Friday, 19 September 2008

Public Service Announcement

What can I tell you? I caught sight of this in a window on my way home from work tonight.



I was wondering when it was going to happen. I have not been to the supermarket yet this week but I am guessing that I will find an aisle full of puddings, crackers and mince pies when I get there tomorrow?

Shuddup, I know - it's only September. It simply cannot be time for us to think about December already? Ironically, today has been a balmy, sunny September day in London. I bet that December has been the furthest thing from peoples' minds?

Let's face it, autumn is only just here. It's not been my birthday yet, neither have Hallow'een or Guy Fawkes been and gone - I want there to be cake, presents, witchery and fireworks before I contemplate the entire idea of Christmas!

Yet. If you are planning to gift knitted items this year? Well, heed warning.

It may be time to roll with the retail calendar? I don't know about you but my knitting takes time - how many of us have found themselves locked in a room, cupboard or bathroom on Christmas Eve, feverishly stitching like a mad person, almost frothing at the mouth and mumbling, 'Just a minute...I'll be out just a minute,' while our sewing needle rolls behind the cistern and concerned relatives knock on the door, wondering if we've been overwhelmed by Christmas Eve festivities?!

So, without further ado, I present my Christmas Countdown ticker:



Now if you are from a country that exchanges gifts on Christmas Eve and not on Christmas Day? Um, I am sorry but you have even less left time left!

So knitters - start your Christmas engines! Limber up those wrists, grease those needles, browse those pattern books and eye your stash in a calculating manner. The retail calendar tells me that it is TIME.

Avoid December misery - let your Christmas knitting begin!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Amid the packing madness...

...there is one constant that is providing me with a singular sense of relief:


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Albeit that on some commutes in recent weeks, my tired fingers seem unable to achieve much more than 3 rows of 183 stitches in 35 minutes.

Don't ask. Even last night, during the very small amount of sleep that I managed to achieve (head is buzzing with things I need to do for my move)...

...I (my stash?) was being stalked by slow moving, variagated carpet beetles the size of large armadillos - where on earth does the brain drag this stuff out from?!

Well in terms of a knit, it isn't much to look right now but I am quietly hopeful. It's worked in one piece. I am all the way across its back, I have done both fronts and I am about to proceed down the second sleeve . I am even encouraged that there looks to be enough yarn left for me to complete it comfortably. Famous last words!

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Albeit that I cannot imagine what the tension will be like. I am worried that it will have started out fairly relaxed and that it will get tighter, tighter and tighter as I have become more stressed by my impending move?!

Well, that will make the seaming interesting. I also think that I will need to investigate some sort of stablising measure at its edges to stop it curling. So, what's the best, invisible method to achieve this? I was thinking a stablising crochet chain on the reverse edge of the knit?

Okay. Time to do more paperwork sorting, then take a Nytol and do my utmost to get a full, uninterrupted night's sleep. Please, please, please.

I need to tell you, I feel a lot of sympathy for insomniacs, right now . After a week of very little sleep, finding myself awake, putting on laundry and wandering around the house like a dispossessed soul at 3am because I am a member of the Wide Awake Club, is no fun at all.

Just how do people manage to cope with their daily lives without regular sleep over prolonged periods of time?

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Verbatim Journal Extract

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I kid you not - I just found the journal that I kept in my late teens. The one that includes an entry about one of the outfits that I gave to Oxfam yesterday - I have typed it out, warts and all, below. I can offer no special comment or insight - I suspect that the post is self explanatory and I hope that it does not offend anyone!

Title: Post L's Wedding

I have so much to say. I must write a thank you letter to L and E. L looked so beautiful, she is beautiful. M is the traditional, private schoolboy, hunting type - no, not private rugger type, the clipped military type...

...upright, neat and restrained. He already looks like a rich parent (well, a nanny towing one) and who could ever think of their parents in bed without grimacing?!

I did go to the church with A and A, C, J, E and M. It was a tiny, white painted chapel in the village where J and P live, Stadt, near Wavre. It had a cobbled path from the gate to the door and was built into a white painted painted wall. A chapel that was, at one point, part of a great house.

