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WIPs

Time for another WIP update! I haven’t really made many new things since I last made my update post, but here are the things I’ve done!

http://ravel.me/laurencassinia/4xl57  This is the Project Page on Ravelry

http://ravel.me/laurencassinia/4xl57
This is the Project Page on Ravelry

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I made this hat ages ago, but forgot to post a picture. Here’s the picture!

This hat was one of the first hats I’d ever made, and it only took me a day! It was a very easy knit, and very satisfying to look at once done!

It’s a pattern by VeryPink Knits. The lady there does really good Youtube tutorials for knitting (and a little bit of crochet). I learnt how to knit a lot of different techniques through her videos, so if anybody ever wants to try I’d start with her. She also does kind of Knit-Along videos in which she shows you how to knit a particular pattern (like this one).


 

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Who doesn’t love a chunky cable knit scarf!? http://ravel.me/laurencassinia/eccs

This project was essentially finished, I just needed to bind off! I love how soft the yarn is, it’s a very cosy scarf. I used Drops yarn, and it’s really nice and chunky. I loved knitting this!

There were only 16 stitches across (I think. I may have modified the pattern slightly) and on 8mm needles, it was a fast and easy project to make. I wasn’t too happy with my bind off edge, but I still love this. It was a great project to learn to cable on! (Also, you don’t need a cable needle to cable!)


 

 

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This was mum’s birthday gift, a cowl made on 7mm circular needles. It was a nice knit, shorty and a very repetitive stitch, so I didn’t make any mistakes (for once!). My only mistake was the bind off row, which I did far too tightly. Hopefully with some blocking it will stretch out!


 

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I’m now doing these fingerless gloves. I loved the way the pattern looked, and I really really love the feel of this yarn. I used Stylecraft yarn that Granny bought me when I last visited her. It makes me happy that she seems so glad that I’m doing it, because she’s the one I got my passion for knitting from. The first one of these is really soft, but I notice a few things about the pattern I’m not too keen on, so I’m changing them with the second one! (I might make a third since I have so much yarn!).

I’m also revisiting my Harry Potter jumper, and I’m almost done with the other arm!

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Why Band Aid 30 Is Sickening

I’d always loved the classic ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?‘ as a child- it was on constant repeat (like the rest of the ageing classics) throughout my (Christmastime) childhood. But when I really listened to the lyrics of Band Aid 1984 at fifteen, I was appalled- Why would Africans care if they didn’t have snow? Why would I thank God that someone else was suffering instead of me? The picture of Africa that was painted then shocked me- a desolate, depressing, poor, barren land with their only luxury being life- and this outdated, backwards song was still playing on the radio in 2010.

And now, in 2014, Bob Geldof has decided (again) to recreate the song that has such a damaging presentation of Africa in aid of Ebola- which has killed around 5000 people since the beginning of the year.

The opening of the video shows two people in full body suits entering a dirty room with an emaciated woman lying half naked on a filthy mattress. They lift her by her hands and feet and carry her to the waiting wheeled table. Cut to scenes of smug celebrities smiling and walking cheerfully into a studio as photographers clamour to get their pictures. Some of them are even posing.

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These first thirty seconds set the tone for a sickening display of celebrity culture and shallowness. That poor, dying woman has been stripped of her dignity and now represents poor, dirty Africa, probably against her will. I can’t find anything about it- did she at least benefit from the video in any way?

(I don’t think she did. Thanks to all you celebrities for giving your time.  Thanks to Ebola Woman for letting us abuse your image. Oh wait, that’s not in there?)

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 13.38.43 Edit: According to one of my friends, she has passed away. I don’t know where he got that from, but if that’s true, I still feel that to show the footage of her in that way was wrong.

