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DrLMK "LMK79" (United Kingdom)

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Solutions, Pure Lanolin, 7 fl oz (207 ml)
Solutions, Pure Lanolin, 7 fl oz (207 ml)
Offered by STRATTON UK
Price: £9.69

5.0 out of 5 stars The Smell of the Sheep!, 20 Oct 2014
I bought this for use as an all-round liniment - for breast feeding, nappy rash, hand cream, and to lanolise my knitting. It's super sticky but softens very quickly and leaves skin feeling deeply moisturised and smooth.
It's so pure grade it *actually smells of sheep* (no kidding). I love the smell because it reminds me of being on the farm as a kid, but some people may not like the smell!
I will definitely be buying this again, it's a firm favourite with me.

Roberts Classic DAB2 DAB/DAB+/FM Digital Radio with Simple Presets - Champagne
Roberts Classic DAB2 DAB/DAB+/FM Digital Radio with Simple Presets - Champagne
Offered by mopodo-uk
Price: £34.75

2.0 out of 5 stars Roberts didn't think this one through, 7 Oct 2014
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Roberts fan and will only have Roberts radios in my household, but this model has one big flaw: everyone thinks the big round knob is the volume control. It's the tuner. It just seems intuitive that the volume control would be the round knob, so whenever my mum or dad or someone comes round and I've got the radio on, they reach to turn the volume down and unwittingly re-tune to some local pop station and we all get blasted with hip-hop instead of soothing Radio 4: panic and chaos ensue. And once again I have to patiently explain that the big round knob is not the volume control, "though you'd think it is, logically, wouldn't you?".

Crock-Pot Slow Cooker, 2.4 Litre - White
Crock-Pot Slow Cooker, 2.4 Litre - White
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great size, very economical, 6 Oct 2014
This is the perfect Crock-Pot for students, single people, or couples and small households. I was quite surprised at how capacious it is, and you can actually feed about 3-4 people with it if it's something like chilli that you're bulking up with rice or potatoes. So it's good if you want to cook a meal and have leftovers for the next day.
This is the perfect present for a student going away to university, or for a teacher or nurse - basically anyone who'll be out all day and wants no-fuss, economical, and nourishing food.
I couldn't live without mine.

After Me Comes the Flood
After Me Comes the Flood
by Sarah Perry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.59

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars After this comes the snoring, 30 Aug 2014
I was bored by this book after just a few pages but had to stick with it because I'd been sent a review copy and was therefore obliged to read to the end. I kept hoping it would get better, but it never did. It's a while since I've come across a work of fiction so achingly pretentious and self-indulgent.

The only reason the book is of any interest to literary editors is because the author's agent/publisher has hyped up her unconventional religious upbringing, as if this is a selling point, or makes her uniquely special or talented in some way. Maybe religious minded thirty-something women are such a rarity these days that the London literati are all falling over themselves for this kind of personal narrative.

