:: Amazing knitters. Felix’s book is fully funded because of the generosity and enthusaism of the knitting community. Hurrrah! I can’t wait to see my copy.

:: Amazing runners. Today is the London Marathon which always makes me cry. This year my friend Vicki ran it today which is amazing as before Christmas she didn’t really run.

:: Tiger balm to soothe my shoulder after yoga injury and peppermint oil in my shower gives me a boost.

:: Sunshine and cherry blossom. I have been taking a lot of blossom photos this week.

:: Having an aquarium on my doorstep, I can just drop in and talk to the fish for a bit. Always relaxing.

:: Homemade salad for lunch at work.

I started writing Reasons to be cheerful posts to remind myself of all the fun, good things I see, read and find out about every week.

Today I am so excited to be taking part in the KNITSONIK kickstarter blog tour. The creative force behind this project is my good friend, Felicity Ford, AKA, Felix. Felix is an artist whose works with sound and wool and celebrates the everyday. She regularly makes a podcast which can be heard at KNITSONIK.COM. For past few years, Felix has run WOVEMBER with Kate Davies and Tom Of Holland, a month-long campaign to celebrate wool in November and was the Patron of Shetland Wool Week last year. She even made an amazing Shetland Wool song which you must hear on YouTube.

I first met Felix about 9 years ago at a knitting group, Oxford Bluestockings and have been firm friends ever since.  Felix and I have had many adventures over the years often involving large amounts of coffee, little sleep, talking at 100 miles per hour,  lots of discussion about sheep/woolly things, writing about Messy Tuesdays and plenty of raucous laughter. Through my friendship with Felix I have a much greater appreciation of everyday objects and sounds. I notice domestic sounds around me much more and I hear the world around me slightly differently these days.


2009: At an art show of Felix’s listening to sounds through handmade knitted headphones.

When I first met Felix she was making fantastic felt pictures and knitted vegetables and I was immediate struck by how differently she thought about knitting. Knitting for Felix isn’t about making functional objects but exploring ideas, textures and colours.  It  has been such a great pleasure to watch Felix’s work develop and change over time and  I particularly love how her current project, The KNITSONIK Colourwork Sourcebook,  feels like a natural evolution of her work – fusing her love of the everyday with the joy of knitting.

So this is Felix talking about the story behind her project. True to our friendship, we had a LOT to talk about in this interview and you might want to grab a hot beverage before reading this. There are sounds, pictures and a sheep of course! These are the edited highlights…

Lara: Hello lovely Felix, my knitting comrade and coffee drinking friend…

Felix: Hello lovely Lara! It’s great to be on your blog in this context, since we met through knitting! You were in the original Oxford Bluestockings knitting group gang who rekindled my interest in knitting in 2005 in the Jericho cafe. If you hadn’t stuck up a post online to announce the existence of the Bluestockings, I might never have picked up a set of DPNs or started combining my Knitting with my Sounds! So it feels super, super great to be here on the great Lara blog, almost a decade later. Hurrah!

Lara: Your knitting book looks very exciting and gorgeous. Why have you decided to make it?

Felix: Thank you, I am really glad you are excited by The KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook! Ever since I discovered stranded colourwork, I wanted to be able to turn the world around me into gorgeous stranded knitting, and sometimes when you really want to be able to do something, you just have to figure out how to do it!

I read on Ravelry the other day that someone had watched the Kickstarter video and immediately started thinking differently about the brickwork where they live, and that’s what this book is all about – seeing the world with fresh eyes, celebrating the everyday in knitting, and sharing strategies for discovering magic and wonder in daily life.

Lara: What do you hope people will get from the book?

Felix: What I really hope is that it will remove some of the mystery and fear around COLOUR, and that it will inspire people to look on the their daily surroundings and personal treasures with new curiosity and affection. I also really hope that people will be encouraged to try using very non-obvious sources as inspirations for knitting. The things and places that are important to us are not necessarily picturesque, but that does not mean we can’t find ways of celebrating them in our knitting! I want my book to show that you really can base stranded colourwork on ANYTHING, and ESPECIALLY on the things that are important to you.

