Sunday, June 30, 2013


The delightful Busy Mama left a comment the other day saying that she had nominated me for a Liebster Award. Her blog has a mix of craft types, as well as some daily life snapshots, both of which I enjoy a great deal. there's something very soothing about seeing instants from someone else's life. She also runs a crocheting circle reasonably near to my house which I have consistently failed to go to. On top of that, she called me funny, which is the quickest way to my heart and ego.

The award is a great way of raising the profile of other blogs. The rules are as follows:

1. Anyone nominated wins! (Isn't that lovely?)

2. You should link back to the person who nominated you.

3. You should nominate five blogs, with fewer than two hundred followers, that you like and feel deserve the award.

4. You should let nominees know by leaving a comment on their blog.

5. You should attach the little Liebster badge to your blog.

You can also ask questions of your nominees if you so choose! I'm not going to do that, y'all have things to do.

(I mean, yes, everyone winning means this is really just a chain letter of sorts, but it gave me a boost, and who doesn't like to hear their work complimented? I like giving compliments, and this is an excuse.)

I find the middle clause of rule number two quite difficult - I mostly follow biggish blogs, because they're the easiest found. I'm like an anti-hipster. I'll try to keep it to smallish ones, but I rather hope I won't cause offense by seeming like I think someone must have a smaller readership than they do. Is that something people might be offended by? Hopefully not. Anyway, my nominees are:

1. Erin Kate Archer. I've been following her blog and harbouring a crafts-crush for a few years now. She's an awfully talented lady, and works in a whole wide range of media, which I love. Keeping track of her blog is a great way to find tutorials scattered around the internet, and her own designs are just stunning. Everything is beautifully photographed, and her blog is an all-around aesthetically pleasing affair.

2. Stitchlily. A person I sort of know from real life, but who has probably forgotten me! We met when I was working at the Science Gallery's Crochet Coral Reef exhibition - she had contributed to the reef. Her blog is very enjoyable and entertaining to have on my feed, as I get to read about the range of group projects, festivals and workshops she works with, which I otherwise wouldn't hear about. She also has a brilliant mix of project types, mostly textiles-based, and anyone who can make something I can't make is essentially a wizard in my books.

3. Cornflower Blue Studio/Flower Moon. This absolutely has more than two hundred followers, but I only discovered it recently and I'm quite enamoured. Lots of short posts is a format I like quite a lot, I like the diversity of the projects, and it's great for project ideas. (I am going to make this for everyone for Christmas, but with chilli instead of cinnamon. Exciting.)

4. Everywhere Knits. If you're looking for blogs to follow, this hasn't been updated in about a year, but I always enjoyed when it was! It's written very conversationally and the photos are mostly taken by webcam, which makes it feel very friendly.

5. Shocking Blankets. This is mostly a Sherlock fanart blog, which might flout the rules if this is meant to be messy crafts, but the art is adorable, and I keep going back just to revisit the #not dead gifs because they make me giggle. Plus, the girl who runs it seems incredibly sweet.  There's nothing not to like!  I discovered this a few weeks ago via a Ravelry thread discussing Sherlock fanart, read my way through all of it, felt all fuzzy inside, and decided to start drawing again, after several years of intentions. And now I draw a non-zero amount! I feel like if you can inspire someone to take up, or take back up, a hobby, you're doing something right. (This one is a Tumblr, so I'm not sure how to leave a comment in a useful way, as I'm pretty sure anonymous asks don't allow links.  If I set up a Tumblr account it would be full of pictures of cats before I chose a username, so I feel I should delay that for as long as possible. Does Tumblr show traffic sources? Hopefully!)

And now I have to contact all these people to say hi and let them know about the nomination. I did not anticipate it when I started the post, and it is unexpectedly intimidating.

Also, this post had made me realise that I'm rather short on Irish crafting blogs, if anyone has recommendations I'd be delighted!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Crochet in Middle Earth-tones

My sister kept mentioning last year that she wanted to learn to crochet, so I got her Debbie Stoller's The Happy Hooker for Christmas. I think I showed remarkable self-restraint by not flicking through it until now. (I honestly didn't by it with myself in mind, but I might be a terrible person regardless.)

