Some Fashion ‘Rules’ – Or are They Just Opinions?



Like so many things, and contrary to whatever the ‘experts’ may say, fashion is subjective.  Highly subjective.  Fashion might be dictated by a ‘them’ of mythological, cult status but really it should come down to our own taste and style.  Style cannot be achieved by the whims and fads of following every bandwagon.  At best you’ll like a poster girl (or guy) for this season’s look, at worst you’ll look like you really need some help getting dressed in the morning.

What fashion is also tending to neglect and ignore in this day and age is that there are times and places.  Casual might be comfy, it might be relaxed, it might be the best expression of our individuality but should it really be allowed to roam free across board meetings and weddings?  You might love your pyjamas and duvet look but is this something you wear in town never mind the supermarket?  (For some reason, supermarkets seem to have surprisingly strict dress codes.  You are not allowed to wear pyjamas (our mini-supermarket/corner shop never got that memo, fortunately for harried mothers dashing out to get milk before the school run) and you must never enter their hallowed halls in bare feet.  Bare feet are germy and dirty.  Shoes aren’t).

As we live in a society that places increased emphasis on individuality (as long as you look like everyone else), is it really fair or right that ‘other people’ dictate what we do or don’t wear?  Perhaps we actually need that more today than at any other time.  Years ago, there were pretty clear-cut standards and definitions of what one wore where and when.  Women, for example, didn’t, couldn’t and wouldn’t go out without hat and gloves.  Men wore shirt and collar.  But with increasing options and diversity, perhaps we do need someone somewhere to say, well hang on a moment, this is what you should be wearing in this workplace or to this event.  Knowing what to wear when and where is no longer inherent; we tread fine lines and debate endless rhetoric as to whether this top or these trousers are casual-casual, just casual or smart enough.

Whilst there are some clothes that we would ‘never be seen dead in’ (such is the fervour that fashion inspires), we sometimes are forced to admit that they look quite good on someone else.  Therein lies the problem.  Very few people look good in everything.  You can slavishly follow the fashions but if you want to look ‘good’, then you need to find your own style, what works for you, your body and your lifestyle and stick to it.  And it is always worth remembering what we said that we’d ‘never be seen dead in’ because when it comes back on the bandwagon, are we succumbing?

Fashion goes further than dictating what clothes we put on our bodies.  Fashion, perhaps more now than at any other period of time, dictates what our bodies should look like.  Fashion, I blame its narrow-minded designers, neither appreciates nor accepts that we are all built differently.  Very differently.  Completely differently.  When fashion is designed for only one body shape then some of us, if not most of us, are going to suffer.  If we are not ambulating 2D coat hangers with stick insect-style limbs then really is there any point in trying to be fashionable?  We’re not going to fit in those clothes even if we shamefacedly go up half a dozen sizes.  And our bodies will never cooperatively conform to that shape.  Irrespective of diets, exercise regimes, magic underwear or shoe-horns.

Here are some of my opinions and observations:

  • If you are going to wear trousers then make sure that they actually reach to your feet.  Otherwise make it clear that you’re wearing cropped trousers.
  • Personally, I don’t think garish or heavily patterned socks look good when you wear too short trousers or ballet pumps or dollies.  If you want to recreate the Pippi Longstocking look then do so deliberately.
  • If you insist on wearing your trousers’ waist halfway down your legs, I reserve the right to offer you a belt.
  • If you are wearing trousers that low, please do not wear holey underwear.
  • Buying a shoe size too small does not make your feet cuter or more lady-like.
  • Don’t even dare to suggest that a woman can only have ‘good’ or ‘correct’ poise and posture when wearing high heels, I will just look at you like that.
  • If you can’t walk in those shoes, then really what’s the point?
  • They might be calling it ‘cleavage’ so it sounds attractive but that just makes me think of things like hatchets and axes.  Not pretty.  If your toes show in closed shoes then they really aren’t a good fit.  Anything that should be in a containment facility should stay there.
  • This also goes for your bra.  Whilst you may think it’s attractive to have everything hitched up to eye level, it isn’t.  Nor should they be escaping over the top of any containment facility.
  • Just because that was the size bra that you bought when you were fifteen, it does not mean to say that you will still be that same size twenty years later and after four diets, six weight gains and two children.  For your sake, and everyone else’s, find one that fits.
  • There is a key prefix involved when it comes to underwear.  You are meant to wear it under your clothes.  You don’t have to prove that you are wearing some and no, no one actually wants to see it.
  • Your makeup should never be the first thing people see about your face.  Especially not from across a room.
  • If you really want to wear leggings then please don’t wear pairs that are saggy, see-through, laddered or holed.  It’s not pleasant.
  • Leggings are not guaranteed to be the big girl’s best friend.  Or any other clingy clothes.
  • If your skirt is shorter than your coat then expect odd looks.  People will question whether you remembered to actually put one on.
  • Your skirt should never be shorter than it is wide.  And if you have the good fortunate to have ridiculously long legs, be aware that skirts will always look shorter on you, even if they come to the knee.
  • If you have to spend the day uncomfortably holding the edges of your skirt down then it really is too short.
  • Just because the weather has got unusually warm does not mean to say you can take your t-shirt off when you’re out and about.  You’re never as good-looking as you think you are.  And sunburn isn’t particularly attractive looking either.
  • If you’re not at the beach or by a pool then why are you wearing swimwear?
  • Swimwear only ever looks good on everyone else.  (With notable exceptions, admittedly).  Get used to it.
  • Wearing shiny or noisily patterned fabrics does not make you look skinnier.  Normally the opposite.  And you’re giving everyone a headache.
  • Wearing a tracksuit doesn’t necessarily make you look sporty.  In fact, it often gives out the opposite message.
  • If you don’t know what brands are cool then don’t bother wearing the wrong ones.  It still doesn’t make you cool.
  • Decide for yourself whether not wearing a petticoat, showing your arms, going out without a vest in March etc are really crimes.
  • However, if you want to wear tights and a synthetic skirt, please wear a petticoat.  It’s for your safety, static bites.  And the clinging, scrunched up skirt look is never pleasant.
  • Very few women can wear ankle boots with short skirts, most shouldn’t.
  • If you have spent the last twenty years ruing a particular look or hairstyle, don’t re-adopt it the moment it becomes ‘fashionable’ again.  It still won’t look good.
  • Socks are socks.  They don’t have to match.  But you will have to take your shoes off if you wear a holey pair.
  • I might be old-fashioned but you really can’t carry a navy blue handbag with a black dress whilst wearing brown shoes.  The same applies for suits.
  • Never buy a t-shirt with a slogan in a foreign language, not without the aid of a (trusted) translator or a dictionary.  You can easily look like an idiot advertising your idiocy.
  • Decide if you really need to serve as a human billboard for a brand.
  • You don’t messages across your chest or backside for people to get a pretty good idea of who you are.
  • Personally I don’t get t-shirts that claim their superior laundry abilities; however I have been advised that the brand apparently started out in outerwear so their claim makes some sense.
  • Spending more on a t-shirt does not guarantee that the worker has been paid more.  Usually the only thing guaranteed is that someone is making more profit.
  • You may think that it isn’t cool to wear a coat but trust me, you’ll look even more uncool as a hypothermic, drowned rat.
  • Corsets are meant to be passé for good reason so don’t wear anything that’s torture.

FO: Deceptive Pastels


Why do we put babies in pastel colours?  We, as a society, have an obsession with baby blue and baby pink (gender dependent) with splashes of white and an occasional foray into mint and primrose.  Who got to decide that these colours were what babies would wear forever?  And when?  In Good Wives (I think), Amy is described as putting a ribbon on the pillow of each twin ‘according to the French fashion’, blue for the boy, pink for the girl.  That wasn’t really so long ago.  Can we blame the French?  Whereas the Dutch of Haarlem, in Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates hung pincushions on the front door to announce a safe arrival to the community, red for a boy, white for a girl.  Perhaps this tradition lives on in the modern American fancy for new baby door wreaths.

It seems that, in this country especially, knitting is slow to move forward and often even behind times.  If you’re going to receive a bonnet or matinée jacket then I’m pretty sure that they won’t have been bought but been gifted by some (likely, older but well-meaning) relative.  If it is not one of those colours mentioned above (or perhaps your knitter had a reckless moment and went for peach, apricot or mauve) then I’d actually be quite surprised.  And even more surprised if it’s not 100% acrylic.   And it’s a real shame because it gives knitting and knitters bad press and it’s going to become more and more rare that those precious handknitted items are even worn much less become treasured heirlooms passed from one child or even generation to another.

Knitting and knitters need to move with the times.  There is a place for pastels and bonnets and possibly even a place for the occasional matinée jacket.  Well, they’re just cardigans by another name anyway.  But I don’t think that all is old is bad, personally I don’t think mini branded trainers and stiff, tight denim jeans are really the most practical or comfortable outfit for a baby but that doesn’t mean I’m advocated swaddling.  There has to be a balance.