Lara: I always describe your work as weaving together knitting, sounds and stories in everyday life. Why do you choose to celebrate the ordinary and everyday in your work?

Felix: I want to make life better; kinder; less lonely; more playful and wonderful and mischievous. My work celebrates the ordinary and the everyday because that is where we live. The majority of our time on this earth will be spent in very mundane circumstances: buying milk; wiping the kitchen counter; driving to work… I draw attention to these intimate, daily gestures which we have in common because I think they are important. I also love what happens when you highlight everyday things; the way that stuff which seems totally boring and mundane becomes special and extraordinary when you put a frame around it. Once you have made a radio show about washing up, you can’t help but think about it whenever you do the dishes.

Once you’ve knitted the bricks from your street, you’ll always have a special, richer, deeper appreciation for them, because of the attention and imagination you’ve invested in looking at them. It’s about building moments of appreciation and reflection into daily life, and drawing attention to the everyday stuff that we share, and it’s about creating opportunities to play, every day.

Lara: What is your personal favourite piece of stranded colourwork that you have made?

Felix: Just now I am knitting the biggest swatch so far for the book. It is in a totally new-to-me palette of yellows, blacks, greys, creams and a lovely tawny reddish shade (125 if you are a Jamieson & Smith colour nerd). It is my favourite swatch so far as I have learnt so much through knitting it, and because it is based on a book from the 1930s about electricity.

That book contains experiments involving knitting needles, an anecdote about a shepherd, and drawings of early electronic circuits. Reading and knitting from it is giving me a fresh appreciation for my laptop and all the other complex, circuited devices which I use in daily life, and a new love for yellow and grey together. So this is probably my favourite colourwork so far… it may not surprise you to hear I have been doing some of the experiments in the book simply to hear how they sound, and I’m sure some of that will make it into a future episode of the KNITSONIK podcast!

Lara: You have called the book The KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook – can you tell us more about KNITSONIK?

Felix: KNITSONIK began when I was doing my MA in Sonic Art & Composition and joined the Bluestockings. Discovering KNITTING with you and our fellow Oxfordian comrades gave me a lot of ideas… I amplified the sounds of knitting with giant knitting needles, and soldered 32 miniature speakers together, hand-knitted covers for all of them, and played sounds from my home through them… since those early experiments, things have grown and matured, but I remain fascinated by the relationships between knitting + everyday sounds!

Recent KNITSONIK projects have explored the sounds relating to wool production, and celebrating connections between different sheep breeds and their origins in specific landscapes.

For instance for Shetland Wool Week I made an online sound map showing sounds I recorded in Shetland, relating to the production and history of Shetland Wool. To go with this map, I produced a pattern to enable knitters to make a Shetland Wool speaker pillow so that you can literally listen to Shetland wool through Shetland wool. My pattern includes an essay about the sounds and a list of what I recorded in Shetland, including:

  • Wool bales being loaded onto the lorry at Jamieson & Smith ready for scouring and spinning
  • Sheep on Sumburgh head
  • Laurie telling me a guddick (riddle) about wool carders at the Croft House Museum
  • Sheep at the Voe District & Agricultural Show
  • Brian Smith, archivist at Shetland Museum and Archives, describing the Truck system that operated in Shetland between the 1840s and mid 1900s
  • Shima Machines at Shetland college, churning out knitwear at great speeds
  • Oliver Henry talking about the history of Shetland wool
  • Hazel Tindall knitting with a knitting belt
  • Elizabeth Johnston spinning on an old Shetland wheel

I love how these recordings foreground and celebrate the central role of wool in Shetland life, and what could be nicer than resting your head against some soft Shetland wool and listening to voices and sounds from the places where it grows as you drift off to sleep?

Lara: Are there other aspects to KNITSONIK?

Felix: As well as celebrating connections between wool and the places where wool grows, KNITSONIK challenges how knitting is represented, as reflected in the deliberately TEKNIKAL KNITSONIK project logo!

