Never Talk to Strangers

dindga1.jpgNever talk to strangers. That’s what they tell you and drum into you from when you are tiny. I’m sure it’s very sensible advice but, as I think I may have mentioned in one of my posts, that’s exactly what I didn’t do last Saturday. Whilst hoping to bump into someone we were supposed to be meeting, and with only the knowledge that she was female, black and probably at least forty, we took to accosting anyone who fell anything near that description. Even when I was no longer physically with my virtual friends, I carried on in the forlorn hope that I would meet the elusive Xenobia. When I threw my question, “are you Xenobia?” at her, her reply was “no, but she’s a friend of mine”. So instead of locating my original target I got to know a lovely woman called Dindga (pronounced Ding-gher) McCannon. There she is at the top of this post.

Dindga is an artist from Harlem, New York, USA. From the age of ten she knew she was an artist and fifty years later she is still going strong. She used to be a painter but over the years she morphed into being a fiber artist and now her speciality is art quilts. Her work is available for sale in a range of places and of course she works to commission, often for groups who require a relevant piece of work to match their mission statement.

Our encounter happened at the knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, right in front of the booth of another textile artist called Hilary Hollingworth. At this stage we need to give our thanks to Hilary. She looked on patiently whilst we stood in the way of her table and chatted away like old friends. There was no tutting, no tsking, no making us feel uncomfortable just the wonderful acceptance that two people were becoming friends right in front of her eyes. Thank you Hilary for your understanding.

Dindga and I got on so well during our chat that when I discovered she was going to be in London for another week, on her own, I mooted the idea of spending the day together. So it was that a week after our chance encounter that we met up at 10 am at Wood Green tube station.

I had planned a lengthy itinerary, starting at The Geffrye Museum in Shoreditch. I have a habit of taking people here. The last time I was at the museum was in November 2005 when I dragged Susie B-W here. After the museum we wondered around Brick Lane, taking time to grab a quick bite of Samosas, Sag Ghosht, veggie curry, rice and nan before looking at the houses in Fournier and surrounding streets. We had hoped to end up at the Eid celebrations in Trafalgar Square but we arrived there just after five o’clock and everyone was packing up to go home. Just time for a last cup of coffee together in Covent Garden before we went our separate ways.


UK Freeform Crochet Meetup at Ally Pally

One group of people that I belong to is the International Freeform Crochet Guild. We are spread across a great many countries including the UK, USA, Brazil, India, Australia, Israel and all the others in between that I can’t remember now. Most of the time we can only get together virtually but now and again we also manage to meet each physically as well. The gals in the US seem to manage quite a few big gatherings. They had an amazing get-together in Australia a few years ago. There was an anniversary conference in Morecambe, Lancs last year and then last week a few of us met up at Alexandra Palace at the Knitting & Stitching Show.


Prudence Mapstone, Australian-based Freeform teacher and author

Pauline and Sheila, two British Freeformers

Close-up of Pauline’s Freeform bag


Freeformers Prudence & Ildi in their colourful and textured Freeform garments


Close-up of British-based, Ildi’s Freeform garment

I heart charity shops!

모든 인간은 태어날 때부터 자유로우며 그 존엄과 권리에 있어 동등하다. 인간은 천부적으로 이성과 양심을 부여받았으며 서로 형제애의 정신으로 행동하여야 한다.


If you know me then you know I can’t resist a charity shop. Well you never know what is sitting in there, waiting for you, do you, and it is all for a good cause, isn’t it. Today it was new territory, somewhere where I have never set foot in a charity shop before, New Malden, Surrey, just outside Kingston-upon-Thames.

Every now and again I have to satisfy My Little Darling’s craving for foreign lands. Wait a minute! I thought she said New Malden. Yes, that’s right, New Malden complete with the largest Korean population outside Korea. When you venture into one of their mini-supermarkets you are venturing into a foreign land. Not only is everything in a foreign language it is in a foreign script as well. It’s very geometric and looks a bit like drawings of little stick people and their TVs. So without a few tiny bits of English written on the edge of shelves you have absolutely no idea what anything is. As far as i can make out the Koreans survive on a diet of soy. Everything has soy in it in one form or another. At least half of each shop we go into must be full of brightly coloured rectangular tubs of variously flavoured soy paste. Oh yes and you can also but “Hello Kitty” crisps and sweets. Apart from that there are huge bags of rice and powdered acorns, indian millet, dried pumpkin slices and pickled radish, the big giant white mooli type, rather than the miniscule red English type.


Once we had filled our big shopping till MLD could no longer walk upright with it on her shoulder we made a start on the three charity shops. Just look what I came up with ….