The author's personal narrative might intrigue but the fictional one does not. In the first few pages the reader is introduced to some random bloke called John who, we're expected to believe, runs an independent bookshop in London (yes, as if that's economically viable!) and who can afford to shut it up for a few days and go off to visit family on the coast because London's a bit hot and he fancies a break. There's a heatwave you see. At this point you're trusting that you'll find out a bit more about John; what he's like, what makes him tick - you know, the things that generally make a reader *care* about a character. But you never ever find out more about him than this, and so you never ever give a monkeys about John or what happens to him.
So John's car breaks down in the middle of Thetford Forest and he wanders off through the forest to a remote house. As you do. Does he ask for a can of petrol, some jump leads, and a phone to ring the AA? No, he moves in straight away with a bunch of complete strangers who live in this remote house and who seem like complete nutters. And, lo, it turns out they *are* complete nutters, having escaped from a mental asylum en masse to form a little commume (and we're never told how it comes to pass that the police and/or health services aren't interested in their whereabouts, or how they pay the bills or do the shopping or anything practical like that). What does John do? Does he back away nervously and get out there sharpish? No, he merrily joins their mad little world. As you do. What's more, he never thinks to call his family who are presumably waiting for him to arrive and are possibly a little bit worried about him having gone awol.
So having introduced John and given the reader not much chance to get to know or like him, the author then introduces a whole load of other random characters and expects the reader to care about them too. It's as if the author knows these characters very well, having lived with them inside her head for a long time, but never pays the reader the courtesy of drawing them in full so that we can get to know them too.
Every scene reads like it's been tried out in creative writing seminars where people are too polite or too wrapped up in themselves to say 'I don't think this works'. Good as isolated set pieces perhaps, but useless as part of a structured narrative.
The style is all very Iris Murdoch or Barbara Vine, but only in a Wannabe-Iris-Murdoch sort of way. There's a sense that there might be an original voice under there, but it hasn't come out yet, and is muffled by other styles and influences.
And the dialogue reads like some pretentious screenplay for the BBC circa 1976. Seriously, no-one talks like that anymore.
Have I mentioned the cliches yet? "The wind moaned"... "The kettle sang on the hob" etc etc. It even ends, exactly as you'd expect, with a big climactic thunderstorm in which something terrible happens. Or at least it would be terrible, if you actually cared, which I didn't. By that point I was skimming the pages, willing it to finish already.

I'm sure that if you're in the tiny bubble of university creative writing departments where everyone knows everyone else and endorses each others' work, it's probably all very clever and convention-breaking or what have you. But if you're someone who's looking for a good read, for characters you can care about, for a book that'll give you your money's worth, then give this one a miss.

Everything about this book - from the way it's been marketed to the way it's written - is tedious and annoying. I simply couldn't find anything kind to say about it, which is pretty unusual for a debut novel, where reviewers are supposed to find some saving grace or find something encouraging and positive to say. I'd prefer to be nice about a book than critical, but I just couldn't find much in this. Perhaps if the author gets out of the safe reflective sound-box of institutionalised creative writing departments she might find a more mature 'stand-alone' voice. The hype promised so much, but this debut doesn't deliver.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 13, 2014 4:47 PM BST

Pony Multisize Interchangeable Circular Bamboo Knitting Needles Set with Case
Pony Multisize Interchangeable Circular Bamboo Knitting Needles Set with Case
Offered by GUR Sewing Machines
Price: £98.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A quality investment, 1 Aug 2014
There are now many brands of interchangeable sets out there, from Addi to KnitPro and Prym, but this set from Pony really takes some beating. The points are nice and sharp, the transition is very smooth, the shanks are polished and light. The case is also very well designed and hand woven. Everything is neatly organised with its own pocket, and there is room to add shanks in other sizes should you want to make additions. It's a real pleasure to use.

Because of the wide availability of Pony interchangeables in UK stores it's easy to get hold of replacement points, caps, or cables should you need to.

This is an expensive purchase but it's a fantastic investment. I don't regret buying my set.

Vomit Bags with absorbent liner (x20)
Vomit Bags with absorbent liner (x20)
Offered by Miller Medical Supplies
Price: £13.76

5.0 out of 5 stars Handy for pregnancy sickness, 6 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I got these because I was experiencing really bad pregnancy sickness, morning noon and evening. There were times when I was on the tube or bus, or driving, or at the theatre or supermarket, where I had to dive into my handbag to get one of these - they were a lifesaver. Highly recommended.

The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting: Stitches, Techniques, and Projects for Lighter-Than-Air Shawls & More
The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting: Stitches, Techniques, and Projects for Lighter-Than-Air Shawls & More
by Elizabeth Lovick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for beginners, good to have in the library, 12 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the book I wish I'd had when I started out knitting Shetland Lace. It's great for the beginner and is laid out very clearly. There are a few pages on the history and culture of Shetland lace knitting, before moving on to essential techniques. Double page spreads cover the following topics: 'Tools and equipment'; 'Yarn'; 'The basics'; 'Working from a chart'; 'Edges and seams'; 'Picking up stitches'; 'Dealing with mistakes'; 'Dressing lace' (stretching it out); and 'Designing Shetland Lace'.

