Tiny Husband is getting the snip….

TH works for a company with a big history of charitable work.

In the past, for TH, this has included 30-mile sponsored walks for St Basils, a charity that works with homeless youth (not bad for a man who takes the bus to the corner shop!), volunteering as a teaching assistant in a Children’s Hospital school, various dress-down fund-raisers, and a stint as Mr July in a, er, nuddy calendar. F’r example.

This time though, it’s Personal….

He’s having the cruellest cut of all – for charity.

Yes, in November, this sad old rocker is having his hair cut off. Those ears haven’t seen sunlight for nearly twenty years! It’s been over a year since his last cut, and it’s almost waist-length: the ponytail is at least 16in.

His company is on board with sponsorship, and there is a raffle at work with the winner having the honour of wielding the scissors!

The charity is Little Princesses Trust, which provides wigs for children who have lost their hair due to cancer or alopecia. All hair donations are sent for wig-making, even bleached hair, as long as it’s at least 10ins long and in good condition. Hair from all ethnic groups, hair that has been stored for up to 10 years, hair in layers (min 10ins), it’s all good. And unlike some other hair-donation programmes, the hair is actually sent to wigmakers who return the wigs to the Trust for distribution – not sold to raise funds.

TH has set up a JustGiving webpage for additional cash donations to the Trust. Please consider donating, however small an amount – and, if you’re a UK taxpayer, please add GiftAid to your donation: it costs you nothing, and gets the charity an extra 28%.

GO ON GO ON GO ON GO ON GO ON GO ON GO ON GO ON GO ON
YE WILL YE WILL YE WILL YE WILL YE WILL YE WILL YE WILL

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International Women’s Day

Looking at the IWD history page, it’s easy to think that we’ve come a long way, but in reality little has been achieved, and little has changed. Women like me who call ourselves feminists are reviled by other women. We’re considered ‘unfeminine’ and ‘unladylike’ by women who sup pints, enter farting competitions, and would kick your head in for calling them a lady, and ‘frigid bra-burning lesbians’ by men. Part of this is our own fault. The movement I joined in the mid 80s was fractured and always had been – a loose agglomeration comprising at one extreme women who just wanted a fair wage and the right to get mortgages and credit in their own name without a male relative going guarantor, and radical types who wanted men locked up in concentration camps/castrated at puberty after providing a sperm sample/killed except for a few caged breeding specimens. We disagreed over matters large and small: was pornography/contraception/abortion rights/writing Ms instead of Miss or Mrs empowering, or just another monumental fuck-over? Was marriage/being a housewife/(not) liking sex a sellout of the sisterhood or a legitimate form of self-expression? We never defined our terms adequately. Even our leaders have flip-flopped about in their ideology. Saint Germaine, I’m looking at you.

I still have the NUS Women’s Campaign poster from when I was Women’s Officer in ’87-’88. It is almost perfect, no dog-ears, only a few folding lines. I have cared for it and will never part with it. I want to be buried with it. Some of you may be familiar with it. It was written, I believe, in 1971 by Joyce Stevens, and I hereby cheerfully rip it off. I doubt Joyce will mind. Most of the links were found by googling a couple of keywords.

Because women’s work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring or repetitious and we’re the first to get the sack and what we look like is more important than what we do and if we get raped it’s our fault and if we get bashed we must have provoked it [1] and if we raise our voices we’re nagging bitches and if we enjoy sex we’re nymphos and if we don’t we’re frigid and if we love women it’s because we can’t get a ‘real’ man and if we ask our doctor too many questions we’re neurotic and/or pushy [2] and if we expect community care for our children we’re selfish and if we stand up for our rights we’re aggressive and ‘unfeminine’ and if we don’t we’re typical weak females and if we want to get married we’re out to trap a man and if we don’t we’re unnatural [3] and because we still can’t get an adequate safe contraceptive but men can walk on the moon and if we can’t cope or don’t want a pregnancy we’re made to feel guilty about abortion and …

Because we still need campaigns against violence towards women;

Because we still can’t be sure of keeping our jobs if we get pregnant;

For Sahjda Bibi, victim of a so-called ‘honour killing’, not in some primitive shanty town in the Middle East, but in Birmingham UK;

For Hannah Koroma from Sierra Leone, victim of female genital mutilation;

For Hitayezu of Rwanda, dying of HIV/AIDS, unable to afford the drugs given freely to the Hutu militiamen who raped her;

For the unknown 47 women drivers of Saudi Arabia who still live in fear (I believe one of them was shot in the head by her ‘dishonoured’ father);

For Dr. Lyla Gul of Afghanistan, almost blinded by the Taliban religious police for travelling to work in a taxi without a male relative;

For L from China, adopted by A and G after being abandoned like tens of thousands of other baby girls;

And despite the fact that we are often our own worst enemies and that in living my life by my own lights, that I too have been less than kind towards the perceived weaknesses of my sisters, I am still proud to be a feminist.


