This weekend, JS and I went to Kent to go to the engagement party of his friend, Miss PhD Chemist, to her fiancé, Mr PhD Chemist. Original names, I know…it’s relevant, honest! JS and I spent a while brainstorming about what to do for their engagement gifts, and eventually decided upon some of JS‘ incredible homemade chilli oil, and a knitted something.
We had a quick look through Ravelry for some inspiration*, particularly relating to chemistry (the names become clear now, right?), but didn’t find anything we particularly liked. Eventually JS came up with the idea of molecules – so I set to work on some his-and-hers water molecules.
This was only the second thing I’ve knitted without a pattern, which makes it a big step in my knitting education, and in my opinion, a huge achievement! I started knitting it in a gig at a folk club the night before the party. JS was playing fiddle; I can think of no more pleasant way to spend a Friday than watching your superstar boyfriend being a genius, with a pint of cider and some knitting on the go. Nice, nice, nice.
It caused quite a stir, especially during the interval when I had a number of people questioning me on my knitting habits. I spent a long time inwardly debating how to represent covalent bonds versus hydrogen bonds. The idea was to put magnets in place where the H-bonds go, but I didn’t have them on-hand, and I couldn’t leave the various bits half-open because I didn’t have enough time.
To be fair, I was cutting it a bit fine. At the party itself, JS and I were sitting in Miss PhD Chemist’s kitchen, and I handed him a handful of beads with an ‘E’ printed on them to hold — to stand for the lone pairs, if you know anything about chemistry. She walked up to us, and I artfully hid what I was doing in the affectionately named “trouser bag”. No such luck from JS — he sat there with his palm open and full of “E”, and when she asked him what he was holding, he said “A handful of E**”. Ugh!
The worst part of the evening was as I was sewing on the final bead, I was using my teeth to grip the needle to pull it through the hole — having cunningly left my beading needles at home, and making do with a tapestry needle. I had, by this point, had several glasses of wine, and my common-sense had probably joined my ability to see straight in the other room somewhere. As I (triumphantly) pulled the needle through the bead, I heard a big ‘crack’, and upon running my tongue along my teeth, discovered not one, but two were cracked, with all the little bits now sitting in my mouth, which was…grim, to say the least.
I reacted coolly. Sewed up, took the presents through to the present room, then announced to JS that I had to go see a dentist.
The rest of the night was completed in a bit of a haze, with much advertising of PlutoniumMuffins.com to the various guests who hadn’t met me before. I ended the evening at midnight, sitting in bed, drinking many real water molecules and wondering why the room was taunting me so much by spinning so quickly and annoyingly.
I’d like to know — has anybody else ever broken their tooth/teeth on knitting, or am I the only idiot? What other stupid injuries have you done to yourself in the pursuit of art?
* That’s right, my boyfriend trawled through Ravelry with me. For several minutes. I feel so lucky.
** If you aren’t aware because of being foreign/unknowledgeable, this is a common nickname for the drug Ecstasy.
I haven’t much to report, still really busy at work and keeping myself occupied with plenty of knitting projects. I’ve just ordered a load of accessories from Hobbycraft — circular magnets, paper flowers, buttons, and a cheeky little book — and will be eagerly awaiting their arrival in the next few days. It was relatively cheap, so I’m not too cross with myself, and sorts out three sets of presents that I need to make in the next few weeks. Hurrah! (more…)
I hope you’ve had a fabulous weekend, and are enjoying Sunday. It’s extremely grey and cold in London this morning — I’m sitting at my desk with a hot-water bottle, huge fluffy pink slippers, a jester hat I made when I was 14 and my very warm work hoodie! (more…)
In my last post I had to cut off early because I had to go to dinner. I just thought I would quickly add the last of it, for the sake of completeness — and the last of the Christmas 2011 posts!
So after the day, I’ve had some orders for the hand-warmers and gloves from various friends and family. Will it never end!? Wonder-Mum and Wonder-Gran appear to be happy, and wear them all the time. Hurrah!
On Boxing Day, I spoke to TJB (of previous Plutonium Muffins fame) and he told me he’d been given a Kindle. This was rather thrilling, as I had been stuck for what to make for him, and this gave me the perfect opportunity. So, for the next day I furiously knitted away in absolutely gorgeous blue yarn, and bought some lovely buttons, and produced a cover for it. I gave it to him when we went to see Breaking Dawn – Part 1, and he seemed pleased enough.
I went back to London for New Year, and started on some cross-stitch…which has expanded into a huge cross-stitch project which has kept me occupied for the best of this week, when I returned to Devon. I’m going back to London tonight, and will get going on some knitting again.
My knitting resolution this year* is to knit something for myself for the first time. What’s yours?