I was a cloth nappy baby in a generation that had almost entirely turned ‘modern’, I still remember the smell of what parents of that generation cheerfully term as ‘rubbers’, the plastic over-pants to help with leak prevention.  We had nappy pins (giant safety pins with protective covers so they didn’t undo into baby or couldn’t be undone by baby) turning up throughout my entire childhood.  Some were pink, some were blue.  Yes, I had a brother.  Funny enough.  Cloth nappies seem to be going through another spin of popularity, especially with parents who are questioning their own impact on the environment.  And this means modern knitters, especially in America of course, have risen to the occasion.

My friends, I don’t think but we are an ocean or two apart, aren’t cloth nappy-ing but this designs were irresistible to an idiosyncratic knitter like me.  They’re called ‘soakers’ which if you think about it too long is actually pretty disgusting so don’t!  But it’s seems that, like any other specialist subject, cloth nappy-ing has its jargon: lanolising, soakers, shorties, longies, skirties, night, day … actually, those last two words I do understand.

You have seen the beginnings of the first pattern before when I started in a cotton-bamboo blend which really didn’t like ribbing so I started again with my favourite 4-ply yarn held double.

iPood Soaker

This was a pattern that got plenty of chuckles, usually as a delayed reaction.  What you knitting?  (hand over pattern) Oh, cute, I-poo … hehehe.  It’s also quite a good way of testing eyesight or whether someone is really paying attention to what you’ve just given them.  Oh, cute.  (walk away).

i_Pood_Soakers wm

I like it better in the pastel colours actually.  It takes longer for impact, subtle then deeply subversive.  If you’re into toilet humour, that is.  In the words of one of my lovely friends ‘it’s not like the baby things we used to knit in the Fifties and Sixties’.  And that could be a good thing.

i Pood Motif

Isn’t that perfect for a baby gift?!

And at least it’s a change from bootees.

And yes, I did have a second pattern that I just had to knit up, it was in a similar theme.

Toxic Soakers

I’m sure that all parents and other baby-looker-afterers will identify with that motif!  Regardless of what fabric may clad the baby’s posterior, the result is pretty much the same.

Yellow Toxic Symbol

I wasn’t as happy with the yellow yarn that I used, it’s a different brand and with the creaminess of the ‘white’ that I was using, it does get quite lost in too many lights but it was fun to knit them up.

It also has warning chevrons just in case you missed the point.

Yellow Warning Chevrons

As you know, I’m a sucker for shaping and other little genius tricks that designers seem to find no problem in conjuring up and adding to their patterns so these really appealed on those grounds too.  I had to learn to cast on stitches at the ends of rows for the first time (complex moment, with lots of research required)!  And a magical system of decreases and increases forms a perfect v-shaped crotch which means, along with generous leg cuffs (you should see some of the ones that I’ve seen with little straight stick tubes for legs, it’s bad enough on women’s shirt sleeves but baby legs really don’t do wincy and straight, straight) means that these will always be a comfortable fit.  Nappies take up a lot of space.ShapingYellow Leg Cuff

Green Leg Cuff

The legs and waists were knitted in the round.  (Here’s some advice, if you’re knitting both of these patterns at once, then there is a difference in placement of the eyelets, I didn’t notice but apparently no one else will either!).  I had to use one of my massive 60 or 80 cm circular needles on the legs which means shifting huge amounts of cable between stitch runs.  It’s not easy.  I really need DPNs!  But they’re lovely and stretchy.

Learning to cast on stitches at the ends of rows was quite a challenge but there was a further significant challenge.  That’s why it’s taken so long to post these as a finished object.  The pattern says to make a crochet cord.  Two words.  Just two words.  That totally inspire terror.  Crochet!  With a hook!  It took me a while but I came up with a cunning plan.  I know a crocheter.  No, I didn’t cheat, thank you very much.  I met up with her and she showed me how to knit a crochet chain.  (Yes, idiosyncratic people do say knit a crochet chain, trust me).  I was fine mirroring her but still had the feeling that was something not right.  That was when we discovered that I crochet with my left hand.  Honestly.  That’s why I can’t hold a crochet hook comfortably when I automatically pick it up in my right hand or teach myself from right-handed instructions (or work out how anyone could ever pick up a dropped stitch with a crochet hook).  I crochet left-handed.  I think I may have to use the word ‘idiosyncratic’ again.

