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It’s summer. It’s warm and sunny outside. I’m stuck in an office typing away on a computer. Thus plays out the story of worker drones across the length and breadth of England (and possibly Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well, for all I imagine them to be rugged farmers on windswept rainy hillsides).

Never have I wanted to procrastinate more.  For some reason when my boss is out  of the office, usually I mentally shake myself, grit my teeth and settle down for some work, but today I just want to read the news.

When I get given a little task, I sink my teeth into it with enthusiam, but as for the big tasks on my ‘Action’ list, I might as well try to start a train moving by pushing it with my hands.

We’re moving office soon, to a different room in the same building (actually two rooms, but obviously I’m only going to be in one of them, since I can’t be in two places at once). Furniture and equipment has started arriving although we don’t have broadband, trunking, electrical sockets, network points or phone in the new office yet so we can’t move any of our operations. We are also getting our server moved into the new office, which is upstairs and in the furthest possible corner of the building from our current den.  Yesterday we had the comedy moment of moving a huge whiteboard upstairs.  It wouldn’t fit in the lift.

My fingers are all sticky on the keyboard because it’s so warm.  Not hot, just warm, but air won’t circulate in here despite having the windows and door wide open.  I went outside for lunch and when I stepped back into the building it was like coming into a sauna.  No air-conditioning for British buildings, no siree!  And the temperature is only in the mid-20s.

Time for the weekend.  A lie-in and a wedding celebration.  Actually the wedding of the lady who conducted our own handfasting.  The ceremony itself plus legal wedding took place earlier in the week; tomorrow there is going to be a reconstruction of the ceremony followed by a party.  Should be good!

 

Olympic Games time!

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It’s been an uplifting few weeks with a new art project on the go and a weekend away. Mike and I went to Lincolnshire and I really enjoyed it. It was relaxing and great just to do nothing in particular, wander around and enjoy the sun, sea, sand, fish and chips. I’d never been to either Grimsby or Skegness before so it was nice to see something new. I was surprised how much of a ghost town Grimsby was – when the shops were closed they all rolled down massive heavy-duty metal shutters, and even during the day only about one in five shops appeared to be open – but then again, I didn’t expect much else because it has always been a port, not a pretty seaside tourist place, and it doesn’t have a beach so I was kind of anticipating it all being very functional. The fish and chips were definitely as good as the hype!

Skegness was different from what I expected. I thought it would be bigger and tackier, something like a mini-Blackpool, but really it isn’t all that much larger than Cromer. There are a few more amusement arcades and they are a bit bigger, and there are more food stalls, but apart from that the atmosphere is really similar. I thought the beach would be crowded in July, like the pictures I’ve seen of Bournemouth and Brighton on a sunny day, but although there were plenty of people it was far from being crowded. It was lovely just to walk along the beach feeling the sun and the wind and the sand underneath your feet. Beaches always feel timeless to me. When I’m on the beach I vividly remember being a little girl, and in one part of my mind I can see myself as an old woman walking on the beach too. It’s also quite bizarre to think that I’ve never been to the beach on my own – apart from one time at Southend just after I’d dropped Mike off at the airport for a flight. For me, the beach is something to enjoy with other people, family or a loved one, and I think it would be quite melancholy to be there on my own. I suppose it’s because I don’t live near the coast, so it’s always a kind of adventurous pilgrimage that I undertake with somebody else. If I lived near the coast, it might be different. I can see how it could feel freeing and cleansing, but for me it would be sad because it would mean Mike was outside of the picture for some reason.

I saw Punch and Judy for the first time, which was great! I also had the opportunity to visit a cute and amazing shop in Lincoln which sold pretty much only Russian dolls. Strangely, although I think everyone in England knows what Russian dolls are, that was the first time I’d seen any for real. I was able to buy a ‘paint your own’ set. In fact the shop has a website! – it is Annushka.  Apparently the matryoskha represent different stages of your life, and you can paint them any way you want – either all the same pattern decoratively, or they could be different stages of a story.

So I have one art project on the go at the moment – making slow but steady progress – one idea lined up, plus the matryoskha to paint, and my Ravellenic Games knitting project (6 squares, that will go into my blanket later) is coming on alright.

