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Knitting things no. 1

Today, I’d like to talk to you about knitting.

I think that we — if you have been a spectator to my online ramblings for a while, at least — have established that I tend to get very, very restless, and in turn, get very, very obsessed with quite a number of new things. Particularly if they prove to keep me occupied so that my brain does not flit about as it is wont to do.

So, enter: knitting.

I learned on 31 December 2019, when I opted to stay home instead of going out because I was too sad and I felt ill. I’ve never tried it before, as crochet seemed to be more useful in tropical climes, and also less scary because you only have one needle instead of two. I know that’s faulty logic, but I was like 12, okay.

Anyway. Here is what I have knitted in January so far:

I… knit quite a bit of things in January. As such, I’ll be talking about the first three things I finished, which are decidedly not very exciting. Mostly because they are all, essentially, rectangular. In any case, I hope this is helpful or entertaining.

WOOL AND THE GANG: GOOD TIMES BLANKET

So, a few things. I didn’t have the correct needles (they didn’t have them in stock) and I didn’t have the patience or thoughtfulness to get them somewhere else. But, my first venture I think was overall a fun one. The pattern is very easy to read and follow, and the stitches (basically a garter stitch all throughout) were easy and therapeutic to make. Why does it look so shit, then, you say? Because it was my first project and I didn’t make a little tension swatch: an important little step that I can see now would have helped me out a lot with this project. Particularly because I had different needles, and so the amount of yarn in the kit, plus the resulting dimensions would have had to have been adjusted accordingly

In any case, it was an enjoyable kit. I was surprised at how much I took to it and how much I enjoyed it. I bought all of this crap on sale, by the way, but if you’re inclined, here’s the link to the kit and the yarn colours I used were Space Cadet and Perfect Peach. I ran out as I was casting off the stitches so I had to use a coral red (?) shade of WATG’s Tina Tape Yarn, which I think ended up looking kind of cool, tbh, but maybe that’s just me.

WOOL AND THE GANG: LIL TAKE ME HOME BLANKET

This woolly yarn went everywhere. All of my clothes and everything now has a little essence of WATG Crazy Sexy Wool in Purple Haze (which it seems like they have discontinued?????). Again, this blanket suffered a case of a few dropped stitches, but overall quite easy to make even with all the additional tassle-y bits. This kit used 25mm circular needles, which I found to be a little bit fiddly, but otherwise, it was an overall an okay project. Found it to be much quicker to knit since the stitches needn’t be quite as tight, plus it covered quite a bit of ground.

It is now my T.V. blanket. What a noble purpose. (Kit can be found here. None of these links are affiliate, worry not.)

RANDOM ASS SCARF I KNITTED IN BRISTOL AND WILL BEQUEATH TO MY BROTHER

Because I’m a little obsessive dummy, I wanted to do a small knitting project on my way to Bristol, when I went to see Pacita Abad’s show at Spike Island. I started knitting this fairly straightforward scarf in WATG (ofc…) Sugar Baby Alpaca (which… lol) in Moss Green. Again, it’s mostly a straight garter stitch all throughout the green part.

In Bristol, I found myself at a small haberdashery at the St. Nicholas Market. (I Google-mapped my way there, okay, so it wasn’t a serendipitous meeting.) So, the tweed bit was from that place. It’s part nylon, wool, and acrylic, so not quite as soft as the baby alpaca wool, but they just look really good together. I think I could have made this a little skinnier, to be honest, but what’s done is done.

The tweed bit I used for stitching practice so there’s a bit of purling and seed stitching, and rib stitch, and stockinette. Which was fun to see kind of unfold over the length of the scarf. I didn’t learn until much later how to tell from how the stitches look which stitch I ought to do for the next row if I’m after a particular pattern, but I figured that out at some point, haha.

The rest, I will write about in another installment, I think.