I wore mum's burgundy red, long silk shirt and green jeans. We went back to the hotel, changed, then met mum and Tony. Arianwen looked lovely in her Warehouse dress and my black velvet cropped top. Anthony wore his Howells suit and mum her green silk dress. Tony wore a suit.

Me? I had spent a week bunking off college to find the perfect outfit. I had dragged poor Sarah around the most ridiculous shops and tried on some of the most unflattering outfits. Depression raged. All the 14s were really 12s? (Well I think so. Miss Forever 14!) Been flustered by shop assistants who I still feel slightly inclined to go back and quietly poison for overdoing their jobs!

Well. Good old Jigsaw. That's all I can say! They provided the little black number which was how I wanted at the front. Sleeveless, knee length. Miles Gill provided a cut price Karen Boyd bolero which I think is amazing (whether I will in another 5-10 years remains to be seen)! Long sleeved. Black but with brocade ribbon and beaded sleeves. I bought myself some black silk underwear (Knickerbox) black support tights (Boots) and black suede shoes froms Clothesrail.

I greased my hair back, got a gold glittery watchstrap and gold spraypaint earrings (also fom Boots) - I was set! The only problem I had was walking in my shoes, which slipped against my tights! So I stuffed them with toilet paper! Every girls' best friend! Ho ho ho.

The food was amazing. Champagne flowed. Goat's cheese in little new potatoes, salmon toasts. Mussels in a delicious sauce. The main meal was fois gras with sultanas and sweet white wine, sea bass or conger eel! The wedding cake and dessert (two massive tressle tables loaded with yummy things). I only had a small (honest) piece of chocolate mousse cake and fruit on choux with some raspberry sauce and cream. But some peoples' plates were spilling over with desserts, pudding and afters of every description. Then coffee. Then the dancing.

Ahh. The dancing. The french speaking people have a skill for awful pop music. Then they played jive and rock and roll twist - that I have never been able to do - not even when dragged onto the dance floor by an enthusiastic, married portugese man. Then it was the trad English jig music that I was dragged on to dance to with M - it's alright, I paid him back!

I went flying, yes flat on my face in my heels and bought him crashing down with me! It was a bit shameful. In front of 150 Belgian people but whilst I was devoured by shame in the corner, he fell over again! On his own - so maybe everyone will blame him. Either that or he was being the complete gentleman and fell over again to protect my dignity....?!

Who am I trying to kid - he was drunk!

We left soon after. The speeches were very emotional.

Note 1: wow...now I remember why I kept hold of that outfit for so long! Do you think that Oxfam would sell it back to me? Or shall I let it go gracefully into the night?!

Note 2: I apologise formally for any offence caused my teenage comment about French pop music. I am sure that it all changed out of recognition since then.

Note 3: L is no longer with M but she is happy and she is still one of the most beautiful people that I know.

Note 4: it's funny to note that I was just as verbose in my teens as I am now - sorry!

Note 5: I note from my journal that my underwear was Knickerbox and not M&S, as I thought. Trust me, my knickers were still huge at that time. When I was in my late twenties, it took my neighbour (and friend) two years to talk me into trying knickers with less fabric acreage and um? I am still not convinced!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Saturday's Efforts

I took about 6 black bin liners of clothes, costume jewellery, handbags, shoes and bedlinen to Oxfam today.

I need to confess that my roller blades, wrist and knee guards did not leave my car - they were just too good to give up randomly. The boots say that they are size US8, UK7? They fit me even though my feet are actually UK size 5.5? Well, now I have a week to vanish these boots.

I've only worn the blooming things twice. The boots alone cost over £140. They were a folly of my late 20s, after I had a couple of hilarious blading lessons with some friends and convinced myself that I would be the next Jane Torville of West London's pavements. The wrist/knee bits were 2nd hand from the states and were a christmas present from my parents. I even bought myself a trendy backpack to lug the lot around in.

The reason that I only wore them twice? The stupidity of my purchase dawned on me, when I was in a heap on the floor, just before the start of my sports season and I realised that if I broke myself, it would kill my GB team aspirations!

So, if you want them, let me know - as it would be nice to see them go to a good home, albeit please note that that I take no responsibility for any broken bones! Happy to give them away to someone who will pick up postage, maybe with a donation to a relevant charity, like Knitters without Borders?

