Mister Litlove Achieves Greatness

Writing posts about my husband always gives me a chuckle.  It brings out the Topsy and Tim writer in me (for those outside the UK and the childless, Topsy and Tim books are storybooks for young children in which the eponymous heroes go through ordinary life experiences, for instance Topsy and Tim Go Swimming, Topsy and Tim Go To The Supermarket, Topsy and Tim Learn to Ride Bikes, Topsy and Tim Experiment with Chemical Warfare – no! really, I made that last one up).  I have this overwheming urge to turn Mister Litlove into a verbal form of cartoon animation. I’m sure it’s a way of showing love. Let’s definitely consider it as a way of showing love. Anyway, you may recall a while back that he was doing a woodworking course and generally hoping to commit himself to more woodworking projects. Well, on the weekend he finished making a table for the garden, and I thought you might like to see it. Here it is:








I initially suggested it because a) we really need a garden table and have been looking for the right one without success for several years and b) I figured that if something drastic went wrong, and he took a chunk out of the table top or something, the fact that it was intended for the garden would mean it wouldn’t matter in the least. Of course, nothing drastic went wrong and in fact the table is so beautiful it is way too good to be left out in the garden.

So far, we haven’t been allowed to do much more than look at it from a respectful distance. Eating on it is also out of the question.

Altogether now, keen woodworkers: 'Ahhhhh!' 'Ooooh!'


I asked Mister Litlove to send me over a few photos to post, and this is the sort of thing that the woodworking fraternity really appreciate. Pictures of the joints. Must be the equivalent of the appraising eye I run over book cover design.






And here is one last picture of the table from above, showing the lovely grain in the wood. Mister Litlove gets terribly insecure about his woodworking abilities, and in any project there seems always to be an interlude during which the offending half-finished project has to be put away out of sight, shrouded in covers or stored in the garage, until he can bear to face it again. And look! It always turns out just fine in the end. Tell him, all you creative people out there, creativity is always a long slow process of trial and error involving much frustration, isn’t it? And isn’t the result worth it? I can’t tell one end of a piece of wood from another, and wouldn’t have the first idea where to start making something out of it. Plus I recall woodworking lessons in school, in which my supremely patient teacher would re-do for me every single step of the foot stool we were all making because I bodged each one, every time.  Woodworkers are born, and not made.

View from above










The other thing I must mention in this post, far more mundanely, is readalongs. It suddenly occurred to me that I had entirely forgotten my own readalong of Angela Carter’s Wise Children. Duh! Although I can’t recall anyone stating a definite intention of reading along with me. Well, I will try to fit the book in before the end of August in any case. Rainer Maria Rilke’s modernist novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge is still scheduled for the first weekend in September. Or before or after if people can’t make that. No pressure, as always. This is the only drawback of the virtual world – if you could all come and discuss the Rilke over tea in our back garden, wouldn’t that be delightful?


20 thoughts on “Mister Litlove Achieves Greatness

  1. Seriously, I bow to those wood joints – superb craftsmanship! Lovely satiny quality to the curves too. You’ve got yourself a good’un there – husband as well as table. (I read Wise Children about twenty years ago and was bowled over by Angela Carter’s writing.)

  2. I have complete awe and respect for person who can work with wood – and make it turn out as beautifully as your table. When my house was being built, I had a “trim man” named Boise (not sure if it was his first name, or his last name, or if – like Cher – he only needed one name), and he was an artist. He had complete disdain, however, for the people who were having homes built in the neighborhood and argued with everyone. However, I made friends with him by baking him a plate of cookies – and admiring his handiwork – although even that earned me only grudging tolerance. But as a result, I have beautifully turned moldings. Long after I am gone, generations from now, his work will remain. The table is absolutely lovely.

  3. Everyone could come over and sit around your lovely new table and discuss books! 🙂 It’s really gorgeous and too nice for the garden–what if it got rained on? I guess since readers are born and not made it must be the same with woodworkers, though I’d love to be able to do something like that. Is Mr Litlove taking orders now?

  4. creativity is always a long slow process of trial and error involving much frustration, isn’t it?

    Absolutely! (Though I too do the equivalent of putting creative projects “in the garage” for a while when I’ve hit a wall with them.) That table is so beautiful. I love working with my hands and dream of the day when we’ll have a little more space and I’ll be able to get into woodworking a bit. Until then it’s primarily knitting and sewing, which take far less space.

  5. I don’t know anything about woodworking, but that looks gorgeous and the joints look gorgeouser. Well done Mr. Litlove! It looks so beautiful and elegant.

  6. I can picture myself sitting at your garden table, stroking the smooth wooden surface and discussing Rilke (or rather what I remember of him and the discussion I had with my father at the time when I read it. He called me an aesthete which was meant to be a reproach. I had mentioned that Rilke described something very ugly… can’t rememeber what it was, in any case my father considered aestheticism to go hand in hand with sterility and lack of life… all of which Rilke isn’t).