Anyway, like most of the things that I’m absolutely too scared to do at first but eventually cave and risk trying, crochet chains aren’t that bad.  They knit up remarkably quickly and only need one person, unlike twisted cords which also ping when you really don’t want them to.  I will bear them in mind for future projects now that I have conquered my phobia of the hook (for the moment at least).Green Crochet CordYellow Crochet Cord

But I’m not going to take up crochet anytime soon, believe me.

Knitting is enough of a mental and physical challenge for me and it’s got plenty more challenges for me, I’m sure.  (And you know that I’ll be sharing them with you too!)

Whilst I was knitting up these pattern, I found a really cool blog post about wool and lanolising and stuff like that and in the future, if I was knitting for an actual cloth nappy wearing baby then I would just use a pure wool yarn rather than a blend.  There is also an entire group of Ravelry dedicated to the art and craft of soakers and longies.  It’s definitely been an interesting learning experience.

Well, I loved both of these patterns by Jane Burns and I’m looking forward to inflicting my very idiosyncratic humour and knitting on more new parents in the future.

And it seems that pastel colours have their uses after all.

I wonder if you remember seeing a sneak preview of the Toxic Soakers in a photograph in an earlier blog post?

Images from a Sunshiny Day



Towels Drying

A little bit of sunshine, however small, is always an excuse (or maybe a motivation?) to get some washing done and out.  I’m feeling such a lot better physically that I’m starting to dream of all sorts of wonderful things that I could get done but seeing as I had to put today’s (small) load out on the line in three shifts, I’m forced to accept that I must still be realistic.  It’ll be small steps.  One step at a step.  But I’ll get there.  Hopefully.  I was beginning to worry actually.Straw Western Style HatAs you already know, I wear a Western hat.  In summer, I wear a straw version.  This is more of a traditional shape than my black felt one and the long brim takes a bit of getting used to.  And the rustle can be very loud in my ‘ears‘ too! I like a sensible, shady hat in the sun.

Knitting and Sunglasses

This is my first pair of adult sunglasses that I got a few months back.  Back when I first wore glasses in my pre-teen days, I had a giant pair of pink plastic sunglasses (you know the ones, with the thick black plastic lenses) that I wore stylishly over the top of my oversized multicoloured splattered plastic glasses.  I’m glad that eyewear fashion has moved on considerably since then!  When I started wearing contact lenses a few years ago, I realised that I could now finally wear sunglasses (never mind fashion, they have their uses).  I couldn’t find any to fit.  Much like normal glasses frames actually.  So I’ve had a couple of children’s plastic sporty style frames but they’ve never fit very well, they kind of assume that children’s heads are totally spherical so the glasses have a very pronounced curve and they also seem to think that children’s noses are ridiculously skinny so they never sit on my bridge properly.  Well, I don’t think I have a fat nose.  (Paranoid thinking starts here).  Of course, wherever I go, my knitting comes too.  (I’ll show you what I’ve been working on another day, I promise).  I enjoy sitting outside in the sun (as long as my head is covered) so I load up my chair with my latest knitting project (the cup holder is very handy for yarn balls) and get my Vitamin D top up.


You’ve got to make the most of the sunshine.




FO: The Lunchbox Project


Sandwich Fillings

The knitting bug really has me smote at the moment.  My physical health is a little better at the moment and I’m just so enjoying being able to do creative things again.  It’s one of the things that I really miss when I’m ill, not being able to express myself or entertain myself.  Being ill gets very boring and frustrating rather too quickly for comfort.  Even when I have the strength to pick up my needles, I end up knitting so slowly and painfully (physically and figuratively) that it just isn’t enjoyable or pleasant.  This time I’ve so ill that I could barely read and when I did get the strength together to finally read a book, it took me hours and hours of very slow reading.  I’m a fast reader and it sucks most when illness takes away the things that identify you most and that you enjoy most.


I’ve been knitting again.  It’s another gift.  Starting school is always an important occasion to mark but it can be hard to do when your little friend lives on the other side of the world.  I often make cakes for local school starters but that doesn’t survive posting very well.

Starting school is all about shoes and new clothes (uniform here, traditionally bought several sizes too big for growing into), sometimes new stationery and books (but not normally for junior school) and the all-important lunchbox.

There’s a lot of choice on the market these days for lunchboxes, even in this country.  When I was little in a small town (English small town not American village) there was pretty much the choice of two lunchboxes.  Only that it wasn’t actually a choice because one was blue and had that famous steam engine on it and the other was pink with those ponies on it.  Funny enough, I had a pink lunchbox.  So did pretty much everyone else.  With names emblazoned in permanent marker, or for the inventive parent, a scraggy strip of masking tape and biro.  Occasionally someone got hold of a lunchbox in a different colour or design.   Those boxes stood out on the lunch table.  But I don’t think that there was any jealousy.  They were made of super tough plastic (and subsequently lasted years), a box with two halves, a slightly suspicious hinge (which is probably why they never lasted longer) and a contrasting colour square handle.  Inside was a matching flask of a density of plastic that was remarkable and best suited for time capsules rather than being lugged around by an infant.  That was lunchboxes back then.

