Monday, 22 December 2008

Doctor Who?

I am *so* pleased that it's looking like Paterson Joseph will be the 11th Doctor, whenever David Tenant leaves the role. I heard the gossip at an evening of mince pies and mulled wine last week and have since verified this online. Admittedly if you look it up on Google you then need to wade through all the forum posts declaring that the BBC are just jumping on the Barack bandwagon or ticking ethnicity boxes. Some people in disgust are declaring they will not watch a black Doctor. Their loss! I suspect the same posters would have issue with a female Doctor too...

Admittedly it's a bit different to a lot of his recent work, but cast your mind back 12 years to 1996 when Paterson Joseph was brilliant as the Marquis de Carabas in Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere". I wonder if he'll get the same outfit and hairdo? I really hope so :o)

(*as an aside, we also mooted who we thought would make a good female Doctor. A few were put forward but I'm with LH on this when he said Tamsin Grieg. Which is a coincidence as she was in Neverwhere too... I can really see her in Frock Coat).


Friday, 12 December 2008

Sweet potato, halloumi and rocket salad

On request by my mother, Lisa and Alison, here is the recipe for a fail-proof starter or lunch. This is also for the beneift of Marios, being the only Cypriot I know. Knowing my luck he probably hates halloumi ;o)

I originally got it from my friend Jen on the night we ate (or tried to eat) the most epic cheesecake I have ever seen, which was made from about 6 kilogrammes of chocolate... Alas I don't have *that* particular recipe...


Serves 4 as starter or 3 for lunch

500g sweet potatoes, sliced to about a centimetre thickness
3 tbsp olive oil
250g halloumi cheese
75g rocket

For the dressing:
5 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp lemon/lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp black onion seeds (kalonji)
1 red chilli deseeded and finely sliced (or I use chilli oil instead)
2 tbsp chopped lemon thyme
salt and pepper

To make:
1. Mix together the dressing ingredients. Sniff as required.

2. Par-boil the sweet potatoes in lightly salted water for 2 minutes, then drain and fry for 10 minutes

3. Slice the cheese and grill on a lightly-oiled foil-covered grill for about 3 minutes or until nicely browned

4. Put rocket on the plate and pile on the sweet potato, haloumi and dressing.

...and that's it. Warning though - the dressing is very sweet so you may like to cut down the honey content a bit. You absolutely can't do it without black onion seeds though, they are a-ma-zing!


Monday, 1 December 2008

I am not a lazy blogger, it's just that...

... I can't post what I'm up to at the moment for fear that people who are likely to receive a Christmas present from me will see them here if I do.

Bloody Internet, who thought it was a good idea again?


Wednesday, 5 November 2008

How my brain works

I just put this blog through Wordle and came up with this. I'm really not sure what this says about me...

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Recently Discovered Earth*

* (c) Liam Herringshaw 2008

Well, where to start? I appear to have completely lost my mind. I am giving up a well-paid job to move to a country where there is 10 months of winter and 2 of summer, and very few job prospects for an archaeologist.

My other half has been given a two-year post at Memorial University in Newfoundland and, after nearly 3 years of frequent visits up to Aberdeen I've had enough of killing the environment with my frequent flying. Commuting to Canada for weekend visits is a step too far...

To cap it all I'm moving over in mid-January, which is possibly the stupidest time to go, given the pack ice, sleet, and general arctic nature of the place. I think this excerpt from the current Provincial anthem sums it up nicely:
When spreads thy cloak of shimm'ring white,
At winter's stern command,
Thro' shortened day and starlit night,
We love thee, frozen land,
We love thee, we love thee,
We love thee, frozen land.

When blinding storm gusts fret thy shore,
And wild waves lash thy strand,
Thro' sprindrift swirl and tempest roar,
We love thee, windswept land,
We love thee, we love thee,
We love thee, windswept land.

