Dear Twitter

Dear Twitter

I’ll admit I was skeptical of you at first. I used to call you Twatter. I thought all you were about was slebs tweeting PR friendly snippets of a carefully constructed life to their sycophantic fans.

Now I know better. I have embraced all that you have to offer. It is like having the best bits of the Internet delivered to me personally. I love following people with whom I have shared interests, and some people with whom I have nothing in common. Some people are clever, and some are just damn funny. Twitter is the first place I turn to in the morning for news and activity. I share my news and my grumbles, and rejoice in the joy visited on people who I have never met. I have found help and advice on varying topics such as Excel, parenting and baking bread. Yes, my conversion has been complete.

But Twitter, I feel our relationship may be coming to an end. Oh, it’s not because of the inane Twitter parties, or the fascist, racist and homophobic comments. I understand this is the price we pay for free speech. No, the straw that is slowly floating down to rest atop the overloaded camel is the frequent pornographic avatar photos that bombard my connections page.

On a weekly and sometimes daily basis I am faced with lewd pictures of people who are following me. These pictures are generally close ups of men’s penises. Occasionally the penis is penetrating a woman, her vulva unnaturally stripped of any hair.Other images have shown painful looking piercings, and varying degrees of flaccidity and closeness.

I’ll admit my curiosity was marginally peaked by the man who’s penis was fully tattooed in green and designed to resemble a dragon. You’ve got to admit that sort of dedication to the cause.

Today’s monstrosity was a woman who’s bucks had been stretched apart and clamped, exposing the intricacies of her reproductive organ. I’m not sure if I am supposed to feel aroused or threatened by this image. Either way, I can’t understand why these people think I am their target market.

I’m am unsure what the point is behind these images and the accounts they are linked to. I dare not investigate them in too much detail. But I am telling you here and now Twitter – I DO NOT WANT TO SEE THEM. Obviously I don’t even want them to exist, but there is little I can personally do about that. We live in a patriarchal culture where misogyny abounds, and certain men brandish their penis as a weapon, caring little, and perhaps even relishing in the damage it causes.

I am not a prude, and I refuse to engage with anyone who even thinks that puritanism has anything to do with this. This is about these sickening images being thrust upon my personal account without my consent. These images, once seen, cannot be unseen, and though I block and report them, for a time they remain on my connections page, strangers’ cocks just winking at me malevolently.

Twitter, this is your patch, your application, what are you going to do about it? I am a 31 year old women, and while these images sicken me, I’m mature enough that my disgust comes mainly from what these images represent than what they are. But what if it was a teenager or young adult seeing these images? What messages are they going to take from the freely distributed pictures of parts of the body that should remain private between intimates? What is the impact of the normalisation of images of women’s shorn pubic areas, being violated by various objects?

I don’t know how it can be stopped, but then I don’t own a massively successful social networking application. I’m assuming that within the technologically skilled Twitter HQ there are people who could come up with some sort of filtering a mechanism to screen out pornographic images. Twitter, please do something about it, even if it not from fear of losing one lowly user, but out of a sense of social and moral responsibility.

Why blog?

20121115-101952 PM.jpg

‘I love you blogs and tea’ by jenniferramos at Etsy

So this Liz Jones article in the Daily Mail is still bothering me. I know, I know, it shouldn’t. It’s the Daily Mail, mysogynistic, racist, homophobic rag for the aspirational lower classes. But after reading the article I then started reading the comments section. Big mistake. The Daily Mail comments section is like a black hole for all hope and optimism. If Liz Jones is a Dementor then the Daily Mail website is Azkaban. The commenters competing over who can vituperate the loudest. Their targets: mothers, Mumsnetters and bloggers. Now these three things happen to be major parts of my identity at the moment, so to see them systematically abused by people who have very little knowledge of any of them is a teeny bit soul destroying.

Now, most of you will know that my love Mumsnet is both strong and enduring. I can and have posted at length about the good that comes out of that website. I will not hear a bad word said against it. That’s not to say there are no bad words to say, I know all its faults. But like an errant family member, or a football team in a slump, I acknowledge and accept its faults but continue to love and support it anyway.