I am hoping that Mel will take them for her son - at least this way, I know that they are going to a good home!

It was good to get rid of all my UK size 16 clothes and let go of all those clothes that I have been hoarding since my teens. I was hoarding them because I was miffed, as a teenager, that my parents never kept any of their clothes for me - cos, you know, they would've been vintage and dead cool at that point.

However, I do not have children yet. If I ever do? Even if I do have a girl, it'll be another 14-18 years until she is grown enough to wear my cast off teenage errors. Sigh, do you know what? I just need to face the fact that it is highly unlikely that it will ever be cool to wear a brown suede tassel jacket - ever again. Not even for dressing up. Even though I saved up for months and made a trip especially to the oh-so-trendy Kings Road to buy it. Yup. With my dyed black hair, shocking pink lipstick from Miss Selfridge and my black suede winkle picker boots. I was such an Eighties, pretend goth tragedy.

If you are screaming, 'No, no, no! How could you give that away?!' Go check Oxfam in Teddington - they now have a heap of my stuff, including a velvet crop top that I bought in Camden and I wore clubbing to the Hammersmith Palais back when everyone else was wearing smiley face t-shirts. ALSO they have the entire outfit that I wore to my stepsister's wedding in Brussels in about 1989-90? Comprised of a black silk Jigsaw dress, black suede heels, and the most astonishing, fabric designer shrug that was all braids and gold beads down each sleeve. Man alive. That-was-something.

Yet in my head I was - hot damn - cool at that wedding. That is, until I slipped on the dance floor and showed the entire, extremely chic, Belgian wedding reception party my ever-so-slightly-less-cool, huge, black M&S granny knickers.

Moving swiftly on...

...otherwise today? I think that I have packed my craft stuff?


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Okay, um:


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Maybe I have not? Okay, got a bigger box anyone?!

Tomorrow, I head to the local dump to recycle the textiles not good enough for the charity shop and I continue the rationalisation of 'my stuff'. It's quite hard detatching myself from it all, actually.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Overwhelmed

I was just remarking to Knitterbunny that, broadly, I am:

One Week Away From

  • the Fella arriving
  • the removers putting my belongings into storage
  • starting essential house DIY

Two Weeks Away From

  • leaving my job
  • completing essential house DIY (I hope)
  • leaving the house that has been my home for ten years
  • deliberately not saying goodbye to close friends (owch)

Three Weeks Away From

  • deliberately not saying goodbye to some more of my family (owch)
  • hoping my luggage doesn't weigh too much
  • leaving the country on a big 6 month adventure

Four Weeks Away From

  • starting to find my feet in a new place
  • connecting with friends I already know and meeting new people
  • starting my course.

I am sitting here tonight, barely able to take in all I have to do, both listed above and unlisted before I go to the airport.

I am sooooooooooooooooooo not prepared. I am going to bed now as I have not been sleeping well lately - mind you, I am not so tired that I am not taking the kimono coat with me in one hand plus a glass of chardonnay in the other. I am still plugging away at it, it seems to be slow going.

Tomorrow is a (big) sorting out and packing day - my brain is full. Please can someone remind me to phone my insurers, my dentist and my bank about travel insurance at some point next week?

Oh yes, and all the utility people, the council and who else? Ngg, I forget.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Vintage Glass Buttons and Packing

I am supposed to be sifting through my belongings. Just in an attempt to downsize them for placing into storage or shipping to Canada. The truth is that I am not supposed to be acquiring anything new, right now. However, Nichols Buttons were at I Knit and I had a moment of weakness.


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These buttons are so particular that I suspect that I may need to build a project around them, rather than the other way around - I can see myself stalking Ravelry at some point in the future, looking for patterns and yarn that might go with my buttons?!

They will be added to my 'To Canada - Ship Separately' pile. You see, I am trying to avoid being overwhelmed by the task in hand, by trying to build a number of different house piles:

  • Stay Behind - Warehouse Storage

  • Stay Behind - Accessible Storage

  • To Canada - Ship Separately
  • To Canada - Travel with Me
As you may be able to tell from the above - I am not the kind of person who is able to chuck a change of clothes into a small backpack and head off around the world for 6 months. No, when you put me and world travel together, it is better to envisage something far more Victorian or early Twentieth Century in its aspect - there will be a lot of luggage.

