What’s on the needles Wednesday

Or rather what’s on the crochet hook. Which doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Being as I’ve just moved house, and unpacked my yarn and FOUND some of my UFOs, I’ve been working on homey projects.

There is *one* knitting project on the needles, which is a toran for the house, using the Welcome Toran pattern from Jean Muir. Being that I can never leave a pattern alone, however, it’s not going to have the fair isle pattern in the photos. It’s going to have Totoro-themed intarsia from the Norwegian Totoro Mittens pattern. It’s been a while since I’ve done colourwork. We’ll see whether I survive the experience.

There’s also a crochet blanket which I don’t have a photo of because I was too busy cowering underneath it staying warm last night. But there IS one I do have photos of. It’s a gift for someone, so I probably shouldn’t put it online but hey, I don’t mind if they know about it.


Look at it, it’s skulls all the way down!


This particular project is actually sat next to me on my desk right now, calling to me. We’ll see how long I can resist…

What about you? What are you working on this week?

Mental Health Awareness Month

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month in the States. As the Bloggess pointed out, wouldn’t it be nice to only have to be aware of mental illness for a month a year? Yes, it would. For many people, though, it’s not that simple. On her blog, the Bloggess put a call out to people to share their experiences, and what they’ve learned that’s helped them. I think it’s a great idea, and part of something very important: we need to start talking about mental health. We need to remove the stigma about people discussing their own experiences with it. It removes one of the obstacles to people getting help- actually feeling able to say “I have a problem and it’s not going away”. She posted two questions for people to answer. Here are my answers. I hope they help someone.

How has mental illness affected you personally?

I’ve suffered from depression for a long time. I’ve been on antidepressants for the past 2 years, and have had to take them previously. I also suffer from anxiety, which is situational in origin.  I’m one of the lucky ones. I know that compared to what others have to deal with, my own mental health issues aren’t nearly as bad. I once had to take- and by take I mean frogmarch- a severely, clinically depressed flatmate to A&E because they were planning to commit suicide, which I only found out about because I read their blog. I’ve been to therapy, read books.

I remember the first time I was prescribed antidepressants, it took me several weeks to start taking them. I sat looking at the packet of pills, and then at the dose sitting in my hand, for several minutes, knowing what it would mean if I started taking them. I didn’t come off them right the first time I took them, in part because the doctor I had at the time hadn’t given me any information about coming off them. He had, in fact, told me that I should take them for the rest of my life “to save my marriage” (they didn’t save it, thank goodness).

What did you learn from it that might help others?

The biggest thing I’ve learned is this: not all doctors are created equal. This is not to denigrate anyone who works in general practice, it’s a damned hard job. But some GPs are better than others. We all know this. With mental health issues, that goes triple. Some GPs are better at understanding and treating patients with mental health issues than others- just like some are better with kids, or with elderly relatives who don’t WANT to go into a home, or with minor surgical procedures. It’s just the way it is. But that does mean it’s worth it, if you’re looking for help, to try and find a doctor who’s good at helping people with depression, anxiety, addiction, or the illness you have.

The first doctor who prescribed me antidepressants was appalling. He had already made me feel guilty about physical illnesses (not kidding). He didn’t titrate my dose of antidepressants up. He prescribed me a sleeping pill to go with the antidepressants, and failed to tell me that the pill he prescribed me could be habit-forming. Ie, he didn’t tell me I risked becoming addicted to the pills he was giving me if I took them every day. He told me to take one every day. He showed no empathy, and little understanding of the situation.

The second doctor who prescribed me antidepressants was the complete opposite. She explained about titrating the dose of antidepressants up, told me I would need to take them for at least a year, and then there would be a slow process of coming off them. She made sure I felt comfortable about taking them, explaining that they were medicine to get me into the right headspace so that I could do the mental/therapy work I needed to do to get myself right. “Get yourself well so you can get yourself well”. She prescribed a sleeping pill but advised that I only take it when I had a sleep deficit to catch up on. She was practical and kind. She didn’t make me feel judged, or guilty.