Of course there's every opportunity for things to go a bit wrong: I don't have a job lined up properly or a work permit, but these are mere trivialities and I won't let that get in the way of my excitement. Come February I may still be in the UK and regretting handing in my notice but fingers crossed this won't be a problem. I have more things to worry about once I get there:

1) permanent frizzy hair due to sleet and wind
2) premature skin aging from adverse weather conditions
3) contracting hypothermia on landing
4) being mauled by gigantic Newfoundland dogs
5) having to tie down my house with rope
6) developing rickets due to Vitamin D deficiency
7) being attacked by Skraelings*

* see Saga of Erik the Red

I'm sure that many of these fears are completely unfounded... except the dog one ... ;o)

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

The Bikeability Neckwarmer

Ok, as promised, evidence of me actually knitting...

I've been cycling a lot recently and, as the winter months draw in, I've noticed a chill on the chest and a bit of wheeziness when it's cold out. So, to prevent premature lung-aging, stop me whinging, and generally for better wellbeing all round I decided a scarf was the thing. The problem is that I am so uncoordinated that normal scarves tend to flap about and get stuck in my wheels. Well, it hasn't happened yet, but knowing me...

Anyhoo, I've got an embarrassingly large yarn stash - I cannot throw *anything* away - so decided to use up some of it by making scrap yarn.

It’s the simplest thing in the world…

  • To create the yarn… tie together shortish lengths of scrap thread and pair two colours together to make it chunkier. It makes it more interesting when the colours overlap to get different colour combos. I used 4 colours which were paired differently every time and had different lengths.
  • Cast on 22 stitches (though depends on chunkiness of wool/gauge)
  • Garter stitch for about 62 rows or until it reaches approx. 52cm long then cast off. Try to knit in the ends as much as possible as you are going.
  • Weave in the leftover ends using a crochet hook then snip to neaten off.
  • The final scarf should measure about 16cm x 52cm.
  • Add a toggle to secure it, et voila!

And here is photographic evidence:

And one of me sporting it. Please remind me to brush my hair next time I take a photo of myself to spread across the Internet... ;o)

On Social Knitworking* and Turning to the Dark Side

(* © David Brooks 2008)

I have a confession. I am an addict. I don’t think a day has gone by when I haven’t had at least one fix. Ravelry has taken over my life and is now starting to affect me in ways others are finding disturbing.

I have become obsessed with pattern searching and seeing what my friends are up to (whether it’s stashing yarn, queuing patterns, or uploading their project progress). The sheer number of free patterns is amazing, and the fact you can see all the patterns from published books before you buy means I will never buy a dud crafty book again. Amazon’s ‘Search Inside’ is rarely available for this sort of thing and, even if it is, often doesn’t show you all the designs. So, I’ve been caught on many occasions when a lovely cardie on the front cover hides a multitude of tack on the inside…

Amongst all this I have slowly come to the realisation that I am going to have to learn to knit. Yes. I said it. Out loud and in public. The hardened crocheter is finally giving in to the dark side.

I tried it first on Monday night and immediately threw it away again in disgust as I was shocked to find I wasn’t instantly brilliant at it. I could see it was going to be a hard slog getting used to being rubbish at something again. Still, I persevered and even took it to Stitches and Hos last night, where friends were shocked to see me sans hook. It was strange. It felt completely alien. I was used to being the one person doing something different at S&H and now I was doing what everybody else was. Suddenly I felt like I was jumping on the bandwagon, completely unoriginal, and I didn’t like it.

Still, I’m sticking with it. I finished my first ‘object’ last night which was strangely satisfying. Watch this space for evidence…


Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Flickr Game

I saw this on Fearful Penguin's blog and thought I'd do some more work avoidance...

  • Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
  • Using only the first page, pick an image.
  • Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favourite food?
3. What school did you go to?
4. What is your favourite colour?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favourite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favourite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name

My answers:
1. Helen 2. cheese 3. Langley Park 4. brown 5. Alex Kapranos 6. cider 7. Europe 8. trifle 9. archaeologist 10. music 11. distracted 12. goodhen


Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Festival Fun

I've just got back from the Hydro Connect Festival in Argyll, in the grounds of Inverary Castle (not a bad venue!), and it was a pretty top weekend. My run down of events was:

  • Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks: a bit disappointing, I'd expected better...
  • The Breeders: as good as I could have possibly hoped! They played loads of The Amps and old Breeders stuff as well as the new tracks

  • Sparks: good fun and utterly mental, though I wish they'd played more of the really early stuff. Ron Mael rocks!
  • Firstly some disappointment as Joan as Policewoman was cancelled...
  • Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band (random rants about being "from the United States of Fuckin' Americarr" (several times) annoyed me, and was accompanied by some fairly tepid music. Disappointing...
  • The Levellers: despite not being even remotely trendy to like them, they put on a great show and much dancing was to be had.
  • Friendly Fires: we didn't know what to expect and were pleasantly surprised.
  • Black Lips: we were promised nudity, on-stage vomiting, and biting heads off live animals (maybe I made that last one up), none of which were delivered.
  • Glasvegas: the music press claim that their album is "of national importance". I disagree.
  • Grinderman: Nick Cave was awesome on stage. "Honey Bee let's fly to Mars. Bzzz bzzz bzzz!"
  • Gomez: they played the "Bring It On Album" from start to finish for its 10 year anniversary. Brilliant!
  • Gossip: I'd already seen them in a small gig and they were ace, but it just didn't work well at a Festival and I got bored... we then tried to go see Bloc Party and missed them :o(
  • Young Knives: Pretty good! Again we didn't know what to expect but we really enjoyed them.
  • Santogold: Not quite my cup of tea but some catchy tunes and the most awesome backing dancers I've ever seen!
  • Elbow: Guy Garvey had some nice banter and the new tracks were good, but I'd already seen them earlier this year so nothing new here...
  • The Coral: a nice mix of old and new that got us dancing about.
  • And the pièce de resistance... Franz Ferdinand: Absolutely brilliant show, the new tracks are ace and they played plenty of the popular tracks. I danced my socks off whilst lusting after Alex Kapranos.

All in all a pretty good weekend, though it has higlighted my need for a better camera :o)


Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Curry Top

I had a small curry-based accident with a plain brown top I owned (see previous post!) and it ended up with some grease spots on it that just wouldn't come out. So, inspired by some other posts on Wardrobe Refashion (most notably the ones using the Alabama Stitch Book pattern) I decided to try out some reverse applique...

Here is the top with my design (plus visible grease stains...) with the new fabric inside being basted on.


Then I got busy with the scissors - a bit too busy in some places where I accidentally cut bits I didn't mean to. I had trouble folding the fabric under though, so instead I folded it outwards and sewed the edges roughly to give it a sort of leafy look. I know it doesn't look it but the thread is the same colour as the top... Also, the fabric underneath is shiny so it looks brighter than it actually is. It's really a darkish maroon.


And here it is, modelled in Staff House Bar (recognise the quality 'art'?), rescued from certain doom. I hope I don't spill anything else down it, there's only so many holes I can cut...


Thursday, 21 August 2008

Last minute sewathon

I've realised that there's only 10 days left to my 6-month Wardrobe Refashion challenge and I've hardly made anything! So, I'm currently doing a last minute mad dash to get some things made and posted.

1. I've started a skirt which I completely made up the pattern to, but I've had to stop without an appropriate zip fastening,

2. I've got half way through a shirred dress, but it's so tedious as my machine won't do it properly and it's looking a trifle dodgy as I didn't have quite enough material,

3. I've also started hacking up a t-shirt that had a few grease spots on from an ill-advised curry - going pretty well but slow going...

I might make an attempt this weekend to blitz it. What else are Bank holidays for? (Apart from drinking and relaxing and watching terrible films).


Friday, 15 August 2008

Fame at Last!