Now they come in a plethora of designs and shapes and colours.  I imagine that even for a four-year old that there are all sorts of subconscious fashion minefields to negotiate when choosing one.  I suppose that is one reason to be grateful for school uniforms.  Non-uniform days were always a nightmare dreaded for weeks in advance by the completely fashion-oblivious overweight frump of myself.  It was easier in Sixth Form, I had developed a little more deliberate awareness of what I wore (having long been the victim of five years out of date pass-ons from cousins who were always three foot taller and skinnier) and for non-uniform days, we wore pigtails or bunches and remnants of our previous uniforms with the loosely knotted ties somewhere by our stomachs.  It was the fashion, one created within the confines of one small school.

But lunchboxes are important.  Well, food is.  Armies, school children and me all march on their stomachs.

So I knew what I’d be making up for this particular school start.

A lunchbox.

Knitted, of course.

But life and me being who we are, things had got a little bit behind so I had to get a rush on.  It seems some countries actually start school halfway through the summer holidays which, first of all, is both confusing and weird and second, not convenient when you’re trying to work out your deadline.

How Do You Make a Swiss Roll?

Push him down a mountain.

(Yes, highly PC in this day and age).

I decided to start with something easy to get me started.  This pattern was deliciously simple but so effective.  If you’re just learning to knit, I recommend making one of these up.

There are probably all sorts of rules in place as regards the healthy contents of a child’s lunchbox these days but what is the first day of school without cake?  You have to have cake in a lunchbox.  Just a little one.  Sometimes.  It’s got to better than crisps, surely? (Besides, I can’t knit crisps).

Chocolate Swiss Roll

I Can’t Make Sandwiches

It’s true, I can’t.  It’s one of those truly English concepts that have just bypassed me, I’m game to cook from exotic cultures the world over but I cannot master English.  My cooked breakfast (other than being vegetarian) usually features non-English staples such as halloumi, roasted peppers and waffles.   My husband’s mini-roast may have meat and potatoes on the plate but also grilled Mediterranean vegetables.  I’m a fusion specialist, clearly.

I don’t get sandwiches, not English sandwiches.  There’s the sliced bread which the Iberians have appropriately branded ‘bimbo’ and that my father called ‘blotting paper’, it’s great for toast but it’s not great stuff.  Then you need a wafer of cheese or ham or both.  For someone brave and daring, there may also be some pickle (not a gherkin if you’re American) but probably just mayonnaise.  There will be no salad, not even a leaf of iceberg.  But do you know what the worst thing is?  They butter the bread!  I’m serious.  No, English sandwich is complete without a foot deep smearing of margarine.  They don’t even use real butter.  An English sandwich has no depth and has a tell-tale ooze of yellow slime squishing from between the slices.  I don’t get it.

My husband has banned me from making him sandwiches.  My idea of a sandwich is to grab whatever happens to be in the fridge and stick it in.  With no butter.  And plenty of salad.  And plenty of flavour.  I had jalapeño and cream cheese sandwiches at school which is the closest I came to being bland.  In America, I found out that bagel shops think that this is fine and will add avocado too.  Mm.  But apparently pesto is not an acceptable alternative to pickle.

So knitting an English sandwich was something of a challenge.  The husband, who has limited tolerance thresholds when it comes to make-believe, is convinced that my bread is way too thick and plump.  But then he reckoned that the crust round the outside of the bread was the filling.  It got very confusing.  Chocolate spread or fish paste?

Slice of Bread

The bread is made in the pattern from two white sections and then knitting a huge long strip of crust.  I knew that I didn’t have the patience to knit a four stitch scarf and then do all that fiddly sewing.  I hate sewing, have I mentioned?

Instead, I knitted the bread as one section with a strip of crust between then picked up stitches all the way around with a circular needle and knitted the crust from that.  An awful lot less sewing, thank you very much.

Bread Slice Mark 1

Even though it used a lot more yarn, I found that having the ‘crust’ on both edges and therefore folding in double actually made it easier to sew up.  If you get what I mean!