Almost universally, the mere mention of microphones and mixing desks conjures images of male, technical virtuosity. Yet outside of Ravelry and other knitterly circles, mentioning knitting tools mostly fails to illicit a similarly impressed reaction. Why is this? As someone who uses microphones, mixing desks + knitting needles, I would say that both sets of tools are complex and technical to master. It matters to me how these different skills are valued. You can expect to gain some prestige and have vast cultural influence as a record producer, but we do not imagine that these possibilities are open to the virtuoso knitter. I think that needs to change!

Image & copy; Pier Corona and used with kind permission

Lara: How do you go about changing how knitting is perceived?

Felix: One way is that I have been making garments designed specifically for my sound work. The Listening Tunik has holes for microphone wires, deep pockets for recorders, a motif featuring record/play/pause buttons, and – being made of beautiful thick Corriedale 4-ply – is utterly silent in my recordings when I wear it.

The thick stranded colourwork around the bottom of the tunik keeps my bum warm when I am standing somewhere in the freezing cold, trying to keep still, perhaps recording a bird: it’s perfect!

This is knitting as technology and I always explain that just because it isn’t shiny and black with lots of buttons that it is still a completely specialist piece of kit.

I also deliberately think of podcasting and radio show production as craft processes, and this gives my work a feminist underpinning which is extremely important to me. I take my knitting to soundart events and present it at conferences, and I bring my microphones to WOOLFEST.

The KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook brings many strands of my practice together… it celebrates the specific textures of the place where I live, and Shetland wool, with its traceable origins in the distinctive landscape of Shetland. The book is also a technical manual for producing personalised stranded knitwear, and a celebration of the everyday.

My perceptive sonik comrade – Patrick McGinley – pointed out that the stranded knitwear swatches are like visual field recordings, and there’s something in that idea; you have to stand still for a long time, listening, to make a nice field recording.  It’s not a fast process, and involves being really present, wherever you are… it’s the same with knitting, you can’t do it fast, and you have to pay attention. When you’ve spent that kind of time paying attention to something, it somehow becomes more valuable to you; you perceive it differently. Maybe that’s a key way in which the KNIT and the SONIK interact in this new project.

Lara: Who inspires you?

Felix: My biggest inspiration comes from talking with my friends and seeing how all the amazing people I know work through their own problems, create amazing solutions, and grow in their families and in their work. I love my people! I also draw huge inspiration from walking with Mark, my wonderful partner.

We have shared many walks in many places, and I deeply appreciate that he is always game at these times to engage in long discussions of “imagine if I could knit those branches/that beach/the skyline over there”. He is my number one comrade.

Other influences include Daphne Oram, Bobby Baker and Alice Starmore.

Daphne Oram was a pioneer of electronic music who founded the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, then left to set up her own independent music studio in Kent. Tower Folly Studio was the first independent electronic music studio created and run by a woman in the UK if not the world, and it was here that Oram composed music, founded her theory of Oramics, and built The Oramics Machine - an amazing electronic instrument of her own design. She also made her own clothes, and cheese from the goats which she kept. Her book – An individual note – reveals a very interconnected way of thinking about electronic sound in relation to all areas of life, and I  loved exploring her work as part of a commission I worked on last year:

Bobby Baker is a British artist who celebrates daily life mostly through incredibly moving and powerful live performances. Baker incorporates all sorts of domestic materials into her work, and proposed in the 1970s – quite brilliantly – that cake would be her preferred sculptural medium. Baker is funny, an inventor of concepts, a champion of women’s lives and experiences, and a creator of an extraordinary and celebratory body of work. I love her.

Alice Starmore for me represents a kind of gold standard both for writing about knitting, and for designing stranded colourwork. I love how completely Starmore connects knitting with a sense of place, and a sense of history. Her Hebridean 2-ply is very precisely and beautifully celebrate the landscape where she lives, and I find there is a crisp precision and authority in her words which is utterly thrilling. Her essays on Fair Isle knitting and Aran sweaters are brilliant and I love how confidently she presents her ideas, and the magical rich and shimmery depth of everything she designs.

Lara: Using Kickstarter is a really interesting approach – was it hard decision to fund the book in this way?