Well after 31 years I have finally found fame in the pages of the Birmingham Post. A reporter recently attended the monthly Stitches and Hos night at the Hare and Hounds and I got interviewed as the "Rebel Crocheter". Well the article has now appeared and not only am I famous, but I've been given a promotion! Now if only I could get one in real life...

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Experiments in felting

I have recently acquired a felting needle and have been itching to try it out, but I lack the incentive, money, or stash space to buy fibres. So, I decided to try a little experimentation...

I had quite a lot of trimmings from the fringing of Project Alison and so I thought waste not want not! I had doubts though, as I wasn't sure that acrylic yarns would felt given that they don't in the washing machine.

I acquired these tiny brushes from a haberdashery stall a little while ago with absolutely no idea what they were actually for, but I thought they might do as mini-carders...

...and they seemed to do the trick as regards fluff creation! I was surprised how much the colour lightened in the process.

So, I set to with the needle, poked myself in the legs a few times (due to lack of sponge) but ended up with a fairly cool one-inch felted ball that I now have absolutely no idea what to do with!

Project Alison

Just a quick post to say that Project Alison is now finished after a couple of weeks of trauma and tedium. Despite all this I'm pretty pleased with the outcome and I think she models it beautifully!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Who am I again?

I get annoyed by online quizzes but yet find them strangely compelling. I'm not being duped into believing the outcomes (I have at least read about the Forer Effect): instead this is mostly to do with a strong desire for work avoidance than any belief in the results. According to the most recent quizzes I have done I am:

  • Light pink (what colour?)
  • 34% geek
  • 62% intelligent
  • 58% normal
  • Flinders Petrie (Which archaeological theorist?)
  • Ando Masahashi (Which Hero?)
  • Bettie Page (Which 1950s pin-up girl?)
  • The Japanese Empire (Which Empire?)
  • Elizabeth Bennet (Which Jane Austen heroine?)
  • Apollo (Which Greek God?)

I'm not sure exactly what all this says about me other than my great desire for procrastination. I'm already painfully aware of my faults, and so I doubt knowing which Dictator I'm most like will give me any more insight into my personality. I may still give it a go tomorrow though ;o)

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Conclusive proof that the past exists

As an avid avoider of Timeteam I approached BBC's new archaeological drama series "Bonekickers" with some trepidation. Whoever thought the title up deserves a good kicking for a start.

It has always amused me when tv series appear that are based on a subject I (or others) know fairly well. The most recent example being ITV's Primeval, where animals from past eras pop through anomalies and cause mayhem (mostly in London though - so the majority of us are ok!). My other half being a palaeontologist took great delight in pointing out factual errors ("ooh they've scaled up that arthropod about 120%!"), and even I had a baulk at some of the dialogue - my favourite line being where Cutter (the Palaeo Prof) describes the appearance of cretaceous reptiles as "conclusive proof that the past exists". The boy L ended up writing a rather good review of it in the Palaeontological Newsletter (see page 56) which I would heartily recommend. He suggested I do the same for Bonekickers but, as I pointed out to him, I'd be too embarrassed as it was more likely to show up my lack of knowledge in certain areas...

Anyway, I've only seen episodes 1 & 2 so far but it does amuse me how random archaeological facts are crowbarred into the dialogue. "Stand in or away from the trench, not on!") shouted at a postgraduate (soon to be full time team member) who really should have known that in her first year undergraduate. Wafflings of Pitt Rivers' classification systems and, my particular favourite and very close to my own heart: 'Dolly' (the loveable drunken old pervy prof) waving a magnetometer at some female students and demanding they remove their underwired bras. This is something I have done on a few occasions but sadly with less panache. You've got to love it! It's utterly ridiculous, is kicking up a storm on the Britarch mailing lists, and is clearly attempting to appeal to the Da Vinci generation, but I have to admit I'm kind of enjoying it. Just as a guilty pleasure you understand... I may try out the Bonekickers Drinking game for episode 3.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Designing my own crochet

Well, it was only a matter of time! I've been inspired by a knitted cardie I've seen to attempt to turn it into a crochet version with some amendments...