Obviously someone in this area has been studying fashion recently though I have to admit I think they more or less just bought the books and glanced at them. They are hardly read, let alone read and re-read. no I’m not a dedicated follower of fashion but I have always had an interest in costume and textiles and wider design issues and I couldn’t bear to live this little set of four books to be split up. They need to live together on a shelf.

Fashion as Communication by Malcolm Barnard, 1996, Routledge

The Face of Fashion – Cultural Studies in Fashion by Jennifer Craik, 1994, Routledge

Fashion Theory – The Journal of dress, Body & Culture Vol 1 Issue 1, March 1997, Berg

Dress and Ethnicity (Ethnicity and Identity Series) edited by Joanne B. Eicher, 1995, Berg

I know they are all at least ten years old but even in the academic world they can’t be completely out of date. I’ve already found something that will serve as a useful starting point for a discussion amongst one group of my friends. I consider that I have had excellent value for money with my purchases. Each book cost me £2 and when new the slimmest, cheapest of them was £9.55 with the most expensive being £14.95


Booker Prize Congratulations

Congratulatuons to Anne Enrightfor winning The man Booker Prize last night with her novel “Gatherings”.To my knowledge I have not read any of those shortlisted or even entered for this literary award. I’m never very up to date with my reading as I tend to acquire books from  charity shops and jumble sale. It is likely that any book acquired this way has already been read by someone but probably not loved so much that they couldn’t bear to part with it. Or of course there is the distinct possibility that they are just a very tidy, organised person and stick  to that scary rule of “one in – one out”. The third, sad possibility is that they are dead and someone has hurled their personal  possessions wholesale at the local Oxfam outlet.

Been to All Pally for KSS

I spent all day at Alexander Palace at the Knitting and Stitching Show. Too tired to tell anything now.

Are you a party animal?

In “the Club of Queer Trades”, G K Chesterton says of a character:

“He welcomed a human face as he might welcome a sudden blend of colour in a sunset; but he no more felt the need of going out to parties than he felt the need of altering the sunset clouds.”

What a wonderful way to describe how I feel. I do like people but I couldn’t eat a whole one!. Seriously, I do enjoy the company of others and meeting new people but it has to be in the right situation and parties just don’t do it for me. They always seem contrived and orchestrated and often “put on” either to impress, keep up or just because it’s the thing to do.

I much prefer impromptu gatherings and when I was a girl I dreamt of having the sort of  home where anyone was welcome to drop in anytime and a corner would be easily found for them, in the plural, to stay a night or four. But life’s not like that and I ended up married to a quiet man who doesn’t find it easy to allow hoards of people into his safe place. You can’t have your cake and eat it. I would have run a mile from anyone who phoned up from work at 4pm announcing “I’ve invited Fred and Ginger round to dinner tonight”. When our eldest was a baby I knew someone whose husband did that all that time and also ran his finger across the top of doors to check for dust. Phew! A lucky escape. I’ll stick with my mildly anti-social spouse and be thankful.

So why GKC  all of a sudden? Many years ago when I was in secondary school I remember reading some of his Fr Brown detective stories but I hadn’t even thought of him until this morning when Stuck-in-a-Book was talking about authors who had initials rather than first names. Then I discovered LIBRIVOX , blogged about it and even had a comment from the project’s founder, Hugh McGuire.  He reassured me about a minor technical query and was kind enough to suggest some audio books that I might enjoy. I browsed a while and then wandered over to Project Gutenberg and came across the words that I decided to share with you my virtual friends. Is there anyone there? Party anybody?


I’m sure you’ve heard of Project Gutenberg, haven’t you? That’s right, it’s “a library of 17000 free ebooks whose copyright has expired in the USA”. So you can have a look at an online version of short stories by Edith Wharton before you decide whether or not you want to go rummaging around the online secondhand bookshops to locate a copy.

Librivox appears to be a newborn sibling to that amazing project. It describes itself as “acoustical liberation of books in the public domain”. You can download and listen to books, even burn them to CDs to listen to them in your car or put them on an mp3 player. You can also subscribe to a regular podcast. That way I suppose it will be a bit of a lucky dip or an opportunity to widen your “reading” taste. I have yet to investigate Librivox but I am keeping my fingers crossed that technology will not exclude me from this interesting proposition. I am currently unable to listen again or live to any BBC Radio programme because my dearly beloved has installed 64 bit Windows on our computer and the Beeb hasn’t caught up with us yet.

So, you can be a passive listen to a Librivox recording or more excitingly you can be one of the readers so that others may enjoy these books. Recently Stuck-in-a-Book was pondering on whether you can be prejudiced against an author because of their gender or what you thought was their gender. So what happens when you listen to an audio book and someone of the wrong sex, in your opinion at least, reads the book? Does it matter if the reader is from the wrong side of the Atlantic or has a thick or even slight foreign or regional accent? Who would you most like to read to you. For starters I’m claiming Anthony Hopkins as my personal reader.

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