Bread Slice Mark 2

As this was a pattern for an English sandwich there was no salad in it.  I didn’t approve.  I had to make at least some lettuce!  The lettuce is a modified version of the lettuce made for the burger pattern at the beginning of the same pattern book.  The sharp-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the lettuce is technically made from crocodile.  So whilst the ham is probably technically vegetarian, the lettuce isn’t.  Only in my world.

Crocodile Lettuce

It’s definitely a high fibre sandwich and is about as synthetic as an English sandwich.  Although the ham probably has a higher protein content than that found in the supermarket.

Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Oranges and Lemons

Or just a satsuma.  A classic piece of fruit for a child’s lunchbox.  I’ve made an orange before from a different pattern set and borrowed a technique from that to give the satsuma appropriate texture, simply turn the knitting inside out and use the reverse (or ‘wrong’) side!


Bananas in Pyjamas

Well, if not pyjamas, then a very natty peel-able skin.  I just love that!  Isn’t that cool?  I had to master sewing (ugh!) in a zip which I’ve never done before in my knitting but it was definitely worth it.

Banana with Peelable Skin

Like the orange, I have knitted bananas before.  There was one from the fruit set I knitted a while back and the really fiddly silly little bits one for the monkey.  The banana from the fruit set had a few stitches put in it to give it the curve and this was the only downside with this particular pattern, the banana was totally straight!  I don’t eat bananas (husband says that (apparently) I have put the zip at the wrong end and that you open them from the other end to mine, but how am I meant to know?!) but I do know that they curve.  I had a little light bulb moment.

Do you remember that moose I made?  Well his antlers were held up and shaped by pipe cleaners.  (Technically, one, cut in half).  I still had some.  They’re the modern type of pipe cleaner, slightly floppy and furry but not as reliable as the old white cotton caterpillar ones that I remember.  I had to twist two together to get enough rigidity for the banana.  I put them in the middle of the fruit and stuffed around them.  The banana curves.

Pipecleaners for Stiffness



For the items above I was working from patterns which is a lot easier.  However, there is something very important that you need in a lunchbox that I didn’t have a pattern for.  A drink.  You’ve got to have a drink.  Even camels like me take one in our lunchboxes.

I had to improvise.  I made up a piece of knitting that when folded made a carton shape the same size as a sponge scrubber (clean but the same was what I use for washing up, stripped of the scratchy pad).  I then made up a wee circle of garter stitch (remember what I said about orange texture?) which I borrowed from a flower pattern to sew on and then it was all downhill after that, I had to sew.  I cannot sew.  I had to embroider.  I really cannot embroider.

Orange Juice Carton Front

I robbed a straw from a real wee drinks carton and sewed it on the back.

Orange Juice Carton BackBut there was still something missing from the lunchbox, it felt like I’d missed out on something important.


All children have a yoghurt in their lunchbox.  I don’t why, maybe it’s some unwritten Law.  I don’t like fruit yoghurt.  And I have never seen a pattern for a yoghurt pot.

It was time to improvise.  Again.

The pot was knitted in the round on DPNs.  (That’s the good thing about learning a new skill, you will always end up using it again).  I knitted a strawberry to sew on, I’m sure what I based it on, perhaps the same flower centre but misshaped.

Strawberry Yoghurt Pot

Then I had a snag.  How do you knit a yoghurt pot lid?

 I did my best.  I went for seed stitch.  (Or moss?)  I remembered to work a line of decreases for that little snap corner.  But it came out a little bit big.  I didn’t mind.  It was just about big enough for me to embroider the word ‘yoghurt’ wonkily across it.  But it was rather big on the pot.  Way beyond the husband’s imagination threshold.  I didn’t have plan B so it was going to have to do.

Yoghurt Pot Lid

I will never be a designer.  Nor should I be allowed to be.

But I finished the lunchbox up, adding some cute little hair ties and posted it off.

Lunchbox Project

I wonder what little one will make of it.

Related Articles

Pushing My Sympathies


I’m prepared to tolerate most people and their idiosyncrasies, hey I have a few of my own after all, but there are a few situations where I find it pushed beyond its limits.

The first circumstance.  A woman who walks into a crowded room with a baby asleep in a car seat.  And then promptly extracts sleeping baby roughly from an all-in-one body covering anorak thing and wakes it up.  Baby starts screaming.  Mother looks around surprised at us all.  I look at my friend and we both agree that the baby was asleep and that the mother woke it.  We both decide that the motto ‘let sleeping babies sleep’ is a good one and should have been followed.  For the benefit of all present.   And opt not to pick up the wailing babe and smile at the ‘poor’ mother.

