramatic turn. The curtain goes down on one life and comes up on another one with the promise of new beginnings.

Back at the end of April, I was asked to audition for a small, fringe play. It did not initially take my fancy as I assumed it was just another profit-share (i.e. unpaid) production. This turned out to be unfounded and when I was offered the part, I traded in my soul-destroying albeit well-paying city job with a mixture of glee & trepidation to join the ranks of terminally under-employed actors.

Rehearsals started pretty much the same evening as my last day in the office and it has been a complete roller-coaster of a ride. In the midst of my elation, the news of Tash's death plunged me into the depths of grief.

It's been almost a month now and I still feel acute stabs of sorrow at the loss of such a beautiful light. It felt as if we had all become part of some crappy chick-lit story with the C-word providing some kind of lousy plot device. Tash we miss you so much!! You always loved it when I gave you a shout-out on this blog of all the good times you'd been able to facilitate and been part of.

If you hare able to get wi-fi signal up there in the great yarn-shop in the sky Tash - I want you to know that despite your physical demise, you are still very much alive in our hearts and minds. I was so chuffed when the knitting possy came to my show last Wednesday, yet your presence was so sorely missed. In any case, you'll be glad to know that I was mentioned in our Time-Out review and duly got pissed last night to celebrate.

P.S. We...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lucy in the ply with diamonds....

The dreadful pun is in honor of Ginger Lucy's birthday... who was born in the 80's. Nuff said! Happy Birthday Sweetie!!! xxx

I presented her with 50g of the Brown Falkland I spun and plied last week but also soaked it in some orange and ginger scented shower gel for maximum sniffing pleasure.

100g of Blue-Faced Leicester was spun up in a week.

This time round I watched a clip on correct plying off Youtube. I erred on the side of caution and overplied but may have overdone it slightly. Tried whacking the curly bits out but my yarn was still pretty uneven. Boo,... another lesson I learnt was that you should wind the yarn off your makeshift lazy kate from the same direction, otherwise one single will get unplied. Although I'm quite chuffed with how it turned out, I may still ply the 2-plys together to create a cabled yarn.

In the interest of experimenting, I also plied 3-singles together as it apparently creates more 'rounded yarn'. I liked it too but I have no idea what on earth I'm going to do with my 2 new skeins... hmmm,...

The Flutter-bys are also completed and on the road to further adventures. It only took me 2 weeks to zip these up - Wowzer! Similarly mind-blowing, was the Norwegian Continental purl stitch class at Iknit - it makes ribbing a complete joy.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Yin & Yarn

So after a long hiatus away from Ewan, I dusted him off and gave him a good work-out this weekend. It was evident from his creaking on Sunday evening that he was a little out of shape. But what a productive weekend we had getting reacquainted with our beloved Radio 4 murmuring in the background.

A better student spinner would read all her books thoroughly, take careful notes and remember general guidelines. Yours truly here however, in her impatience to get on with it flicked through her manuals with a desultory glance at diagrams. This disregard for proper preparation thereby resulted in unnecessary mistakes and learning the hard way. Oh well, it was ever thus and ever will be - it's far too late for me to change.

So; lesson 1- move the yarn from one hook to the other gradually so that you get an even spread. I was building it up on each section of the bobbin which caused a whole heap of trouble when it came to plying. This is when it all collapsed into each other making a bit of a tangled mess on the bobbin... and far too much stopping and starting…and some weird protrusions from said yarn causing it to look like insects' feelers.

You are not supposed to leave singles on the bobbins for 6 weeks either as it releases the twists. I'm not entirely sure how long twists can keep but I'm sure someone on Ravelry will be able to tell me.

It had been quite a long time since our lesson with Nancy and I couldn't really remember the lesson on plying. Nonetheless, I rushed on paying scant attention to my spinning manual or online tutorials of which there are plenty. I managed to ply it all somehow, transferred it onto the swift to make skeins and soaked it in cold water to remove the sheepy aroma of the Brown Falkland. It now appears that one should soak it in warm water so that the fiber 'relaxes' - would scented candles and soothing music add ambience to the cause? I didn't 'whack' it or hang it up with weights to 'set the twist' but rather, had it 'sunbathing' by the window on our radiator…

Measured my 2 skeins and it's a total of 218 yards for 100g - didn't really bother counting the wpi as the twists weren't evenly spread out. It looks as if it has fluffed out a little and all my worries about over twisting seem to be a little unfounded. It will therefore be a miracle if my yarn attains any semblance of 'balance', the desired nirvarna of yin and yang.

Undeterred in the face of sloppy yarn, our eager student pushed on and has started spinning with the white Blue-faced Leicester which is currently producing pretty thin yarn.

