Monday, 3 November 2014

30* for 30 Reading Challenge

My 29th birthday looms, and not far behind that lurks my 30th... so I've decide to celebrate by setting myself a reading challenge: between those two dates I'm going to read one book published in each year I've been alive. 
I've tried to choose a mix of fiction & non, a few graphic novels (even one manga), and I've aimed for a mix of genres that reflects my normal tastes, the idea being that whatever my mood I'll be able to find something from this list to work with (I'll not necessarily read 'in order')

Here's the books... some years are blank where I haven't picked anything out yet (suggestions welcome!). Some have more than one option, where it'll depend what I can get hold of easily. 
Books in italics are ones I haven't yet acquired... so if you happen to have a copy I can borrow that'd be nice

85 - Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card) Completed 7th April
86 - Howl's Moving Castle (Diana Wynne Jones)  Completed Jan 2nd
87 - the Shell Seekers (Rosamund Pike) Completed 15th May
88 - The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho) Completed Jan 5th
89 - An Awfully Big Adventure (Beryl Bainbridge) Completed 31st Jan
90 - Possession (A S Byatt) Completed 5th June
91 - American Psycho (Bret Easton Ellis) completed 6th March
92 - Irrationally (Stuart Sutherland) Completed 26th Fen
93 - How Are We To Live (Peter Singer) Completed 20th April
94 - Politically Correct Bedtime Stories (James Finn Garner) Completed 17th April
95 - The Demon Haunted World (Carl Sagen) Competed September
96 - Berlin (Jason Lutes) Completed.June 10th
97 - God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy) Completed 16th May
98 - The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver) completed 20th Jan
99 - No Logo (Naomi Klein) Completed 10th July
00 - House of Leaves (Mark Danielewski) Completed Oct 30th
01 - The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon) completed March 25th
02 - Any Human Heart (William Boyd) Completed 9th Feb
03 - Death Note (Tsugumi Ohba) Competed October
04 - Case Histories (Kate Atkinson) Completed Feb 14th
05 - Tamara Drewe (Poppy Simmonds) Completed 5th May
06 - The Road (Cormac McCarthy) Completed Feb 13th
07 - The Raw Shark Texts (Steven Hall) Completed 9th May
08 - Suspicions of Mr Whicher (Kate Summerscale) Completed 13th April
09 - Sixty One Nails (Mike Sheldon) Completed 2nd May
10 - Daytripper (Gabriel Ba / Fabio Moon) Completed 22nd Jan
11 - Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal (Jeanette Winterson) Completed 28th Feb
12 - Wonder (R.J. Palacio) Completed May 30th
13 - Maddadam (Margaret Atwood) completed 15th Jan
14 - The Opposite of Lonliness (Marina Keegan) completed 20th Jan
15 - The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage (Sydney Padua)  Completed 4th May

*ok, ok, it's actually 31....

I'm done! I sort of got distracted along the way and stopped to read a quick 51 other books between these  official one, but still finished in plenty of time

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Punny Postcard

Postcards are great - I pick them up everywhere I go, and send them out from everywhere else (without bothering to match locations, I'm afraid). I love that the address, stamp and postmark are all preserved along with the message and image. 
This one says, rather bizarrely, 'Zebra in Sevilla' so I felt that the only course of action was to add an orange equid. Just... couldn't help myself.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Thursday, 27 February 2014


We have all these tiny dinosaurs running around London, and, far from being amazed at how frickin awesome that is, we treat them as pests - letting our kids and Jack Russells terrorise them, shoeing them away and covering everything in spikes to stop them sitting down. 
So, to remind us all how bad-ass the now humble pigeon could have been if it were just a little bigger I whipped up an embroidery of it's most identifiably dino-bits - it's bones.
The whole time I was making this, the guys at work were trying to guess if it was a Compsognathus or Deinonychus. No, gentlemen... it's a pigeon. That's how entirely brilliant evolution is.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

An Open Letter

I fairly recently got into reading graphic novels, having been lead there (predictably enough) by Neil Gaimen. Under guidance from friends, I've ploughed though a few classics of the genre and am starting to develop my own tastes. A colleague - rather an aficionado - told me to check out the London Comic Mart, so that's where I went yesterday.

The fact that most of my fellow attendees were men was not a surprise. Their reaction to my presence amongst them was.
The staring.
My goodness, the staring.

Do you have any idea how intimidating that is?
I actually went to the loos to check that I didn't have my skirt tucked into my pants. No, I didn't - I looked pretty much like I always do - headscarf, coat, black tights, heels. There were six other female comic-fans walking around the crowded rooms, compared to whom I was maybe a bit over done.... but, compared to the majority of female characters in the available reading material, I looked like a nun.
Yet, I had eyes trailing me as if I was suspected of shoplifting. Under such scrutiny, I became hyper-aware of my every movement and facial expression - my usual background level of awkward became massively magnified. Could that really all because I had visible legs?

Combine the incessant need to stare at my back with a complete aversion to interacting with my face, and a weird, scary atmosphere is created. Salesmen who were trying to chat up every other passer-by became suddenly engrossed in paperwork while I browsed their wares. When I actually tried to make a purchase, the attendant was so surprised that he visibly jumped. I swear, he'd have been less shocked had my cat expressed an interest in volume 3 of Fables. Apparently unable to rise to the challenge of asking if such an aberration as I needed a carrier bag, he wordlessly ran away to find someone else who could serve me. 

Now, maybe I'm reading too much into it - maybe it's not my double x chromosome that caused such a reaction. I was too upset and intent on getting out to try to gauge how the other women were being treated. But I can't think what else it could be. Please, if my unfamiliarity with some detail of etiquette was the cause of the hostility,  tell me - I'm shy, but friendly, so you can approach me to let me know. I'm new to this world and would be happy to learn it's ways.

