Links of Joy

We made it to Wednesday! Halfway through the week seems like the perfect time for some of the things that have been making me smile and inspiring me this week.

ListeningNo Prejudice by Pollaponk

First up is Pollapönk, Iceland’s entrants into the Eurovision Song Contest, with their song ‘No Prejudice’. My first thought when I saw them was ‘they’re the Icelandic Bearded Wiggles’- and it turns out I was right! The name, from what I can gather, means ‘boy-punk’. Not only are the two founders of the band both pre-school teachers, they describe the intent of their music as being able to be enjoyed by children and their families. Their first album (says Wikipedia) was actually their final-year project for their teaching degrees. And the guy with the epic beard wearing purple who’s singing backup? He’s a member of the Icelandic Parliament! “We got to get together on this, cross this problem off our list” seems especially resonant given the post I made yesterday.

(If you haven’t caught Conchita Wurst, the Eurovision winner, and her song ‘Rise like a Phoenix’, go look it up and watch that too. I’m including Pollaponk here because they deserve some love too.)

Reading: Riding the Wild Donkeys

This e-book by Leonie Dawson is gold. It’s also free, and quick to read. It’s about something I’ve often struggled with- getting things finished and out into the world.

Part of it is to do with letting go of the perfect vision you have in your mind. I’m not saying that for some projects, striving for perfection (ripping back that inch of knitting that went wrong, unpicking the seam that didn’t work out right, or just plain undoing the whole thing and starting over) isn’t a good thing. I love getting a beautiful finish on projects. BUT for creative ideas, often the best approach is to grab them and ride them until they’re done- maybe they’re not how you originally envisioned them- and lets face it, how many creative projects ever are?- but they’re done, they’re set free, and you can move on.

Some other links that have made me grin:

Is this the most beautiful, crazy wedding ever? Quite probably. And I totally want to have a bad bridesmaid dress party.

I fully want to use these mystical fire crystals next time I’m at a Scout camp for the weekend and there’s a fire pit.

Cornify. So magical. So cheesy. So many unicorns and rainbows. It is to love! It is also like being back in the 90s. Oh, the sparkly sparkly gifs.

Not your usual Tuesday- #YesAllWomen

I’ll be honest. I put together a publishing schedule for this blog and Tuesdays is meant to be tutorials. From next week, it’s going to be. When I thought about writing this post, the rules-following part of myself said “no no! We must stick to the schedule! It’s too early to go breaking your own rules. It’ll be anarchy! It’s only your second post to this blog!” But sometimes, as my Godfather once told our congregation when delivering a sermon about money, something is important and you have to talk about it. So I decided to share some things about my own experience that have led to my support of #YesAllWomen.

Some are very upsetting and may be triggering for some of you.

In some cases this will be the first time I’ve ever said anything about them. But several tweets on the hashtag last night pointed out that women being scared to talk about what’s happened to them is part of the problem. That really spoke to me, so here goes.


I am at school, and our popular and well-liked drama teacher is giving us a lesson in which he is the patient in various doctor/patient scenarios. He says “I need a girl for the next one”, and I am thrilled when he picks me out of every other girl in the room, our hands had all shot up. My mother is a doctor, I know I can be good in this scene whatever it is. He proceeds to come on to me, in character of course, in front of the whole class. They all laugh, but it makes me feel deeply uncomfortable and like something has been taken from me. I feel shame, and don’t talk about it, because I can’t articulate what it is that has made me feel that way. I become even more introverted. I am 11 years old. 


I am at university, at my second ever university party. I have never even kissed a boy let alone anything else. I get drunk faster than I expect on wine (I’ve had wine plenty of times before, we have it at home, I know how much I can drink), and after I’m done being very ill in the bathroom, a guy I barely know comes and sits with me when I’ve taken myself off to a quiet room to sober up. He starts kissing me. He says he wants to sleep with me. I say no. His response is to kiss me some more and then unzip his fly and put my hand on his erection. It is the first time I have ever touched one. I continue to say no, and he gives up because I’m sobering up fast. I am 19 years old.