We had an episode in the office last week where we found a nest of maggots in my boss’s bin while she was away on holiday. It was kind of gross but I thought it was funny at the same time. I hoovered them up and now I’ve been told they will apparently live inside the hoover and crawl back out. Fortunately it isn’t our hoover but I’m reluctant to bring it back in the office now! (It’s a shared office building so all the companies use the same hoover.) I’m hoping it works something like incey-wincey spider, and every time they get half way down the tube the cleaner turns the hoover back on and they have to start their journey all over again… until they die. (Or turn into flies, and then die.) I also had to throw the bin away because there were little maggoty bodies squashed between the metal grille of the side and the plain metal of the base where they overlap. It’s a good job I’m totally manly about that sort of thing. Just need a cape and a leotard.

Talking of leotards, I’m enjoying watching the Olympic Games. Everyone around me was very British and insisted right from when GB won the bid that it was going to be a disaster and they wished we’d never got the Games, but it’s actually going really well so far. For me it’s a bonus that Team GB are doing well (third on the medals table right now), I just like watching athletes compete, even if I don’t know anything about the sport. I don’t get people who don’t get sport. Yes, it’s ‘pointless’ to some extent the exact things that they do, but physical endeavor is never really pointless. Fitness is essential for survival – physical prowess is one of our most basic instincts. Physical prowess and competition. Put those two things together with intelligence and those are the three main reasons why humans have been able to make the progress that we have! Intelligence is great but it doesn’t do everything. First you have to have the physical ability to survive, to run fastest, jump furthest and endure longest, before intelligence can be much use to you. Even animals have ‘sport’ in the sense that they will race and play-fight with each other. I think a life without a desire to compete, no matter how slight (and not necessarily in a sporting discipline), must be a very flat type of life. And if you can understand and appreciate competition in one aspect, surely you can understand and appreciate sporting competition?!

I can’t believe my life is so boring that I just blogged about maggots. But it doesn’t seem boring to me. I met at the weekend with some old friends from university, but there isn’t anything to say about that. Everyone is the same as usual, some have kids which are growing bigger, people go on holidays, buy houses, life goes on.

Happy wife, happy life

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Fine droplets of rain accumulate on my eyelashes.  The end is supposed to be approaching.

Ah, the wedding at the weekend!  It was great.  Celebratory occasion with hundreds of friends and family there to wish the happy couple well.  I worry about my colleague a little, sometimes, because she is such an easy-going person and I don’t want her to get taken advantage of.  I hope everything will be ok for them both.

My boss and her partner also attended.  Her partner got pissed at the pre-wedding party and puked up on the Premier Inn steps and wished everyone in the lobby a happy Christmas.  She made him apologise the next day but has not mentioned it since.  I think she might be a bit embarrassed.

I would have blogged earlier but have been feeling crook since Monday night and have no idea why – dodgy stomach but normally for me that goes away in 24 hours.  Now I just feel knackered.   But I did stay up late the last couple of nights, going to a gig and doing some artwork, so I’m probably frail because I’m tired.  I feel bad about myself when I start to complain about stuff like that, because I know Mike feels tired and sick a lot of the time but he always says he is ok, whereas I get up in the morning and I’m all like, “Ohhh, woe is me!  I can barely drag my sorry ass around!”

(That’s made me want to draw ‘a sorry ass’ now.)

I’m working on a pretty big drawing.  Well, not big compared with other drawings and paintings I’ve done, it covers like the top 3/4 of an A2 sheet held landscapewise, but big considering the level of detail.  The whole point is it’s meant to be really detailed and illustrative in style, a line drawing with colour type of thing.  It’s fun, basically.

I always seem to start art projects that are very labour-intensive!  I get an idea, but for me it’s like if it doesn’t involve shed-loads of manual grind it isn’t ‘worthy’, somehow.  I’m not sure whether that’s just because of the nature of my ideas themselves or whether there’s something deeper underlying it.  Like I can’t just do something because it’s physically enjoyable to make and looks good and expresses what I want it to express – there has to be a certain amount of effort, of hardship almost, that goes into the making of it.

Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a show-off.  I know I can do technically good work – paintings and drawings that look slick and which people who don’t draw usually admire – so I’m reluctant to run the risk of inspiring ‘my gerbil could do that’ kind of thoughts.  I want to prove that skill has gone into the making of my work.  At the same time I don’t want to make A-level style work that relies purely on being able to handle a pencil or brush competently.  I want to create things that say something, that are more than just nice to look at or technically impressive.  But I can’t seem to let go of this fixation with craftsmanship.

