Listening to: Burn Black – Hole

Ooh, the Guardian‘s a bit more interesting than usual today (it’s my homepage and there’s been fuck all worth reading lately):

Ten rules for writing fiction. I particularly like Jonathan Franzen’s advice, even though I despise his fiction (Strong Motion? Oh, how I rue the day I picked that up), and Geoff Dyer’s:

If you use a computer, constantly refine and expand your autocorrect settings. The only reason I stay loyal to my piece-of-shit computer is that I have invested so much ingenuity into building one of the great auto­correct files in literary history. Perfectly formed and spelt words emerge from a few brief keystrokes: “Niet” becomes “Nietzsche”, “phoy” becomes ­”photography” and so on. ­Genius!

Maybe I should start writing fiction again. I saw my friend R. yesterday (we went to see this) and she asked me if I still did – god, I like the idea of it, anyway. (I can only seem to write when there’s something else I should be doing instead – assignments to write, books to shelve. I’ve never been more prolific than when I worked at the uni library – all those afternoons crouched down in the stacks, scribbling furiously in my notebook when I should have been paying closer attention to the 8-digit call numbers…)

Can you make society more ethical? I can barely bring myself to skim the answers – Comment is Free so rarely brings out the best in people – but what a great conversation to try to have! Oh, and okay, I don’t think anyone reading this actually lives in London, but who wants to come to the panel discussion at the British Museum?

I’m thinking about chartership (everyone seemed to be going for it when I was volunteering at the LL and my boss mentioned it as an option the other day). As someone who didn’t even bother to join ALIA, it’s a strange thing to be thinking about, but maybe it’s time to be more of a careerist – I definitely need to find a way to be more a part of the London or UK library community. Or maybe I should just get another hobby.

P.S. Knit the City – !!! How wonderful!


Listening to: New Teller – Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers

I have a knitting question, to which I should really just look up the answer myself, but anyway: if I want to block a hat to make it a little bit bigger, do I just do it flat? Will that create weird side creases? I don’t know what else I’m expecting – some sort of papier maché hat-blocking solution? Should I just find someone with a bigger head who wouldn’t mind wearing it for a bit? The first Saartje’s Noro Hat I knit is completely lovely and fits nicely, but I don’t like it quite as much as the second one, which had five extra stitches and is that little bit roomier.

Today: Shepherd’s Bush (I’ve missed it! I got a bit nostalgic for that first London house), a haircut (I look so weird with my hair blow-dried straight – there will be no pictures) and sunshine (I had to take my coat off on the walk home!).

Listening to: Synchronised Sinking – The Lucksmiths

Can you freeze raw apple? By which I mean, what would one be able to do with it once thawed, do you think? I have a lot of apples (the only reliably interesting thing at our farmers’ market – I don’t seem to eat a lot of them, though) but not a lot of interest in stewing apples. Hints? Tips?

You can’t really tell from the photo, but I’m knitting a sparkly jumper:

I am also (finally, finally) reading Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. It scared me at first because I remember it staying on my dad’s bedside table for more than a year, but I think this just reveals him to be an incredibly slow reader – it’s actually a really fun, easy read (it’s the first Japanese book I’ve read since Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen! How can this be?). I picked it up because we’re discussing his What I Talk About When I Talk About Running at my bookclub next month (oh, dear reader! I assume you know me personally. I have bookclubs now), which didn’t really do anything for me literarily. So I wanted to figure out what the fuss was about and I get it now! The voice is the same but context and character are making all the difference. I will report back properly once I’ve finished it.

I’m a school librarian now and, sadly, there are no Mills & Boons to be seen. I have, however, been cataloguing a whole heap of surprisingly racy Christian romance paperbacks (they’re all about out-of-control young men living lives of insane [and badly-written] debauchery before being saved by the Lord and the love of a good woman) – the titles are boring but the content is outstanding. Expect excerpts.

Listening to: Ladies First – Queen Latifah featuring Monie Love

Capri cardigan

Some knitting!

I am working on the first sleeve now. I’m really happy with this – I had to do a bit of playing around to get the size right, because I’m not very good at that (and it fits now, but I’m not sure what it’ll look like after I block it), so it’s taken me months and months to get this far (well, maybe two months). This is the Capri pattern by Sarah Hatton, which used to be free (as its Ravelry entry still confusingly states) but now seems to only be available in Rowan magazine. I’m using smaller needles, 3.5mm and 4.0mm, and knitting the Large instructions to get a medium-sized cardigan (I think).

(Oof, sorry for posting the least pretty picture ever. Welcome to my toilet.)

Listening to: V.G.I. – Julie Ruin

– Do wolves have accents? I found this cool link on Ask Metafilter to animal sounds in other languages. Bees, ravens and cows are pretty consistent, but I wonder how people settled on their particular national parrot phrases.

Article from the Guardian about musicians performing in UK prisons:

For two hours, in a place where hope was the rarest commodity, [John Martyn] lifted hearts and humanised souls like nothing I had ever experienced. Watching him perform May You Never – just him and an acoustic guitar, singing just for us, the unwanted, reminded us that we were members of the human race. Any musician who can go into a prison and do that deserves all our gratitude.