I have concluded through this very thorough exercise that I am more likely to learn new things by doing. And that, instead of getting frustrated at my lack of knack, if you will, I either a) throw the towel in and give up, or b) soldier on anyway. As is evidenced by all my dropped stitching, wrong stitching kept for “visual interest” and so on.

Nam June Paik — Tate Modern

One of my favourite pieces of trivia is that Nam June Paik is related to Ali Wong by marriage (a couple of times removed?). It is, admittedly, pitiful that all I knew about him was a piece of lame trivia and that he liked to work with television screens.

I’m the least adept person at trying to make sense of this, and often I find myself just wildly disinterested in the inclusion of new media in art. It perhaps carried on from my easily distracted baby brain, when we’d go around museums before I gave a shit about art, and saw some screens showing nothing I wanted to watch.

The case still stands that I have nothing profound to say about the Nam June Paik show, and it is because my brain is hard pressed to produce anything profound. Which isn’t to say that it carries on over to Paik. On the contrary, I was surprised and amazed and astounded at how far his explorations took him, in the realms of technology and music, the moving image and art.

The Sistine Chapel

I am sorry to have only gone to see this show on its last week on view. I would have very much like to spend time with it a little bit longer before its last day on the 9th of February. I think I’m going to go back there on Sunday, even though the crowds can be awful, just because it feels like he’s talking to you now, with work he’s done in the past, some of which were made 50 years ago.

I’m still stupid when it comes to the marriage of art and technology. I just can’t wrap my brain around it, and how they can coexist in a way that’s not a hard sell or too on the nose or just really fucking corny. Nam June Paik knew, though, and it was a delight to have witnessed it, even if it was in this small way.

Nam June Paik
Tate Modern, London
17 October 2019 — 09 February 2020
More info on Tate.com


Anselm Kiefer — “Superstrings, Runes, The Norns, Gordian Knot”

A major exhibition (IMO anyway) of Anselm Kiefer’s new work is closing next week, so I thought I’d actually write this in time. I have had this on my to-do list for quite a few weeks, but when you haven’t exercised that part of your brain that is required to accomplish particular tasks, these things appear to be more daunting than they were and/or really are.

Bohemia Lies by the Sea (1996)

The first work I ever encountered of Anselm Kiefer’s was Bohemia Lies by the Sea which is on display at the Met. I didn’t really know anything about him (or any other artist at that time, really), but my dad was so obviously moved by this image that both the image of my father (an unexpressive man when it comes to tender or overly serious emotions) and the image of the work itself remained with me for years and years.

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I went to see Superstrings, Runes, The Norns, Gordian Knot at White Cube Bermondsey with my flatmate, Laura, who is also a massive Kiefer fan. This was particularly exciting for me because the space is massive and all the work on view would be new.

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As far as my observations go, Kiefer’s work has always been loaded with meaning and history, and this continues on with Superstrings… with an emphasis on a variety of iterations and thoughts around the notion of, essentially, the string. Right from the entrance, in a large-scale installation that responds to the idea of string theory — a piece comprised of 30 vitrines after which the entire show is named — and the inherent connectedness of everything with everything else. The point is driven very, very obviously, and although on the whole it was compelling with a scale that’s astounding, I can’t really help but feel like this was a bit too on the nose an execution for an idea that could have been handled with a bit more subtlety. It almost feels like handing someone some Cliff Notes that begins with: “This is what this means.”

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Towards the end, I spent a lot of time with this work, Die Sieben Siegel, die geheime Offenbarung des Johannes, which was completed between 2016 and 2018. The title translates to something that is, at the same time, innocuous and terrifying: The seven seals, the secret revelation of John. The red splotches in the distance looks like a row of burning fires.

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This series of paintings reminded me of something W.G. Sebald wrote about in a very early chapter of The Rings of Saturn, which I am only mentioning in passing because I haven’t finished it and don’t want to pretend that I have. But, you know, a bookmark for later expansion, if you will.