Felix: The biggest difficulty was getting used to the idea that there would be this video out there in the world with my gurning face on it, asking people to fund my idea. That’s a pretty scary idea! What makes it possible to live with this prospect is believing that the book is a good idea. Using Kickstarter also allows me to answer two fundamental questions at once;

  • Does anyone else want this book?
  • If people do want it, how on earth can I afford to get it designed and printed?

Running a Kickstarter campaign involves being incredibly public about what you are up to, and raises awareness about your dreams as well as (hopefully) the dollars that you need to materialise them. If the campaign is successful, I think in some ways the book will be better for being funded through Kickstarter. Although it feels vulnerable to share ideas-in-progress, the collective energy and inspiration communicated through all those pledges, tweets etc. is really energising, and strengthens my determination to make The KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook a truly amazing resource.

I also love that I am not alone now in wishing to make this book happen; all the funding backers who have pledged towards making it a reality are joining me in the wish to see it created! If the funding goal is met, and the book gets made, everyone who has helped it to happen can share in the sense of achievement and the production milestones like seeing the drive to the printers, or hearing (of course) the sounds of the book physically being made!

Lara: What response have you got from it so far?

Felix: The response to the campaign so far has blown my mind! I wasn’t even a week into the campaign when I hit the 50% funded target! When I’ve done more formal funding application, I’ve never heard or seen the responses of any funders or funding committee. With Kickstarter, the opposite is true. Twitter and Facebook and Ravelry are full of chatter about the project; you can see what people are saying, and feedback is instant. What is encouraging to me at this stage is that people seem to be backing my Kickstarter campaign because they want the book.

Lara: What is your current favourite sound/object?

Felix: Haha! Actually I am currently happy about some woodpeckers on the campus around Oxford Brookes University at the moment; on a quiet, still day the sound really travels, and it is beautiful. I was late to an event at work the other day and had to truthfully explain that I had been listening to the woodpeckers, which had delayed me. I also love our kettle’s whistle; I got a stove top kettle specifically because I like its jolly whistle. Mark is very talented and meticulous and is able to get the water/heat ratios just right so that when he makes coffee, our stove-top coffee maker and the kettle bubble up together at the exact same time, which is a wonderful sound in our house.

I never tire of the sound of frying an egg, either, or the way that Red Kites’ calls seem to arc over the chimney tops in our street. I do always love the sound of putting my keys into my door, turning them, and entering the house; it’s a sound sequence that says I’m home now and I love all the associations of that.

Lara: Finally and most importantly, what is your favourite type of sheep?

Felix: I love all sheep breeds very much indeed, so it’s impossible to pick just one. However since this post is part of the blog tour for The KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook, perhaps I’ll take the opportunity to talk about the Shetland sheep whose lovely wool forms the basis for all my stranded knitting. Oliver Henry explains the history of the breed beautifully on my Listening to Shetland Wool sound map; he describes there once being two distinct breeds on the islands who ran together and created a hybrid sheep featuring qualities from both.

As a knitter who loves to knit with Shetland wool hand sorted by Oliver and his comrades in the wool room at Jamieson & Smith, this theory of two breeds into one makes some sense to me.  Shetland wool has to my hands both a bouncy softness and just enough grip to give it some character. I love how Shetland wool blooms and stretches when you block it, and the natural variations of colour to be found in the breed represent some of the loveliest colours you’ll find anywhere to knit with.

To find out more or to back Felix’s amazing book, please visit her Kickstarter page. For people backing the campaign, Felix has put together amazing and exciting handmade rewards. Let’s help Felix make this extraordinary book! 

All pictures are here with kind permission from Felicity Ford. 

I’m utterly thrilled that tomorrow my good friend and knitting comrade, Felix, will be appearing on my blog tomorrow as part of her amazing Kickstarter blog tour.  I am so delighted to be taking part and cannot wait to share the interview with you all. For now, please do go and watch her super-inspiring video because she can explain her project in a much more exciting way than I can.

 

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:: How beautiful London is on a Sunday morning.

:: Blue skies that always put a spring in my step and give me a reason to get outside at lunchtime.