I am a British girl in a relationship with a guy from overseas. He keeps fondling me in public- not just my butt, but my breasts too. I tell him it makes me uncomfortable and ask him to stop. He tells me I am “being too English” and that once I’m in New Zealand I’ll get better. I am 25 years old.


I have  moved to New Zealand, and the same guy now feels me up whenever he gets home- not because it turns me on (it doesn’t, and I ask him to stop, and tell him it makes me feel like an object), but because he enjoys it. He doesn’t stop doing it. I am 30 years old. 

One night, he wants to have sex. I don’t. He guilt trips me into it, but the not wanting to doesn’t change.  

After a lot more misery, I leave him. He tells me we have to have sex one last time, that he’s entitled to it because it’s unfair that he didn’t know the last time was the last time, that I should feel guilty for leaving. On the way to the house, I tell him “I don’t want to do this,” and I cry. He ignores it. I know I should turn around and walk away but he has made sure I feel too guilty and like he really is entitled to what he wants, to say no. I am 31 years old.


I am at work, and overhear a conversation between two seemingly well adjusted, respectful guys. “She’s too hot to be a virgin,” says one, and they discuss how “she must have had plenty of offers, she wouldn’t have turned them all down.” As if being attractive means you can’t really withhold your consent. I am 35 years old, and that happened just a month ago. 

I have been honked at, had unwanted attention in bars, had passes made at me that I’ve had to shut down. I am extremely glad that not all women have had some of the experiences I’ve had, but #YesAllWomen have had some kind of unwanted attention, physical or just verbal, from men. Not all men. I am priveleged to know many men who are kind, respectful, and horrified by the way some other men treat women. These are the ones who are posting to the hashtag begging their fellow men to learn from what women are sharing. I am lucky, now, to be in a relationship with a man who is incredibly caring and who treats me as an equal and makes me feel absolutely respected. But I know from my experience that not all men are like that.

There’s a lot of discussion about Elliot Rodger, how his view of women wasn’t the only problem, how he had mental health issues. How men treating women better wouldn’t have prevented the shootings.

But the fact is…this is much, much bigger than one troubled misogynist with a gun.

This is about the commenters who blamed women for not sleeping with Rodger, who said it was their fault that he killed people. This is about the Twitter-twats who replied to #YesAllWomen tweets with hatred, foul sexual comments, who tell feminists they need to get themselves a man, or think all lesbians must have been mistreated by a man ‘to make them that way’.  We’re underrepresented in films. We’re underrepresented in politics. There is still a gender pay gap. We’re still having debates about equality with men who feel like women being treated as equals will take something away from them. There are still politicians insisting there is such a thing as ‘legitimate rape’. We’re still in a culture that blames women for sexual violence, instead of educating all our young people about consent. Until we- both women and men- change things, #YesAllWomen will have to endure things that nobody should have to endure.

I believe that change is possible. We’re better than this. We can do better. It’s our duty to do better. We can create an equal world where women and men feel safe, respected and valued as people. I believe that #YesAllWomen could be part of that, as it’s a start- making people aware of the sheer scale of the problem. Once you can see how big the problem is, you can start to see ways to chip away at it, to solve it bit by bit. We can do it. I know we can.

Monsterful Monday: Unlike other Robin Hoods, I speak with an English accent…

Time with my Best Beloved

I just got back from a wonderful weekend in Auckland. Being in a long-distance relationship, time with the Best Beloved is always top of my gratitude list. This time it involved him very patiently accompanying me and his flatmate to Dress Smart, takeout and laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe in a game of Cards Against Humanity. There were also many many snuggles and movies, in particular ‘Spaceballs’ and ‘Robin Hood: Men in Tights’- we have a shared love of Mel Brooks, but it’s been ages since I saw either movie. There were lots of bits I’d forgotten which made me laugh all over again. A benefit of coming back to cold Wellington is that whenever I say goodbye, I come back here freshly motivated to keep decluttering and downsizing my stuff for the planned Big Move.