The second circumstance.  A lady, older admittedly, who starts using a walking stick, a trekking pole like my own.  Now I have to treat a fine line here, I don’t want to be hypocritical and I know that plenty of people probably are baffled by why I am using one.  The lady in question claims to have a bad leg.  Aw.  But here’s how I see it.  If you’re wearing ridiculously tight clothes (think vacuum packed ham joint but fortunately she’s bony) then superbly ridiculous high-heeled, ill-fitting shoes which make you totter and wobble anyway then I am going to be incredibly suspect about the cause of your discomfort.  And as it seems to be of your own making (and due to your own folly in my humble opinion when it comes to fashion choices), I will choose to withdraw my sympathy.

My Favourite Holiday Accessory


I have to admit that I’m one of those delightful people who pack for all eventualities.  I love the idea of packing light, the freedom of just having one small bag slung on your shoulder.  No ridiculous charges on budget flights that rip you off more than if you flew business class.  The liberation of travelling with a pair of clean pants and not much else appeals but it’s not for me.

Experience has taught me that you can rely on nothing at your destination.  It will be cold and raining at that sunshine-seeking destination, freak weather ordered up especially for the only seven days that you’re going to be there.  Besides which, have you seen how much I pack in a ‘handbag’?!

But my favourite, must-pack accessory?  That is other than penknives, emergency medications, blankets and pillows, adaptors and extension leads and a mountain of books, of course!  It’s got to be the most versatile weapon in my how-to-survive-a-holiday toolkit.

The humble flip-flop.

Oh yes.  They rock.  My feet may not be keen on wearing them for extended periods of time (ie more than 5 seconds) and if you plan on attempting to climb hills and mountains or going hiking in them then I will laugh at your stupidity but they definitely rock.

  1.  If you’re brave enough to take your proper shoes off during a flight (I firmly believe that it’s better to be in a plane crash whilst wearing one’s boots, it’ll make all the difference), you can wear the flip-flops as light slippers to track up the grimy aisle to the even more suspicious floor (I’m not one of those modern germ-phobes but I do have certain principles about where I put my bare feet, hospitals and supermarket toilets follow on this list, besides I hate getting my socks dirty and then putting them back into my shoes, euw!) of the toilet cum sardine prison.
  2. You can also wear them as slippers in your hotel room, especially if it’s one of those motel or B&B-type places with ‘vintage’ carpet.  (Hmm, maybe I am a little bit of a germ-phobe in certain contexts!)
  3. In your hotel room or wherever else you’re pitching up for the night, you can use your flip-flops to wedge doors and windows open, or shut.
  4. If you’re in a really swanky place (that’s sarcasm in case you missed it), or just a mud-swamped campsite, you can wear your flip-flops in the shower (yeah, OK, I think my germ phobia is about where I put my feet).
  5. You can use flip-flops to swat bugs and fellow travellers.
  6. Those flip-flops don’t just wedge doors open, you can use them to prop that really wobbly table up so your drinks are safe or you can just get on with writing a semi-legible postcard.
  7. Certain types of beaches are also not particularly kind on the feet (yes, it’s all about the feet, well, we are talking about footwear after all).  They can be hot, they can be sharp, and they can be full of all kinds of nasties.  You need flip-flops.
  8. In between swatting annoying pests (human or otherwise), you can fan yourself with them when the heat or humidity gets too much (that doesn’t happen much on my kind of holiday).
  9. If it floods (which it does do on my kind of holiday), you can wear them quite happily without fear of shrinkage or worrying about how to dry them out.
  10. They also work on a similar principle as snow shoes on mud if that’s more your kind of holiday, willingly or otherwise.
  11. Apparently some people wear fashionable shoes, so even the flimsy flip-flop can be a welcome relief after a while.
  12. And of course, you can always write a cheerful or profound message on them and leave them on the nearest shoe tree.

 What have you used flip-flops for?  And what do you have to take with you when you travel?

These Boots were Made for Walking


Self Portrait - the Boots in Autumn

I look down at my boots, just a pair of boots, and wonder.  I look at that photo on my blog of my boots, just a pair of boots, and wonder.  Today when I look at them I see more cracks, more scrapes than when that photo was taken and when I’m as tired as this, a lot less shine.  But still I wonder.

Those boots are eight years old.  Bought with carefully saved money, a sign of rebellion and a claiming of independence.  Teenage-style but at twenty instead.  I sneaked into the shop, a little shop which still exists, like I was going to buy contraband, furtive, embarrassed, determined.  Too shy to point out that for some reason the tongue hasn’t been sewn in properly into one of my boots.  My boots.  I still don’t remember which one though, even after all these years.  Might be the right one.  If not, it’ll be the left.