:: Radio 4 soothing me to sleep when my head feels too full of “things”. Have been loving Shirley on the Radio today.

:: Colouring in – very soothing and lets me play with colours. Perfect when feel to tired to sew or knit and still scratches my creative itch.

:: Daffodils

:: Fantastic support from friends, family and work colleagues since I started the plastic challenge. Have been enjoying it so far.

:: Saturday mornings in my local hood – this week there was no water at home so time for a local coffee in the sun.

:: Honey from my friend’s bees to soothe my sore throat – I have the lurgy and am drinking lemon and honey by the bucketful.

:: Sloths

I started writing Reasons to be cheerful posts to remind myself of all the fun, good things I see, read and find out about every week. 

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I have given up “single-use” plastic for Lent. The challenge on the face of it sounds quite simple. Attempt to use no single-use plastic during Lent. “Single-use” includes plastic shopping bags, plastic cups, straws, coffee cup lids, plastic packaging, basically anything that’s intended only to be used once and then sent to landfill.

Simple sounding, hard to do. I have spent years worrying about my environmental footprint but the plastic it creeps up on you. It is everywhere. And there is a mass of non-biodegradable plastic rubbish in the Pacific three times the size of Britain. I’d like to stop adding to it.

Recently I had been getting uneasy about amount of plastic in my daily life. The coffee you buy on the way to the meeting, the cellophane wrapper on bunch of flowers, the plastic bag you use because you have forgotten to bring one of the many tote bags you own. And then in January Emily talked to us at Borough Belles WI about her plastic challenge last year and I started thinking about what life would be like without plastic. I found it surprisingly challenging. Food packaging accounts for most of our plastic waste and I want to know if it possible to live without it. After I talked to a friend about the challenge she said she had counted using 13 different types of single-use plastic before getting to work that morning.

I think Lent is a great time for making changes to our lives. Despite not being religious, I like the idea of a period of self-denial at this time of year and think living without something for a short while helps to make you think differently about it. Lent challenges are often really well made goals (much more specific than New Year’s Resolutions, time-bound and manageable). I think also the time frame is perfect for successful behaviour change: it is not so long that it drags out, long enough to become habit-forming and get you into a new routine rhythm. Over recent years, I’ve picked challenges that are linked to environmental habits – last year I went back to full-time vegetarianism, this year no single use plastic.

Giving up single-use plastic for Lent is a way of getting me think about all the single-use plastic I consume everyday without thinking about it. Packaging that I use for 5 minutes but lasts forever. Plastic is particularly damaging in our seas – up to a million marine animals a year are killed by plastic rubbish.

Apparently one reason people are successful with habit change during Lent is because they are striving to make the change for something that has personal meaning to him or her. Existential energy is about those things that give your life meaning, becoming a better person and those things are passionate about. When we strive after these things, we often feel more energized and more motivated to meet the goals we have set for ourselves. Avoiding single-use plastic will mean I will have to do lots of other things I want to do – cook from scratch, shop more locally and ethically, prepare and plan days better, make toiletries and kitchen cleaning products. I’m interested to see whether this challenge gives me more motivation that usual.

This isn’t about telling anyone else what to do. This is an experiment for me to encourage me to change my habits and put into practice all the advice I have read over the years about eco-living. I am not interested in feeling deprived, I’m much more interested in approaching this in a joyful and liberated fashion. I think cutting out plastic will mean that I will have to cook more from scratch, make things and be inventive. Cutting out plastic will mean no quick fixes and I want to rise to the challenge. For me, Lent is about trying to find alternative solutions.

So I am not using single-use plastic for Lent to help me think about plastic in a different and more mindful way. If you would like to follow my plastic free adventure – I have set up a Tumblr account to monitor my progress which you can find here and I’m sure some plastic-free living posts will creep on here throughout the next 40 days!

Since January I have been taking part in 100 happy days. It is a project where you post a picture about something that makes you happy for 100 days. I was inspired to start after seeing happy days pictures pop up over Instagram and was particularly inspired by Domestikate‘s lovely photos. So I started in depths of January as way of capturing things I notice which make me happy or lift my mood.

