Thursday, 31 March 2011

100 views! Gift for you!

In thanks for all my views (even though at least a quarter of them are me) I would like to gift you with a quick and easy knitting pattern to try at home!
To make yourself a snazzy sweatband, get some double-knit (not too chunky, not too thin) wool in any colour you like, some 5mm needles and cast on 30sts
For rows 1-3, (K1,P1) until end of row, to get a nice ribbed edge.
Then, for 8 rows, knit in stocking stitch (knit on right side, purl on wrong side)
Then for rows 11-14, (K1, P1) until end of row
Cast off.
Easy peasy! You can do that in half an hour. The fun part comes from jazzing those mothers up. Try buttons, embroidery by chain stitch or duplicate stitch, glitter glue or even wee pom poms. You can make these sweat bands with only a small amount of wool and a small amount of time. Send me pictures!
Ps, to make this sweatband into a hairband, cast on 120 sts :D

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Worst Day In The World

Today is an utterly dreadful day. It's the last day before summer, but apparently everyone is still miserable. My work got robbed (and I was the first one in so got lightheartedly accused of doing it about 7 times), then I had to sit in the cold (it was so warm yesterday!) for 3 hours, then I headed home only to find a house down the road was on fire (fire engines only, no ambulances). Exhausted by the misery, I headed up to my flat to find my flatmate watching the news, which told me that the Middle East was basically written off, some girl got murdered and worst of all, almost half a million angry people were at the Cuts March in Central London that my boyfriend was attending as a journalist. Oh, and also I will be homeless for about 2 months in the Summer.
Seriously, what an awful, awful day!
But not everything is like a bullet of misery from the AK47 of dreadfulness. I have finished the basic construction of my striped cape and have decided to embroider a Mexican style skull on it, in eye gougingly bright colours. I also created two warm and cuddly headbands, which are for sale! Both are £10

I have a new haircut, by the way. Long and fringey at the front, very short at the back. Sort of 1920s, sort of spacey. New age fun with a vintage feel! I bought some more sunglasses too, I have 9 pairs now.
Anyway, the other thing I did was start the final construction of the angora scarf, commisioned by a friend. It's not 100% what I had in my head but it's super snuggly and delightfully bizarre. See for yourself!
It's just going to continue zig-zagging and being oddly maggot-like until I run out of wool.
Non-knitting updates for you now-I went to see a mental health specialist and she assured me I am not mad, only weird and mean. I'm obviously paraphrasing slightly. I had Starbucks' Cake Pop, which is a very synthetic tasting cake on a stick. Worth trying, but only once. I bought some stuffing for the toys I'm going to knit and walked back from the shop through Holland Park, seeing many lovely dogs and peacocks. One man had a huge bulldog, which gained many admiring compliments. In the time it took him to walk past my bench, he was stopped at least 4 times. He seemed very exasperated, and the dog seemed very full of itself. I embroidered a skirt with hearts and the phrase 'Fancy Hearing Cake,' which is from the manga series AzuManga Daioh. I would really like to go to one of these pop-up spas and get a fish to nibble my toes.
My final exams are coming very soon, and it is slowly occurring to me that there is no earthly way I can pass them, and to not pass them is to have wasted three years of my life. I have seven essays overdue and 5 exams in May, and I don't want to give up on them but having not attended most of my lectures, revision is more like teaching myself a whole year's syllabus in a month. My knitting just has to suffer, as does my shopping and walking in the park time. It's not going to be fun, but come June I will have nothing to do but fun for the rest of my life, so I'm just going to have to do my best.

By the way, the man across the street from me is doing naked exercises in his room.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Stitch and Craft! At Olympia! Oh my gosh!