I do enjoy craftsmanship, though, and not just in a fine art context.  I enjoy knitting as well, and that’s quite a tedious process by any stretch of the imagination unless you’re knitting a wildly complex design.  There’s something soothing about repetitiveness.  I enjoy paying attention to detail, whether that’s in metalwork, knitting, sewing, drawing, painting, collage or plasticene modelling.  It relaxes me.  I think it’s because when you’re focusing on a certain level of detail your mind is clear of all other thoughts, so you can’t be too stressed.

No artwork for me tonight – I’m going out for a meal with a bunch of people, so I’m hoping my stomach settles down enough to enjoy it to the full!

I’ve also recently rediscovered my slightly nerdy love of machinery, particularly anything with wheels or caterpiller tracks.  I have a feeling this may also inspire some artworks in the medium-term future.  In fact, I’m feeling very inspired in general and raring to go!  More so than I have in a long time.

Friday the 13th

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Hasn’t proved unlucky for me so far, just somewhat mediocre.  I’m going out tonight, though, with Mikey and some folks from work, to my colleague’s ‘pre-wedding’ party, so hopefully it should be a good evening!  We’re staying overnight, since the wedding is tomorrow and it’s all taking place about 40 minutes from us, so it’s a chance to let our hair down.

I feel frustrated at the moment because it seems like I’m not good at anything.  I want to have some sort of ability people can respect, but it seems I don’t have one at all.  In the professional sphere, I get sick of all the vagueness and fakery.  Seems like being good at what you do is a case of making things happen in ways no one can define.  Having contacts, I guess, and being in a position to tell those contacts what to do, so people perceive you as a mover and shaker.

I do that quite a lot, make people move along in their line of work, but I might as well be a cowherd prodding a line of cattle with a stick.  They do the moving and I stand behind and avoid the shit.

I’m not thinking just of my day job, but also of the music industry, with which I have a tenuous connection.  There’s no way I could ever do that as my full-time job – people spend years building up a network of contacts and that’s what gets them jobs and enables them to make things happen.  And gets them respect.  Ok, you have to do more than just know people to get respect, but how many people who are seen as movers and shakers in the music industry actually do everything themselves and how much is it a question of being able to issue some instructions and twist a few arms in the right places?  Yeah.

Anyway, I don’t have years to build up a network of contacts, because I’ve already spent years in a completely different field where I’m beginning to see my work paying off.  The only music-related thing I’d be even remotely good at is A&R, and A&R isn’t paying any more.

That’s only tangentially related to my feeling that I’m not good at anything.  Maybe that’s not entirely true.  I used to be good at art – drawing and painting, to be precise – and I still believe that if I focus on it, the ability is still there.  My confidence got knocked a couple years ago when I held an exhibition.  I thought it would motivate me to produce new work and it did, but not the kind of work I wanted to do.  I started to make decorative abstract paintings, the sort of thing I believed people might conceivably hang on their wall.  They didn’t mean anything to me.  It felt hollow and it wasn’t how I envisaged myself working as an artist.

I don’t know what I want to do any more.

I could work in Mikey’s office in the evenings, where I keep my art stuff, but I can never properly get into the groove because I’m always aware that he’s still sitting there working at the desk he’s been sitting at all day, and it’s basically just an extension of the working day for him and I feel bad because I’m stopping him from going home, or he could go home and spend the evening by himself.  Which is fine, but not *every* evening, which is the way I’d want it.  I have to shut everyone and everything out when I paint.  It’s a very selfish approach and state of being.  Some people would call it independence; I’m not so sure that’s what it is.  But all truly *great* artists do it, I think.  Maybe I just don’t have what it takes for greatness. I guess maybe you have to be a loner, and I’m not.  I like being around people, but of course that means making certain sacrifices.

In the last couple years I’ve been getting more into textile-based crafts rather than art, and I’d love to find a way to combine the two, since craft is more sociable for me than pure art.  But I still don’t feel like I have a clear direction, a driving idea for a project, something I’m trying to convey.