Reconnecting with my little brother

I’ve had actual e-mail conversations with my brother this week. It’s a big deal. In the past we haven’t been close, but I feel like now that could change. He also got me a birthday present, which was very kind of him- I sent him a list of patterns on my wishlist from Colette, not in order of preference, and he picked the two I wanted most on the list! I’m excited to get sewing on one of them this coming weekend- a long weekend means extra sewing time, always a good thing. Watch this space for a Mad Tea Party Ceylon dress…

Learning new things

I had a mild bout of startitis this week, which led to me casting on the Grey Gardens turban. It’s a turban! It’s inspired by Little Edie! What’s not to like? I grabbed a ball of rainbow coloured wool last time I was in Auckland and when I saw this pattern I knew it was meant to be. I’ve never tried entrelac before, and I know a lot of people approach new skills with trepidation. But, as always, it’s much less scary to just dive in and give it a try. The great thing about entrelac is that you don’t need to know anything that’s not covered in a basic knitting book to do it. And it looks so pretty! I love the way the colour repeats lend themselves to the little entrelac squares:

Entrelac knitting example

And yes, those are leopard-print knitting needles. Why? Why not! I’ve had them for a while after winning them in a writing contest, and they add a little bit of fabulousness to the knitting process. Like so many things with knitting (I do NOT include lace in this), it looks a lot more complicated than it really is. Lace is my Great White Whale, but I’m determined to land it.

SARK

Also known as Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy. I’ve been reading any of her books I can get my hands on (and expecting some more in the post any day now), and I love them. Easy to read, inspiring, uplifting and positive. I especially like the Nap Book, and have actually started having little naps when I’m sleepy (usually on a Saturday afternoon). One of the big things I’ve got from the books so far is the idea of having permission to take care of myself and give my body what it needs. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on ‘Transformation Soup: Healing for the Splendidly Imperfect’ as part of the ongoing process of healing the past and moving on to the future.

 

Special mentions:

Hot cups of tea, flannelette sheets, sushi from the friendly sushi place, Silk Naturals Black Label Lip Treatment (GORGEOUS), friends who ask “what are you doing tonight? Sewing or decluttering?” (it’s like they KNOW me), meditation, buying crazy ornaments in the Typo outlet, awesome friends who give you a lift not just into town from the airport, but all the way home, cinema trips in the offing (Godzilla and Maleficent, oh yes indeed) sewing excitement and the prospect of a glorious long weekend with no fixed plans.

What about you? What are you happy about and grateful for this week?

Things I Think About Thursday: A small aubergine?

Me, my Dad and Grandad on the climbing frame he built

It goes back to a sketch show that used to air on the BBC when I was in my late teens/early 20s. It was called ‘Goodness Gracious Me’, and I loved it. One of the recurring characters that rang especially true for me was a woman who, in any situation, would insist that there was no point buying something (whatever it was- and of course it was often something ridiculously complicated) when she “could make it at home for nothing”. All she needed, she would say, was [a list of parts of the thing] and, inevitably, “a small aubergine”.

In my family, especially for my grandparents, making it yourself at home was just something you did. My Grandma sewed anything and everything, my mother’s wedding dress was made by a family friend. When I was about 8, my Nan took a drawing I’d made of Snoopy on top of his kennel and turned it into a jumper I treasured until it no longer fitted me. And then there was my Grandad, Denis.

He made the climbing frame in the picture himself. That’s me, aged all of 2, sitting on it. My brother and I played on it, under it and in it for many years. What I only discovered recently was that the climbing frame wasn’t for both of us. It was for me. Just for me. A birthday present I was too young to remember was a birthday present, from a loving grandad who sadly died when I was still only a little girl. But making things for others was how he showed love. That love, and that spirit of ‘hmm…yep, I could make that’ are the legacy he left me, and one I want to carry on and spread. That’s what this blog is part of, and what I’m all about.

Because the thing about my Grandad is- he was not unique in his ability to create. Neither is my Nan, neither was my Grandma. We can all make something beautiful. You just have to have the courage to try.