Dancing Through Life, One Stitch At A Time.

Crochet, TV, Film and Books.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Always wear your helmet…

And other things I’ve learnt about cricket (and knitting!)

Rule 1: Helmets are good!

(A cricket helmet. Nothing glamorous, does exactly what it says on the tin...)

Have you ever been hit in the head with a cricket ball? Possibly not, but I have and let me tell you, it hurts! So now whenever I’m batting, I’m sure to always use a helmet. I think this applies to knitting too. I mean when you think about it, we should all probably wear hats a lot more. They do so much good for us. Be it protecting you from the sun, or protecting you from the cold, for weddings or for funerals, in the shower or even just wearing around the house…there are few times in life when a hat is inappropriate! And so my first advice to any novice (or not so novice) knitters and crocheter’s out there is MAKE A HAT! It doesn’t have to be fancy, just functional and it’s a great first project which can be worn over and over again! Easy right?!

Rule 2: A good cricket bat makes a big difference (and is great for killing zombies!)

( Here we see a demonstration of excellent swing technique...)

Having a well suited cricket bat really helps you improve your batting and is essential for getting your ball to go further. The same thing can be applied to you knitting needles and crochet hooks. FIND THE RIGHT ONES FOR YOU.

This could mean that you might need to save up a little to buy it, but the rewards are limitless. Finding the metal or plastic hard on your hands? Have you considered bamboo? Can’t get the right grip on your hook? Why not try adding a pencil grip to the hook for extra comfort. Speaking as someone on the ultimate budget (for the curious it’s more commonly known as ‘being a student’) I find that little and lots often is better than large amounts. I often find that if I can save up just £1 a week, I can either afford to get that nice crochet hook I’ve been wanting, or a pretty skein of yarn at the end of the month!

Rule 3: Wear the correct kit!

(Nicky Johnston, showing us just how good kit can look...)

Unsurprisingly to many, cricket kit isn’t the most glamorous of sporting attire. (I mean really white trousers?) But I have found that SMALL CHANGES MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE. For example, wearing a sports bra, as well as wearing some shorts underneath the trousers really makes a difference…now the only people who know that my underwear might be blue is the people I tell, they can’t actually see it.

Knitting and crochet is similar in that respect. If the pattern is calling for you to knit with 4mm needles and dk weight wool to achieve a gauge of 5x5 stitches per inch (ok not true to life but stick with me!) and you find your only achieving 4x5 then it’s ok to change the needle size…or the wool for that matter. Everybody has different tension, be it in knitting or in crochet and more often than not the patterns (particularly if they are written by big brand companies) will have been worked out using maths, rather than actually have test knitters and taking averages (I know, crazy right?) So sometimes it might mean a slight change in wool or needle, but trust me it’s worth it!

Rule 4: Get your runs in!


In cricket you have two batters, one at either end of the field, each time one of them hits the ball they get runs which equal more points…with me so far? ‘But how does this relate to knitting?’ I hear you ask. Ah well, this is the clever bit! If the batters happen to not make it to the other end, he’s out. That’s it. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200 etc etc.

Ok, it’s a stretch, I know. But CRICKET RUNS ARE A LOT LIKE LIFELINES IN KNITTING, YOU NEED THEM TO SUCCEED! When lace knitting for the first time particularly with something that requires concentration, I cannot emphasise enough how useful lifelines are! Don’t know what a lifeline is? Well this fantastic video explains it! (of course there are many others out there too!) Lifelines will ensure you always ‘get your runs in’ so to speak, you can’t get bowled, run or caught out. If you make a mistake, you can always fix it, go back to where you were and still be good!


('Nuff said!)

See you next time!
Ali x

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Christmas is coming....

So Christmas is coming...rather quickly actually. Frighteningly fast. Why does it always happen so? I mean the build up is surely long enough, I visited Harrods in late July and their Christmas shop was already up and running. I expect that those who work their must be absolutely loathing the holiday by the time it comes round.