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My favourite out of all of the pieces, of which there are many, is Ramanujan Summation — 1/12 which occupies the smallest room by itself. It is titled after a “mathematical technique used to assign value to infinite series,” an attempt at connecting the spiritual and the scientific, enjoining the sky with a field, the past and the present, “the celestial and the terrestrial.”

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I’m not sure if I buy that explanation, but I spent a good 20 minutes, I think, looking at this massive piece. There is a lot of other work on display, but I remember being enraptured by this one the most. Even though it wasn’t the first one we saw, nor was it the last. I remember the way my dad felt about Bohemia Lies By the Sea, and although I absolutely did feel enthralled by the work itself — whether it be because he’s a genius or still going at 74 years old, I very much believe that a part of me felt a little bit closer to my dad, even though right now, we live a thousand miles away from each other.

Anselm Kiefer
Superstrings, Runes, The Norns, Gordian Knot
White Cube Bermondsey, London, U.K.
15 November 2019 — 26 January 2020

Three Things No. 6

Three actual things that have preoccupied me in the last couple of days. (Someone said that the end of the year this year is worse than usual because of a lot of Saturn placements, so I guess I’ve had a lot of time spent at home.)

“Psycho” — Red Velvet

Look, I haven’t really tried very hard to branch out of BTS in terms of my K-pop fixation. I just love them, because they make me happy (lol) and not particularly because I find their music, you know, brilliant or amazing. They’re catchy and I listen to them a lot, but you know, I think my enjoyment has a lot to do with watching them interact and stuff, too. Is that a stranger reason? Perhaps.

In any case, I haven’t been particularly interested in listening to a lot of K-pop girl groups, for whatever reason, aside from a little 2NE1 (because Sandara) and a little SNSD/Girls Generation (because, IDK, makeup looks). But: “Psycho” was floating around the internet and was met with amazing reviews. It wasn’t until I was sort of force-fed it that I realised — wow, they’re actually really good and I love them all?

This song is legitimately catchy, the choreography is so good, THE LOOKS! I have this weird feeling of both Yeri and Joy getting like… the worst styling (usually), and I’m not like an expert or anything, but yes. Even they look really good in this one. Love the makeup, love everything.

(In case you were wondering, I love Wendy the most.)

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fire! Emblem! Three! Houses! Okay, so I got a Switch Lite a month and a half ago (not a Switch~ as I previously posted, completely unintentional error) and mostly used it to play Pokémon Shield, which was okay and fun and all of that, but I have not touched it since getting my second game: Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I am not a gaymer by any stretch of the imagination, but I spent 160+ hours in the last month and a half on this game. It’s a little embarrassing to admit lol, but it’s really so good. If you have Switch/Switch Lite, please get this gaaaaame. I’m so obsessed.

I am on my final run (fourth ending) and am dreading actually finishing it and moving on. Even though my brother got me Zelda (BotW!) for Christmas. And I also got Witcher 3 on sale, lol. They are harder tbh because I’m not used to games like that, but yes. FE3H. So good. I’ve been on subreddits for it, because I am insane but also cautiously backing away because we all know that when I find a rabbit hole, I kind of… fall in and wallow in it, like, voluntarily.

Knitting and mukbang videos, but together

So, if this wasn’t enough of a deterrent to my getting my life together like a proper adult, I taught myself how to knit. On New Years Eve. Alone in my house. Yep. This is 31.

I finished a couple of seasons of lame T.V. (I’m not telling you what shows, but there are honestly better shows out there for you to watch, cross my heart) whilst knitting but found out that my happy place is watching mukbang videos on YouTube while knitting. Particularly Stephanie Soo’s because she talks about weird-ass conspiracy theories and true crime crap while eating good food (as in, not just always — though sometimes — a ton of indulgent fast food takeaway). I’m close to halfway done with my ugly, hole-y blanket, and I have a ton of yarn in my shopping cart (that I might just x out of because, again, obsessive rabbit hole).