Apparently over 70% of people who take part don’t finish (eek!) but on the days people post something improves their mindset. I’ve been thinking of ways to build a bit more gratitude-type thinking into everyday so this seemed a perfect experiment. You can follow my pics on Instagram and Flickr and you can sign up yourself here.

I’ve never taken part in project 52 or 365 projects on Flickr because they felt like a big commitment but posting one picture, everyday for 100 days, felt easier and I was motivated to join in. I thought everyone has the time to be happy. I also think there is something interesting in posting everyday – habit forming, repetition helps you develop creative practice of any type. The moments you will capture will be fleeting but it means you will have to stop and look. To notice the ordinary things in the world around you that make you happy and be present. I’m interested to see whether my pictures get better or if there are any patterns in what I capture.

41 days later – I’m really enjoying it. I like posting once a day, there have been a few days when I’ve remembered close to midnight but still posted. My rules have been to post something that genuinely puts a spring in my step and not to over-think it or worry about the artistic merits of the photo. It isn’t about massively trying to improve my photography. But just a way to be more mindful and present for 100 days.  Over last few years I’ve become interested in gratitude and impacts on wellbeing. Grateful people on the whole are happier, less stressed, less depressed, more altruistic,  and more happy with their health and wellbeing. I struggle with gratitude as a word because it feels like a negative and like something I should be feeling rather than something positive. I prefer Sophie’s interpretation of being thankful and have really enjoyed her weekly updates.

Anyway, this long preamble is a way of reintroducing reasons to be cheerful. These are the things this week which have put a smile on my face…

:: The Farmer’s Market at the Horniman. The Horniman is pretty much my favourite place in South East London these days. Saturday mornings are about buying veggies, bread, enjoying my favourite view across London and a quick chat with the pygmy goats. These are a new addition and such cute critters. And we all know how much I love a goat.

:: Blue skies-there have been some beautiful days when the sun finally made an appearance and the rain that seems to have been steadily falling forever has finally stopped. They are still few and far between but I’m hoping for more.

:: Hellebores – Spring is coming and my mum’s garden is full of different colours of spring flowers. I love hellebores big time.

:: Flow magazine - such a treat to read something so gentle, beautiful and inspiring.

:: Trip planning – the anticipation and planning is half the fun.

:: Reading on my Kindle.

:: Clean kitchen to cook in. I’m digging stirfrys of tofu and greens at the moment.

:: Friday night cocktails. Welcome to the weekend.

I started writing Reasons to be cheerful posts to remind myself of all the fun, good things I see, read and find out about every week. 

 

Annabel. Fuzzy heads, powered by Nordic Bakery coffee and cake. Catching up, shooting the breeze, sharing stories, dreams of dogs, ideas that might become real, might not. Just do it. Laughing. Croque Madames, juice and tea.

Talk of Kangaroos, imaginative play, resolutions, children books, why it’s brilliant children can think differently from adults,  pygmy goats, hydration, South East Asia, palaeontology popstars singing songs about animals,  focus, travelling inflatable planetariums, seasnakes, rainbow cakes, learning to play the ukulele, spacesuit silver rucksacks, trifle.  Making business cards with made up job titles – rollerskating waitress, astronaut. Be more present.

Blue skies. Hyde Park. Clouds drifting overhead, surrounded by rollerskaters, feeling the sun on my face, reading and sighing over the beauty in Flow magazine. Watching huge bubbles drift over the lake and not burst when they touch the water. Feels like spring is here and life is waking up after winter. See your worries disappear like bubbles.

Walking down Marylebone High Street, window shopping. Daunt books. Wanderlust. Books full of places I’ve been and more to see.  Sacred places. Places to see before you die. Berlin street style. Anticipation. Excitement. Conrad shop.  Play. Colouring books for adults of gardens, cities, heart throbs, atlas poster on your wall to colour in. Swoon.

Home on East London Line. Mind buzzing. Soothed by youth lagoon on my headphones.

A snapshot of my day.