Of use to the beginner would be the comprehensive guide to yarn overs and the kinds of decreases used in lace knitting. The diagrams are clearly drawn, and the text instructions are clear and simple too. Also useful to the beginner would be how to read lace charts. There are handy tips - like using a lifeline - that a beginner wouldn't necessarily know about.

Intermediate knitters will be more interested in the design section, what the author calls "putting the right patterns together in the right way". She covers construction shapes, charting, and putting motifs together. There are short sections on designing a stole, a scarf, and a christening gown.

The best feature of the book - and its real selling point for Shetland lace enthusiasts - is the stitch directory. The author categorises stitch patterns not in terms of "difficulty" but in terms of "concentration level" (because as she rightly points out, lace knitting is easy when you know the stitches but some patterns require more concentration than others!). Motifs include traditional Shetland ones like 'Cat's Paw', 'Fern', and 'Print of the Wave' as well as some others from the author's own experience. There are motifs for centre sections, edge insertions, and lace edging. The idea is that you can pick and choose a motif, an insertion, and an edging, and put them together to make your own design.

There are a few projects at the end of the book: a cobweb shawl, a hat and scarf set in chunky yarn, a modern version of a hap shawl, a baby set, some lacy mitts, socks, and a small crescent shawl. I personally found these a little disappointing but that's only because I was hoping for something more traditional and challenging - 'The Magic of Shetland Lace' isn't really that kind of book. It's main aim is to get knitters to understand that Shetland lace isn't challenging! It's also trying to capture a younger generation of knitters with updated and modernised patterns. Instead of the traditional Shetland yarn colours like white, black, and fawn, the author has gone for bright colours and dyed yarns. The use of colour in the book - in the photos of Shetland scenery especially - makes the book a feast for the eyes. So it would make a good gift because it's a real pleasure to look at.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 15, 2014 11:17 AM BST

No Love Here: A Priest's Journey
No Love Here: A Priest's Journey
by Martin Gordon
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A moving story of a vocational journey, 2 Oct 2013
'No Love Here' is the gripping and moving story of one man's vocational journey. After his father fled County Sligo in 1923, facing reprisals for having fought for the Free State Army, Martin Gordon was born in the Govan tenements of Glasgow where his father had found work in the shipyards. Martin vividly describes growing up in the tenements in the 1930s, the sense of community but also the privations, and of the precariousness of life near the shipyards during Nazi bombing campaigns during the war. After the death of his mother from a botched abortion, Martin's father sends him to Ireland to be with relatives. Rural Ireland of the 1940s is drawn in precise detail: the rhythms of life on a farm, being part of a small community, the seasonal movement of people, superstitions and folklore. As a piece of social history these parts of Martin Gordon's story are fascinating.

At the heart of the book is a love story between Martin and a girl he meets locally, Joan. He and Joan become inseparable and their burgeoning relationship is told with great delicacy and feeling. Martin becomes attached not only to Joan but to her family, in particular Joan's mother. However, when he feels drawn to the priesthood he has to make a choice between his vocation and the girl he's grown to love. Martin describes his time in seminary as intellectually stimulating but lonely and lacking in many ways, not least in vocational support. With little to prepare him for the realities and practicalities of the priestly ministry, and with little fraternal guidance from his fellow priests, he struggles when placed in a parish.