I used to create musical things, as well, but I don’t any more.  Now I just play scales and other people’s pieces on the piano, and not even very well.  Not that my pieces of music were good before, but at least they were mine.  All mine from scratch and I enjoyed creating them.  And they did have driving ideas behind them, even if you wouldn’t guess it from hearing them.

I guess I’m slightly scared that I’m losing some independence of mind.  The thing that made me tick and which gave me the very slight power that I had.  The voice in my head says, “If you wanted to make artwork enough, you’d do it.  You wouldn’t care about Mike’s finer feelings, and in any case he’s told you it’s fine by him, so you’re only using him as an excuse not to embark on a project because you’re afraid of failure.  Loser.”

Maybe this has galvanised me into something.  I’m annoyed now that I can’t do artwork tonight because we have to go straight out!  Hopefully next week will be different.  I’ve always been sceptical of new starts and sudden decisions about vaguely life-related topics, and this doesn’t even feel like a decision.  Just a ramble.  I don’t feel like anything has changed, and yet… something sort of has.

I need to follow my heart.  And that’s just an extension of the winding rambling path.  There are no new starts here, just progress.

Surreal memories

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Busy at work, but that’s a good thing.  I’m getting used to working hard now.  I’ve always been a bit of a slacker, doing as little as I could get away with.  I’d only work hard if I was trying to distract myself from something that wasn’t quite going right in my personal life.  But nothing is going wrong now.  (At least, not overtly wrong.  Of course everything isn’t *perfect*, because nothing is ever perfect.  For a start, I’d like Mike’s health to be better.  But nothing is wrong wrong, if you know what I mean.)

So yeah, I’m learning not to be lazy.  I’m a busy kind of lazy.  I’m happy to be active doing stuff, but only if it’s stuff I want to do.  I have a low tolerance for being told to do things, and I only put up with it in a paid-job-related context because I need to get paid.  But in my job at the moment, I’m pretty much free to do what I want within reason, and that’s ok with me.  I get paid better now, as well, so I need to take some responsibility and actually get off my arse and make things happen.

Two weddings to look forward to in the next month!  I like weddings.  Everyone is there to be happy.  I like social events in general, with the exception of anything labelled ‘networking’ that exists in the no-mans-land where work and social cross over.  For me, ‘work’ and ‘social’ are two concepts that don’t mix well except when there are clear boundaries, like going out for drinks after work.  The idea of being sociable *because* you’re working is kind of alien to me.  Whenever I go to one of those things I always look for the person who seems almost as awkward as me, and they’re usually a weirdo.

There was an article in the news recently about how a family with two kids apparently needs to earn £37,000 a year to live in a ‘socially acceptable’ way.  I don’t believe it… but if you consider that the figures for London are included, I guess I can see that it could average out to that.  Living quite some distance from London, though, it doesn’t seem that realistic to me.

Somehow I feel too lethargic to go into one of my rants now, despite not having the Guardian website to vent on.  Not about the cost of living, not about 50 Shades of Grey, not about ‘women’s issues’ or anything.

I made the mistake of going back on Keiyoru’s old livejournal and reading through some entries and it took me back in a surreal way.  It reminds me of when I used to care a lot about things that really don’t matter at all.  Never to that extent(!), but I did used to get proper *into* projects.  I kind of miss that.

I had a dream last night that I massively fell out with my mum.  I was a teenager again, and living at home, and I was writing something in a diary or notebook and for some reason we ended up having a massive shouting match and I was telling her I hated her.  At the same time I was desperately trying to get some sort of message across – I can’t remember what – and feeling totally furious that I couldn’t make her believe me.  Then I dreamed that I was with Mike and it was dusk and we were watching a helicopter circling above us and it contained the Olympic Torch.

I keep feeling like I want to write things down in notebooks because I get sick of typing everything.  Also, handwritten notes are more private than stuff on the internet.  There is nothing private about a blog, really.  I can’t write anything too personal about my life or work in case I’m identifiable and get other people into trouble.  And that’s all this is meant to be – a private space to vent and diarize.

Course, I could always make my entries private.  That would be the obvious answer.  I think I’m attention-seeking after all.  But maybe I will use the private function at some times in the future.  Maybe this really is for me more than for any audience, real or imagined.

This is just me thinking aloud now.

