30 Day Whole Food Challenge

I love a challenge me, especially a food challenge. Going vegan in some ways was a challenge, this lent I gave up added refined sugars (such as in tea and on cereal) and now I am doing something quite exciting. I have signed up for Happy Herbivore's 30 Whole Days Challenge.

So what does this mean? In a nutshell, it means no processed foods for the month of May. If it doesn't like like it did when it came out of the ground or from the tree or vine, or has more than one ingredient then I'm not going to put it into my body. I can obviously cook with these ingredients as much as I like but the idea is to take things back to basics, and for me to cleanse my body.

Yes, I am mental. No peanut butter. No sugar. No marzipan (god, I love you marzipan). No bread. No pasta. Did I mention no peanut butter (oh, god...)?

It's ok, I'm pulling myself together. I can live without peanut butter for 30 days. I've always romanticised the idea of being completely self-sufficient, living in an eco-community and only taking what mother nature provides so I guess this is my comfortable middle class way of dipping my toes into the water without getting too muddy.

I've upped my veg box delivery from Riverford to get enough food to feed a family of 4 (yes, I am one hungry little lady) and have joined the Google Group to get hints, tips and more importantly support from fellow participants.

I hope you will also follow and support me on this journey to see if I really can live from the earth for a whole month. There will be tantrums, whining, fighting, a training montage and a guaranteed triumphant ending. Don't miss it.

Trains, planes and automobiles! Add coaches to that too. And park benches, the staff room, a café, my desks at work and at home. I’ll knit and crochet pretty much anywhere. In short, I’m an exhibitionist.

So many people still think that knitting is something your grandma does and I think that showing off your skills in public is a fab way to throw two fingers (and two needles *chortle*) up to that stereotype.

I recently sat outside a café in Oxford, drinking a soy chai latte and knitting and I could feel people’s eyes on me. I certainly don’t look like a grandma and I love to imagine what people might be thinking about me.

That said, there was a time when I did dress up as a grandma and I did take my knitting out with me. So much for breaking those stereotypes, huh?!

To see more posts on this topic by fellow crafters just type in knitcroblo5 to Google (or click my handy link) and away you go!

A New Skill: knitcroblo4

So today, on day 4 of Knit and Crochet Blog Week (knitcroblo4) is about a new skill I'd like to acquire. An underlying theme that I have noticed this week during my posts has been that of patience, which isn't necessarily a skill but is it is something that can be learned?

My little inner hippy says yes, it can be. From past experiences, some very recent, I have realised that great personal change is possible if you want it, and patience is something I am aspiring to relentlessly, day in and day out, at work, at home, at play and with the ever chatty (read noisy mofo) Tony Cat.

Patience requires forethought, a calm and rational mind and very importantly, remembering just to breathe. It means not throwing your needles across a room or swearing yourself in to oblivion and taking a moment to think things through and realise that no matter how much we may love it, it is only knitting after all (yes, I just said, it's only knitting. GASP!). A stressed mind will achieve nothing.

As my patience continues to grow I may eventually embark on larger*, more challenging projects; I may try once again to chart read (below), to make myself that tank top (above), or a cardigan. But then again, I may just continue to knit and crochet poos.

*I am actually in the process of crocheting a ginormous continuous granny square blanket which currently measures around 5.5 feet squared. It's my largest ever project and I love it.

One Great Knitter: knitcroblo3

So todays topic is One Great Knitter. As soon as I saw this topic I knew who I wanted to talk about. It's somebody I know personally and I hope that she doesn't mind me writing this about her.

The person I'm talking about is the lovely A Girl in Winter. She is part of the craft group I go to at my place of work and is one truly talented lady. She knits at the speed of light, whilst I still chug along like a steam locomotive, and makes the most stitch-perfect, beautiful garments. She has the patience (there's that word again - I think I've mentioned my lack of it in every blog so far!) to create large intricate pieces and an eye for the perfect yarn.