Christmas will be much the same as it has been for as many years I can remember. In the late morning (Santa has now learnt that he can't deliver until the morning, I'm far too nocturnal for that!) I wake up and open my stocking with my parents, before heading down for a small late breakfast and opening of the presents downstairs. Doggies go out for a walk, it is perhaps the one day a year I will actually accompany my Mum and Dad in this task. Then it's back to the house and we get changed into our 'smart-casual' attire and head over to my aunties for a huge Christmas dinner.

This in itself is a sight to behold. The dining room will be at full capacity with near-as-damn-it 20 adults squeezed around two tables.

It is a riotous and fun affair, with a glorious meal which has been prepared in little bits by everyone.

With a 3 course meal, pathetic cracker jokes everyone has heard before, lots of food having to be passed down such a massive table, that by the time it reaches you it's probably stone cold, having to hold any toiletry needs you may have for at least 3 hours because once your in your spot at the table, you can't get out again,ridiculous amounts of washing up, copious amounts of turkey that we will be eating for days after, hot stuffy rooms, the 10 round Christmas quiz and too much chocolate, having eaten everything humanly possible until you feel sick and your pretty new dress feeling a wee bit too tight, before having a cold,slightly uncomfortable and tiring drive home.

But do you know what? I wouldn't change a thing! :D

Monday, 1 November 2010

“Truth is more valuable if it takes you a few years to find it”

‘La vérité vaut bien qu'on passe quelques années sans la trouver.’

“Truth is more valuable if it takes you a few years to find it”.-Renard

The power of the written word has always amazed me. It is capable of such marvellous things. Over the years I have used it in so many ways. But perhaps most prominently-and most personally-through the writing of letters and by keeping a diary.

Now, unlike most diaries, this one is not a constant stream of consciousness onto the page, but instead is a record of events which I have deemed to be important at certain times in my life.

It was started in April 2002, on a long car journey. The first entry is of little relevance nor interest, but it was written by my 10 year old self. Preserved within these pages is a slice of that 10 year old me. My thoughts, feelings, ideas, dreams, aspirations, and fears at that time. I can never return to that place in my life again, that moment has past.

The diary continues with many entries in much the same manor, highlighting whatever my 13/15/17 year old self deems to be ‘important’. There are moments of genuine sadness recorded in there, my heartbreak over the death of my Grandpa, my depression which led to body image issues and my severe lack of confidence in myself.

Moments of significance change as does my perception of what is deemed important. At 11, the diary entries are full of grief over my first close death.
At 13, it is the fears of starting a new school.
At 15, it is gripped in the nerves which are associated with exams.
At 16, the pages are filled with ramblings and romantic notions of my first proper boyfriend.
At 17, the entries become more serious, more closely related to my thoughts and feelings of now, as I stumble towards adulthood.

I happened to stumble upon this diary a few weeks ago and after reading the entire thing from cover to cover, I decided I would like to add something of use to it. At the time of things happening it is often very hard to see how such events will turn us into the people we are today, but hindsight is always 20/20. I still have much to learn, but in terms of what lessons life has already taught me, I am gaining a very well-rounded education.

So may I present you with, a letter to past me, 10 year old me in fact. It is this I would like to share with you today. I hope you enjoy it.

Dear 10 year old Alice, (or are you going by Ali yet?)

Firstly let me just clear up a few things. This is your older self, talking to you. A few answers to the questions I know you want to ask.

-You’re not fat, you have curves and you like them.
-Yes you’ve gone to university, I don’t know if you get a degree yet.
-Yes your hair is still blonde, you like the curls now.
-Yes you can drive, and you have a car.
-You still love to read and you now know how Harry Potter ends (and no, I’m not going to tell you. You’ll just have to wait and find out!)

Is that roughly all you want to ask? I expect so. You are about to go through a huge transitional period in your life. Try to embrace it, it makes you a better person. Here are 15 pieces of hand-picked advice to help you get through it, because sometimes it’s going to be very tough. Now, listen up…

1) If I recall correctly, at this moment in time you are trying to get suspended from school…it works. When you finally sort yourself out and stop acting like such an idiot, study. As boring as it is. Just because you are reasonably smart, doesn't mean you'll get A's without working, don't settle for satisfactory. It just means you have to work harder later on.