Martin's time serving the Catholic community around Amwell Street in London - an area taking in Sadler's Wells and the Angel - in the early 1960s shows a society in transition as Fr Martin deals not only with weddings but also with women pregnant outside wedlock. Immersed in the life of the priest during this period he comes into contact with many different worlds, from the theatre world to football. Again, Martin's attention to detail vividly recreates the past as if it were present to the reader. This is also the most testing time as he confronts the emotional fallout of his decision for Joan and himself. Feeling that 'something was missing' and disillusioned with the number of priests he encounters who are addicted to alcohol and illicit sex, he leaves the priesthood for an uncertain future.

'No Love Here' refrains from passing comment on the Catholic Church except to record how it was as the author encountered at a certain historical period: Martin Gordon simply tells his story. The reader feels great sadness about the lack of support he received not only in seminary, with its inadequate training and preparation, or from his fellow priests but also from his parishioners. The book is remarkably free of bitterness for all that. Much of the bad that happens to Martin Gordon comes after his time in the priesthood, as he finds himself an honest man making his way in the world amongst dishonest business men. Indeed, what makes for such a moving book is how the earlier innocence of the young man, coming of age in a more innocent time and place, gives way to a understanding of what the world can do. But the author's hope and optimism makes 'No Love Here' a tale of how the human spirit can endure.

Self-published, the book is unpolished by the editorial hand but more true to the telling because of it. Martin Gordon has a story to tell and a gift for the telling. Part love story, part social history, 'No Love Here' is honest, raw at times, and well worth the read.

Frances and Bernard
Frances and Bernard
by Carlene Bauer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kindred Spirits and Bittersweet Romance, 13 May 2013
This review is from: Frances and Bernard (Hardcover)
This is easily my favourite book of the year, if not of the century so far. It tells the story - in letters - of the relationship between novelist and short-story writer Frances Reardon (based on Flannery O'Connor) and Boston born poet Bernard Eliot (based on Robert Lowell). They meet at a writer's retreat in the summer of 1957 and recognise a rarity of mind and spirit in the other which makes them want to know more, and so a correspondence begins. It's based initially on their shared Catholicism: Frances is a cradle Catholic from an Irish immigrant family, and Bernard is a convert from an East Coast Puritan background. Their letters allow them space to get to know each other, honestly, clearly. They talk literature, faith, music, family. I won't say any more because I don't want to spoil the story, but they meet in New York in the late 50's/early 60's and the city forms a glittering backdrop to their relationship. The whole of life is in this book: faith, love, redemption, forgiveness, friendship, work, vocation. It's a serious and bittersweet book, and it makes author Carlene Bauer a serious talent in literary fiction.

Wrapped In Lace: Knitted Heirloom Designs from Around the World
Wrapped In Lace: Knitted Heirloom Designs from Around the World
by Margaret Stove
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New Zealand Lace, 19 April 2013
Designer and author Margaret Stove is a "master of knitted lace" and a leading expert on lace repair and conservation. In this book she "shares her personal knitting journey of learning to knit lace."

