Tag Archives: crochet

My year in review – 2022

31 Dec

Objectively, this has been a bit of a bad year for me healthwise, relationshipwise and careerwise. Subjectively, though, it’s doesn’t seem like a bad year, mostly because I finally managed the mega interrailing trip (see the Travel section) and I spent the whole year working on a project that really interested me.

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My year in review – 2020

31 Dec

It seems redundant to say that this year has not been what I expected. Unless you’ve been living in an isolated Amazon tribe (in which case I’d love to know how you’re reading this) you already know that 2020 was the year that said ‘no’. If you want to read about my experiences of the first lockdown, click the link. This winter lockdown feels much less new and exciting and much more of a dull, dark slog. However, life goes on regardless, so I will give you a quick review of my year as a whole.

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Sci-fi and fantasising

27 Oct

Over a month has flashed by since I last blogged, even though time also appears to be practically standing still. It’s just one of the weird things about 2020. “Time distort 4”, as Blake might say.

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Blake’s 17°

11 Jul

A lot has happened since I started making my temperature blanket back in January. We’ve had a couple of wee cold snaps, a couple of mini-heatwaves, and the small matter of a global pandemic and consequent lockdown.

An update on my blanket. It’s getting too big to photograph easily!

I’ve also, finally, finished watching all four series of Blake’s 7. Progress slowed with lockdown because everyone was in the house all the time, and I’m the only one who enjoys Blake’s 7, or sci-fi in general. However, with the easing of restrictions, I found a bit more time and finished the fourth series – although I did have to work up the emotional energy to watch Orbit and then Blake, the ante-penultimate (an underused word) and final episodes respectively. Having seen them before, I know they pack a bit of a punch.

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My Year in Review – 2019

31 Dec

It is the final day of the year (and indeed the decade) so I thought I would do a quick and thoroughly arbitrary review of my 2019.

It’s been a pretty good year for me, certainly better than last year, so here’s hoping that pattern continues into the ’20s.

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A game of patience

5 Dec

The inspiration for this post was my rather splendid new Christmas jumper, which you can see in the photo below. Christmas jumpers have become a bit of a thing in recent years (I know they were around before that, but they were mocked rather than mandatory) and I didn’t have one last year, so I decided to make one for this Christmas.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…
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By hook or by crook

23 Nov

Anyone who has seen me out and about in Glasgow recently may have spotted me, hook in hand, working away at a large blue and white object. This is my Christmas jumper which I have been crocheting for what feels like aeons (since last winter, actually, with a big break for the summer) and which I intend to finish before I go carol singing on the 7th of December.

Image by Davina Harrison on Flickr

But crochet hooks aren’t only good for giving me repetitive strain injury, they also have a variety of household uses – so much so that I think every home should have at least one.

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Time-Money Exchange Rates

18 Jul

I should be working just now. I should be writing an essay that will take me about three days, for which I will receive about as much money as my husband can make in one day. (He’s a stonemason and builder, in case you were wondering. He’s very good, and he has his own website here: Tony Murdarasi, Builder.)

The thing is, though, when I say “about three days”, I mean three days in which I find the time to write this blog, do the housework, get out in the sunshine for a while, and maybe (if the work goes well) get to the cinema and / or finish a short story I’m working on. We’re not talking 18-hour days. This, and the fact that the work is interesting, make the job worth taking on, even though three solid days at a minimum wage job would actually earn me more.

The reason I’ve been thinking about the value of time is that I’ve spent quite a lot of it lately doing unpleasant things, and some of it doing pleasant things, and it has made me realise that if time is money, there must be a variety of exchange rates. Let me illustrate.


This is a wee blanket toy that I made for a friend’s baby. I estimate it took about five hours altogether, although it didn’t feel like a terribly long time because for some of it I was chatting with friends and for other bits I was sitting on the grass getting a tan. (What an amazing summer, by the way!) Items like this sell for between £10 and £25, so let’s say it’s worth £20, to keep the arithmetic simple. That would mean I “earned” about £4 per hour. Not much. But on the other hand, I enjoy crochet, I get a sense of satisfaction from creating something beautiful, and I know that my present is unique.

Now take car insurance. My husband has a van for his business, so he needs insurance, but things are complicated by the fact that for many years he had a non-EU licence, and most insurers won’t take those years into account. I spent a good hour and a half finding him insurance the night after he bought it, only to find when the documents came through that it wasn’t valid (a problem with the website wording), so I had to spend another hour and a half finding more insurance. That’s three hours, and by spending that time I managed to save at least £1,000 on what we would have spent if I hadn’t shopped around. That makes an hourly rate of £333, much better than the crochet, but far, far less satisfying. I know which hours I’d like to get back.

Inbetween the two, there was a cleaning shift I did, to fill a gap in a rota. Eight hours of sweaty slog, up and down stairs, and pulling hair out of plugholes (eugh!) at minimum wage, making a few dozen quid. (You can work out exactly how much if you have a calculator, information on the current minimum wage and tax levels, and too much time on your hands.) To be honest, that one shift was fine, but I’ve done that job before on a more regular basis, and when you come in again, and do exactly the same things again, and go home with sore legs again, the value of your time seems to increase in your mind, compared with what you’re getting paid for it. It’s disheartening to earn less in a day than a lawyer can make (or rather, charge, which is actually a different thing) in fifteen or twenty minutes.

So what is an hour worth? How much have I therefore squandered in writing this short blog post? I don’t think there’s a straightforward answer. It depends on how much you’re enjoying, or suffering through, the activity. It depends on the individual, and how important liberty is to you, compared to financial stability. It depends on your state of mind, which can make hours stretch or fly, and can make an amount of money seem either tempting or insulting. Whatever my time is worth, though, there is only a limited amount of it between now and my deadline, so I will leave you to ponder the question, and I’ll get back to work.

Snowflakes, Real and Homemade

3 Dec

The first snow in Glasgow fell last night, so it seems the right time to write about something a bit Christmassy – crocheted snowflakes!

crocheted snowflakes

crocheted snowflakes

The ones you see here are my own creation, the pointy one from an online pattern and the chunkier one from a YouTube tutorial. These are made out of thread. You can make them out of wool, of course, but then they’re not so sweet and delicate.

I learnt to crochet in Albania, where all the women seem to crochet, because there’s not much else to do when the electricity goes off (as it did at that time) every evening. I’ve never been any good at knitting, so it was good to find an alternative handicraft.

I think everyone understands the thrill of creating something yourself, especially if it’s something good enough to show people or put to use. I have made a scarf that I still wear, a baby blanket, and a tablecloth, amongst my bigger projects. At times it feels like you will never finish but the good thing about crochet, unlike knitting, is that a lot of patterns are either made up of small pieces, so you have a sense of completion as you go along, or look good after the first 50 stitches or so. With knitting, at 50 stitches it would still look like a straight line.

The wee snowflakes here didn’t take anything like as long, although I did make the pointy one in a silky thread and cursed my decision several times through the hour it took to make it, as the slippery thread slipped away again. Anyway, they took less than an hour each and will now decorate my Christmas tree – whenever I can be bothered to get it down from the loft. I prefer to ease myself into Christmas, not jump right in on 1st December.

If you would like to have a go yourself you will need thread (or wool) and a hook (just the one – another advantage over knitting) which you can get for a quid or two from a department store or haberdashers. There are loads of sites that will teach you the basics, and then the world is your crocheted oyster.