2) Everybody dies. It doesn't matter how much you love them, sometimes people can't be saved. Cherish every moment, that way you won't regret your choices so much later on in life.

3) Laugh at yourself more. The world doesn’t come to an end, if you do something silly.

4) Ask questions if you don’t understand. Don't at the back of the maths class feeling stupid, because you’re really not. It's what the teachers are there for.

5) You don't have to be perfect, just try your best, because in the end your best is all anybody really expects from you.

6) Don't put yourself down. Trust me on this one. There are plenty of other people who are going to do it for you.

7) It is not your fault. When it all gets really bad, and it will, remember to breath.

8) Love and be loved. Allow your heart to be broken, to teach you to be strong. It all works out ok eventually. From where I’m standing right now I have never been happier, but you will have quite a journey to get to this point.

9) It is ok to say no!

10) When you get offered your first cigarette, turn it down. Please. It’s not worth everything that happens after.

11) The money in savings is there for a reason. Don’t spend it all frivolously, you’re going to need it later on and wish you still had it!

12) Mum and Dad really do have your best interests at heart. It’s going to be precarious, tough and difficult at times, but try to keep the peace with them. Perhaps if you do this now, you won’t be in quite the situation I am.

13) Dad is not a bank, do not treat him as such.

14) Keep hold of those dreams. Write everything down. You will learn so much from this.

15) Smile ! You’ve got one shot at this gig called life, so you might as well enjoy it all!

Lastly let me leave you with this to ponder.

"I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again." –William Penn.

With love
(and the many hugs you will want, but not receive over the next few years)
from your future self.


Tuesday, 19 October 2010

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”

-William Shakespeare.

Today someone said to me ‘Internet friends are not real friends. They can’t be there for you. They don’t count.’

I beg to differ.

These last few weeks have been absolute crap for me. I must admit that the only positive thing that has happened in the last couple of months has been that I now have the most wonderful and loving Boyfriend a girl could ever ask for. However, I digress.

So it’s been a tough few months. Relationships with my family have been precarious, my financial situation, darn right scary at some points and on top of it all I’ve had to deal with a lot of difficult situations for a number of things. It has been relentless and as soon as one thing has been sorted, another seems to spiral out of control.

I have never been an advocate of ‘Internet chat rooms’ where mindless conversation takes place between strangers. However, I do feel that in today’s society, where the entire world can be connected through the internet, there is certainly a time and place for having ‘friends’ on the web.

The dictionary definition for a friend is a long one, but it states.
a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter: friends of the Boston Symphony.
a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?
a member of the same nation, party, etc.
( initial capital letter ) a member of the Religious Society of Friends; a Quaker.
–verb (used with object)
Rare . to befriend.
make friends with, to enter into friendly relations with; become a friend to.’

Now surely one can easily see that there are people who fall into that category on the internet.

Take me for example. I am part of a group on a website, we share three common interests. Knitting, Harry Potter and Ravenclaw. This is extremely simplified as we share many other interests too. However, my point remains. During said rough patch that I spoke of before, and to be honest I am still going through now, not only were the members of this community there for me, offering me advice, support and friendship. But they even went so far as to offer to send me things. Tights being the perfect example, something small, relatively inexpensive to them, but worth their weight in gold to me.

Recipes for frugal cooking, because having to live on £5 a week for food is damn near impossible otherwise.

Advice on dealing with water companies and banks and life in general. Being there to hear my rants and offer a shoulder to lean on when times got tough with family relations.

As for my ‘real’ friends? I haven’t seen them since June, and none of them have taken it upon themselves to try get in contact. Hell, they pretty much forgot my birthday, so you know, apparently I’m no loss there.