The fabulous original pattern is the February lady sweater (which itself is a grown up version of a baby-pattern).

As I can't do gull stitch in crochet I'm going to go old school and attempt crochet CABLES!! I've never done it before so am very keen indeed. Trouble is that I still have two UFOs (unfinished objects to any of you non-wool fiends), but I've also seen the perfect yarn for it in Flabberdeen in "Wool for Ewe" in Rosemount. Cue a very poor sketch...

I'm off work for a while so I'm going to use the time to a) finish the UFOs and b) start this little number. If it's successful I'll post the pattern on here and on Ravelry. I might even attempt a version in crochet symbols. I'm a glutton for punishment clearly, as well as a huge geek ;o)

Monday, 7 July 2008

From sack to shirt...

Just another quick revamp. This time it's an oversized dress/shirt I got from a charity shop for about £2. All I did was shorten it and take in the sides to make a really comfy casual shirt. I'm really pleased with it, particularly as it took less than an hour on Sunday afternoon in front of the tellybox.





It's not exactly a smart outfit but dead good for lazing around and pairing with jeans, etc. Also, I have a large enough piece of the fabric left over to do something with - maybe a bag or something else small... Any suggestions? :o)

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Another quick revamp

I was inspired by Vanessa's post on Wardrobe Refashion a while back where she cut up her old T-Shirt to make a nice fitted number, so I thought I'd give it a go with an old unflattering T-shirt from the Copenhagen Jazz festival I accidentally went to in 1994 whilst in Denmark on a Bromley Youth Concert Band tour (oh happy days!)...

(Please excuse the partially decorated hallway and my miserable face!)




I don't think it was quite as successful as Vanessa's but it's still a vast improvement from before (despite the paint spatters!). Now I've got the (sort of) hang of it I might go and see if I can get some more baggy t-shirts to try again...

Monday, 2 June 2008

Quick trouser revamp

Not my most exciting post, but I got these trousers at a charity shop last week and they were too short and a rather unflattering cut. Cue unsexy picture...


All I did was to lengthen the hem and unpick the sides to make them wider below the knee and it seems to have done the trick. Not bad for three quid! Now all I need to do is get round to ironing out those creases ;o)



Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Wardrobe Refashion Update

I've just realised that I've broken the back of my 6 month Wardrobe Refashion Challenge pledge. As of today I am 89 days in with 65 left to go and I haven't bought any new clothes in that time.

In fact, I'm beginning to wonder whether I'll ever go back to my previous shopping habits. Whilst my posting on the site has been sporadic and lacking in recent months (I'm blaming my broken camera lead) I've not been idle in terms of making/acquiring new items.

I've got seriously into my crochet, which is helped a *lot* by the monthly Stitches and Hos evening at the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath. It was my second visit to the group last night and, after a short attempt at some knitting during a short crochet break I decided I might actually give it a go for a proper project (especially after I got free needles from the group!) .

Sewing has also increased dramatically, although I've got a few UFOs (unfinished objects) waiting around to be sorted. These are mostly items from charity shops that I've bought with a mind to revamp in some way.

This gets me on to my main point. I used to shop in charity shops a lot as a student for quirky or kitsch items but it's dropped off in recent years. Since doing the WRC though I've got a renewed excitement about them and realised most of my wardrobe staples can be sourced here. I've had a few really good hauls of clothes that I can wear as-is without fixing up and I have less guilt about sweat-shop brands like Primark if they are already "pre-loved". Plus it's ace for my bank balance! I don't think I'm ever going to shop normally again...

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Why I need a dress form...

Why? Because I live on my own and have found it increasingly difficult to make any clothes for myself that actually fit, due to not having double-jointed arms and eyes in the back of my head! Cue the duct tape dress form...

I'm definitely going to give this a go at some point with the help of a trusty friend, despite what it will undoubtedly do to my self-esteem due to its 'accuracy'. Any volunteers for wrapping?

