Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Grans and blankets

When we were children, my Nan was knitting or crocheting every time we went to see her, except the rare exception at Christmas, when we would receive some beautiful knitted goodies, a jumper, a hat, or one year, huge knitted clowns almost as big as us.

Now that one of my best friends is pregnant, my mind has been racing with ideas of what I can crochet for the baby. I'm really looking forward to making some gifts.

But I've got the mother in law to contend with! Look at this beautiful ripple blanket made by Baby's gran-to-be!!! It's amazing.

I've started practicing, here's my first attempt! I've got some way to go yet...

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Tiny popstrels and bearded folk singers.

Thinking about my Top 10 albums of 2011, there was just one thing I was sure about.

Warpaint had released the best debut I had ever heard and I was thoroughly looking forward to putting it at the top of my list. The hard bit would be narrowing down another nine records. Then I found out that The Fool was released in October 2010 and I had just been a bit slow discovering it. The entire appeal of creating a best of 2011 list disappeared and I’ve put it off until now.

I was lucky enough to see an amazing selection of bands last year. Hung out in the Corn Exchange for 4 hours waiting to see Warpaint at the Great Escape and watched Evan Dando play as many songs as he possibly could at the Concorde a few weeks ago. I delightedly watched Paul Simonon when we saw The Good, the Bad and the Queen play The Coronot Theatre in aid of Greenpeace in November and 2011 was also the year Jonathan and I got to see Sufjan Stevens at the Brighton Dome.

Admittedly the gig was a bit weird, an insight into Sufjan’s various neuroses and the inspiration behind his Age of Adz, but we did witness a frankly awesome display of audience dedication. The crowd refused to leave the venue after the gig finished and it must have been at least 20 minutes before Sufjan came out and rewarded his loyal fans with UFO Sighting and a dreamy rendition of Chicago, which ended with the whole crowd being glitter bombed. Wacky but amazing. I’m so glad to have been there.

This year I’m mostly looking forward to albums from Beth Jeans Houghton and the Ting Tings and I’m excited about who else I will discover. I’m also hoping there’ll be a second album by Warpaint before 2012 is through.

Anyway, here, in no particluar order, are my top (13) albums of 2011 and a favourite track from each. Predictably, you can almost entirely group them into two categories.

Fleet Foxes - Helpnessness Blues

Contained my ohrwurm of the year, I have been humming “if I had an orchard” repeatedly for most of the year and dreaming of the day I get my own orchard.

Kate Bush - 50 words for snow

Obviously this was going to be on my best of 2011. Loved the wintery theme and found myself utterly absorbed into each and every song. Brill video by one of her fans. It’s got penguins in it.

Emmy the Great - Virtue

I’m in love with Emmy, this album is just beautiful. Bear with it through Dinosaur Sex, the opener, which is a bit odd. Special mention also goes to Emmy for her very funny but very lovely Christmas album too.

Little Dragon - Ritual Union

I made Christian wait for hours to see Little Dragon at the Great Escape in May, not realising quite how good they were. It was more than worth it. I’ve found it impossible not to get this song stuck in my head every time someone on the news is talking about fiscal union in Europe. Bah. Here they are on Jools Holland.

Kate Bush - Director's Cut

Another entry for Kate, with the release of her songs from The Sensual World and The Red Shoes just how she had originally wanted them, including the words of James Joyce on Flower Of The Mountain. Yeah. Glorious.

Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes

Just absolutely full of energy, Lykke Li bounded around the stage, singing, dancing and using various stage equipment as a drumkit at the End of the Road. Phenomenal song, this one.

Rotifer - The Hosting Couple

Released on Edwyn Collins’ label and featuring Darren Hayman, this is such an easy record to listen to. Very cool and very tuneful. This album loosely follows Rotifer’s recollections of visiting England as a 12 year old.