I got good use out of the Stripes (and Stripes) Forever pattern - when I had reams left over from making a belt, I decided to make a scarf, as well. I used Debbie Bliss Cotton DK, in what was my first yarn-shopping jaunt in an uncharacteristically long time. I wanted to use earth-tones, and I think the colour scheme ended up quite Middle Earthish, which I'm happy with, because I am a really cool and well-adjusted person with a vibrant social life.

I made the belt several inches too long, but at least it's long enough to tuck into the next belt-loop.

The scarf is also self-tasselling, which is pretty cool! It's crocheted in long rows end-to-end, rather than short rows side-to-side. It looks nice and academic, I think, and as I started it while I was in Cambridge, I feel doubly justified in thinking of it as my Shire scarf.

Second and third crochet projects down! (The fourth will hopefully be put together tonight, photos in the future.) The next one I have planned is a biggie - if I do a decent job of it, I'll feel I'm allowed to say that I can crochet.

Also, Irish Premature Babies sent me a thank-you card for the squares I donated, and emailed me pictures of the blankets they've made! I get to feel fuzzy, and I get post.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I visited my friend Steph in Cambridge last weekend!


1. We nearly entered this cardboard boat race, but were hampered by not having collected cardboard and made a boat.
2. There was garden party in the Chaplain's garden. There was a cake-baking competition, and we came second with the chocolate and raspberry cake in the bottom right! I also won a notebook in a raffle, and came first with two of Steph's friends in a trivia competition. Best garden party I've ever been to.
3. There was a punt race one evening. Another team were dressed as bananas.
4. St. John's College from the back
5. Steampunk-looking tower on top of the library.
6. The Bridge of Sighs in St. John's College, the most Hogwarts-esque - and therefore best - structure in a town full of Hogwarts-esque buildings.
7. We punted down the river and had a picnic. Some ducks tried to muscle in. On the way back a duckling tried to jump into the boat. And I didn't fall off while punting!
8. Steph behind the door of the St. John's Chapel tower, like some sort of terrifying tower-goblin.
9. The chapel tower from half-way up.
10. The view from the top.
11. Fireworks at the Trinity College May Ball. It was the night before St. John's, and everyone sat on the backs and watched. I always forget how much I like fireworks.
12. The theme of the St. John's May Ball was "Ars Gratia Artis." Each court had a different theme. This was the 'street art' court (titled "Mean Streets of Cambridge").
13. Fireworks at the St. John's May Ball.

The May Ball was excellent fun, more like a black tie festival than a ball proper. I also drank more Pimms over the course of the weekend than I otherwise would in a year or several. Cambridge.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

No, Luke, I AM your [spoilers].

Here be spoilers, but only to things that happened thirty years ago, and vague references to things which contain twists.

I think the internet's reactions to the Red Wedding versus John Harrison is interesting, because it shows the difference in spoiler-etiquette between those who are in the habit of being in a fandom and those who are not.

I don't know at what point it becomes acceptable to stop being careful around spoilers, but it's longer than "twenty minutes after that book is published/episode airs/film premiere screens." Even if someone if watching Star Wars for the first time (if they are older than twelve or so), it should hardly count as a spoiler to mention that Vader is Luke and Leia's father. It's fair game to make a joke about soylent green being people. Everyone knows Norman Bates mother was dead the whole time, as was Bruce Willis. It is safe to mention any of these things in conversation without being a jerk.

My sister, who has read the A Song Of Ice And Fire books already, advised me a week before the Red Wedding to catch up on Game of Thrones in time for that episode, because something important would happen and the internet would spoil it for me if I didn't watch it straight away. I thought this was a bit unfair on the internet - I've been years behind on shows and avoided spoilers easily! - but it aired on Saturday, I watched it on Sunday, and a friend who hadn't seen it yet had it spoiled by Facebook and Twitter by Monday.