You’d think, that with 30 years (and three revisions of the song), that it’s had time to evolve, and become less offensive than it was when it first arrived on our radios, but alas, it hasn’t. As I said before, the lyrics are still as ignorant as they were before, still forcing that idea that Africa is so far removed from ‘us’, so uncivilised, so poor, so disease ridden and without joy. Poor them right? I’m sure most who live there, and those who are from Britain, don’t appreciate this kind of biased message still being allowed to perpetuate this backwards perception the West has of Africa. It would have been so much better to create a new song, with a more diverse set of singers, with much less glamour and just create something raw and powerful, rather than repeating this sham which now feigns charity.

Edit: My mother showed me this video which is a far more positive and informational song offering advice and solidarity to the countries affected.

The celebrities all gather cosily in their recording studio, while fans watch desperately with their iPhones in hand and photographers flash their cameras constantly. It all seems so wrong that this is a video for charity, when the photographers are out there, making money for shots, and the celebrities are there receiving their free promotion. How wonderful that they gave their time (for free!!) to promote a cause. How noble and caring and charitable of them to give money to charity like that- or did they? Did they donate anything themselves? Who knows.

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Giving to charity (I believe) should always be done privately. If it’s not private, there’s usually an agenda (in this case I’m sure it’s more fame, more fan adoration and free promotion- oh and Ebola). I thought maybe I’d check out the website and see where this money is going. What do they do with it? Apparently they don’t feel the need to elaborate other than this:

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On the home page, there’s no information about Ebola at all. The homepage. All we get is…you guessed it, celebrity news and tweets.

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So I have no idea what they do with the money. None at all. Does it go to funding hospitals? Or food? Or cures? Or clothes? Or Ambulances? What? I have no idea. Thank you Band Aid.

Book Review: The Underground Storyteller

I started this book being very excited. I’ve watched the author’s Youtube videos for a long time, and I’ve always found the London Underground very interesting. I’m stuck now though. At first, I was loving reading it. The tone and the quirky little stories really interested me. But I have a couple of problems with the book which mean I’m finding it hard to read it.

Firstly, the book is Alex’s journey along the train line. That’s interesting, but in quite a few places, he simply describes what it looks like, which isn’t at all interesting. In some places, he simply mentions the name as he rides past it. I think in most cases this is because he talks about the station in another chapter (because stations often overlap), but in terms of being able to follow along with him it’s a little confusing. I don’t think he visited every station either, because he only mentions Edgeware road once, which has two stations but only gives one description (I believe this is because he stopped riding the Hammersmith and City Line at Royal Oak because he’d visited Paddington on the District Line).

While riding the District line, Alex doesn’t talk about Paddington other than saying ‘passing through Paddington’. He doesn’t talk about it in the Hammersmith and City Line either, which is a few more chapters later, and only discusses it when he reaches the Circle Line right at the end of the book. So what I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t follow all the lines in the way that’s easy to keep track of- it almost jumps about.

Secondly, the book is mostly about his experience. While I have enjoyed that, I wanted to know more cool facts about the underground rather than a long story about Alex’s thoughts at a certain station and then ignoring others. There were plenty of stations that I wanted to know more about, but Alex just sailed on by them.

The book also rambles on a lot about completely unrelated stories. This book could be a collection of very short stories. I found that they were all too disjointed and jumbled and filled up my head too much so I couldn’t concentrate.

I did like his writing style- I liked the tone and the footnotes were funny. I really felt that Alex’s personality came through with this book, and it was fun to read about his experiences.

I haven’t finished it yet, and I’m not sure if I can. I’ve certain lines that interest me so far (Hammersmith and City- which was disappointingly short- District, Central, Circle, Metropolitan and The Mumbles Train), but dipping in and reading the Picadilly line for example, Alex heads straight from Knightsbridge to North Ealing- missing out stations that he barely mentioned. Hammersmith for example, he talks about a fan experience, nothing about why it might be named that way or the fact that there are two stations.

So I’m not sure if I’m going to finish it properly (I’ve read at least a little bit from most chapters), and I want to start reading another book- one which will take me a good while to read. I’ll post about it in December!