Friends you make in life can come in many different forms. People whom I have never met in person, but seem to know like we have been friends forever. People who live in America, or Germany, or somewhere else that I am probably never going to live.

These are the people that truly care. Just because they are on the internet, doesn’t mean they matter any less to me than people I know in person.

In fact they somehow matter more, because they know the true you. The you who isn’t restrained by society or family or expectations. The you who speaks her mind freely, without fear of the consequences. People who still like you, regardless of all this, and do not judge.

If that is not a friend, then I don’t know what is.

So thank you to all my internet friends around the world. You all know who you are. Each and every one of you is a very special individual.

Ali x

Thursday, 14 October 2010

nanos gigantium humeris insidentes

nanos gigantium humeris insidentes.

I was once told by my Grandpa that this inscription, which could be found on the edging of a £2 coin meant ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.’

Now, not for one moment do I believe that my Grandpa got his interpretation wrong. Indeed, he was possibly the smartest person I ever had the fortune of knowing, and though he is missed dearly, this piece of wisdom bestowed on me by him has bugged me for years.

As a petulant and incomprehensible 8 year old, I always assumed that it meant being able to see lots, because you would be really high up. However, as I have come to realise, the meaning has much more significance than that.

In some cultures it is believed that if we were to see our lives mapped out, our past would be in front of us, our present where we stood, and our future behind us. To me this makes perfect sense, as one can easily see the past, but the future, in all its uncertainty, is blissfully unavailable for our eyes.

At this stage in my life, I find myself considering many things. The past? Certainly. Though I have long since learnt that it is one of many things in life which you cannot change. It is also what allows us to learn, and endeavour not to repeat its mistakes. The Present? Not so much I must admit, as each new dawn brings another day hurtling towards me at break neck speeds, I simply do my best to embrace whatever arises.

But the future? Yes the future I think about a lot. It’s the one part of my life which I seem to have a slight sense of control over. And though I may not like how fast time is flying, and how such happy moments of childhood are now nothing more than distant memories, I find myself curious.

If one had the chance, would it really be wise to see one’s own future? I sincerely doubt it. For one thing, the past is full of the things we cannot change, yet the future is full of the things we can. I am a great believer that everything, no matter how good or bad, happens for a reason. And if we were to mess around with what is yet to happen too much, would it not directly leave us with consequences that must be dealt with in the present?

The future is a delicate thing. Our choices should be our own, but only to a certain extent. Some things are preordained, some things are going to happen, regardless of how good or bad a person you are. Some things you can’t control.

And that’s the way it should be.

Don’t come crying to me if your life isn’t working out the way you planned it. Because let’s be honest here, whose ever actually does. You can only try to be the best person you can be, not necessarily who everyone else wants you to be. Be happy with your choices. If you make bad ones then regret them, certainly. But do not dwell on them. Nobody ever had a happy present whilst trying to rectify their mistakes of the past.

“I shall pass this way only once. Therefore any good that I can do, or any kindness I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.”

Stand on the shoulders of giants my friends. But be sure to face the right way. Nobody ever made progress whilst trying to walk backwards.

Ali x

Thursday, 29 April 2010

It's All go!

Super excited! The new term on HPKCHC has started, and i have been sorted into Ravenclaw. It's all a little overwhelming but I'm sure there are lots of people who will help me find my feet! Looking forward to juggling these relaxing projects with revision and exams.

In other news i have completed 7 of my squares for the blanket square swap, the majority of them are done in chunky wool so i hope that they will be ok!

Not much else to report on really, just getting on with everyday life, enjoying each moment as it comes! :)
Ali xx

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Dancing Ice Tour!

Was super lucky today and got to go to the O2 to see the dancing on ice tour! Was really good fun, with lots of very entertaining dances. Also anything that involves Torvill and Dean doing Bolero is defo worth seeing! The professional dancers were amazing!

Also I have joined a lot of little groups on ravelry.com and have amazing projects lined up! including ginny's blanket and signing up for some of the classes over at HPKCHC. So it's all going to be good fun!