I think it's because Game of Thrones is so widely popular. A lot of the fanbase are people who aren't usually heavily invested in a series, don't know the spoiler etiquette, and so reacted loudly and in detail on Facebook. Anyone who has spent any time hanging around forums or fansites and reading fan theories and fics and accidentally discovering what slash is at eleven because the masthead made it seem like it was a synonym for 'spoof' and feeling terrible Catholic Guilt as a result* knows that you tag your damn spoilers. If it's a TV series, you tag them by series at the least, and episode really. I think that's why, even though Star Trek: Into Darkness has been out for a month now, the internet has been pretty decent about not revealing John Harrison's identity. Even though the reboot doesn't have much to do with the original, the kind of people who'd go to see it are largely the kind of people who've obsessed over at least one series in their lives, and so know what bad form spoilers are. I began watching both Doctor Who and Supernatural years after they started airing, and the only things I knew in advance were general plot points (Space! This guy will be a new guy after this series! Bobby! Dean and Castiel don't kiss but the internet thinks they should!), and things I spoiled for myself by opting to disregard spoiler warnings**. Obsessive fanpeople: they are very considerate in specific contexts.


In further fanperson sensibilities, I find the semi-meme of referring to "Jawn" in the Sherlock fandom interesting. It's presumably meant to indicate Sherlock's pronunciation of it, but in my head he pronounces it "John", and "Jawn" reads like a drawl, and so more American. If they were trying to show the clipped, British intonation I would go for "Jaun" (as in faun, not maus). "Jawn" is close to how my head pronounces "Jon" which for some reason seems more American-sounding to me than does "John." Regional dialects - they are fun to dissect!

*Based on a true story!
** I spoiled the Red Wedding for myself, I had John Harrison spoiled for me in a post which used his real name a few days after ST:ID came out, which was the more inconsiderate given that most posts at the time were making a point of referring to him only as "John Harrison".

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Revamped bookshelf

Over the last few weeks, I have disassembled a bookshelf, then reassembled it to the same bookshelf. There are some extraneous steps in my life.

This bookshelf lived in my brother's room for many years, then in the hallway for a further few. There used to be a door over that panel on the left, but I think it became firewood. My mum was sick of the sight of it, so asked if I wanted to sand it down and revarnish it and take it to my room, because it is years since I have had enough room for books.

I was going to make the legs shorter, but in the end I just pulled out the carpet protectors and sanded down the ends to neaten them up.

I sanded down every side long enough with a borrowed power-sander. I had a headache for most of a day after this, probably from inhaling the powdered dust + varnish + wood combination. Masks are for wimps, I'll avoid giving myself long-term respiratory problems when I'm dead.

I realised the prospect of doing the sides too short for the sander by hand was unpleasant, and that I wouldn't do as good a job as the power-sander, so I dismantled the whole thing. I wasn't sure when I started whether this step would be helpful, but given that it worked out in the end I stand by it.

The dismantling allowed me to sand everything down properly. Hooray!

I glued everything back together with wood glue

and then I varnished it. Given how much darker it made the wood, I'm very glad I went for the clear varnish rather than a stain. Also, while the photos don't show it as well as real life, the varnish really does make the wood look beautiful. It's the first project in a while that I've thought looked beautiful, and that's a pretty fantastic feeling. It's also the first time in a long time I've responded to "That looks well!" with "It does, doesn't it?" instead of, "Oh. Thanks!"

And then I got a paint marker and wrote lines I likes from books and lines from books I like all over the top and sides. (This idea was shamelessly stolen from Cornflower Blue Studios). I have tiny little hand-writing so I had to keep going back for more quotes. My writing isn't actually as round and childish as it looks on this, I was just trying to make spaces in the middle of letters more obvious.

The writing on the lower mini-shelf says "Ben the dog went down the hill." That was the first sentence in my first primary school reader. I'm secretly sentimental, and couldn't find anything else short enough to fit.

I decided to put a layer of varnish over the writing to protect it, and it caused the paint to smear. It was very distressing. I've written over it, but it's not the neatest, which is disappointing.

Here it is in my room! I haven't decided what books go on it yet. It's a weighty decision.

And here is my to-read bookshelf! Some of them are books I saved from being thrown out because I hadn't read them yet, so I don't feel guilt over not having gotten to those yet.