Christmas Is Here!

It’s official. Hallowe’en is over. Christmas is upon us.
Secretly, I’m glad Hallowe’en is over. I can’t get free sweets and the costumes are way too sexy for me and way too expensive.

So anyway, Christmas is my favourite time of year, and I love that each year it starts earlier and earlier. I went to buy bedsheets at Primarni in September, and all they had was snowflake patterns (not that I mind, it’s so cosy). Also, it’s grey and white, there’s just bad lighting in this room. I’m already listening to a Christmas playlist on Spotify.

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I love the message of love and celebration and the focus on family and spending time together that comes with it. I look forward to frantic Oxford Street Shopping, andnot being able to leave the house for a few days, all cosy in my new pjs watching Doctor Who or The Snowman (Christmas classic), the big Christmas roast with broccoli smothered in butter, Christmas Crackers and those stupid jokes and hats, the mini tool kits you get inside them, the family games, Cranium, Scrabble, Charades, seeing your family open the gifts you got them, watching all 7 Harry Potter films, building snowmen. There’s nothing not to love about that.

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Last Christmas was amazing. I loved every second. Jarrett was with me, experiencing an English Christmas for the first time. It was weird, he’d never heard Fairy Tale of New York or Slade or Sleigh Ride or Don’t Let The Bells End or Band Aid or IWish It Could Be Christmas Every Day. Like WHAT!?!?!?!? I don’t know a single person in England who doesn’t know those songs. Apparently they don’t listen to the same 20, 30, 40 year old songs every single year. But that just makes me laugh, how funny is it that we don’t adopt anything new? It’s now traditional to listen to the old ones on repeat and love them all the more because they’re familiar.

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We were on the bus at one point, and Jarrett (who’d seen Tesco in the summer) pointed to the logo on a Tesco Metro and asked

‘what’s that on the logo?’ and I looked at him like he was stupid and said,

‘It’s a hat. For Christmas’.

Only now I realise how weird that must have sounded to him (and how little sense it must have made- a hat, that you wear at Christmas!?). It wasn’t until Granny was talking about the nice Crackers she’d bought that he told us he had no idea what that was. 20131225_083516They don’t have Christmas hats in America. Maybe they do in some places, but he’d never heard of a Christmas Cracker. Literally. I had to explain a Christmas Cracker to my boyfriend. It was the weirdest experience- something that I’d always seen as such a FUNDAMENTAL part of Christmas, and now I realised that it wasn’t.

This Christmas, I’m spending my time with Jarrett and his family. I have no idea what new things/traditions they have that I’ve never heard of, and I’ll be sad to miss my family and the Christmas traditions from here, but I’m excited.

Mostly I’m excited to spend time with my best friend. I’m going to take lots of pictures.

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November WIP

Elephant

So the new project I’m working on is this elephant, and it’s the first of many Christmas gifts that I’m working on. It’s  not Christmas-y as such, but I think it’s cute and will be a nice gift for a child. I’m going to make a mini jumper if I can in a different colour to ‘dress it up’ a bit. The whole pattern is written on straight needles, which is a nice change from dpns and circulars. These are all the pieces except the head, which I’m still making. I bought pillows and I’m going to stuff it with that. I’ve found that the pattern is pretty unclear and although it says it’s for beginners, if I’d just started knitting, I would have found this incredibly difficult, as abbreviations are used where they’re not needed and lots of things simply aren’t specified. I’ve tried to put as detailed a report as I could in my ravelry page if anyone wants to try it.

Stitch Block CowlAs I’m sure you can tell, this project is actually smaller than when I last updated. I got all the way to about 12 inches of knitting in the rose check fabric, and had to frog the lot, which was a bit depressing. That’s the reason I’ve started up with the elephant for a bit. I will continue with this cowl, because I still think it’s gorgeous, but I’m just losing enthusiasm a little bit. Doing this is pretty motivating though, because I don’t want to post again and have it be even smaller!