Chapter 1 is about the author wanting to reconstruct the Christening shawl used for herself and her sister which was knitted by her mother and grandmother in New Zealand around 1939. The pattern is given for this square shawl. There is also a double page spread about designing a garter-stitch square lace shawl.
Chapter 2, 'Knitting my First Shawl', is about how the author chose a Shetland pattern with English construction for her first shawl, and about learning how to spin, eventually spinning and knitting a 'wedding ring shawl'. There is a double page spread about designing a square diamond shawl, and a pattern given for a diamond square combining the New Zealand fern and Scotch Thistle motifs.
Chapter 3 is 'My First Original Design' and the pattern is given for this circular shawl with motifs based on highly unusual New Zealand flora. The more the author "learned about lace knitting, the more I wanted to create my own lace patterns to reflect my New Zealand heritage." This chapter discusses the construction of a circular shawl.
Chapter 4 is about how the author started looking further afield for motifs - to Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and other European countries. It was at this point she had to learn how to chart lace in order to work out the designs and chart the complex motifs of her native New Zealand flower designs. This was a time of widening horizons in others way too as she "was awarded a grant by the Arts Council to research the history of lace-knitting and to meet with master knitters to hone my skills". There is a page given over to Elizabeth Zimmerman's circular 'Pi' shawl, comparing it with the construction of another shawl called a 'Pie' shawl. There are patterns for two circular shawls.
Chapter 5 is about the triangular shawl and it goes into various methods of constructing triangular shawls. There is a patterns for a smallish triangular shawl with pointed edging.
Chapter 6 is about how the author learned to conserve and restore lace knitting, which honed her skills in assessing the architecture of lace-knitted shawls down to the minutest details. There is a page about conservation and restoration of textiles and about traditional Shetland shawls. This chapter has one of the best patterns in the book: Granny Cheyne's Shetland Shawl, based on one she restored.
Chapter 7 covers the author's visits to Orenburg in Russia, which has a long tradition of lace-knitting, and the author also discusses Haapsalu lace from Estonia with its characteristic 'nupps'. There is a double page spread about these traditional shawls from Orenburg and Estonia respectively. The pattern in this chapter (available free online) is a 'New Zealand tribute to Orenburg' and combines traditional Orenburg motifs with motifs based on New Zealand flora and fauna.
Chapter 8 talks about how the author's skills, refined over a lifetime, contributed to her being able to reconstruct the pattern for the Christening shawl from Chapter 1. There is also a page given over to 'Creating a Pointed Edging'. The pattern for this chapter, 'Filmy Fern Shawl', is a really exquisite and fine circular shawl with pointed edging.
The book finishes with three lace scarves: one that "has a central panel inspired by New Zealand Maori Taniko weaving"; another with pointed edging which pairs nupps characteristic to Estonian designs with a lattice design from an Uzbek shawl; and one inspired by the pretty mountain ribbonwood flower from the author's native New Zealand.
The final pages of the book are given over to techniques relevant to lace-knitting like grafting, life-lines, provisional cast-on, yarnovers, blocking, selvedges, and short rows.

This a really beautifully presented and well laid-out book, as fans of Interweave Press have come to expect from its knitting books. Margaret Stove's personal journey is an interesting story. However, the patterns are not for the faint hearted. For a knitter new to lace or at an intermediate level, the three small scarf patterns are probably the best bet. The circular shawl is well represented amongst these patterns, and of those I find only one or two to my personal taste in terms of motifs. Living far away from New Zealand and never having been there, the New Zealand motifs don't mean much to me personally but they might appeal to other peoples' tastes. I find the triangular shawl a little fussy but again that's just my personal taste. For me the stand-out patterns are the 'Filmy Fern' circular shawl, the square 'Granny Cheyne' shawl and the 'Ribbonwood' scarf.

'Wrapped In Lace' would make a lovely gift for someone who is interested in lace-knitting, although most lace-knitters will already know about the different characteristics of lace knitted in Shetland, Haapsalu and Orenburg. These traditions are really only introduced in this book in basic terms, and the double-page spreads are big on pictures but light on text, so a lot gets glossed over. My only other criticism is that the book doesn't go deeper into the knitty-gritty of restoration and conservation, or how to chart lace. The author makes light reference to these things, but they are never really gone into in detail. In some ways it feels like an opportunity has been lost for the author to share her 'how-to' knowledge and skills, or maybe she's holding that back for a follow-up book! For example, how to look at native flora and fauna and use it as an inspiration for a lace motif; how to transpose that inspiration into a lace chart; how to chart the motif within a bigger overall pattern. Ie, 'here's how I did it in my native New Zealand, and here's how you can do it where you are'; or how to repair a hole in an heirloom lace shawl. These are quite specialised skills that the author tells us she has but it isn't within the book's remit to go into much detail about those skills.

These criticisms aside, 'Wrapped In Lace' is a good addition to any library on lace-knitting, and any knitter who knits up one of the patterns will definitely be creating an heirloom to be treasured.

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