It’s easier to shake off the criticism levied against me as a mother. I have pushed a human being out of a hole in my body the size of egg cup. I have sucked snot out of the nose of stuffed up baby. I have paused during breastfeeding to vomit from the pain of a migraine, then resumed breastfeeding. I have in turn been vomited on and my first instinct is always to check my child is ok. I am bringing up two delightful children to become productive and charming members of society who will eventually be funding the pensions of the ignorant Daily Mail reading twats who loathe children so much. If you haven’t done at least one of those things then I am afraid you can fuck off and keep your women-hating thoughts to yourself.

But, and this is the crux of this post (yes, three paragraphs and we are not even at the crux yet – if the Internet is shortening people’s attention spans it’s not because of me), blogging is a harder hobby to defend. It is by nature an attention-seeking activity, and often rather ego centric. While undoubtably there are blogs out their with obvious objectives, trying to change the world, highlight discrimination and poor treatments, there is a rather large section of blogs which mainly detail people’s own lives and opinions, with the inherent assumption that other people should want to read about this. This set me thinking about why people blog, is it a pointless hobby? Do the benefits outweighs the negatives? And personally, should I continue to blog, labouring under the assumption that I am interesting enough that people will want to listen to what I have to say. I posted some questions on the Mumsnet Blog Network (where else?) and people have answered or blogged about it, so I should really answer them myself too. Here goes:

Why do you blog?
Well, it started out as a way to show off stuff I had made, but then I found I quite enjoyed the writing, and got complimented on it, which made me want to do it some more.
What do you get from it?
Well, attention and compliments, which I love. An outlet for creativity; I really enjoy the creation of my posts, thinking them through and trying to come to a resolution. I have also made lovely friends through my blog.
Is it trivial and is that ok sometimes?
Yes and yes. Look, people are always complaining that the news is so depressing. All these trivial parts of the blogosphere are are the bits that remind us that the world is still going on as usual. And things that seem trivial to other people may not be trivial to the people involved. This is especially true when it comes to having children. The crises I had over what to feed my children, how to get them to take a bottle, and have I damaged my baby by watching Sex and The City while breastfeeding, all seem trite now, but at the time they were huge, and they mattered. Just like it mattered when I was 14 and trying to decipher what it meant when Chris Davies borrowed my pen in English. One woman’s triviality is another women’s tragedy. But you know what blogs give us, they allow us insight into what other people are thinking; all those ephemeral thoughts and overblown worries that we have, other people have too. So yes, triviality is ok. Especially if it’s funny like this one.
Why should people be interested in what you write?
Well because I often have some well articulated thoughts among the diatribe. I think about the topic I am writing about and try to find new angles. I make stuff and often it’s nice, I like to give people ideas (that I have usually stolen from someone else). I’m occasionally funny, plus I also think I am mostly quite positive on my blog, which is funny as I am a pessimist in real life. But there is nothing like rereading what you’ve written to bore the pants of you, which means that it is probably boring other people. I want people to come back to my blog, and I know they won’t if it is full of whining, because I don’t want to read other people’s whining myself. That isn’t to say that all blogs must be positive, some aren’t for good reasons, but their mission is about sharing and empathising, and mine mission isn’t nearly so noble.
Do you care if they are not?
I’d be lying if I said no, but that’s less because I take it as a personal slight on my writing or me, but more a slight on what I am writing about. I’m not great when people don’t share my views and values, so I take that more personally than a lack of interest in me.
If you blog just for you why do it publically?
I don’t blog for me, or not in the way people usually mean. I get a lot from blogging, so I do it for me in that respect, but I wouldn’t get nearly as much from it if it was private.
What value do you think you are adding to the world by blogging?
Occasionally entertaining, and interesting to read. My blog is pretty ‘real’ compared to many craft blogs, so while I probably don’t inspire awe and aspiration, I might inspire a sense of “I could do that” which I much prefer. I think I am also making people more aware of feminist issues. And at least one person has said that they started blogging because of me, I really should ask her why.
Do you feel defensive about blogging?
I did, and still do a little. But writing this has helped me to see what I get out of blogging, plus I know other people like it because they tell me, so I am adding some value too. But there is still the niggly feeling that it is all a bit pointless and ego centric. That doesn’t make me want to stop, but it is making me stop and think about the value I am adding with each post. There is enough room out there on the Internet for everyone, so I’m wasting nothing but my own time. And as for the people belittling blogs for their mundanity and triviality from Twitter, chat forums, or the Daily Mail website, glass houses people, glass houses.