* Last year my resolution was ‘do not buy any more yarn until the stash is used up’. I lasted until the last weekend of November, when in a moment of forgetfulness, I bought a single green ball for 79 pence. Damn!
I think the last few weeks has been the longest I’ve gone in absolutely ages without updating a blog of some description at all. Very, very Happy New Year to everyone, and I hope your Christmases were all you wished for, and more! I have had an absolutely amazing holiday this year…I’ll start from the beginning!
I’ve been in Devon for a couple of weeks, visiting my parents. I’ve been all over the place — mainly to craft shops, for example in Tavistock, to ‘wow’ over buttons, piles of yarn, embroidery fabrics and, edible soaps!
The last few days before Christmas saw me frantically knitting well into the night — Christmas Eve found me in bed at 3 am (so really, it was already Christmas Day…Santa had well and truly come and gone) just starting the last thing, a handwarmer for Wonder-Mum. My last-minute items were the hand-warmers, as well as a pin cushion for Super-Granny. These were both unplanned – Wonder-Mum was supposed to be getting leg-warmers, but I ran out of yarn well before Christmas and just didn’t get a chance to finish them. Super-Granny got a set of carpet-makers, but I decided to make something as well, as she is very crafty and would appreciate it, I thought.
The day itself was amazing. I got the best books, including “100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet” by Lesley Stanfield, “Homemade Gifts Vintage Style” by Sarah Moore, and “Simply Wonderwoman” by Joanna Gosling. These have all revolutionised my life, and I recommend you go and get them now! (Especially as Amazon has a massive sale on at the moment!!) My dad made roast beef, and I did the brussel sprouts using a Morrisons recipe (basically, just roast them with a handful of pecan nuts, and drizzle over with honey).
We played a lot of Canasta, and spent ages going over the rules and messing around. I also got some rather ambitious plans in place about cross-stitching…watch this space!
I love Harry Potter — that’s a well-known fact about me, and if you didn’t know that before, you do now!
At uni, I met my dear friend Grumpy*, someone I bonded with quickly on account of (amongst other things) our shared love of the boy wizard. The year after I started knitting in earnest, I decided to have a go at Illusion Knitting. I now knew how to purl, and when I discovered the Harry Potter Illusion pattern by Steve Plummer, it seemed like the perfect summer project.
That particular summer, I was commuting for three hours a day between Leatherhead and London in order to carry out an internship in which I was doing some pretty heavy-duty research into orthopaedics. I spent most of the day reading through pages and pages of scientific papers; and so sleepy mornings and brain-dead evenings on the train were the perfect time to tackle this monstrosity of a project.
Two skeins of the dreaded King Cole yarn made it into the project. I’m proud to say I dropped one stitch, but didn’t get a single line wrong in the pattern. If you’ve ever done one of these, you’ll know that it’s quite difficult to tell if you’ve gone wrong somewhere, and ripping back a line which may have taken an entire train-journey to complete is more than a little soul-destroying.
When I finally finished knitting him, I didn’t know what to do with the giant piece of fabric I had produced. I got creative, and turned it into a wall hanging, mounting it on a piece of bamboo, twisting gold and red strands around each other to make a connecting cord, and making little tassels to go on the bottom.
I presented him to her for Christmas, and I think she was pleased! I certainly was.
* We were studying in The Royal School of Mines — in First Year, a group of seven of us we decided we were all going to be a dwarf from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves“. I challenge you to guess who I am…first person to get it right wins a Plutonium Muffin momento!
You’ve had a rather general overview of who I am in About Me, and a description of the start of my knitting adventures. The next step will be a chronological progression through some of the projects I’ve done, to get you up to speed, and provide a (hopefully interesting) demonstration of how my skills have progressed over time.
Project One — Endless Striped Gloves
I’d just purchased a book from the South Kensington Book Shop called Beautiful Knits for Heads, Hands and Toes by Alison Dupernux. I returned to my room in Fulham with piles of cheap King Cole Yarn, a set of 3.75 mm and 4 mm aluminium needles, and, having knitted about three granny squares, decided now was the time to start knitting real things.
I asked TJB* what he wanted, and he stated “gloves”. I did some reading of the pattern for “Striped Gloves” and decided that I knew better. I didn’t knit a tension swatch (they were for losers, I thought) and I purposefully learned the…purl…stitch for this project. I went for it, knitting continuously for a good two days, watching a lot of Friends, dropping zero stitches (an achievement I still can’t equal) and by the end of those two days, I had one glove.
By the end of the week, TJB was proudly wearing two gloves – one with slightly lumpy fingers, the other with a big hole where the thumb joined the palm, and me having no idea how to fix it. I thought it wouldn’t matter, and the result is plain to see.
