My artists model reclining on a bed of yarn while wearing a Christmas jumper. Of course.

Right so it’s only one month in, but #nobuyzone isn’t too tough so far (if I fancy a ball of yarn/new t-shirt etc, I just have a look at the pictures of my stash/wardrobe contents on my phone and, well, count my blessings and walk away from the temptation…sometimes slowly). But the little voice that says ‘flipping heck (or similar) haven’t you got enough stuff already?’ is leaking into other areas of my shopping.

I absolutely love ‘do-dabs’ for the house (I blame a couple of shops for this: Dubai’s The One which I used to frequently so frequently that it might as well have been a crack house, and John Lewis in the UK. Siren’s both). We have a lot of cushion covers, candle holders and y’know ‘ornaments’. And yet I love those pictures of minimalist homes: all white walls, white fur covered white sofas and sanded limed floor boards, but it wouldn’t be compatible with my love of curry, tea, coffee and red wine and life… I mean, look at my desk…not in the least bit ‘clean’. So I’ve been walking away from do-dabs too. Don’t worry – I have enough candle holders to last me a lifetime.

The question is, what do you replace ‘shopping’ with: I was in Manchester at the weekend and we visited the Christmas market, popped into various shops and I bought…. soap. We (the universal we) have been learning for the last few decades to view ‘shopping’ as an activity. I don’t mean food supplies or necessary household goods, but that random strolling around busy shops, touching stuff and buying yet another grey t-shirt. I heard a woman in a shop recently saying “ I won’t leave this place without buying something” while literally grabbing at random stuff. Whole cities have been built around malls, and one of the criteria for a vibrant town or city is a good ‘shopping’ centre.

Some people in Manchester seem to have replaced it with drink. But I’m too old to spend Saturday afternoon in the pub without dire consequences. I can’t hike at the moment (damn you arthritis) and exercise is similarly awkward. Cinema and theatre are fabulous before you shout out, but not exactly social in the way that ‘shopping’ is. So. Here’s my question, how do you replace ‘shopping’ in a culture that is now literally built around it?

Finished objects:

Crappy weather and ample time are conducive to knitting, so I’ve finished these super-duper socks, and this rather poorly photographed hat. The socks are my pattern and West Yorkshire Spinners and Rico sock yarn. The hat is vaguely this made in a combination of Adriafil New Zealand (delicious) and Rico something-or-something. I also crocheted a cowl/neck-warmer/collar for my son (have we settled on a name for those yet?) in a rib stitch and the left over aqua yarn from the hat. It’s gorgeous and cosy and in consequence he won’t take it off to have it photographed!

a little break

as the sun goes down….

Week three of the #nobuyzone has been slightly more challenging than the previous two as I was on holiday – sort of – in Dubai.

My husband still has some business links out there, I had air-miles to use up before they expired and it was a sort-of anniversary too. Twenty years ago I packed up a house, waved it off to storage, got on a plane with two young children and headed out to join K (who had already been living there for a couple of months).  We stayed for 7 years and saw the country expand and prosper at an exponential rate as we raised our two small boys. It was a great place for a young family, but eventually we were ready to head for home when secondary education beckoned.

Many of our friends in Dubai stayed there and we caught up with them this week, got a bit of a tan and toured favourite Dubai places: it says a lot about our lives there that food and drink were the focus – we were never beach club fans or sun-worshippers!

Oddly life there used to include a lot of malls: first off it was a good place for a walk if the temperatures were soaring – the air conditioning was heaven! But it’s got to be said that shopping was a feature of the lifestyle. There are dozens of malls, thousands of shops and all the recognisable brands from around the world from M&S to Crate and Barrell. Most westerners were out on an ex-pat income (and usually tax-free) and earning more than they had at home so maybe a little more free-spending than usual.

I liked spending on our villa: picking up candle holders and cushion covers, kitchen do-dabs and cookware, but many people I knew loved the fashion shopping and spa treatments – you could always find whatever you were after in one of Dubai’s many malls!

So we visited a couple of shopping haunts and had a stroll around the country’s biggest centre. And what a weird feeling it is to wander up and down a shopping mall and not browse the shops – I didn’t particularly feel particularly virtuous or deprived – just disinterested. I had made a couple of things to wear for the holiday as a treat and that was enough. I don’t know if this will last but if it does not buying should be doddle (yep, that’s likely….)

Naturally I didn’t take knitting and so my works in progress are still …well, in progress. I’m at the armholes of K’s sweater so that’s good, but to be honest that’s about it. Hopefully I’ll have more to show you next week. In the meantime here’s a little collage of  pictures I took of the Abu Dhabi Louvre – a newly opened and wonderful addition to the capital of the UAE.

the rather wonderful Abu Dhabi Louvre.

A tale of grey t-shirts.

Why do we keep some stuff, and why do we throw some stuff away?

I was ironing a treasured t-shirt the other day. It’s grey, beginning to bobble and seems to be prone to sucking up grease for some reason (that reason might be my love of curry, but that’s another story). I bought it in a sale and there’s nothing especially remarkable about it. It ticks a lot of essential boxes – a-line, grey and comfortable – but it’s not a unique wardrobe ‘piece’ in that respect. I just love it. Don’t know why.

It made me think about all the things that I’ve bought and thrown away. Why did I like these things enough to buy them, but not enough to keep them? I rarely get rid of things because they have worn out – do you? (Socks could be the only exception, and that is one of the reasons why they’re a good knitters project!), but I have got rid of perhaps hundreds of pounds of stuff that I bought, rarely wore and gave away for nothing.

Changing room mirrors are a factor (I reckon I don’t need to lose weight, just get the same mirrors that they use in Next), addled reasons for buying (as a treat/salve/reward/revenge) is another. Weight gain and loss used to be a problem for my wardrobe (and self-esteem)*….. But often I just bought on a whim and added the stuff to my collection without ever really thinking about it, and then fell out of ‘love’ with them.

I am interested to see what happens to my clothes and shoes over the coming year – what wears out? What needs mending? What could be refashioned? I already fix my families jeans (they seem to wear them out weirdly quickly, whereas mine merely gracefully succumb to lycra fatigue…)

It’s been a couple of weeks of #nobuyzone and I’ve had no pangs of regret yet, and there’s been a certain pleasure in rediscovering old friends from my winter wardrobe, now that the weather had changed. By the way, did I mention that I have a lot of scarfs? Just as well, but I wish I had engaged in a little hat and glove excess too!

Works in progress – I have two sock halves, I find that second sock syndrome is slightly improved if you have 2 pairs you can alternate. NB this doesn’t always help.


I am making my husband a sweater – it’s this pattern in Plutolopi yarn. We picked up this un-spun pure wool in Iceland, where my husband fell in love with their traditional sweaters. He did the maths, looked at me and bought the yarn instead of the ready-made. I am enjoying the knit but the yarn covers me in fluff and it’s big…he’s big, his chest is big, ergo – a lot of stitches.IMG_3976
IMG_3978Finished? The crochet scarf/wrap in Isager Highland wool. It’s nice but the pattern is shockingly bad, and the finished item is barely long enough to qualify as a scarf or wrap. Beware…


*I now just stay plump. Much easier…