Like I said, not all doctors are created equal. If you have the option to choose a doctor (which isn’t the case in the UK with the NHS, though you could try a different doctor in your surgery, or ask for a referral), then ask around, if you can. Maybe talk to a local mental health charity and see if they know of a good GP in your area. It really is worth it to go to someone who’s good with mental health.

Not all medicines are created equal either

And just like a particular antibiotic or painkiller may not work for you, and you need to take a different one, the same goes for antidepressants. I’ve had various friends struggle to get the right mix, or to find one that doesn’t have bad side effects. It can be a difficult process finding the right medicine to take- that’s why working with a doctor who’s good at this stuff is important. If the medication they prescribe isn’t working, go back and talk to them about it. They know their stuff. They can help.

Mental illness is just that- an illness

There’s no shame in seeking help. And there’s no shame in having a mental illness. It’s just a different organ- your brain- that has the issue. It took me a while to finally start taking antidepressants because I was ashamed of what it would mean. I know others who have suffered from depression who’ve got worse instead of better because they tried to think their way out of being sick. Yes, willpower has a role to play. But you can’t think your way out of being depressed or anxious (or out of any other mental health issue) any more than you can think your way out of having the flu, or a cold. It’s an illness. Get some kind of treatment.

If you have situational depression or anxiety, a therapist is really helpful

They can talk about what’s going on in your life and help you look at things in new ways. If your depression or anxiety is situational, a therapist can help you identify the triggers for it, and the reasons behind it. This is REALLY useful. Like doctors, not all therapists are the same. They also won’t be offended if you visit them and find they’re not the right person for you. If you don’t click with one therapist, keep looking. Finding the right one is worth the effort.

So that’s the main things I’ve learned. I hope they help someone out there.

Links of Joy: Mad Max- Fury Road

Just because I loved loved LOVED Mad Max: Fury Road, here are some excellent articles that I hope will persuade you to go see it.

7 ways Mad Max sublimely subverts movie sexism

Furious about Furiosa  at We Hunted the Mammoth (another article about how MRAs are losing it over the film)

And again- ‘Misogynists are boycotting feminist ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ which is one more reason to see it

The Daily Beast agrees- ‘How Men’s Rights Activists killed the world

George Miller, the director, talks to Vanity Fair about how he can’t help but be a feminist.

The Mary Sue thinks it could be his answer to his own franchise.

Also, the things you think are CGI? Totally not CGI.

This is how they made the flamethrower guitar.

How is anyone who was in this film not dead? It’s a good question, when you watch this.


Gratituesday: My life in boxes, again

Well, it’s almost all in boxes ahead of the move at the weekend. This is somewhere between my 23rd and 28th move (depending on which ones I count). The fact I’ve actually lost count is rather scary. Such nomad, much moving. Hopefully this will be the last one for a long time.

Mad Max: Fury Road

I took a break from packing (and made sure one of my flatmates-to-be did too) to go see this at the weekend. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t going to see it, and then I read about how it’s got the MRAs up in arms and I *had* to go. Holy hell, I was NOT disappointed. Aside from anything else, it was a damn good movie. Fast-paced, exciting, well-realised characters. And most of all, it passes the Bechdel test repeatedly, and has well-rounded female characters who are actually agents in their own survival. They don’t need Max to save them, they fight for their own liberation, and he fights alongside them- and in fact, they rescue him too. You never get the sense that women, of any age, are safe because of their gender- just like the brilliant ‘Attack the Block’, in which you never get the idea that the young characters are safe because of their youth. Anyway, the brilliant Laurie Penny expresses what’s great about this movie for women much better than I could, so I encourage you to read what she has to say- and also to go see this movie. It deserves to be a huge success. And some more about the feminism in the movie at the Mary Sue.

I’m thankful for the break, thankful that films like this are being made and being successful and also for the opportunity it gave me to have a discussion with my Mum about representation of women in the media. She didn’t know about the Bechdel test- she does now.


Deputy Andy and Sarah the house are my OTP. Who knew you could get so emotionally invested in the relationship between an android and an artificially intelligent house? Not me. I’m thankful the Best Beloved was there to give me cuddles.

Pinterest and Offbeat Home

Because I’m moving house, to a place where I can actually make changes to stuff if I want to. And that means I’ve been looking for ideas. Bring on the DIY!

