One of the things I enjoy about living in London is the easy availability of ingredients from all over the planet. Just off Leicester Square is Chinatown, home to a fantastic supermarket with three floors of Asian delights. If I'm in the area, usually at one of the independent cinemas or National Portrait Gallery, I'll pop into the supermarket and browse with a mix of intrigue and bafflement at the range of ingredients from Japanese carrot milk to Thai galangal to wanton wrappers.
In summer 2011 I went on holiday to China. Our fantastic hostel in the hutongs north of the Forbidden City in Beijing held a dumpling night which was free for guests, where they demonstrated how to make dumplings/gyoza/wantons. We mucked in and after a few messy attempts were proficiently wrapping parcels of veg, egg and pork for the meat eaters.
See the look of concentration on my friend's faces.
I had a go at this when I returned home but making the pastry was tricky, so the next time I was i…
I've only seen one dead baby real life. That sentence, even as I type it, is shocking.
Not that I've only seen one dead baby but the fact that I have seen one at all.
Here in the UK, where we have good and universally available healthcare infant and maternal mortality figures are very low. Remarkably low, a happy testament to what we can achieve. Of course, they could be better and there is always room for improvement but watching my friends raise and nurture their children with the stresses and strains that accompany bringing a new human into the world is in stark contrast to what many women face.
I've just watched Four Born Every Second, a BBC documentary following women's birth experiences around the world. It reminded me of the dead infant I'd accidentally seen when I worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital. I'd been taking my usual route through the hospital from one department to another when walking past the morgue entrance I saw a nurse holding a baby. …
Look! Gasp in awe and wonder! I've finished a knitting project!
I am excellent at casting on, enjoying the first half of a project, then being distracted by a shiny new pattern like a dog spotting a squirrel, dropping the first project and casting on a new.
So yes, this was made on 5mm needles, and yes, it knitted up very quickly, but look, I got to the end, grafted the ends together (I like grafting) and wove the ends in (I hate weaving ends in).
Part of the impetus for finishing this is it was a present for my MIL. Here she is modelling the cowl - which I named Simon, geddit? - when we went to visit her in France.
C'est tres chic, n'est pas?
Another part of knitting I am excellent at, is coveting the things I've made. I like this cowl, which means I'll have to make myself one, however without the impetus of gift knitting the question is will I finish it?
Knitting details Pattern: A Very Braidy Cowl Yarn: Malabrigio Worsted Colourway: Tuareg Lighter blue 98 Amount…
Tell me your favourite knitting figure from history and why they top your list.
I didn't win but think what I wrote about is worth sharing here:
My OH’s grandfather was by all accounts was a thoughtfully lovely chap. He was stationed in the Falklands during WWII as the islands doctor. Luckily for him life there was relatively quiet so he picked up his knitting needles and knit his wife a dress.
I’d love to ask him which yarn he used, was it from local sheep, did he bother with tension swatches, you know, all those knitterly questions. I remember my OH’s gran recalling with fondness the dress he’d made, which he gave to her as a gift when he returned home at the end of the war.
Apparently it was a very good fit and well made, which I am a little bit in awe of as they were half the world away from each other and he didn’t use a pattern.
While I didn't like my GCSE English and English lit teacher very much, he did introduce us to the war poets of the first world war, for which I am very grateful. I hadn't studied history much at school but studying the likes of Owen and Sassoon gave me some insight into the horrors of war.
I worked as a care assistant for a year after I graduated from University and many of my patients had lived through the Great War, so I learnt more from them and also from survivors of WWII, including some people who had been interned in Auschwiz, their tattoos an indelible testament to the worst of humankind.
I hadn't intended to find the poem, Glory of Women by Siegfried Sassoon, but was browsing through my book of his poems to photograph something for here. The last three lines might strike a chord with some of us: O German mother dreaming by the fireWhile you are knitting socks to send to your sonHis face is trodden deeper in the mud
I have mixed feelings about Remembrance Sunday. Yes,…
I came here to write something completely different, but as I was signing in I heard that Bill Tarmey has died. Bill played long-suffering husband and pigeon fancier, Jack Duckworth in the classic UK soap Coronation Street, which I've watched since I was knee high to a grasshopper.
My mum used to let me stay up to watch the cat in the opening sequence before I was packed off to bed. I think the only times I haven't watched Corrie is when I was at University and didn't have a TV and when I've lived overseas. Even then I would get updates on what was going on from my mum.
Now you may be groaning, thinking soaps are a load of crap, which yes, a lot of them are, but there's something a little bit different about Corrie. There's a real northern warmth about the writing and a heck of a lot of humour. Whenever I catch glimpses of miserable Eastenders, seemingly filmed in grey, the only expression being a downturned grimace or tedious shouting of "leave it aaah, …