I phoned Wonder-Mum and proudly told her of my achievements. Before I knew it, she was requesting her own — and I gave them to her at my cousin’s house, where his wife, Super-Kim, immediately wanted a pair as well. And so it was that the first three things that I knit ‘for reals’ were gloves. Lots and lots of gloves.**
If you’re reading this as a first time knitter, I beg you to know that I’m poking fun at myself for not knowing enough about knitting, and that a ‘cow-boy’ approach to knitting will suffice. With the gloves, I was lucky — the only problems have been casting off too tightly on each finger when I decided to go finger-less for Wonder-Mum and Super-Kim, things I tackled the only way I knew how — by stretching.
I’ve since learned that tension, yarn weights and practising stitches for half an hour before you tackle an actual complicated project are essential to success. But, that’s a story for another day!
* In the interests of privacy, I’ll keep real names off this blog unless there is a good reason for not doing so.
** I haven’t knit this particular pattern since. I have been asked to do some for Wonder-Gran for Christmas this year, -groan-. I love her very, very much, so I will do it. This will be a labour of love for sure!
JS likes to joke that when you put me in a room full of things to sort out, I get all excited and scurry around in the manner of our old hamster*, cleaning and tidying and getting all involved in organisation. He’s not exactly wrong — he took this series of photos of me last night at 1 am, when I should have been in bed for over two hours (it was a school night!), but instead was re-sorting my two knitting toolboxes**.
There is still more to do — when I left for work this morning I emphatically told him “When I get home tonight, I’m going to tidy the rest of the lounge!”
We went to the Imperial College Techtonics Christmas Concert last night. It was brilliant, they did some amazing stuff, and an incredible mash-up of The Twelve Days of Christmas and other Christmassy tunes. I also spent absolutely ages adding a fringe to the Secret Santa Scarf, which is nearly done — just the embroidery left! I definitely distracted one of the guys singing in the group, who kept staring at my scarf as he was dancing along our side of the room (we were sitting in the front row). Ahh well!
* RIP Kaiser Lionel Oscar “the Sledgehamster” Matthew Twitch, 2009 – 2011, acrobat extraordinaire and all-round-cuddly.
** If he asks, I was looking for his lost earphones, and mine…but really, I was just getting excited at exactly how many seed beads I have! And all the COLOURS!
Sunday was my first proper Christmas celebration of the year, with a Secret Santa lunch in Wetherspoons, followed by a trek to one of some friends’ house for dessert, parlour games and quartet.
We were a bit disorganised this year, despite deciding to start arranging it in October. The names were only drawn last weekend, and we also couldn’t decide on how many people there would be — so we met up in ‘Spoons to make sure there were no problems with cooking in the kitchens of various houses for unknown numbers of people, then trying to get them all together. I possibly would have offered to do it — except I did the cooking last year, and spent about three days panicking about it, so we decided that was a bad idea.
I had decided that I was going to knit something for my person. I drew a guy, which immediately makes things complicated — I find women so much easier to knit for because they like accessories as well as useful things, which I tend to prefer knitting. After some planning, I settled on a black scarf with a white fringe, and gold embroidery on it.
This was fine in principle; I can whip up a scarf in a couple of days, and the only part I thought was going to cause me any trouble was the embroidery, which was going to be lettering in phrases we associate with this particular friend. That is, until I went out on Friday night…and spent most of Saturday in a horrifically hungover state, with a headache the size of Brazil and such an unsteady stomach that walking up the stairs was a challenge that eclipsed the scarf problem spectacularly.
Saturday night found me feeling much better, tucked in bed with a film on my iPad, furiously knitting into the wee hours. Around 4 am I got really cold and crawled under the duvet to get warm. I woke up at 10 am, offered one expletive as I realised I had fallen asleep, which thoroughly confused JS, and started knitting again.
To cut the rest of a rather long and tedious story short, the scarf didn’t get finished and I had to give him a place-holder card present. I will complete it tonight, and will present it to him on Saturday next week. I was the only one who failed this year — everyone else gave and received some lovely gifts, particularly yours truly, who got the book “Knitted Cakes” by Susan Penny and four more skeins of really yummy yarn to add to the ever-growing stash.
The meal was good — JS and I drank three pints of Christmas Ale and some Cranberry and Cinnamon Kopperburg, and were fed mountains of dessert back at Inglethorpe. Our flatmate made mojitos for everyone, and we made mulled cider. We had a mini Christmas quartet rehearsal for a gig we are playing in Waterstones tonight.
JS and I left when I started getting a bit grouchy (after a quick lesson in dancing a jive), and got home at midnight completely satisfied.