Birthday treats

Had a great time yesterday on my birthday with lots of treats, finishing with supper at Plunkets, a quirky local restaurant serving traditional English and Mexican food.  Originally built in 1640 as a local doctor's home, this timber-framed house has since been owned by a variety of families and businesses, including the Terrys, one of York's famous chocolatiers (the other one being the Rowntrees) - it's said that before they built the factory, it was here on High Petergate that they made and then sold their confectionery.
More recently though, it's been a restaurant for the past fifty years, with a longstanding reputation for being slightly offbeat.  During the swinging 60s it attracted many well-known personalities, including The Rolling Stones, who scribbled their signatures in lipstick on the wall of the top floor bar.  Don't know whether Johnny Depp has crossed the doorstep yet, but wouldn't be surprised if he has as there's a wonderful portrait of him, as Captain Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean.
Katherine Hepburn with her knitting
In fact the walls are studded with glamorous portraits of movie stars like Katherine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, who was the muse for my book Contemporary Classics

One of the biggest disappointments of my publishing career, I was so excited about this book before it came out.  I adored designing sweaters for Audrey and never dreamed that her name would be totally eradicated before publication.  This was because the publishers had not done their homework and hadn't realised that to use Audrey's name, a five figure sum had to be donated to her Children's Fund.  Ever wary of litigation, any mention of Audrey was immediately removed, so taking away the book's raison d'

Tiffany from Contemporary Classics

Considering that the publishers had approached me to write the book, I was amazed by their apparent lack of faith in my design capabilities.  I was given very little power, submitting loads of drawings before the final 25 were chosen by the editorial board, as were the colours.   The time-frame was mega-tight - all sweaters had to be designed, made and delivered within four months.  The brief was for sweaters for intermediate and beginner knitters, so no fairisles, intarsias or difficult aran stitches and I worked long and hard on the designs to make them straightforward but interesting.

It was a dream project and I loved and still love many of the finished sweaters.  My first suspicion that I might not be totally OK with the finished product was at the photoshoot.  I thought that the models chosen were way off mark in terms of Audrey's effortless, timeless beauty and the locations were far too prissy and contrived, the combination giving the book a staid, mumsy look when my vision had been more front-row fashion.

It's incredible what a difference the packaging of a book can make.  I still find it hard to look at the book and see how far from my original vision Contemporary Classics turned out to be.  Maybe for the publishers the proof is in the pudding, I suspect sales are a fraction of what was hoped for.  However, I've just been sent a copy of it translated into Finnish so maybe there's still some mileage in it!
Sorry for the rant -no I'm not it feels too good to give it an airing - but again I digress - back to my birthday treats.  After an excellent veggie chili, Philip and I walked back home in the drizzle -  but even the grey November weather didn't feel too bad after sharing a bottle of bubbly.


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