Judging a cake competition is definitely harder than it looks. At the Bermondsey Street Festival, as well as admiring dogs I also judged the Bermondsey Bake-Off with a teacher from a nearby school. I have for a while wanted to enter a type of Flower and Produce show in my bid to become even more like Jill Archer. So for a brief while I got to practice my best WI president smile and have to look like I know what I’m doing. We sampled all the cakes and thought about our feedback before awarding our prizes.

Tasting the cakes was surprisingly hard work but really fun. Lucky I had watched the Bake Off – I definitely could put some of the phrases I had learnt on that to good use. Nice crumb! We were lucky the standards of the cake was so high – one of the winners was a cake in the shape of The Shard!

The lovely photos are by NeverEatWobblyJelly. Thanks Em!

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Buying the flat has been brilliant and has quickly felt like home. I decided that I should learn some DIY skills to go along with my new homeownership and Lara’s DIY adventure was born. I have LOVED learning new things and when I first got my keys I became obsessed with many shades of greys for my walls. I started reading interiors magazines and looking up options of eco-paint. I have made many boards on Pinterest and even started a more physical scrapbook with pictures of interiors and colours. I found it incredibly therapeutic when I was buying the flat to spend evenings cutting and sticking with my scrapbook.

So this year, DIY has been my challenge. I have tried unblocking sinks with a plunger and mended skirting boards using tutorials on YouTube. YouTube has been a fantastic resource in finding out how to do things from prepare and paint a room, fill holes and taking the trap off the kitchen sink.

I was going to sign up for a course at the lovely Good Life Centre but instead I discovered that B&Q offered short courses which were really affordable. For the princely sum of £10, I learnt how to put up a floating shelf, use brackets and hang mirrors on the walls. It was the first time I used a drill and it was SO.MUCH.FUN. Much more than I thought. Maybe it is because it was in a demonstration centre but you got to practice doing the same thing again and again without worrying about damaging it. The guy who ran the course was very patient and gave lots of helpful tips about drills, raw plugs and spirit levels. I’m still a bit scared about drilling into my actual walls but am determined to do it in 2014. I went with a couple of work friends and afterwards we went for tea & cake in Nonsuch Park. We felt quite smug and elated after putting up things successful.

There is still more to do in the flat and am sure there always will be. I’m learning new skills talking to electricians, plumbers and roofers and I’m enjoying putting my own stamp on my home. Obviously there are things that haven’t gone as well as I had hoped but you can learn new things with the benefit of hindsight. Like it’s important to buy good quality masking tape – cheap stuff is a false economy and peels over the walls by the time you want to paint it!

Ta-Dah! My first shelf on the wall. And it’s level!

The adventure continues…

This is one of my posts wrapping up 2013 using Project Reverb prompts.

2014 has been starting slowly which is fitting as slow is really my word of the year. (Although more about that anon!) After a stressful end to the year with restructuring and job applications taking up much of November and December, Christmas arrived with a flurry of lovely things. I celebrating keeping my job with lunchtime margarita and visit to see the flowers at the Nelson Mandela statue at the South Bank.

There were lovely outings, treats and parties the week before Christmas.  A raucous night at The Pogues at Brixton Academy, gasping at laser harps and space pictures at Robin Ince and Brian Cox’s Christmas Show, singing along at the Choir with No Name’s Christmas Concert which was incredibly moving, Christmas crafting at Borough Belles Christmas party, parties of fizz, karaoke and even my first snowball.

Then there was trip home for twinkly lights, a small person delighted with a felt crown for Christmas and much playing. A party on boxing day with baked camembert to catch up with lots of friends. And then there were quiet days of sewing, knitting, reading and walks.  I watched Casablana (sniff, sniff), Agatha Christie’s and Ben and James versus camels programme.

Then back to London for trips to Horniman, domestic sorting and cleaning.  I enjoyed going to see the Elizbethan Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and War Games at Museum of Childhood.

And then it was back to work and coming out of hibernation reluctantly.  I’ve decided to spend the next few days on the blog rounding off 2013 so that by end of January I’m fully caught up with myself. A bit of clearing the decks to send me well on my way into 2014.