Sunday, December 20, 2009

tidings of comfort and joy

I knitted a hat. It took less than a week. Which is handy because it snowed. Yes, in London. Before Christmas. It settled and everything (Don't believe Hollywood London: most years we have no snow at all).

wearing selbu beanie

It's supposed to be Selbu Modern, but because my normally abnormally-super-loose gauge gets abnormally-super-tight as soon as I do colourwork, it's more of a Selbu beanie. Which is at least useful for wearing under my bicycle helmet in the cold. It's also slightly square at the top, but that's due to rubbish blocking (might re-block on a balloon or something). Details of yarn, etc on ravelry project page.

mince pies

Mince pies! Made by Kirsty, not me. Though the flaky-lightness of the pastry is at least partly due to me. Tip from one of my students: use vodka instead of water in pastry. Works really well. The mince pies were for a small Christmas party we held this afternoon/evening. Both Lara and Felix had to cry off ill, but we still had a house full (including Emms) of merry-makers.

biscuits, cake, lights

Above is a before shot, some chocolate fruit cake (from Feast. Sounds wrong, but really, really works) surrounded by a pile of pfeffernüsse (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe), and lights draped over our staircase in the background. We also had gingerbread, dundee cake, goblets of mulled wine and about a trillion other things. Very full now. Signs of the remains are below. Season's Greetings to you all.

end of party

Monday, December 07, 2009

Busy-busy-busy as a bee

stripes close up

This jumper took me just under four months to make. Seeing as I'm used to chugging one out in a matter of weeks, this seemed like an age. Cycling-to-work really has cut down my knitting time. Also, it was 4ply, on 2.5mms (2mm for the ribbing), so I guess it was always going to take a while.

It's a product of my stash (which itself is best understood as a product of John Lewis sales). I had a bag of not-quite-a-jumper-worth of yellow 4ply tweed, as well as few balls of brown 4ply left over from this top. Put them together and you get a sweater which stripes pleasingly like a bee. Despite the tiny gauge, it was a very simple project - a basic top-down raglan, done seamlessly in the round. As you can see from the third photos in this post, I didn't bother with any jog-less join (I can do a jog-less join, it just seemed like too much effort).

The stripes are perhaps a little too short, and I definitely made the neck too high/ small - makes me feel slightly as if I'm wearing an optical illusion. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. I really like the triangle shapes it makes around the armpits. Plus, small vertical stripes can be surprisingly flattering. Details on ravelry.

right side bee

It's a Monday, which is always busy for me, but today I've been busier than usual. My MSc students have an essay due (cue: last minute queries about citations, phonecalls asking for extensions...), plus the undergrads have an essay back and I'm running an event this evening which has suddenly become really popular.

But, I've made time for a lunch break when I can make up a pot of tea, switch off work email and write up this post. It's important to take a moment to pause amongst all our business, sit and think about something other than our everyday routine. Today more than ever, perhaps (I mean the Copenhagen conference, if you don't want to bother following the link).

On that ecological note, and considering the bee-like stripes of this jumper, I should probably make some reference to the plight of the honeybee. Bee colonies are collapsing across the world. This is serious. According to this book, bees pollinate 70% of our food. To repeat one of those lines credited to Albert Einstein, if bees disappeared: "No more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man." Scary stuff. If you're interested there's a nice gallery of photos on the subject from the Guardian here and a nice blogpost from BBC's Newsnight here.

wrong side bee

Right, busy-busy-busy. I'm off to give a lecture on the cultural legacy of mad cow disease. Then it's the exciting seminar this evening - Mike Hulme, Professor for Climate Change at the University of East Anglia (the place with *that* scandal about the emails...). He's written some provocative pieces in the last week (e.g. this, see also interesting discussion here). Our audience will be a mix of science media people and climate scientists. Should be interesting.

face on bee