I know that, individually, none of you meant harm - but collectively, you were really very unwelcoming.
I'll be coming back - there were interesting books at good prices, and I'm goddamn stubborn. So, I'd really appreciate it if next time you'd treat me like just-another-human (even if I'm part of the 50% with differently shaped genitals to yours), rather than like a rhinoceros who should be re-captured by the zoo.


Friday, 14 February 2014


There's something weirdly pleasing about the texture of embroidery on paper - running your finger along a row of stitches like this is one of those odd little tactile experiences that calls for repetition, so you find yourself stroking the needlework. Maybe best not done in public.

More photos of my crazy-patchworked paper bookbinding here

Tuesday, 11 February 2014


A jumper. I made a chuffing jumper.
It's one of the most badly made jumpers you're ever ikely to see - but it is fully functioning, with a head-hole and body-hole and two arms (the same length!). And so it is officially declared a successful jumper. And that, I reckon, means I'm officially a knitter.


I love getting craft requests. Love it. It's awesome. Because I love to make things for people, and it's even better if those things are actually something they want. In fact, making craft requests is really sensible for anyone related / vaguely acquainted with me, since odds-are I'll make you stuff anyway, so it may as well me something that you actually like, rather than another delightful fringed scarf.

My youngest-elder brother has wised up to this and asked for a throw to go in his new pad. Thus, my first attempt at moss stitch - and biggest knitting project to date (though done on massive 20mm needles, so I did cheat somewhat). Home Sweet Home, Bro :)

Saturday, 1 February 2014

OHM; Resistance is Futile

I went to this festival in September (err, yes, I am a little late blogging this). That will surprsie you, because as you know I do not possess any taste in music (I willingly - nay, happily - listen to OBCs from 80s musicals). Also, I am unable to dance, or talk to people... and am generally adverse to the concept of 'tents' (more to the point - the resultant concept of 'no hot water / hair dryer / handy library').

OHM, though, is somewhat different. It stands for Observe Hack Make. It's for nerds. 
It basically comprises of a couple of hours of everyone being socially inept with occasional sheepish grins to each other, and then 5 days of everyone comparing home-made 3D printers. There was a metal working forge, a whole village dedicated to 80s arcade games, and lectures about digital authoritarianism in the middle east.

And.... becasue I happen to know a certain woman* who was on the organising committee, I was allowed to pay for my ticket in hoopla (well... Hoopla and a small amount of banner painting) instead of money. 
Only one word applies; badass

* a woman who, on a scale of 1 to awesome, is somewhere near the Kuiper Belt

Some of my hoops were 3D

Others had embedded flashing LEDs. 
If you ever see me looking glum, hand me a roll of conductive embroidery thread. It's happiness in floss form.

I didn't manage to get a proper shot of the finished, lit up (and unobstructed by speed limits) result - but our banners tested my long forgotten paint-shop up-scaling skills - all hand-drawn from A4 sized sketches

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Meanwhile, on Endor

Even in London, where eye-contact is anathema, people will grin at a fully grown adult wearing half a teddy bear. This makes wearing said ursidae-suit a truly joyful thing, because you will spend the whole day with everyone smiling at you; it's a really lovely way to run errands.
Given that I couldn't even keep a straight face trying to get a shot of my yarn work it can only be expected that the tourist populous laugh at me (for real Londoners, even an Ewok head only qualifies for a raised eyebrow and one-sided lip curl).

Sunday, 12 January 2014


Stoic, inquisitive. Polite, yet unhesitating with a hard stare when needed. Driver of a hard bargain. Eater of marmalade sandwiches. Voiced by Colin Firth, apparently.
Paddington is a paradigm of the english middle-class.
And yet he is an illegal peruvian immigrant.

Here endeth my rant on immigration policy.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Mantra Stitching

Repetitive, calming, not to structured - just sew; when the thread runs out, pick another
This whole project is made with left over scraps - the whole thing is an attempt to embrace serendipity - to craft without structure
It's a laptop case - making my work and study commitments more portable makes them more flexible, and so easier to schedule. Thus we come full circle, back to the minutely planned time-line of my life :D
It's meta, dude.


(The inside and the outside are actually the same colour  (same fabrics) - but the sun hid behind some clouds half way through taking photos. Go figure)

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Thinking Socks

Don't get me wrong, I like hats. They're good for shading skin from sun or keeping ears toasty when it snows. They provide comedy at weddings, and can make an excellent disguise for unruly hair. However, all of these uses imply that you are outdoors and-slash-or in public. Maybe even at some sort of formal gathering.
Some times these circumstances are perfect for thinking (well, not the formal gatherings. Don't mull over gnarly maths problems at funerals, you'll accidentally shout out the answer during the eulogy). Long walks and sitting under trees, for example, provide perfect opportunity for be-hatted philosophising.
However, some thinking needs to be done indoors. Some thinking requires sofas, duvets, a selection of fine cheeses*, wine, maybe even a bit of paper and pen. These situations are incompatible with hat-wearing.
And so, I present to you, thinking socks. Wear with pyjamas, sweaters, and contemplation.

*okay, the cheese might just be me

Saturday, 4 January 2014

A Birdhouse for Peter's Soul

What do you make your friend for christmas when 'your song' together is a weird, smart, happy, dark and basically all-round brilliant 80's alt-rock song written from the point of view of a blue canary shaped nightlight?
An embroidered patchwork sculpture of a birdhouse for that canary to live in, of course.

more pictures here