Never Too Late To Be Great

Crochet clock time
Crochet clock by Crochet Time

Yesterday, Richard Whitehead stormed to an amazing victory in the paralympic T42 200m, coming from last place at the halfway mark. This amazing athlete got off to a rocky start, slipping on one of his prothetic legs leaving him at the back. Something drove him on to overtake all the other competitors, somehow he found that little bit extra which took him to the finish line. Even in the Olympic games last month it always amazed me, not only how people could come from behind the crowd to take the lead in the final stretch, but how the commentators could accurately predict this, certain athletes being known for their ability to sprint to the end. These people are Completer Finishers, people who see things through to the end. OK, experts will realise that my using this team role description from Belbin is a bit of a misnomer in this context, but essentially I am talking about people who see the end is in sight and then find something more within them to give, no matter how much they have given already.

I am categorically not one of these people, I am in no way shape or form a completer finisher, nor a sprinter to the end. I start things off with gusto, but when the end is in sight I tend to lose momentum as if I am there already. I noticed this as I was running last night. I was nearing home and told myself I just had to get to the bench then I could stop and walk the last 50 metres. Trying to get the most out of my run as the bench came in sight I willed myself to sprint to it, but I just couldn’t, it was all I could to run at my usual pace to my designated end point, despite being able to run further on other runs. I am similar with my crafting projects. I get just near the end and I struggle with the finishing touches. And if a project needs altering once complete, forget it, that door has closed.

One of the reasons I think I am like this is that there are so many things I want to do, that as I near the end of one thing, my mind is already on the next. There are so many things that I want to do that I’m in a hurry to fit them all in. I have written before about my ‘scanner’ tendencies. I can’t bear to be doing nothing, not because I am afraid of boredom, but because I am afraid of wasting time. If I am watching TV I have to be doing something else, crochet or planning a blog post. Recently I went on a 5 hour (each way) car trip with colleagues. I can’t read or crochet in the car because it makes me sick, so all in all I had 10 hours dead time, making small talk with people I barely know. Think what I could have achieved in 10 hours. If I had been on my own I could have listened to Radio 4 or a talking book and you know, learned something. However, this desire to pack so much in sometimes has the complete opposite effect. I want to do so much, and so it well, and fear that I can’t possibly do so that I get struck with a sort of paralysis and instead end up on the sofa watching endless episodes of Gilmore Girls. At the end of those days, instead of relishing doing nothing, I beat myself up for not having achieved anything with my day.

This whole gamut of behaviours stems from fear, fear of insignificance, and ultimately fear of death. Not a fear of dying itself, but a fear of dying before I’ve done all the things I want to do in the world, before I’ve made my mark. I recently read a very salient article in Psychologies magazine by an author named Tom Butler-Bowden. He has written a book called Never Too Late: The Power of Thinking Long. The book is a reminder that success actually rarely happens over night, and we shouldn’t feel demoralised by our lack of (perceived) achievement. He even comes up with a formula for figuring out how much productive life you have left. I can’t find the magazine right now, so I will try and remember it. It assumes that you are most economically active between the ages of 20 and 80. So you take your age and take away 20, then divide that by 60 (no. of productive years in total) then times by 100. So for me that is 31-20/60×100=18.3. That means I am only 18% of the way through my productive life, I have a massive 82% left in which to make my mark on the world. The formula is meant to be a positive reality check, and it really was for me. I’m not even a fifth of the way through my productive life, there is plenty of time to fit in all the things I want to do.

Winston Churchill
It’s not too late for me to make my Priministerial bid

Plus, loads of really successful people didn’t get started till late in life. Winston Churchill, despite being born into very privileged circumstances, had a poor academic record and a speech impediment, and lost a few elections before becoming Prime Minister at 66. Alan Rickman, inexplicably attractive as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films, spent the majority of his career dressing other actors, and didn’t get a part in a film until he was 46. And last, but not least, Swedish Athlete Oscar Swahn won his first gold medal for deer shooting in 1908 at the age of 60 and was still winning medals at 72 in the 1920 Olympics. So, still time yet folks!