As a result, I plan to ship some things over to Canada, so that I have them with me while I am there. Y'know, just a few key things...

...like my yarn and quilt fabric stashes, notions, tools, craft books, shoes and skiing stuff.

Don't laugh! The Fella knows that this is non-negotiable. Actually, it's a bit embarassing - I might have to rename my blog to 'Large Carbon Footprint Stash' or 'Yarn Repatriation'.

Yet I cannot bear the idea of leaving any of my yarn behind in storage - I'd be terrified that it would be attacked by fibre munching beasts. Also, I know that I'll be studying but I am taking 6 months off work - surely this a a golden opportunity to have a go at some of the projects that are stacked in my cupboard?!

As I am sitting here tonight, the only problem is that my Ship to Canada box is almost too heavy to drag across the floor already. Yet it only has my knitting and a couple of sewing books in it so far. Well, I can hardly take my stash and leave all my books, can I..?! It's a problem!

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So, here you go. I have two Desert Island Knitting Books style questions for you all*:

1) If this was your box of books, which of these titles would you take or leave behind, based on merit of their content? Either as a practical reference or for their inspiration.

If you are on Ravelry, you can click here to see what books, magazines and booklets I have in my Library. I have some books that I have already set aside to go into storage and a few others that I have not yet been able to upload into Ravelry (as they are not in their library yet).

2) If you were to be stranded on a desert island with only a binliner of yarn and a box of knitting needles for company:

- what 5 knitting books would you absolutely need to take with you?
- what yarns would you hope to find inside the binliner?!


* * * * *

* Note: not that Vancouver is a desert island. Clearly, I could simply order the books that I really missed from Amazon - or borrow them from a library? Yet who wants to order books that they already have?!

Monday, 8 September 2008

I Knit 2008: What a Great Day Out!

I suspect that I would make a rubbish photo journalist - I get so distracted by what is going on around me that I forget take photographs!

I Knit Day 2008 was a chance for me to spend time with my mother before I take off to Canada - so it was more about enjoying the day than being up with the sparrows and camping outside the venue in order to be first through the door to bury ourselves under knitting purchases.

So when we arrived and spotted the long queue of people waiting to get in, we nipped around the corner to a taxi-drivers cafe to wait it out over a mug of very good coffee. By the time we emerged, the queue had vanished and we were able to stroll leisurely into Lawrence Hall where the fashion show area and the market stands were set out.

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The hall was busy with people sitting, knitting and browsing wares. In fact, I couldn't get anywhere close to the Purlescence, Socktopus or Fyberspates stands to say hello to Robynn, Alice or Jeni. People were swarming, at least three deep, around each one.

As it was so busy, so we headed over to the displays in the charity project section, which included some enormous knitting plus a knitted and felted kitchen area.

Novelty Knits

It is amazing yet if you do ever find me sitting at home, knitting myself a chocolate ├ęclair? Please - I beg you - flush my Diet Dust rations down the nearest toilet and take me out for a real cream tea!

The only think that I did in the market area on Saturday was pick up two sets of vintage glass buttons, then risk life and limb by tackling the knitterly elbows at the I Knit stand to purchase a copy of Knitting Rules...


...we-ell, you know - as much as I try to pretend to be a cool, detatched London knitter? Deep down, I knew that I was going to stand in line with everyone else, to have a book signed and do my best not to gurn like an idiot while saying hello to the person whose blog I read and enjoy so much.


(Actually, it is worse than that. I didn't tell my mother but in fact, my first ever, so-freshly-washed-it-was-actually-still-wet sock, was neatly folded and stowed in plastic, ready to show and tell!)

As I was an usher at the Yarn Harlot talk, I missed the Stitch in Time Fashion show. So I really hope that someone else managed to snap some photos because I hear that it was very good! While that was on, I was over at Lindley Hall with a group of other knitters putting badges out on chairs.

Actually, when I first went into Lindley Hall? I was thinking quietly to myself: Good grief, doesn't Stephanie get nervous when she sees big venues? Um.... I am not sure that this is going to go down well?