I was just trying to find a pic of me cosplaying Közi, but no luck – I can’t find it anywhere, and fear it may be lost on The Dark Web.

Pestilence

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I don’t normally post anything related to my work, but it’s starting to get a little freaky.

First, our head honcho collapsed one day with internal bleeding and had to be rushed to hospital for several operations.  We still don’t know what’s wrong with him.

Second, my boss’s dad got cancer, and has only a matter of weeks left to live.

And yesterday, our main financial bod had to dash off in a hurry because her mum had just been rushed into hospital with heart problems.

I don’t believe in that ‘things come in threes’ rubbish (I think people just think they do because they only pick three things out of everything that happens), but I’m hoping it will be just those three things and doesn’t represent a net of pestilence closing in!

On a different note, I hope to post here more often and regularly in the future – I’ve given up commenting on the Guardian website, but I can never keep my keyboard silent about stuff I want to rant about, so maybe some of their articles can form the basis for little rantlets.  I don’t think anyone is interested in my opinions, but I guess I have to get past that mental block otherwise I’d never write anything!  It doesn’t seem to hold other people back on the internet…

Well, I do think I have plenty of material for a novel, but that ain’t going to happen on here, if it happens at all…

What have I been up to recently?  Three barbecues in the space of two weeks, all with family.  Unfortunately we don’t have the Aussie weather to go with it.  (I mean the heat.  I can do without the tropical cyclones they get in the north.)  Last Thursday was a massive thunderstorm, torrential rain and hailstones the size of brains.  I’ve had the chance to talk to family I haven’t seen in years, which has been nice.  One of my uncles is terminally ill; he lives overseas and we aren’t close (he isn’t a blood relative) but I am quite close to his wife, my aunt, so I’m not feeling great about that at the moment (although I think he is too distant to count as part of the workplace pestilence).  I’ve seen the Olympic Torch during its journey around the UK.  I’ve been to a gig and a comedy show and I’ve been with Mike to look around a local ‘dungeon for hire’, where the rates were pretty reasonable and they had some great equipment.  That more or less sums up the highlights of the last few weeks.

Back in the picture

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I can’t believe it’s been so long since I wrote a blog! I guess I just didn’t have anything important to say. Plenty of stuff has been happening, but nothing earth shattering.

I’ve been in a play. Am dram, nothing paid or professional or famous. But it took up a lot of my time during April and May. Two nights a week doesn’t sound often for rehearsals – not a lot of time to give up – but it does mean that everything else you want to do has to be crammed into Mondays and Wednesdays. (I don’t count Fridays. Friday evenings were made for either doing nothing or getting pissed.)

The run of the play was the week beginning May 21st, so it’s only been finished a couple of weeks and I’ve been enjoying my new-found freedom. At the beginning of June, of course, it was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee double bank holiday – Monday and Tuesday off work – bliss! Mike and I went to Nottingham on the bank holiday Saturday. We visited the castle, the caves and the Galleries of Justice. I think the Galleries of Justice was my favourite. There was plenty of stuff to keep kinky people entertained!

On the bank holiday Monday we went to the Melton Mowbray Show and saw motorbike stuntman Steve Colley, who put on a very impressive display.

I had my first attempt at knitting a sock, which failed miserably. I ended up ripping out the whole thing and starting again. The second time, instead of using a toe-up pattern, I’m using a top-down ‘sock tutorial’, which isn’t exactly a pattern but more like instructions on how to construct it, and you sort of design your own pattern. It seems to be working well for me so far, although I haven’t gotten down to turning the heel yet. I’m just doing a basic one-by-one rib as I figured that would be plenty stretchy enough to accommodate any miscalculations.

I’ve had a few more piano playing sessions with my German pal. I can’t quite figure out whether we’re friends or just acquaintances. I find her rather enigmatic. I’m also not sure what she gets out of our sessions, as we don’t play proper duets. Sight-reading practice, I suppose, but she could do that just as well by herself. Maybe it just helps her be less shy about playing in front of others, or maybe my woeful lack of skills make her feel better about herself. My piano playing definitely suffered while the play was on.

This is a busy time for me at work – I have a lot to get done. I need to get a new section of our company’s website up and running ASAP, as well as implementing a whole bunch of changes to the rest of the website, write a complicated award application and all the other usual stuff. However, I’ve just had another pay rise, which makes it all worth my while. Big smiles all round.