[1] myth # 3. Like those for rape crisis, all domestic violence websites and leaflets still have to repeat that “it’s not your fault”

[2] flip down to “Respect Women”

[3] or have some other daft monicker inflicted on us

I’m thinking of knitting a dress

Let me backtrack…

I have a wedding to go to next week back in Ireland – assuming I get there: the school has had my absence request since forever, but won’t give me a decision. Or rather, the deputy head, Mr Piggy McPigpig who doesn’t want me knitting on the school grounds, won’t give me a decision. At this stage, I might not be able to afford the flights (Rant over). This weekend is the only time when I can look for something to wear both for myself and Ickle Baby Cthulhu – thanks to recent family events, everyone has seen all my current dressy-uppies, and IBC’s growth demands new frillies for him.

Being of a somewhat Mediterranean physique, I was approaching the shopping trip with trepidation. Britain is not a good place to locate suitable clothes if you’re a busty long-waisted hour-glass type of gal, let me tell you. I’m three different sizes here – about 18/20 bust, 8-10 waist and 12/14 hips. In addition, to get tops that don’t look cropped, I need to go for Extra-Tall ranges, but I have to go to the Petites section to get skirts and trousers with a waistband in the region of my real waist instead of my nipples.

Needless to say, I have very few dresses.

And trying on clothes is so much fun. I have had to be extricated from clothes more than once by the shop staff. That smock thing I tried, with the zipped placket. I zipped it up – and halfway up it stuck. Crushingly tight. Pinky and Perky jammed flat, hardly able to breathe. Interestingly, I could have made another top out of the excess material round the waist – if I had any talent with a needle – even though I was about five months pregnant at the time. I struggled with the damned zip til I was sweating and panicky and scared I was going to rip it, before crawling out of the cubicle to ask for help from a snotty stick-insect (who nonetheless had a very fat waist for her size, snerk), giddy with embarrassment. And the trousers. Though that really wasn’t my fault – the zipper came off the zip when I was doing them up. But even so… Big old grey knickers of course.

I dropped in to the Bull Ring yarnshop as normal before commencing on the clothes shopping. Nothing too interesting – well, some Aran-weight cotton, but I restrained myself. However, I noticed a nice colour in the corner of my eye, a softish purple, similar to a wildflower that’s frankly a bit of nuisance back home – grows everywhere and hard to eradicate, but pretty. Mum would know the name. Some kind of willow-herb. The yarn is a 20% wool yarn that I’ve got before – not great quality but cheap. I immediately started thinking “dress”. I’d seen a knitted dress last week in Rackham’s sale which had taken my fancy, but I hadn’t bought it because it was a) Empire line – not so flattering if you’re top-heavy, b) knee-length – never a good look on me, though higher or lower hemlines are fine, and c) Khaki green. Nothing wrong with khaki green – I spent 8 years wearing it professionally, it matches my eyes, and lends me a certain exotic mystique that most women get from black. In fact khaki IS my black, my standby. Black is more like my everyday. When I don’t necessarily want people realising I’m gothick, I pull out the khaki. I even had a DPM ballgown, once upon a time. Yes, that’s right – my Little Black Dress was GREEN. Wonder what happened to it?

But I digress. I just didn’t want a green dress because I wanted something that I could wear to work later, and I have lots of green that I wear to work. Time to throw something else into the mix. So purple yarn. Lots of it, too: at least five 400g balls that I could see, surely enough for a dress. But again, I restrained myself. Seriously, 6 days isn’t enough time to knit a dress, especially when I’d have to come up with a pattern. I’ve seen a few on Ravelry, but I’m thinking more Stephanie Japel Fitted Knits extended down into about mid-calf. Though I suspect the precise thing I want is lurking in one of my vintage knitting books – I’m almost certain there’s a 1940’s fitted New Look style dress there somewhere.

This set me on my way. Debenham in the Bull Ring had a 70% off sale on, and lo I found TWO knitted dresses, one cerise and short-sleeved, and one mock pinafore in black with a white ‘under’ blouse. The cerise looked hideous on – my biceps are too butch for short sleeves (thank you, IBC) and the colour was too bluey. So that left the pinafore. A nyim over knee-length. I also found a John Rocha boiled merino jacket in a nice muted cranberry which will look nice over it – something like this, but with 3 huge buttons and no stitch detail at all. Almost got a JR lace wrap too, but restrained myself. I am getting SOOO good at this! The fact that it was described as crocheted when it was clearly knitted helped. As was a JR scarf – well it was obviously crocheted but said knitted on one label, and crocheted on the price tag. Really John Rocha! You work in IRELAND for pity’s sake! You should KNOW this stuff. Grannies on the bus should have beaten it into you by now.

Total cost 35 pounds. T’was only on getting it home that I realised it was a maternity dress… Oh well. That would be funny if we hadn’t been ttc for the last 18 months.

Still, it will look hawt with my Pirate Argyle stockings, if I ever get round to casting on. Especially since I scored a pair of Demonia Bat coffin heels (PU version) for only 25 pounds to go with it!!!!

T’ra
K

No knitting or crochet of consequence occured recently. I have put in a little work on Cillian’s Trellis cardi and Libby’s unicorn, have almost finished a crocheted knitting needle holder (OH! the irony), and crocheted a couple of hair scrunchies from fancy fur and eyelash yarns. In khaki.