Here’s an earlier article about Jail Guitar Doors.

Also, Pauline Campbell died in May, and I meant to link to some articles about her (1, 2,
3, 4). Her daughter died in prison in 2003, and she dedicated the rest of her own life to campaigning for prison reform.

– There was free running on The Bill tonight!

– I am trying to figure out Peruvian knitting, because it seems to be the fastest method and I have a lot of projects I want to try. You hold the right needle like a pencil and manoeuvre the yarn with your right middle finger…which is the part I’m finding almost impossible. I have taken to staring intently at Women of a Certain Age who knit in public, trying to figure out the trick.

Listening to: Like Swimming – Morphine

One of my new year’s resolutions was to read all the books in my bookcase (or get rid of them), but… I work in a library. So now I am trying to at least read all the books I bring home with me, and my current reading list is this:


The night watch by Sergei Lukyanenko – I’m not sure yet whether I’m going to love it (probably not quite – there’s something just slightly off about the prose, which is probably a translation issue), but so far I quite like it. (I like vampires, but I don’t like Anne Rice or Charlaine Harris – it’s a tough demographic to be in, let me tell you.) The Moscow setting is cool, and I’m really starting to get a feel for the city as the book goes on. It might have to go on my To Visit list. (Anyone seen the film? Any good?)

A lover of unreason: the life and tragic death of Assia Wevill, Ted Hughes’ [sic] doomed love by Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev. I don’t think I will actually read this from start to finish – with a few exceptions, I find biography a pretty irritating genre – but I am curious about Assia Wevill and know almost nothing about her except that she had a relationship with Ted Hughes and killed herself and their child. I mean, Jesus, Ted.

Pogue mahone: kiss my arse, the story of the Pogues by Carol Clerk. Another biography! They look so tempting as they come through returns; I can’t help it. The Pogues are easily in my all-time Top 5 bands, and who doesn’t love a good drunken Shane MacGowan story? Actually, so far I quite like it because the rest of the band have always been a bit of a mystery to me and as biographies go it’s not too bad because it’s like a really, really long Mojo article.

Love is one of the choices by Norma Klein. Words cannot describe how much I love Norma Klein, and I actually cried when I learned ten years after the fact that she had died. She’s like Judy Blume for older readers, and her characters and their situations are always so complex and well-realised (and feminist and 1970s New Yorky) for the YA fiction that they are. This story didn’t go at all in the direction I expected it to – has anyone else read it?

The ultimate uncheese cookbook and Vegan vittles: second helpings by Joanne Stepaniak – I’ve read them, but they’re ILLs and I have to return them on Thursday and haven’t actually had a chance to make anything from them. They’re definitely going on my Christmas list, though.

– Lonely Planet London, from a couple of years ago. Sigh.

– latest Rough Guide to England, which is completely rubbish.

Not yet begun:

The day watch by Sergei Lukyanenko
Softcore by Tirdad Zolghadr
Sick notes by Gwendoline Riley
Heart-shaped box by Joe Hill (I think I will have had enough of the supernatural by the time I finish with Lukyanenko, though)
Far horizon by Tony Park
Salmon fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday (these last two were politely taken home on the recommendations of patrons and coworkers, but I don’t think I’ll actually read them)

From my own collection, I’m reading:

The progressive patriot by Billy Bragg (signed by the author! Whoo!)
Invincible summer: an anthology by Nicole J. Georges
Towards another summer by Janet Frame
The complete polysyllabic spree by Nick Hornby (actually, I’m halfway through but I’ve just lent this to my mother, who’s in a reading rut)
Hugo in 3 months: Dutch beginner’s language course

But really, I’ve been spending most of my spare time lately watching (ahem) Dawson’s Creek on DVD because I’m knitting, knitting, knitting. How could I possibly fit a Master’s thesis into this crazy lifestyle, I ask you?

ETA: Have fixed all of the Libraries Australia links!

Listening to: Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan

My mother is sitting upstairs singing tunelessly along to this (Like a Rolling Stone requires shouty tunelessness).

Anyway, what I wanted to say is write this down in your diaries: 4th of November, Glenelg Primary School, Adelaide Vegan Festival! Cool, no? I’m excited. I saw a flyer for it at uni the other day (!), and have written it on our calendar in pen.

Mum and I have joined the knitting group at the public library where I work – today was the first one. It was pretty cool (actually, really cool), but now I feel hopelessly inadequate. That thing, where you sort of flick your wrist a couple of times and have miraculously ribbed a whole row? I don’t have the faintest idea how to do that. I had thought that teaching myself continental knitting was going to be the answer, but no – they’re doing it the English/American/right-handed way, just really, really, really efficiently. I will have to study them closely over the next few months. Anyway, it was nice and chatty and I scored points by having free access to the photocopier.

I made Knitty’s Urchin yesterday – I had to adjust it all to fit my gauge, and it ended up pretty big, but I like it. It would be perfect if I still had my dreads. It’s very warm – maybe I should move to Aberdeen or somewhere instead of London, because I’ve been amassing a lot of lovely but totally unnecessary cold weather gear lately. I will edit this and add pictures later this evening.

P.S. C., we may have to get some of these for ourselves.

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