Auckland Library

Because free interiors magazines, for the same reason as the last one.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour

I was lucky enough to see the live show when it came to Auckland last week. ‘Beyond Belief’ is my favourite, because how can you not love Frank and Sadie Doyle? I’m sad the show is finishing up (though I totally understand why, after 10 years, the people behind it are ready for a change).

The Little Things

My Kindle, knitting, marmite, flanelette sheets, tea, snuggles, Miyazaki inspiration, $5 vegan lunches (om nom nom), packing tape, Villainess perfumes.

What about you? What are you thankful for this week? Let me know in the comments!


Links of Joy

It feels like it’s been a while since I gave y’all a random selection of links to peruse. So here goes.

I only recently discovered ‘The Thrilling Adventure Hour‘. This is a good thing, because it means I have *so many* episodes to listen to and enjoy. You have to love a show that includes Timothy Omundson (King Richard from ‘Galavant’) as a guest star.

I stumbled across Oh Bite It via Buzzfeed (c’mon, it’s usually that or Pinterest, people). There isn’t a single recipe on there that doesn’t make me feel like my arteries are hardening just looking at it. I quite like that about it. Behold! Deep fried margaritas. Yes really.

And then there’s Bad Jelly. Oh Bad Jelly. It makes me cry with laughter. They don’t seem to have updated in a while but it’s still worth a read. Please enjoy the Party Elephant (filed under ‘things I’m totally making for my housewarming) and the piece de resistance, the Banana Candle (no, I’m not making one of those. Ever.)

In conclusion, Big Bird Dressing Gown.

Gratituesday: Pack All The Things

Has been what I’ve been doing, mostly. That and sorting out all the things for the new place. It’s a people roundup this week for gratitude!

SophNickIel, and W

They have bestowed upon myself and the Best Beloved the gift of BOXES. So many boxes. Maybe even enough for my stuff.

What can I say, it’s been a week of “dude! I SO forgot where this was!”.

The Jackson 2

Have offered help for moving day, which is awesome. And their daughter had the best idea for the unused-in-6-years spa pool in the Rumpus room… BALL PIT.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s a joke and I wouldn’t actually fill a spa pool with plastic balls. You would be mistaken.

My flatmates

Who are lovely, and have been such great people to live with for my first 8 months in Auckland. Who gave me Geoffery Wildington Peabody III, who is very excited about her new home. And who recommend websites like Find the Invisible Cow.

The Best Beloved’s parents

Have gamely offered to store a sofa until moving day (now if I can just get the seller to get back to me), and have loaned their van for picking up furniture, and generally been lovely.

The Best Beloved

I can’t wait to be living with him. All the snuggles.

Mid-week joy: Pocket Potholders

I was pottering around the internet today looking for some inspiration for today’s post, when I stumbled across the Antique Pattern Library. Anyone who knows me will know I love vintage/retro stuff, so of course I had to investigate. Looking through the (free to download!) scans of patterns, I discovered ‘Pocket Potholders’, a gem from the 1950s.

Pocket Potholders


Let’s take a look, shall we?

The book actually starts off strong, in my opinion:


But then my opinion is horribly horribly biased, because I love strawberries. Thus strawberry-related clothing, crafts or accessories is pretty much a no-brainer. pansy

The pansy looks simple, classic- a little bit froufrou, sure, but it would be fun and colourful when made up.

But then things get, well, weird in the way that only vintage pattern books can get weird.

Western Boot




And weirder. There’s Freddy Frog. Maybe it’s just me, but it kind of looks like Freddy Frog got run over.


Pocket Potholders then gives us what is, in my opinion, the piece de resistance of peculiar. Behold, the Gingerbread Man!



Who would look adorable if he was smiling. But what it actually looks like is the Gingerbread Man was, well, surprised from behind.

What? My mind went there. Don’t judge me.


gingey 2 gingey 3


Stop that.


Monsterful Monday: Gratefully brought to you by the letter ‘B’


If you follow my Instagram you’ll know I’ve started taking mostly-daily outfit photos. It’s made me a lot more conscious of what I wear, and that’s led to me wearing jewellery a lot more often than I used to. A lot of that is brooches- I have so much fun basing outfits off them, or working out which one will go best. Yes, it’s shallow. But it makes me feel good about how I look which in turn is a boost for my self-esteem. Definitely something to be grateful for.

Also, if you like fun and whimsical costume jewellery, I can’t recommend Vintage Pip highly enough.


With the big move, I’m packing again, as is the Best Beloved. I’m so thankful to the multiple friends who offered boxes when I put out the call- it’s making life a LOT easier. Now if I can just work out how to get the big wooden box on wheels I’m giving away out of my room…


A package of (awesome) birthday gifts from Mum and Dad arrived last week, including Butterick Retro 4790. It’s known as a ‘walk-away’ dress and meant to be quite a quick make. Having read some reviews online I know that the pattern as-is needs alterations to make it really shine, and thankfully Edelweiss Patterns have good detailed instructions on how to achieve it, including a four-week sew along.  The only problem? There’s no way I can start a new sewing project before I move house. That would be insane. *eyes fabric stash*. Utterly insane… Also I need to pick out just the right combination of fabrics, because the examples I’ve seen online made of two different complimentary (or fabulously contrasting) fabrics are badass.


I am getting so many ideas for the new house from their DIY section. My Pinterest has exploded as a result. This is a good thing, especially the moving and storage ideas.

Badass rock n roll

OMG ALICE COOPER. Motley Crue may have been a disappointment on Saturday night when the Best Beloved and I plus another friend went to their gig at Vector Arena, but Alice Cooper, who was their support act, was everything I hoped he would be- and I’m always grateful when that happens. At 67, he’s still absolutely killing it live, and I really hope he’ll come back to NZ as a headline act because I would be all about tickets to that. Favourite moment was when he walked on stage in a bloodied lab coat for ‘Feed My Frankenstein’- his pose and expression was the epitome of “That’s RIGHT, it’s me, and this is going to be awesome”.  And huge props to him for a) having a female guitarist in his lineup and b) not actually commenting on her gender, or her looks, or anything like that, just letting her be fantastic and also on equal footing with the men.

The little things:

Oxytocin, snuggling, successful gift-giving, fun presents, Offbeat Home, things with strawberries on them, creme brulee ice cream at midnight, having milk in the office (try not having any for your tea when you’re British), yummy Italian food (Covo on Fort Street in Auckland), the sense of accomplishment that follows getting something packed and ready to go, late-autumn sunshine, helpful friends, and the prospect of EUROVISION.

Monsterful Monday: 36 for 36

It’s been forever, I know! I’m sorry for being so lax. To make up for it, and because today is my birthday (and thinking about everything you’re grateful for on your birthday is a good thing), I present to you 36 things I’m grateful for, because I turned 36 today.

36: Hot tea: I almost never go a day without a cup of tea (maybe because I’m English) and as long as there’s no sugar in it (blergh), I never don’t feel grateful for it.

35: My hairdresser- because they get excited about my hair, and give me tea (see above) as well as an awesome head massage, and a cupcake.

34: Gchat- without which I wouldn’t be able to keep in touch with friends in other parts of the world/country so easily.

33: Nice flatmates- past, present and future.

32: Red lipstick- especially the ones that are designed not to go anywhere. Instantly makes me look more put together, and more retro.

31: Etsy- so many beautiful things. So dangerous for my bank account. So good for supporting artists and crafters.

30: My Kindle- because thanks to downloading all the things, as long as I keep it charged I am never in the situation of having more travel time than book.

29: Knitting- calming and oh-so-satisfying to make something stitch by stitch.

28: Sewing- because I love being able to make my own clothes (and things for other people).

27: Quilting- because quilting fabrics OMG. And the hand-quilting bit is also therapeutic.

26: Crochet- so many pretty blankets and toys to make.

25: Project Runway- not sorry.

24: Moving to Auckland- it was the right time, and I’m happy here.

23: Snuggles- because they are the best.

22: Costume jewellery- the only stuff I really wear. I’m enjoying growing my collection and planning outfits around it.

21: Irregular Choice shoes. Because who doesn’t want shoes with unicorns for heels? I ask you.

20: Pinterest- so many craft ideas. So little time.

19: The library- see 20.

18: Chip shop chips with good mayonnaise- food of the Gods.

17: Geoffery Wildington Peabody III

16: The Bloggess- who makes me laugh.

15: Bad Jelly– a recent discovery. When I got to the banana candle, I nearly died.

14: Re-connecting with my younger brother. We weren’t close growing up, but we’re starting to get closer and I’m so profoundly grateful for that.

13: My tattoos: Grateful for how gorgeous they look, even unfinished. And grateful for the wonderful artists who are creating them.

12: Anna, who I talk to all the time and who enables my ideas and is a great cheerleader.

11: Prema and Walter: such kind and big-hearted, and fun people.

10: Offbeat Bride/Offbeat Home & Life- Time to come clean, I totally read Offbeat Bride all the time because I love reading about all the crazy, beautiful weddings. This one is a favourite. And their sister site Offbeat Home & Life is full of inspiration and wonderful ideas.

9: Buses and trains (and lifts from the Best Beloved)- being as I don’t drive yet, I’m always grateful for being able to go places.

8: Cheryl, who was my proxy on Saturday…and this happened:

imagejpeg_2Which brings me to 7: My lovely new house!

6: Trade Me: Source of good second-hand furniture extraordinaire.

5: Having a job: Always grateful for this, knowing what it’s like to be unemployed, but especially now.

4: Decluttering- makes things SO much easier.

3: My parents- without whom numbers 8 and 7 would not have happened.

2: My Best Beloved- always, without reservation. He’s the best.

1: Being alive and kicking and able to make lists like this!



The Five Stages of Crafting

With apologies to Larry Miller, whose routine ‘The Five Levels of Drinking’ brought this about.

There are five levels of crafting! Six, if you work for a yarn company. But never mind that now! We will deal with five.

Level 1:

It’s 2pm on a Saturday afternoon. You’re in a yarn store. You go to leave, when one of your friends points out another ball of yarn. One of your RECENTLY PAID friends. And here at level 1 you think, “hey! why, as long as I set aside seven hours tomorrow to finish the scarf for my friend’s birthday on Monday, I’m cool!

Level 2:

It’s the evening. You’re at your knitting group. You may have bought a few more balls, and started a project with one of them. You just spent 20 minutes arguing against synthetic fibres. You go to get the project you’re supposed to be working on out of your bag, but at level 2, a little devil appears on your shoulder. And now you’re thinking, “hey! I have plenty of time before Monday to finish that scarf. Besides, as long as I set aside five hours tomorrow to knit on it, I’m cool!

Level 3:

1 in the morning. You’ve abandoned tea for red wine. You just spent 20 minutes arguing FOR synthetic fibres. And now you’re thinking “this new project I started tonight is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever worked on! The yarn feels amazing! I’ve finished an entire two inches already!” You get knitting fantasies, like “hey! I could totally make that jumper in large with travelling cables and bobbles, I bet it wouldn’t take THAT long to make.” At level three, that devil is a little bit bigger…and he’s showing you things on Etsy. And you think, “hey! As long as I set aside three hours, well, OK, maybe the length of a movie, to finish that scarf, I’m cool!”

Level 4:

Two in the morning, and the devil is adding things to your shopping cart. You ARE synthetic fibres. You decide to go to sleep right after you go to sleep over your project. But then you think to yourself…”well, since I’m only going to get a few hours of sleep anyway, I might as well…stay up all night crafting! Yeah, that’d be good for me! It’d be so badass- and I could totally finish this project by morning.

Level 5:

8 in the morning. You wake up and find yourself in bed with no idea how you got there, when your partner gets up and opens the curtains, and you hit the worst part of Level 5: the sun. See, if you’d actually managed to stay up all night and finish that damn scarf, it’d be amazing, like you beat the night. But right now, with two balls of yarn still left to knit on it, the sun is like God’s flashlight. And you tell your partner you need to go shopping for a birthday gift at Lush, while you say, to yourself,  the crafter’s mantra:

swear, I am never leaving a project to the last minute again as long as I live.

And some of us, of course, have that little addition.

And this time, I mean it.