Troublingly, I actually paid cash money recently for Sirdar Bigga MULTIHawaii AND Etna… I have to go and lie down every time I think about this…

Totally OT

My son, the love of my life, apple of my eye, drain on my bank balance, Has Gone Pee-Pee and Poo On The Potty for the first time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Admittedly, we have been talking to him about this for months as I’d hoped to get him potty-trained over the school hols last summer. But he was simply not interested. Occasionally he would come into the toilet with us and sit on his potty and have a little chat, but seemed to see it as nothing more than a convenient (sic) seat/stool for brushing his teeth at the sink.

Today, though, as I was busy sorting the laundry, I heard the ominous tinkling. Thinking he’d peed on the floor (I let him run around bare-assed due to a little nappy rash), I found him straddling the potty and staring at the stream in amazement. Of course, I made a big fuss about what a clever little boy he was, and texted everyone to let them know the glad news. And videoed him on my cam phone, and sent it to sis, gran, childminder…

T’ra
K

Beginnings…

I thought I’d mention what got me back into a crafty mode, after what is uncomfortably close to 20 years.

In 2003, my last academic research contract came to an end. Having been in the game for 10 years, I decided to focus my job-seeking on the lecturing market. I got lucky on one of my first applications, a junior lectureship at a former FE college turned uni. I started the induction process, which had to be done beforean official offer of employment was made (yes, I know it’s daft, but the college had been run by the council, council rules apply).

Then, everything went quiet – no response to my emails or phonecalls. Three months later, I was still waiting for the official offer. By which time I was on the dole, and Tiny Husband had been forced to propose marriage. Finally, I threw a hissy fit over the phone, demanding to talk to the Head of Personnel. Complained loud and long until she promised to look into it.

And two weeks later – after another few phone calls – I got a standard letter of rejection in the post. The type of letter sent to applicants who aren’t even getting an interview, not to someone who’s gone through almost nine months’ worth of interviews, shortlisting, visits AND an induction process, to work in a department that’s already badly short-staffed. No explanations, no apologies.

And a wedding to pay for in less than 2 months*.

Now, I should have chased it up, but I didn’t. 9 months – more, if we go back to the application closing date. Paying for travel to the 2 interviews, tour of facilities and 2 or was it 3 induction meetings. A substantial phone bill from ringing and emailing (I was still on dial-up back then). ARRANGING MY WEDDING IN P**SING APRIL TO SUIT THEM!!!! It had all been too much and I was sick of it. **A pox on all their courses**. So I decided to forget it. They never re-advertised, so I assume the uni refused to release funds to cover my first year’s salary – it happens. The experience did coalesce my feelings about research as a career – less secure than acting, less pay than a binman… So now I’m in school-teaching. Better pay, better prospects, better pension, more security, better hols. Or should I say holidays, full stop – never took any as an academic.

So… paying for a wedding. I looked at my finances and reckoned I could squeeze another £2,000 out of the equity on the house without crippling us. I’d already – foolishly – ordered the wedding dress (that’s it in the side bar pic), at a head-spinning cost of £650. Though for a one-off designer made-to-measure, that’s not too bad. My sis offered to cater and pay for the food, a friend offered to make the cake, another did the photography, I cashed in my Airmiles for the honeymoon – the total cost to us of the wedding, including honeymoon and a new digital camcorder for the ceremony, was around £1,300. And I could have done it for £6-800 less, if I’d gone for a cheap dress and borrowed a camcorder.

A major saving was on invitations. I didn’t see any I liked, and they were all ridiculously expensive, so I thought I’d try making them. I got gold-coloured cards and envelopes, printed off the inserts, and made bows for the front. They didn’t look ‘special’ enough, so I got some gold wire and gold and red beads, and crocheted daisy-like flowers to stick on the front. Fooled everyone – no one believed they were home-made!

Having a few left over after the invitations were sent out, I hit on the idea of making my own jewellery. I made a necklace and earrings using the daisies, with ‘springs’ and hand-wound metal beads – they’re just visible in the userpic on the side. I also made some hairpins which aren’t visible in the userpic, using spring-bound beads to attach the daisies to bamboo chopsticks – red and gold for me, plum and gold for my bridesmaids. Tip for bridesmaids – give them the material and let them make up an outfit that they know they’ll wear again. One of mine, who’s Asian, made up hers as a traditional embroidered salwar kameez; the uber-goth bridesmaid did a goth thang with hers; and my sis made a loose jacket and skirt, which she’s worn to work dos and weddings since. Unlike most BMs, they all looked fantastic, because they’d all chosen designs that suited them, rather than me forcing them into something I wanted – luckily the colour worked for all of them!

So there you have it – how I got back into crafting. I’m currently making wire crochet flowers for a friend to put on a bag she’s felting – they’re silver, and more chrysanth-y than these. Wish I could do more jewellery but Ickle Baby Cthulhu is too interested in all the sharp little tools… He barely leaves my knitting alone as it is!

Tra fn
K

* – Yes, the bride’s father is supposed to pay for the wedding. However, while my father was possessed of many fine qualities, they did not include fiscal generosity.