Spectrals - Bad Penny

A top recommendation from Jonathan. Love these guys. Such a fun and lively album, it’s impossible not to dance/ wriggle/ tap your feet to this tune. They’re already signed up to play No Direction Home in June.

Stricken City - Losing Colour

An album that I listened to dozens of times last year. Especially this song, the stand out track and the title track of the album.

Bon Iver - Calgary

The second and self titled Album by Bon Iver is just as eerily beautiful as his first.

Laura Marling - A creature I don't know

I didn’t realise quite how much I loved Laura Marling’s music until I heard this, prompting me to go back over her previous albums and enjoy them even more. She gets better and better with each release. Having read a couple of interviews with her she seems very modest about her success, which immediately endears her. This modesty is so much more admirable when you consider that this song is practically perfect in every way.

Other Lives - Tamer Animals

The best discovery of 2011. Other Lives are amazing. Nuff said.

Nicola Roberts - Cinderella's Eyes

The first half of the album is reminiscent of Anniemal, possibly the best pop album ever made. This girl has a great attitude and her videos are a lot of fun.

Pomegranate Flower

It took me around 5 months to choose a 30th birthday present from mum and Jim. They wanted to buy me something special to mark the occasion and I knew it had to be from Alex Monroe. He's my favourite jewellery designer, creating pieces around the theme of nature. Especially beautiful are his flower pieces.

After months of dithering between chrysanthemums, posies and tiny birds, I finally settled on this beautiful pomegranate flower design for the simple reason that the colours made me think of my mum.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Do You Feel What I Feel Deer.

I hear that the dreamy Do You Feel What I Feel Deer are playing at Seamonsters at the Prince Albert on 26th Jan.

If you haven't heard them before, here they are singing one of Q magazine's 140 songs you must hear in 2012.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

On crocheting hearts

This weekend's obsession, prompted by the approach of Valentine's Day, was to come up with a crochet heart, with the ultimate aim of making a garland to hang in the living room.

I searched etsy for inspiration and was impressed by the many different approaches used... amigurumi, crocheting in the round, lacing, granny hearts. There seems to be no end to the ideas!

Here are some of my favourites,

From left to right:

1. Red Heart from La Magique 2. Raspberry from Grace & Favour 3. Will you be my Valentine? from Lemons for Lemonade 4. 10 Bamboo hearts from sinchukss

Encouraged by these beautiful ideas, I spent Sunday trying out different approaches. I soon realised how important it was to me to make something very much in my own sweetflag style, ie single crochet, attached by tiny bows, and made of eco friendly yarn. This meant that I had to create a number of different designs using different row counts, different hook sizes, and different yarn until they looked just right. But I think I got there in the end!

What do you think?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Rose macaroons

A beautiful present of some pink macaroons made by Vic. She followed this recipe from the Guardian

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Sunny weekend

What a beautiful weekend down in Brighton. I've been out and about lots and took this instagram down at the bottom of Dyke Road.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Sweet Tooth Bird

Delightfully nutty video from Beth Jeans and the Hooves of Destiny.

The album is out in Feb! Not long to go now!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

A curious box

An update on the curiosity box I received for those of you who have been asking about it.

You can read about it here and I've posted a few pics below. I opened the box on Christmas eve and it was so exciting to have such a pretty present to open up, all full of Christmas surprises!

What a brilliant project to have taken part in. Thanks so much to Tiffany for having the idea and managing the whole thing. The box I sent hasn't appeared on the blog yet but I'll keep checking

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


Do More Yoga.
Learn French.
Practice Ukelele.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

30 days, 30 portraits

This month, photographer Laura Stevens is taking a portrait a day.
You can like her on Facebook here and volunteer to take part if you like.

She's incredibly talented so I'm really looking forward to seeing the results

Monday, 2 January 2012

Camera Club

Enjoyed a stroll along the seafront this afternoon with Jonathan and Dan, trying out a new Bokeh filter.

I'm so amazed by the pretty effects you can create!