I admire her work so much but I also love the fact that we are so different in styles. I've stopped kidding myself that I'll ever be interested in making the same things she does, and so I go on knitting and crocheting critters and poops and let her create the things of beauty.

An Inspirational Pattern: knitcroblo2

So it's day 2 of the Knit & Crochet Blog Week. Last night in a valium haze I had an unexpected lightning bolt of inspiration about today's blog post.
And then I forgot.

And then I remembered again and, against the will of my body, managed to write myself a reminder on my phone.

It's not one pattern per se, it's more of a style of knitting or crocheting that I aspire to. I simply love the pointless, inanimate, functionless. Cupcakes, tea sets, televisions, whole bloody villages. Yes, fiber crafts can be exceptionally functional but give me something pointless any day. That to me is true art, true expression and one day I hope to find the time and patience to embark on a project so epic and so pointless it will make the Gods weep.

Some examples:

And why not stick some crochet willy warmers in at the end too - not necessarily useless but if you can get your man to wear one then I demand pictures.

Starting Out: Knitcroblo1

As part of The Knitting and Crochet Blog Week I have decided to get my blog on once again and talk about my one (of two) true loves - Crafting. Answers on a postcard for what the second love is...

Today (knitcroblo1) is all about starting out.


I was working in IT, miserable and exceptionally uncreative; taking calls, logging calls, passing on calls, telling them to turn it off and turn it on again. My soul was slowly being destroyed and I just knew that somehow, I had to escape and become creative.

So I handed my notice in, bought a sewing machine with my final pay packet and began working part time at the local University. Around this time (2007) I had spotted a young woman knitting on a train and I fell in love with the idea of rekindling my knitting skills which, as a child, had been limited to a knitting machine making scarves for my toys and French Knitting. I investigated knitting and subsequently tried and failed several times.

One day, on the University Staff Portal I spotted an advert for a new craft group which was forming and I knew I had to go. I arrived, not knowing anybody on that Tuesday evening armed with absolutely nothing. With no yarn, no needles, no clue (and no patience!) I was welcomed into the group and one woman (whose name I have now forgotten) took me aside with somebody elses project and taught me to knit. Kind of.

At home without support I struggled with learning to cast on, forgot the knit stitch, loathed the purl stitch, threw my needles across the room on many occassions and said profanities so crass that I was glad my grandma lived 200 miles away. But I did it (with the kind help of knittinghelp.com). I made my first scarf which, in fact, was more like a triangular abomination, but I was so proud. Perserverance is the key. Somebody (an artist) once said to me that they hated it when people said they were 'so gifted' because in fact they had had to work damned hard to get where they were and the same can be said for me. Anyone who says that want to knit can knit, they just have to really want it and be willing to make mistakes. And say naughty words.


After mastering the art of knitting and finding a little website called Ravelry (have you heard of it?*) I was opened up to the utter joys of crochet, in particular amigurumi. I was always into small projects and learning to crochet would leave me with the ability to create beautiful, individual characters with personalities of their own with just one hook, not a zillion DPNs. A friend of mine knew how much I had wanted to learn how to crochet and so one day brought me round a vintage copy of Patons Learning to Crochet. I sat in front of it for hours, chaining continously, trying to move on to the next level but (yes, you guessed it) I just ended up throwing the hook and yarn across the room and cursing like a sailor.

One day, when I couldn't face failure anymore, I did what any normal 20-something girl would do - I sat in front of the television, put on Big Trouble in Little China and refused to move from the spot on the floor until I had mastered the art of basic crocheting. Before the end of the movie I had somehow managed to make a small green amigurumi hat for the china chicken in my kitchen and then I went on to make a small little orange critter who goes by the name of Kurt.

Kurt Russell, Big Trouble in Little China, my friend and the Patons Learning to Crochet book - I salute you!

*Yes, we are living in an age where I feel it is necessary for me to point out sarcasm. So sad.