Themed Part I

posted in her journal explanations of some of her ‘interests, listed in the LJ profile and said she’d tag other people.

I responded but was too lame to check that I had any interests listed, so she had to do a little more research than she had planned (but that’s OK. It’s what she does.)

Knitting

I’ve been knitting for a long, long time. I remember my Granny visiting us when we lived in England, which means I was less than nine, and knitting a lot. I probably got her to show me how to do it, although I don’t remember producing much more than uneven strips of knitting with my first few attempts.

When I got to Primary School in Scotland we had a teacher who came in and took the girls away one afternoon a week for ‘girlie’ crafts like knitting and sewing and weaving. I was quite fascinated by all this (although I would later learn to be outraged and resist all attempts to domesticate me i.e. teach me things that would actually be useful to me on a daily basis later in life). I knitted a toy bear, sewed a beanbag fish toy (with embroidered scales), and learned to use a sewing machine with more skill than they bothered teaching us at Secondary school, where everything was dumbed down for the lowest common denominator.

Around this time I had a friend who knitted things for herself to wear. I have a big case of “I can do that” and I promptly knitted myself one of those holey bat-wing sweaters that were fashionable in the ’80s (which it was). Not bad for an 11 year old, but really in the history of knitting I could have been doing fine knitwear to support my family by that age.
(I also started a complicated lacey cardigan, which I was doing OK with, but then I went off to Secondary School and had no time for things I actually enjoyed but that were untrendy for the next six years.)

In my second year at University my sister provided me with a nephew, and I started knitted again, locked in my room where no-one could see me. He got a green cardigan, hat and mitts before I stopped knitting again.

My own first pregnancy, five years ago, unlocked the knitting gene again and I have gone from being a closet knitter to someone who always has a sock on the go so she can do something with her hands while watching the kids play at the local park. I get some funny looks but I’m 35 now and really, who cares? I knit in the car (not while driving), I knit while playing board games (on other people’s turns) and I knit while they boys are playing nicely but I still need to bein the room to spot the moment when it’s all about to go bad. It’s creative and it makes me feel productive.

I’ve also just finished a black cardigan for myself, something I’ve been wishing for for years: the perfect (I hope) black cardi.

So that’s one. (This could take some time).

Writing
I’ve been writing since before I could write.

Seriously, I remember sitting in the back of my mother’s car, scribbling in lines and calling it writing, before I was at school. I remember writing my name on a piece of paper on the living room floor, with the “J” randomly backwards or the right way round and my mother leaning over my shoulder to tell me if that was right or not.

I love the physical act of writing. I love to write with a fountain pen, because it slows me down and because it was a mark of being a ‘big kid’ at my school when they let you put down your pencil and pick up a fountain pen (and it HAD to be a fountain pen. Buying your first one was such a rite of passage).

I have kept a diary since 1986, when I was 14. I wrote stories and poems all through my childhood (again with that falling-off in Secondary School) and people always seemed impressed by them. I never understood that because I knew I was only good with words because I read so much. This seems to escape people as they grow up (myself included).

I’m fascinated with language and my favourite part of the English courses I abandoned at university were the linguistics portions (apparently it never occurred to me to just change my focus from literature to linguistics. Noooo, I had to drop it entirely. Still…)

I learned to write non-fiction well during my History degree and believe it or not, I actually believe brevity is a virtue. You don’t get that in my journal because, as with my offline diary and my letters, I don’t edit much.

I am a better penpal than real world friend, I think.  I still have a couple of friends to whom I write paper letters.

I have the usual trouble with self-consciousness and writing that a lot of people have as they grow up. I’m working on that.

Neil Gaiman

I discovered Neil Gaiman through a link on a writer friend’s blog. I love that he writes about the writing process, that he blogs about the progress of his books as he writes them, and that he has no airs and graces. He is a serious writer, but doesn’t take himself seriously. He is funny, and I can’t resist someone who makes me laugh. He is British but lives in the US (like me) so has a familiar sense of humour without the supercilious attitude towards Americans that usually comes with being British.

And although I prefer Sci-Fi to the mystical, he is very much in the tradition of the late, lamented Douglas Adams, except that he actually seems to like writing, which I find inspiring.

And I enjoy the leaps of imagination and humour in his writing.

He seems like a nice guy and that goes a long way.

Board Games

I have always played board games, like everyone. When first married, we played Scrabble and cards and Backgammon, mainly because we didn’t have a TV, but partly because we enjoyed doing things together. It fell away a bit over the years as we discovered TV, cable, console games, computer games and children (in that order).

After we had children we started getting a lot more visits from the family and when people come for two weeks there are only so many stories you can tell in the evening before everyone starts telling them along with you. Luckily my parents have always been card players (vacations always meant cards-in-the-evening), so we played with them. Kev bought a board game called Dread Pirate to play with them in the visit scheduled for the arrival of Baby #2. It was good but not brilliant, so he Googled it and found Boardgame Geek.

That led to the purchase of Settlers of Catan and an unhealthy addiction to ‘The Geek’.

We have played at least one game almost every night of G’s life. A (4) plays with us and G (2) is showing signs of being a proto-gamer too. Kev’s collection is obscene in proportion, but he swaps a lot with other BGGeeks these days which increases the variety without the cost.

Even when we were too tired to play (esp when G was younger) we would drag ourselves to the table and find that engaging the brain would wake us up. It has given us stuff to talk about that is not related to diapers, but that we share in common. I can heartily endorse board games as a relationship aide.

OK. That’ll do for now. The rest will have to be in a separate entry.

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