I also owe a friend a drawing of himself that I promised. I took some photos a while ago and resolved to make a drawing out of one of them. So I’m going to make a start on that tomorrow, after work, at Mike’s office because he has great light there.

Sleepy bear is sleepy

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I was going to have a good weekend, but I didn’t feel very well.  Got my sad face on.

Attended a nice christening yesterday, an elaborate service in a beautiful building followed by a family gathering, but I felt so weak and just wanted to sleep all the time!  When we got back home I went to bed at around 4:30pm and slept for like 2 hours, got up long enough to eat soup and watch the Top Gear special and then went to bed again.

Anyway, today I’m feeling a lot better, still not quite 100% but better than yesterday.  A bit annoyed though that I didn’t bring my gym kit to work so I’m going to miss the gym, I didn’t go last week and I don’t have any more opportunities this week either.  Grrr…

Pre-weekend blog

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Recently I felt I had a run of bad luck.  (I’m never quite sure whether it’s just my imagination – when one bad thing happens, you’re more likely to notice other bad things.)  But none of them were major things.  Nothing you could really complain about.  So minor and trivial that they seem like nothing.  The car broke down.  I lost Mike’s office keys.  We had a power cut.  I got a 400m skein of fingering weight yarn in a right tangle.  Oh, and my office got rearranged so that my boss can see my computer screen all of the time.  These things happen.  At the same time I was trying to buy something online for an acquaintance who is recovering from breast cancer, and Paypal kept refusing to accept her address even though I knew it was correct.  I felt like I was being thwarted at every turn even when trying to do something nice!  The power cut only lasted for about half an hour but the car was expensive and the keys could potentially have been expensive too if I’d had to buy new locks and have them fitted (which I’d have felt the responsibility to do, if I’d lost them through my fault).

However, a couple days ago my luck took a turn for the better.  The car got mended, I found the keys in the lining of my handbag (having got there through a hole so minuscule that it took me five minutes to locate it and I could hardly get them back out again!), and I managed both to straighten out my rogue skein and buy the gift.  I can’t do anything about my office but it’s been an opportunity to be refreshed and productive at work.  And I’ve been contacted by someone who lives near me who is interested in meeting up to knit and/or play piano together.  So, all in all, life is good.

My next knitting project is going to be the Cloud Illusions Shawl.  But I have a couple long train journeys coming up for work so I’ll take something simpler – easy squares for a stash-busting blanket.  I have loads of little bits of acrylic DK in my stash to use up.

I won’t be able to start any new project this weekend, though, as I’m going with Mike to visit his family.  It should be a nice occasion as one of the younger family members is being christened on Sunday.

I’ve decided that Vladimir Putin is my Random World Leader Crush.  In World Leader shag/marry/kill my choices are Putin/Sigurðardóttir/Assad.

Links as promised

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Sorry about the delay – here are some links as promised, now I get a chance to be on a PC.

Since then, Mike has made some small marmalade cakes and some very sticky marmalade flapjack.

The car had to go into the garage at the weekend so we are carless for a week.  However, we still managed to get out on Saturday evening for a bit of fun and games (hand-eye coordination and buffet food were involved).  The weather was beautiful on Sunday, prompting a pleasant stroll in a local cemetery.

I’ve finished knitting a scarf (which I only started to use up some scrap Aran yarn I had lying around) and almost finished a second one (using some novelty yarn I bought in Penrith.  Lovely effect but a bugger to knit with).  After that, I plan to start on a shawl, made using fine yarn in a combination of silk and baby camel.  I’ve used fingering weight yarn before and I’ve done lace knitting before but I’ve never tried a lace knitting shawl in such a nice yarn.

I’ve also tried to inflict a ‘random act of kindness’ on a fellow Raveller, but am just waiting to hear back from her about her zip code so I can order some nice yarn for her.  I figured it was time I started to be more positive and do nice things for people and generally try to make the world a better place.  I tend to moan and complain a lot, which isn’t good for anything and only contributes to the overall sum of negativity.  Of course, as I’m trying to save up for a house I can’t afford to keep splurging on other people all of the time!  But I resolutely believe you have to give before you can receive, and good deeds don’t go unrewarded in the long term.