However, we do need to assess the way we measure success. I mean, at 31 I have a Master’s degree, a decent job, a happy marriage, two lovely children, I teach crochet classes, have a blog, am known for yarn bombing, and I am building up to running 10k (5 miles at the last count). Those are all achievements, and for some they would be enough. Not for me, but it’s ok, I’ve got 82% of my productive life to do the rest.

It’s easy to compare yourself to others and feel like you don’t measure up. I feel this is especially amplified in use of social media. On Twitter I follow people I admire, writers, journalists, artists, bloggers. Immersed in their world I feel like everyone around me is more successful and doing more with their lives. But really, that is a select few, and classic case of confirmation bias. Not only am I following people because they are doing things I admire, and doing them well, but also they are likely to only be promoting the successful sides of their lives. It’s not real life and it is important to remember that. I need to ground myself in reality, in my friends and family.

So, these are my resolutions:

Stop worrying about time slipping away, and remember I have 82% of productive time left

Appreciate what I have already achieved in life

When I do have days doing nothing, just appreciate them

Spend less time on Twitter and other social media (yeah, blogs too) and ground myself in my reality

And maybe I need to learn to hold a little bit back, to have a little bit of energy in reserve that will see me through to the end of whatever I am doing, whether that is at work, a craft project or a run. After all, I’m in for the long haul.

Another Mumsnet Blanket

You may remember I few months back I made some flowers to contribute towards a project for a bereaved family, one of whom was part of the mumsnet community? Well fate has reared it’s ugly head again. A mumsnetter has passed away, her death sadly announced by her husband. And in the intervening time another mumsnetter lost her 4 year old daughter in a tragic accident. I learnt this from the mother of this daughter on Twitter. Strange, you might think, that such information is shared in this way. I don’t think so. It’s no different to texting friends, emailing them, writing them letters. These people are part of a community. We are part of each other’s daily lives. And once again Mumsnetters are trying to do their bit to support these families. A blanket may seem trite, but what wouldn’t be trite? There is nothing that can be done to bring back lost loved ones. So you just do your little bit and hope that it can bring even just a tiny bit comfort.


There is no denying it. Life is just really shit for some people. Little children shouldn’t lose their mums. Parents shouldn’t lose their four year old daughter. There is none of this that doesn’t suck.

So this is my tiny contribution. A square for a blanket. The yarn was kindly donated to me by another mumsnetter, so all I contributed was my time. The pattern for the square is here. While the finished product is quite nice, the pattern is hard to follow, though an experienced crocheter should be able to plough through it. Thanks to all the Mumsnet crafters who helped me with the pattern.


Give your loved ones a squeeze tonight. Anyone who knows me will know that I am not a religious person, but there is no better way to say “there but for the grace of God go I.”

Be a little bit happier

I’m using my short crafting break to catch up on some reading. I find it hard to combine the two things I enjoy most, crochet and reading, so as I focus on one the other falls by the wayside. I’ve had to return the last few library books I borrowed unread, knowing that in the Christmas craft frenzy I would never have to time to read them.

You’ll see that my blog is noticeably lacking in New Years resolutions. I haven’t made any, which is unusual for me. I have given myself a short term goal for January though. A goal is different to a resolution. A resolution is something you resolve to keep regularly. A goal is something you aim to achieve, that eventually comes to an end.

My tentative goal for this month is to read 5 books. I’m not sure how realistic that actually is, but that is what I am aiming to do. The first book I started on Monday and finished today. It was The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. It wasn’t an instructional book as I expected to be, more a personal memoir of the author’s year-long project to try and make herself happier by making small changes in her life.

I really identified with the author and her personality (in fact I spent the time not reading the book stalking her on Twitter!). She maintains that she is not a fundamentally unhappy person, but has a habit towards short-temper, grouchiness, and a sense that things should be better.

Rubin managed to do a lot of research on the subject. I imagine the project was a lot easier given that she is a full-time writer and the project turned into a best-selling book. I’m not sure how easy it would be with a out of the home full on job, less financial stability, and little on hand childcare.