I wish I had more exciting things to share with you, but I literally haven’t been doing much outside of the house except looking after myself, occasional raket, gaming (lol), knitting and mukbang. I do have a new planning system that I adopted this new year, which I think is working out really well so far, and I can make a post or a video about that if anyone was interested in that stuff maybe? Let me know!

Happy holidaze, trying to get back on my feet, and things of that ilk

Hello. I am happy to report that my Christmas celebrations have been a fun one.

I haven’t spent Christmas at home in three years. The first time I was away, I spent it by myself in halls because I didn’t know that public transportation didn’t run on Christmas day, which I was meant to have spent with Richard in Brighton. I lived in halls and everyone else was away for about two weeks (a rare gift!), so I found myself leaning into the solitude and a clean kitchen. I was lucky that the Tesco close to me was open. I was lucky that I was happy with eating sausages and that by that time, my little room was starting to feel like home.

The second year, I had Daniella and Minhae over, and all we did was drift in and out of naps, rising only to eat (Korean pancakes and stew, Greek cookies, a Filipino breakfast) and drink while watching notable Christmas classics, The Gremlins and Chalet Girl. Loose-lipped on a fair bit of boozy drinks, we played a highly revealing game of “Never Have I Ever,” because we are all obviously adults, and relished the feeling of not having to be anywhere, and not having anything to take us to faraway places on that day anyway.

This year, Minhae is back in Korea (though sorely missed). We sent her a picture, and she sent us some back of some food she is having: the salad Daniella made for us last year. I spent Christmas eve with Moki, who is finally here, studying at LSE, Aleks, and Daniella. This was Moki’s first time at my house and she said that she knew she was at the right place because she could smell the adobo I was cooking from the outside.

Christmas day was spent inside with Spanish tortilla (torta in Filipino, lol) and the chicken I make when I’m too lazy and sad to make anything else. We saw, in order: Ready or Not (we were not), Clue, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and Death Becomes Her. For snacks: a Russian treat (salmon caviar on poppy seed baguette) with prosecco, popcorn, Greek cookies, and chocolate jewel tiles I made instead of earl grey biscuits. We ended up reading towards the end of the night, because a movie about death and impermanence is bound to make you think about your own, and all you can do sometimes is temper the flames of despair, if you can.

The next day, we put on Paddington.

So, my little year-end essay is going to be a little early, because if I don’t do it now, I will either forget or run out of steam. It was a mix of really good and really bad, as I’m sure most years are, though to varying degrees. This year, I finished my masters programme (graduating with okay enough marks: a 2:1), gave a talk, quit my job very unceremoniously, found other things to do, had the best summer, ended up living in a house with someone who ended up being a very good friend. I found a way to stay in London, which at times still makes me stop in my tracks because I’m hit with the realisation that this is where I live now. I’m trying to see where I fit in all of this.

It’s been a struggle to think about moving forward when you think that you’ve gotten rid of the thing that made you feel so stuck, but also losing a little bit of anchor that’s meant to keep you from floating away. Floating is good; it just gets a little scary when you don’t know how to find yourself back to where you’d like to be. I have not been very good at taking care of myself, but I’m trying harder now and moving within myself more carefully, instead of giving into that voice inside my head that keeps telling me I can’t do it. I can’t make it. I don’t fit anywhere.

Raymond assured me that I’m not a mess, and reminded me to take one step at a time, to put one foot in front of the other. “I remember how Pedro Almodovar described Volver once,” he said. “The story of a woman whose life is falling apart and has no choice but to put one front in front of the other to get her and her daughter out of it.” I trust him because Raymond is smart.

In the grandest grand scheme of things, I know that I don’t have super serious problems. The kind that stops your life in its tracks. My life isn’t falling apart, although it sometimes feels like it is. I don’t have a daughter, but I have me, and I owe it to myself to see this through and fight against falling apart.