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Impatience is not a virtue

I am not patient, this is a well-documented fact. I have flights of fancy and get ideas that I want to do things but I can't wait, so I end up doing them half-arsed because I want to do them *now*! I am the same, if not worse, with crafts. I'm making the crochet cardigan from the front cover of the Crochet Me book and I was too lazy to do a swatch first.

Well... I sort of did one... I did a couple of rows and roughly measured it, but it seems now I'm nearing the end it wasn't right and I'm wishing I'd spent the time at the beginning to make a 10x10cm swatch of the right gauge. It seems it is a size or two too small but I'm so far through I don't want to start again. Looks like my only option is to lose the weight I've been promising myself and tone up those arms so they can get through the sleeves. Either that or carry out some industrial-sized cardie-stretching :(

Monday, 28 April 2008

The Joys of GIS

I've had an extraordinarily busy first quarter of this year. After spending 6 years chained to my desk for my PhD I have, since January, travelled to Rome, Vancouver, Amsterdam and Bern (and I'm not counting numerous UK trips as well). I might moan about my job but at least I get to see the world!

This last trip was to Switzerland where I gave a paper about the work I did for my thesis - all about modelling Roman agricultural systems using GIS. It's funny, sometimes I love archaeology and sometimes I hate it. I mostly hated it in the last few months of my thesis (understandably). I would far rather be tinkering with GIS models or out and about on fieldwork than reading and writing about it.

It's funny how I was attracted to GIS - I think it is purely on an aesthetic level. After having given up art and music formally after A-Level it's arguably the closest thing archaeology can get to being creative on a practical level. There's a famous quote (I forget who by) about GIS which argues that GIS is more than just pretty pictures. Whilst this is absolutely true, I think that when you can create images like these, it certainly makes the interpretation that much more interesting when there's something nice to look at!

Friday, 18 April 2008

He say ugg

I've just read about new computer simulations of Neanderthal speech based on their differing vocal tracts as compared to modern humans. (Hear it here, and read the article here).

That audio file confirms all my stereotypes about pre-modern man...

Thursday, 17 April 2008

My first Weave-It squares

Well after geting my Weave-It loom the other day I was desperate to try it out and here are the results! (Many of these patterns are gratuitously stolen from eLoomanator, and the rest from the scanned manuals on the eLoomanation website, for which I am very grateful). Click the pics for a closer look...

Plain weave

Seven diagonal stripes (front and back)

Wide Wale Corduroy (one colour plus front and back 2-colour)

Wide Wale Corduroy with a twist (front and back)

Unknown from manual (front and back)

I have had some rather excellent ideas about making my own shaped loom for hat making and I reckon this weekend should see some developments on that front!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Ice Magic

I have seen lots of 80s nostalgia online, but none has struck a chord with me quite so much as fond memories of Ice Magic. That conical squeezy container, the lid that looked like a frozen mountain cap, and the nastily fake chocolate flavour that hardened so beautifully on ice cream. My favourite was most definitely the mint flavour.

Well, I've not seen it for years so I assumed they stopped making it (probably due to the high numbers of additives which are now illegal... I assume) but I got a link today leading me to a recipe by Naomi Poe to make your own. I guess I know what I'll be trying out this weekend. Yum :op

Monday, 14 April 2008

Vancouver Museum of Anthropology

Considering I am an archaeologist, there has been a distinct lack of archaeology-related postings on my blog. I even manged to turn my only archaeologically-related event into talking about crafting. The reason I was in Vancouver was not for a holiday (as some have assumed having seen my snaps), but to man a booth at the annual Society for American Archaeology conference. Here is proof:

Despite spending most days coercing unsuspecting students into studying in the UK, we did at least have a chance to see *some* things, and one of them was the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Being a Mediterranean archaeologist I know aboslutely zilch about North American cultures but despite my lack of knowledge I was amazed by some of the artefacts they have there. If it's not Roman I'm clueless. (Saying that, if it *is* Roman I'm usually clueless too!) . Anyhoo, here are some of my favourites: