Holiday and Knitting

Just back from a fabulous week at Center Parcs (Woburn). Hubby and I went on Friday, both daughters plus partners plus babies came for the weekend and went home on Monday, and then we stayed till last Friday. Absolutely excellent. The two children don’t see a lot of each other, as one (nearly 2) lives in Southampton, and the other (9 months old) near us in Solihull, but they were clearly very taken with each other. Lots of enthusiasm, lots of eye contact (and pointing from the baby), and it was just lovely.

Center Parcs involves a lot of walking, for me, because I am absolutely useless on a bike. Last time I rode a bike I broke a rib falling off. Not great. They do apparently hire out tricycles for adults (clumsy klutzes) like me, which might be a possibility if we go to Center Parcs again.

It’s lovely (though absolutely exhausting) walking in the forest – lots of grey squirrels, and even a hare, who clearly couldn’t care less that he was being watched closely, a lot. I have never been that close to a hare in my life. It was so exciting!

I ate far too much. YD made a fabulous Victoria sponge with jam filling – OMG to die for! and I’d taken a carrot cake, which was also pretty good. Chocolate, biscuits, just went for it. So now I’m being much more careful. Eating the same at mealtimes, just cutting right down on cake, biscuits and chocolate, before I turn into a big fat biffer.

We fetched Bertie The Cat from the cattery on the way home and she is just so happy to be back in her little domain. Friday she was very vocal and demanding, but settled down by the evening and is now happily purring away in one of her preferred warm spots. And is much happier to be cuddled than usual! not quite so busy and important . . .

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I have learned two new knitting techniques. Well, in reality, one is a crochet technique. It’s called Tunisian Crochet, or Afghan Crochet, and is a mixture of knitting and crochet done on one long hook. The fabric is quite firm and thick and is good for things like bags, outerwear, cushion covers, and I’m likely to start with something small like coffee coasters. Very pleased.

The second technique is for knitting in the round (tubes with no seams) and is called Magic Loop. I have been trying for years to master this one. I can’t handle double pointed needles, I’m all fingers and thumbs, so I knit in the round with two circular needles. It has occurred to me several times that this technique is very similar to Magic Loop. My younger daughter showed me how to do it (Magic Loop) on holiday, and I had a go and it actually clicked in my brain. So now I’m knitting the sleeves of a small baby jacket (Puerperium) in the round with Magic Loop. The advantage of this over two circular needles is that there are only two needle tips to worry about, instead of four. The current project is in stocking stitch, so no worries about how many stitches are on each half of the cable, but the next challenge will be Magic Loop with a pattern . . .

Also have some Erika Knight Gossypium cotton dk which is absolutely fabulous to knit with. I’m doing a Seafoam scarf for me in cream, on 5.5 mm needles to make it even bigger and looser. Loving it.

Almost all the Christmas shopping is done. I’ve always been a bit early doing such things, and start thinking seriously about any knitting I’m going to do for gifts in May. I start actually buying presents in September, so come December it’s just not so fraught. Hubby used to wait until 23rd/24th December, go into Birmingham, and do it all in one day. I just couldn’t do that. I just couldn’t. I even have a spreadsheet where birthday/Xmas presents are listed by recipient, going back to 2010, the idea being that I don’t duplicate year on year. A bit nerdy, I know, but I’m ok with that. I need order in my life, it feels calmer and easier.

I think that’s probably it for now!

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Sexism

Watched Louis Theroux’ new documentary on Jimmy Savile on Sunday night. Appalling. But here’s the thing. Jimmy Savile’s behaviour was dreadful and abusive, even for the time, but there was a different culture then. Although if, in my mid-twenties, a middle-aged man had told me I was too old for him, alarm bells would have rung loud and clear.

I was at work in Birmingham (UK) city centre in the 1970s and it was normal, just totally normal, for men to whistle at women as they walked past, to comment on female bodies, to say whether or not they’d want to have sex with a woman.(“Yeah, I’d do you, darling!” – well, I wouldn’t “do” you, mate. Not the best chat-up line, really, now is it?) In my lunch hour, when I went shopping, it was common for men to shout stuff in my ear about how I looked. You were expected, then, to be grateful for the attention. Grateful. Yes. I felt very uncomfortable about it all and just ignored the shouters. I’m no great beauty, not particularly outstanding in any way, and wasn’t then either, but because I had a reasonable figure, that’s what attracted the attention.

Women were thought to dress for the men in the workplace. My ex-husband thought so too, so when I wore a smart skirt and blouse for work, he was irritated, because it was clearly, in his head, for the men. But in my head, I just wanted to look nice and smart, and to compete with the other women in the office.

And, like in Mad Men, if anybody made a pass at you, and you turned them down, it could only possibly be because you were “spoken for”. Not because you didn’t fancy them back. You were supposed to be glad. Pleased. Hmm.

Things are better now, but there are still many men who don’t get it. One example is the use of “Ms”. In the dictionary, Ms is the female equivalent of Mr.  I have this theory that some men feel they can “chat up” a Miss, have to be respectful to a “Mrs”, and don’t know what to do about a “Ms”, because it’s not clear whether she is “available” or “not”. How about, guys, you treat women as equals, respect women as people? Huh? Nobody knows whether a man is married or not (unless there’s a ring) because you’re all called “Mr”. And we manage just fine addressing you.

And don’t even get me started on Trump.