April 2018


This is the start of the stitch journal.

April 10: This was about the idea of a red thread that travels through the thesis, connecting it together, as described by the education academic Pat Thomson in this post.

April 11: I’d set up the first post and the framework for a lot more posts, so I thought I’d better carry on. I initially thought that this red thread should feature in my posts, with an idea that the finished piece would feature this thread weaving in and out of all the entries. This idea didn’t last long.

April 12: that red thread again…


April 13: Ever decreasing circles. I was struggling with some writing at this point, and didn’t seem to be making headway.

April 14: That red thread again, this time charting my mood through the day.

April 15: It occurred to me that with this being my invention, I could do with it whatever I wanted. I was determined that there would be no rules, other than the obligation for there to be an entry for every day (even if that entry was completed after the fact) and that each day would occupy a 5cm square). This entry was an early indication that I’d be straying frequently from the original narrow idea of reflecting on PhD progress – frustrations at home were of sufficient scale to warrant an entry.


April 16: The trudge towards the necessary word count that is surely familiar to most students.

April 17: This one’s a wasp, not a bee! I felt as if my thoughts were buzzing round my head, irritating and incomprehensible.

April 18: As the saying goes, how do you eat an elephant? Bit by bit. And so it is with essay writing, chipping away until it’s done.


April 19: Some shocking news from friends derailed my progress.

April 20: No doubt this one’s about swimming. I was doing a ‘swim 22 miles in 12 weeks’ challenge for Diabetes UK which, despite my fits-and-starts approach and my seeming determination to only ever swim breast stroke, was progressing well, with a steady three miles a week on the good weeks.

April 21: A sense that spring was in the air, after an interminable winter. I’m not sure I count as a proper SAD sufferer, but I find the gloom and greyness of winter in northern Britain increasingly hard to deal with, despite being Yorkshire born and bred.


April 22: That red thread, taking a nosedive. This was a Sunday and it had been a good day until I chose to check my emails and found some feedback from one of my supervisors. It was very helpful feedback but, in my bleak state of mind, it sent me plummeting into a less-than-helpful mental space. There’s a lesson in there…

April 23: Cracking on and wading through the feedback, feeling inspired once again.

April 24: the light at the end of the tunnel.


April 25: I receive a scholarship from WRoCAH, the AHRC doctoral training partnership for the Universities of Leeds, York and Sheffield. One of the activities delivered through the partnership is an annual conference for WRoCAH scholarship PhD researchers. I’m on the committee; this was a first meeting about the 2018 conference, happening in October.

April 26: Before starting my PhD I worked as a freelancer in the cultural industries for several years, largely based at home. One thing I’ve never succumbed to is the temptation to sprawl in front of the TV for hours on end; however, on this particular day I was feeling pretty dreadful so I thought I’d pop on a film that my friend had lent me some time before. The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T is not a film to watch when one is feeling even slightly addled, it turns out.

April 27: a wholly unremarkable day spent wading through mental sludge.


April 28: I dusted off a largely dormant Twitter account to use as a way of finding out what was going on in the day to day of academic chatter, and found that it’s a very easy way of having conversations with those whose work you greatly admire.

April 29: A walk with a friend in the Howgills, during which we talked about slime, this stitch journal, Tim Ingold, the complexities of university political wranglings, and how fascinating lichen can be when found on dry stone walls. This is a representation of some of that lichen.

(April 30’s entry has sneaked onto the May 2018 page)