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When we were able to open the doors for people to come in, there was this almost un-British rush of people, crowding to get in through the doors and to their seats. I was a bit taken aback. Then I realised that they were all totally drenched to the skin - they didn't just want to get inside to secure the best seat, they needed to get out of the rain, strip off wet clothing and get themselves as comfortable as possible before the talk started!

Mind you, see that very big space with all those seats in the above photo? That room was filled with chattering, excited knitters in minutes, with people standing at the back as well. It was quite something. But the very best thing about being in a room full of other kinesthetic people for a talk?!

Knitters!

Look! Noone bats an eyelid when you get your knitting out. Just look at the rows next to me - yup, that is evidence of the people in every single row: knitting, knitting, knitting!

Then, the talk began...



...suffice it to say that it was good - very funny! I won't spoil it, just in case you get a chance to hear Stephanie speak in person for yourself!

However, what I will say in a roundabout reference to Stephanie's talk - if you are a Canadian knitter who is fond of Rowan Yarn? It seems that it might be an idea to make friends with a few British knitters? After all, what better way to cement an international friendship than via a small exchange of gifts containing locally sourced, reasonably priced yarn?!

Also, it is possible that I might be moved to comment that if this Well Known Knitter (WKK) had heard Stephanie speak on Saturday, she might have thought twice about taking up this knitting photo opportunity?!

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Maybe, maybe not?! Now I did queue and I did get my book signed. Mind you, not until the queue had gone down - that took some time, let me tell you.

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I kept going back but the queue was just the same, just comprised of different people!


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This knitter had the perfect, book signing, queue solution. Yet I feel mildly intimidated by the organisation at work here - I do not know anyone who is so well planned that they would have the presence of mind to arrange travel into central London equipped with a large beanbag?!

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At that point, I took off to watch the Erika Knight fashion show. She has a new book of man knits coming out. Not all of the pieces were to my taste but it was a fabulous presentation as she took time to talk through all of the pieces in the book, explaining the trend behind each and why the garment would make a good wardrobe staple.

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At the end , I turned around and spotted Erqsome and WanderLustKnits in the book signing queue - I joined them as there's just no way that any queue could be an insufferable experience in the company of such great people! It got even better when we were joined by Yogic Knitter and KnittingNrdFightr.

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By the time that we'd started to close the gap between us and the book signing table (chatting to Gerard on the way) I have to admit - we were all a bit on the raucous side.

What I loved about it though? We all seemed to pull it together for our few moments at the book signing table with Stephanie. See, here's Emms with Stephanie?


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And then?


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Heheheh...how's that for the reality of our (lack of) composure?! We were such groupie, knitting nerdles!

I wonder if Stephanie was cursing the length of her name by the end of the day? By the time we got to her table, she had been signing books for almost three hours. If it had been me? I think that I would have been looking at my writing hand like it was an alien being. It would have felt like one. She must have been really tired but even so, she was absolutely lovely to all of us.

What a fabulous day out, surrounded by such nice, like minded people. Y'know?

After that, it was a quick tour of the knitted aliens before we headed out into the gloomy evening for a glass of wine and some nibbles at the South Bank before clambering onto a train home.

Aliens

Click here for the slideshow of my I Knit Day 2008 photos.

Or, even better, click here for the offical I Knit Flickr Group photos!

Please go see, enjoy and either add your photos to the group pool or let me know where you have stashed your own photos of the day!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Flowers!

Please take a second to surf on by for a look at the flowers that I was presented with today by the members of my Club, at the end of our Club Championship.


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(Yes, it was back to reality today, after I Knit Day yesterday.)

I am trying not to feel overly emotional. I have been given these flowers a thank you by my Club for being their Captain for the past three years and injecting a bit of life back into the match fixtures.

I guess that this means that my tenure as Captain is (almost) over. I am relieved, happy, delighted to be moving onto a sport future that will enable me to focus more on my own individual performance yet also, sad, sad, sad because it's been a very satisfying role and I am so very, very proud of all the people who have turned out for matches and turned in such good performances in matches for the Club.