She breaks the task of being happy into 12 themes, one for each month, and then sets concrete resolutions for each month, marking her progress off against a resolutions chart. She is very honest about the things that did and didn’t work for her, and the sceptical reactions she encountered, not least from her husband.

The activities, and the conclusion, are fairly predictable, and there is little that isn’t really common sense. But somehow the methodical way Rubin tackled the project transformed a meaningless resolution into a real exercise in self-development.

I’m totally inspired by the book and am forcing DH to read enough extracts to make him hooked too! I intend to start my own happiness project. While Rubin maintains that every project is unique, I think that because of our similarities mine will follow a similar path. One of the books she references is even on my to-read list this month. My mum bought me a old copy of Jung’s Memories, Dreams and Reflections to read. And Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness is one I picked up from the library recently which has reawakened my interest in psychology.

Finally, if you love this book like I do, you will also love ‘Help! How to become a little bit happier and get slightly more done’ by Oliver Burkeman. It’s an appraisal of the self-help movement focusing on actual things that have been proven to work to improve your life, just a little. January is a time to make changes, but big changes are unrealistic and unsustainable. It’s the little things that altogether add up to make a difference.

HELP!: How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done


The Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum who commissioned the series of horses around the town, one of which I adorned with leg warmers, noticed my yarn bomb, and fortunately it seems they liked it! They tweeted a picture of it here. I must admit I did have a little moral debate both with myself, and Georgia, my partner in crime, over the morality of ‘defacing’ an artist’s peace of work. I decided that since it wasn’t really ‘defacing’ (well, they are rather nice aren’t they?) and they weren’t permanent, that hopefully the artist would have a sense of humour, and it seems that thankfully they did!


I replied to their tweet owning up and linking them to this blog, but I haven’t had a response yet. Sadly, the yarn bomb’s non-permanence has already been demonstrated. First the felt one went, then when I took my friends to show off my handiwork last night I discovered they had all gone. It’s the nature of the game I suppose. I just hope they went to a good home.


My lovely horse

If you weren’t following my yarn bombing mission on Twitter (and why weren’t you? Get with the 21st Century man!) here is my heart-stopping account. I’m telling you, they’ll be writing books about me one day…


I donned my disguise and went to rendezvous with Georgia, my partner in crime. After she’d faffed around trying to find the right cap, her bag and her felt bomb (“The kids were playing with it earlier”), and I stood around wondering if Clyde had to wait this long for Bonnie, we were finally on the road.

Once we’d got to our mark we stood around while drunken students took pictures of it, and debated the sensibility and morality of what we were doing, after all this is someone else’s artwork. However, the beauty of yarn bombing is that it’s not permanent, and it isn’t ruining anything. And we’ve made the yarn bombs anyway! Here’s the before picture:


I swear, as soon as we sat down to get started a police 4×4 drove right past us! I hadn’t really seriously thought about what I might say if we were approached, but fortunately I didn’t have to worry as they drove on by, probably to corral some drunken 20 year olds.

Well, it doesn't say anything about not giving it legwarmers

Anyway, we got down with our sewing, momentarily perturbed as two men started shouting at us, but turns out they were just asking where Tesco Express was.





I think the horse seems pleased with the overall effect.


Then off to the pub for a celebratory drink.


I’ll leave you with this ballad to round off our little escapade. Until the next time…

*updated as I’ve figure out how to embed You Tube videos! Yay!

Live yarn bomb tonight

Tonight’s the night for the next mission at 2100 hours (or thereabouts!) Agent Georgia and Agent Dilly will commence Operation LEGWARMER.

Step 1 will be to recce the possible targets to assess viability, visibility and parking opportunities.

Step 2 attachment of devices will commence.

Step 3 admire handiwork and take photos.

Step 4 go home and go to bed.



A cap and sunglasses – for discretion
Spare yarn
Scissors and a thread cutter (not to be used as weapons)
Yarn needles – for sewing
Twix – rations, it could get tough out there

And here are the devices:


This one was made by Georgia, and is more of a 'felt bomb'


I’m going to attempt to track our progress live via Twitter. Follow me @DillyTante, I’m a novice twitter so bear with me!