I hugged them tenderly in my arms, perfectly new and glistening, partly astonished at my bravery, won over by the firm leather and the comfortable fit.  No more fashion shoes for me, well for a little while longer maybe.  But a few years ago skin allergies finally put paid to those flimsy, poorly made types which only lasted a season at best.  My allergies have class, I can only wear DMs.  I wasn’t trying to buy into some stereotype, some role, some identity, some niche but the boots were me.  My boots.

My mother, naturally, was horrified when I got back to the car with my trophies.  It was probably the worse crime I had ever committed.  Even at twenty I didn’t go about without my parents.  I think that I’d shocked myself at spending so much on ‘just a pair of shoes’.  My mother thought it was daylight robbery.  But it was love, pure love and no passing faddish infatuation and I wore them proudly.

I wore them to my driving lessons.  Told the instructor that as these would be the shoes that I’d be driving in for the rest of my life that I might as well start wearing them now.  And no, I didn’t own a pair of trainers.  I passed my driving test in those boots.

Just a few months later.

Independence.  Wings to fly with, boots to walk away in.

Now I look down at my boots and wonder.

I wonder curious things like how many pairs of laces have I gone through on this single pair of boots?  The current laces are brittle and almost glazed-like.  One pair of black laces after another, I can’t even remember when I bought these ones.  It’s hard to find bootlaces these days and everyone says you have to buy 120s for this number of eyes but I’ve worn these boots too long now, I know best.  140s every time.  Bootlaces that are harder to find and get thinner each year.  Bootlaces don’t last forever.  Boots seem to.

I remember the time when I couldn’t lace my boots, when I got tendonitis so badly walking a billion miles across Paris.  A billion miles in freezing fog and on beautiful baguettes washed down with cup-a-soup (for which my husband is still holding me personally responsible for and unforgiven!).  The student is in me still.  I was a ‘student’, albeit briefly, the summer after I bought my boots.  For months after our trip to Paris, I had to leave the laces undone, splayed open, like the tramp of garden ornaments.

I look down at my boots and I wonder.  I wonder many things.

I wonder how many times they’ve been splashed through puddles, marched through streams and accidentally ended up in the sea.  They’ve been full of sand before now, from beaches and deserts and building works.  They’ve seen an awful lot of mud.  I know, I’m the one cleaning it away.  I proudly keep them polished to a service grade shine.  OK, when I’ve got a little more oomph in my polishing at least.  Other times I just try to keep them clean.  Ish.  Babywipe anyone?

I wonder how many countries they have visited.  If boots had their own passport, stamped at every port of entry, what tales it would tell!  My boots have gone everywhere, faithful companions on my travels.  In the snapshots of my mind, I see them tossed down in hotel rooms and standing to attention by tent doorways and drying in front of boilers and radiators.  (Actually even on a hospital ward floor too).  Phobic dread means that they’re always safely on my feet during flights, all those castaway and crashes on desert islands films and series prove the value of having boots on your feet during a crash.  But that isn’t the only reason that those boots are always on my feet.  My boots make me feel taller.  My boots make me feel more confident.

I wonder how many miles my boots have tread.  Do I count the miles that they have been on my feet in a car or in an aeroplane?  What about boats or trains?  Yep, my boots are well-travelled.  Since not having our van anymore, how many miles have they loyally accompanied me on?  How many hills have they tramped me up?  On how many sheets of ice have they held me a little steadier than I would have been otherwise?  How many times have they been caught in the rain with me?

My boots have been to weddings, to funerals.  They have been with me during some of the best times and some of the worst times.  My only regret is that I never wore them to our wedding.  My mother won over, insisted on some satiny ballet pump, shiny soled as a roller skate.  I didn’t have enough confidence back then.  I do today.  Today I ignore the horrified and mortified exclamations that accompany my decision to wear those boots to yet another event.  Some things never change.  I roll my eyes as she’s rolling hers.

When I turn them over today and look then I see that the soles are wearing thin.  There’s been a lot of mileage done in these boots, hundreds of thousands of miles.  These boots are my boots.  They are part of the story, even the very fabric, of my life.  My boots are like that loyal friend who can you pick up at a moment’s notice, we fit together so comfortably and we know that we’re ready for whatever path life throws at us next.  We just keep on walking.  Sometimes it’ll be baby steps, other times we’ll strike out confidently.  But my boots are made for life’s adventures.  Yes indeed, these boots were made for walking.