We beat Canada and Kenya this summer you know. The whole thing has been a huge amount of work but you know, overall? It's not been too bad.

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You know, I didn't realise that it was possible to get a bunch of flowers this big. It is officially the biggest, most luxurious bouquet of flowers that I have ever received in my life.


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Wow. Slightly amazed. Slightly happy. Slightly sad. Slighty confused at how to feel.
What's that american term? Discombobulated? Actually Toni's word works well - gobsmacked!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

I Knit Day 2008: Pretty Damn Fabulous

What can I say? I am sitting here at home, with my mother asleep upstairs, in the knowledge that I have had a very good day. Actually, I have had such a good day that I almost feel bad about it.

You see, I know from personal experience of being a part of a Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony once, that when you are the organiser or the performer, you are the entertainment and you do not get to experience an event in the same way as the paying public.

That day, I spent hours and most of the ceremony sitting in a very hot, airless, sports hall, in the height of summer, in my number 1 uniform (almost 100% manmade itchy, heavy plastic fibre - yes sweat did trickle down my back) waiting to be called out to march around the stadium.

Most of us had come very close to passing out (either through boredom or dyhydration) before we were called. When the moment came, we were marched into the stadium, were coralled briefly in the centre where none of the acoustics made any sense (they were projected into the spectator stands) and then? We were marched back out almost straight away, under the cover of the finale fireworks, to be put straight onto buses and returned by train (6 hour journey) to our university accommodation pens bedrooms.

All those hours of waiting and we must have been in the stadium for no more than 20 minutes, where we didn't get to see or hear anything. Days later? I got to watch some of the Opening Ceremony on TV. The event that I saw on screen was breathtaking - it didn't bear any relationship at all to the event that I had experienced as a part of the show.

Opps - I have rambled again. It is just that from experiences like the above, I do realise and appreciate that those people who organise or entertain on a day like I Knit are working and they do not get much any opportunity to enjoy the event itself.

So to Gerard, Craig, Stephanie, Erika, Jane, all of the other presenters, every single stallholder and all of the other helpers - thank you - I do realise how hard you worked to make it happen and what a long day it was.

Do you know what though? I saw a lot of people taking photographs. Like this one:

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So I am sure that blogland will show over the next few days how much we all truly appreciated it. What a bloomin' great day!

I am off to bed now. I will blog properly about today, in pictures, at some point in the next 24 hours or so.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Breaking News!

For some reason, I feel like I have been hit by a lorry. Or maybe flattened by a steamroller or a train?!

I resigned from my job today.

Yes, you did read that correctly. I am not sure but I suspect that I should be leaping around for joy or out somewhere in central London glugging back celebratory alcohol?

I resigned from my job today.

I think that I might be still in shock at the enormity of what I have done. I have been feeling nauseous and having anxiety attacks about doing the deed all day long.

I resigned from my job today.

In fact, it took me until this afternoon to do it. Despite the signed, hardcopy letters burning a hole in my tightly zipped handbag.

I resigned from my job today.

It isn't that I did not want to do this enormous thing. I just think that the anxiety and nausea is to do with the fact that my job has been at the centre of my stability for a very long time - it's my lifeline - the one thing between me, a month and the pavement.

I resigned from my job today.

I have decided to give up that security for a while. Terrifying, though it is! So why put myself deliberately through all this stress?


I am sure that it was not really very hard to guess that it might be something to do with the Fella...?

I am going to Canada!

I am swapping London for Vancouver for just under six months to study for a professional qualification, take some time out from working to explore that part of the world and spend time with my Fella in the same timezone.

I am going to Canada!

So the next four to five weeks are going to be a mild frenzy of working (up to the last minute), packing my things to go into storage, getting the house ready for let and feeling even more stressed (probably) than I do now. Not to mention, fitting in iKnit, saying goodbye to friends, family and finishing off my sport Captaincy (almost).

I am going to Canada!

Thankfully, the Fella is coming across to help me organise things and so that we can travel back together.

I am going to Canada!

I will try to post throughout this upheaval but I cannot promise! Except, I already know that I need your help to decide what to take or leave behind!

I resigned from my job today and I am going to Canada!

You know, I think that this news is going to take some time to sink in properly?!