Great stuff but I have no intention of knitting with size 0 needles so this may involve quite a bit of plying… oh dear. I initially started on the 6.7 ratio but the fast take-up meant my fingers almost got sucked into the orifice (hee hee). So I moved it up a ratio and pedaled slower which is somehow doing the trick. I'm sure it goes against every spinning rule so we shall have to see what transpires.

The one lesson I did learn was the coin thing for photos so people can see how thick or thin your yarn is...

and also that you should keep away from Merino until you're a tad more experienced.

On top of all my spinning, I actually got off my arse this weekend to go to Knitflicks , sherman heeled the second Flutter-by sock and got some reading done. So I haven't been glued to Ewan the whole time,.. Honest!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wan Sok

When I was growing up in Singapore, there was a Korean girl called Buyong who was in our little gang. We were an odd bunch -unsporty, different and slightly shunned by the rest of the class. I thought of her this weekend when I was finishing up my Flutter-by. I'd decided to use the Jaywalker pattern for my Cherry Tree Hill 'Cabin Fever' but changed my mind. The zig-zag-ness of the pattern would suit a yarn with less colours. Whilst browsing on Ravelry, I found the Flutter-by pattern and it was perfect.

Knitting this pattern allowed me to enjoy the colours of this yarn, making this an exquisite experience.

Each strand twisting between my fingers was a joyful riot of colour. I'd look back on each little 'butterfly' scrutinising the rainbow like combinations and thinking they were all little unique creatures.

Little wonder then, that it only took me a week to finish creating it.

When you step back, the whole sock is a kaleidoscope of colours, a real messy affair... much like life I suppose. Socrates would say in this instance that the unexamined sock is the sock not worth wearing...

So why did all this remind me of my little 9-year old friend? Because she had a brother called Wan Sok which amused us to no end. Every now and then, we'd ask her how Wan Sok was and if he'd become two socks yet. I know, the childish mind can sometimes conjure up such idiocy. The thought did cross my mind that Buyong's mother was perhaps a knitter. Nonetheless, who knew that one sock could be so beautiful and bring such pleasure.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Unchartered Territory

Lace is one of those things I've aimed to try this year. My new knitting skill last year was learning cables. I get engrossed looking at lace charts which are supposed to help you navigate through complex instructions. Yet the charts themselves are a hieroglyphic mystery, a new and foreign language for knitting. The framework for something that will look nothing like these squiggly signs.

Went to the new Iknit shop to pick up some addi lace needles and rushed home to try my hand at the Luscious Lace pattern.

Was gutted when I had to rip out the fifth row - this lace stuff takes a different level of concentration. No listening to the Radio or conversation for me.

On a happier note, I have finished a pair of socks for me. Hurray!!

This is my third pair but the other two made their way to other feet. The yarn is Posh Yarn's Lucia in Virtue. They certainly kept my poor little feet very warm in the chilly run up to today's snow!

My sock needles have not been left naked for long either as I have already cast on for another sock.

These are Cherry Tree Hill Merino supersock in 'Cabin Fever'. Love these colours!

* yup, I celebrate the completion of one project by casting-on for 2... and I wonder why I have so many UFOs scattered round the flat...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday

Could not think of anything vaguely witty for the title of this post because I am completely astounded, amazed and semi-speechless that it is snowing!! In Central London!!! as I type !!!!.... Now, if it would only settle and land on a convenient mountain near Brick Lane... hmmmm,... we can but dream. Gruff suggested that I take my snowboard up to Parliament Hill. I think he was trying to be helpful as he saw how my excitement needed to be channeled into some kind of action as opposed to running around the living-room, shouting 'It's snowing...' and peering out of all the windows to grasp the full extent of our mighty snow-storm. It would be a great plan except for the gale force winds which would make getting to the top of Parliament Hill somewhat tricky... now if we lived in Scotland however...instead I am here, blogging.
As promised in my previous post - here's my knitting update. I managed to finish 2 hats - my first Woolly Wormhead Ribba hat

and this


Tried to persuade Gruff that his hat needed a bobble as a finishing touch but he would have none of it. In any case, I must admit it looks a little strange because I decided to free-style it... and it turns out looking like an inverted blue turnip! I also made significant progress on Courtenay...

According to my blog archives, I started this last May. So that's just one month shy of a year. Oh dear, I fear the color may be so last-last season but I don't really care. Must try to remember where I've put the completed sleeves, don't want to have to knit those AGAIN. Cannot wait to finish it so that it gets at least one outing before summer arrives. Although given the current climate, that may still be a long way off. (goes off to do a little jig)