  7. As someone who had to struggle with ‘Topsy and Tim’ in almost twenty years of primary teaching, let me tell you that ‘Topsy and Tim Experiment with Chemical Warfare’ would have brought much relief. At least they weren’t quite on the ‘Peter and Jane’ level. By the way, I know I haven’t been around much lately, but the invitation for the 31st still stands.

  8. Broken hacksaws dominated our lessons and (because we had to use multiple making stuff materials) there was the time I set a small strand of my hair on fire with a soldering iron. So I am monumentally impressed with the table, which does look too nice to leave out to the elements (is it varnished?). Well done Mr Litlove, what a lovely set of joints.

  9. This discussion is most timely as I’m in the middle of reading Richard Sennett’s “The Craftsman”. Too many parallels to mention here…….but a conversation we shall have to have sometime.

  10. Mr Litlove most definitely deserves high praise. My father built half the furniture in our house and did a fine job, but I never did quite see such an elegant joint or wood finish on his work. He usually globbed 20 coats of shellac on so you couldn’t see any mess-ups. Bravo, Mr L!

  11. Mr. Litlove has done a superb job! The true test though, does it wobble? I suspect not. Anytime Mr. Litlove wants to practice his woodworking, he is welcome to come visit me and make all the bookshelves or tables that he wants to. We will ply him with tea or coffee and his favorite snacks. 🙂

  12. What a beautiful, elegant, gorgeous table! Mr Litlove deserves heaps of praise (and more) for his creativity. (Unfortunately when I remember our woodworking classes I get as far as our extremely sadistic teacher and that’s as far as I get. But I’ve always admired the ability to work with wood. I guess it’s very similar to writing in a way – all that honing and polishing.)

    I’m still reading Wise Children (and enjoying it). I’ll be finished by the end of August for a discussion. Pity we can’t make a book-club discussion out of it around your new table!

  13. What beautiful woodwork! I particularly like the second photo where the wood grain and joints are shown so intricately. It’s admirable that Mr. litlove would create such a piece of artwork upon your suggestion. Now your list can grow longer for other furnitures. 🙂

  14. Dear blogging friends, you have made my husband VERY happy. Thank you!!

    Vole – I can’t understand it myself. I’ve just begun the novel and am loving it. Perhaps it was simply being made to read something complex and demanding that caused the resentment? At that age, it doesn’t seem to take much!

    Ruthiella- yay! So happy you are joining in! 🙂

    Deborah – you have both a good eye for lovely prose and the best way with descriptions I know!

    Grad – lol! I love your description of your ‘trim man’ (and definitely, like Cher). I have NO talent whatsoever in this direction and so I do admire it hugely in others.

    Danielle – if only you could come round and discuss books! Wouldn’t that be lovely? I used to have a very constructivist idea of identity, but these days I figure a lot more is given to us at birth than we realise (alas!). As for taking orders, I’ll let you know as I have a few to place myself. 😉

    Emily – it amazes me all the things you can do! I really hope you get that extra space soon, so that you can extend the range of your creativity (or use the space for storage if you need to!). Until then, knitting and sewing sound such calming things to do.

    Jenny – thank you, that’s so kind of you.

    Caroline – I think we would have a VERY different conversation to that one! I would love to have all my blogging friends over for book chats – how much fun would that be??

    Annie – lol! And bless you for that. Thank you also for the invitation; still hoping to take you up on it. I will drop you a line next week.

  15. Jodie – lol! I think I broke a saw once, but I didn’t manage to set fire to my hair. My brother had the soldering iron, and walking barefoot into his room was a good way to get bits of solder adhered to the soles of your feet. Mister Litlove tells me to tell you that it is oiled rather than varnished (he loves a technical inquiry). He also liked the comment about his joints. 🙂

    Karon – I would love to have that conversation, my friend – are you around on the weekend?

    Melissa – Believe me, if shellac had existed in my woodworking school days, life would have been much easier! I love your description of your father, and it’s so sweet to think he made all that furniture for you.

    Stefanie – I have to admit it doesn’t! Although there were moments when Mister Litlove was afraid of a Paddington Bear situation when he would shave one side, shave the other, and repeat until only stumps of the legs were left. He is very fond of snacks while he is working, so you are pressing all the right buttons there! 🙂

    Pete – hurray! So glad you are reading it too! If there’s any way you can drop in from SA, you are more than welcome. I feel for you about the sadistic woodwork teacher. There’s so much scope for sadism in education, well, way too much; contemptuous attitudes ought to be criminalised.

    Arti – I do like your thinking! I will admit to having quite the list of furniture items I’d like to have – more bookshelves being very high on it! I’m hoping to keep my privileged client status by plying him with much praise. 🙂

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