I went to the Knitting Convention! They also had cross stitch, sewing and paper crafts there, but they just weren't as interesting. All the papercraft people looked miserable, but I nearly took up cross stitch solely based on the stall by Mr X Stitch, I was mostly taken in by the Tank Girl piece.
Other non-knitted delights include:

This papery menagerie, including quilled fish and a papier mache giraffe.
They also had so much glitter, and so many ways of attaching glitter to other things. Wool can be glittery, but looks much better when it's spangly, as I intend to prove with the 'fancy love' wool I bought (I mostly just liked the name). A little more on what I bought after this quick gallery of knitted art from 'A Grand Tour.'

That last one is a giant knitted mat made with 3m long needles. So exciting!
By the way, sorry about the dreadful formatting on the pictures.
Now, obviously my favourite parts of the show were the things to do with me. What did I do? What did I buy? Despite the allure of the Paton's clearout sale, with ugly wool super cheap, I didn't actually buy too much yarn. Some madly dyed rainbow wool, that has already been made into a scarf:

I'm going to put big, colourful tassles on this and probably have to wait until it gets cold again to sell it.
The most pleasurable thing I bought was a book of Amigurumi patterns, featuring vegetables, insects and mythical creatures. I have already produced a tomato, although I had to sacrifice a few existing cuddly toys to stuff it. Their deaths were for the greater good, I'm sure you'll agree.

These little toys are a lot more labour intensive than hats and scarves but they are actually quicker to make, and have given me a lot of ideas for things I can make to sell during the summer. Not just as toys, that would be far too easy. As hats.
Yes, I am going to get felt hat bases, attach snails and octopuses and vegetables to them, give them veils and sequins and I'm going to sell them. I'm so pleased with myself! You'll all be wanting one.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Kitty! What have you been doing?

I'll tell you what I've been doing. Slacking off, is what I've been doing. Still no essays, no social calls, barely any more FOs (finished objects, a special knitting term). I didn't go to the V&A because I was too busy feeling sorry for myself and I haven't given you, my readers, anything to amuse yourselves with. I feel bad. So here is a little bit of fun for you.
I have finished my grey cardigan, it is lovely and warm and for sale! It's a little small, so I would recommend it for a lady or a shorty. Here it is lying down
And here is a vastly unhelpful photo of me actually wearing it

I have not mastered the MySpace pose for photos AT ALL.
On Thursday 11th March, you may recall I had a jumble sale. Here are my wares, chilling with some books.
With the exception of the yellow scarf, all you see there is still available. I'm slowly glamourising all my old practice pieces like the hats to make them nicer. I even tried making roses to jazz up the pink hat on the right side of the photo! I'm going to edge it with green blanket stitch too, to give it more shape and make it look a bit more interesting.
I also picked up some lovely soft patchy pink baby wool (real wool! How unlike me!) and quickly knocked out a hairband/ear warmer for myself. Here it is, on my head.

It holds my fringe down for fun times and back for serious times. It has also made me very aware of how mullet-like my hair has become. I'm going to cut it and aim for something a little more Louise Brooks, even though my hair isn't quite bob-length yet.
I have also made some progress on my self-designed cape, the pattern for which I will give you once I have had someone test-knit it. I don't think I'm very clear in my instructional style, as I assume everyone can read my mind or work it out from my scribbled, half formed thoughts. You can't, and it's not your fault. Anyways, here are three of the six panels, chilling on my rug.

They'll get sewn together with red yarn, the top will be hemmed with a ribbon that will double as a fastener, and I'll probably go nuts and embroider and bead them too. Then I will fail to sell it because I have a unique aesthetic admired by many but emulated by none. Alas.
In other news, every time I go to work it's sunny, but every time I have a day off it is gloomy or rainy. I want to make an effort to tan this year and the weather is not helping.
Not much else is happening. I'm still excited about Cardiff but nothing has actually happened towards it, and I'm not really sure how much I can do myself, since it's my parents' money. I'm looking at available jobs, but without a fixed arrival date I can't apply for anything. I put all my knitting needles in a cup on my bookcase, and they are much easier to find now. I wish my boyfriend made me feel more needed. I wish there were more noodles in my house. I wish I was allowed to wear nail varnish at work.
I'm getting a bit down now, so I prescribe one episode of House and some knitting, then bed.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Brief Update from Kitty-Town

Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about you! I've been a little busy with work but I still found the time to sell two scarves, finish my grey cardigan (pictures as soon as I can find a model), make a pink headband that was far too big for my head, design and start knitting a cape and be given a lovely box of soft soft angora wool, which is going to become an abstract sculpture in wearable form. Reading that back, I'm not actually sure how I had time for work. Gosh.
This Wednesday I'm going to visit the V&A for a little inspiration, then on Sunday I'm attending Stitch and Craft at the Olympia to try to get free goodies and see if I can start making a mark on Cardiff before I get there. I'm looking for jobs, suppliers and friends.
On a side note, I'm so appalled for Japan and the string of disasters they're being subjected to. I don't usually care about what happens around the world but I always had this little stereotype of the Japanese as an infallible futuristic race, but they've been proven just as human as the rest of us and it doesn't seem fair.
As a last little attempt to cheer everyone back up, I would like to remind you that spring is here.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Jumble Sale!

I'm so excited! Tomorrow is the day of the Jumble Sale at my college and I am taking along lots of knitting to sell. I have invited many, many people. Here are a few items I have completed today to take to the sale!
We have a little kawaii collar, a garden-like scarf and a snazzy beaded scarf. If you don't get to buy these at the Jumble Sale, I am very happy to remake them or make something similar.
My college, should you want to attend, is Heythrop College in Kensington and the sale is on Thursday from 6.30pm. I will also be selling assorted things from my room and complaining about my ulcer on my gum. It's really hurty. I'm about 60% finished with my big grey cardigan, hopefully I can finish it by tomorrow...
Our final update is that I have made my first proper sale! My blue fingerless gloves are going in the post tomorrow and my money is being received through the internet! I'm so happy! Now I need to get on with the Etsy shop and you can all have a slice of Kitty chic.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

An Illustrated History of My Knitting.

When I was a little girl, probably about 8, my Grandma taught me how to knit. She didn't teach me how to purl, or cast on or off or anything else, just how to knit. So knit I did, on and off, for 10 years. In November of 2010 I taught myself to cast off using this video from videojug. Expert knitter Rachel Ong helped me to complete this scarf, the work of a decade.

It's about 3.5 metres long, contains 5 or 6 different kinds of wool and is twice as wide at the finished end than at the starting end. I love it dearly and wear it often.
With the help of expert knitter Rachel Ong, I made scarves as Christmas presents for all my friends and family. At first they were all garter stitch with tassles, then as an extra special present for my Grandma I learned to alternate stocking stitch and reverse stocking in different coloured wools.
Unsatisfied by this, I obtained a very simple hat pattern, which I then altered to make an easy ribbed hat, like so.
It still wasn't challenging enough! I bought chunky circular needles and crafted an extra hipster-ish yellow loopy scarf.

It was lovely, and so fun to knit, but no one wanted to buy my work. I had to create something that people wanted to buy! While I considered my options, I trawled the internet, finding both Ravelry and the V&A Museum Website to fuel my knitting fire. I knitted my most complicated hat yet.
Please excuse my bad skin in that photo. My friend Viv's birthday was the end of January 2011. I found the perfect gloves for her birthday! I thoroughly recommend this pattern
After posting this picture on Facebook, I finally got my very first commision, a pair of gloves for a cold young man.
I have since started an experiment in beading, and I am also knitting a cardigan on the side. I really want to make some money from my knitting, I know that my designs are, if not unique, then certainly unusual and exciting to wear. I have an odd personal aesthetic, and hence I'm struggling between knitting things I would want to wear and knitting things I can easily sell. There has to be someone else out there who loves primary colours and looking like a beautiful beetle as much as I do!
This is not an exhaustive anthology of my knitting, just a few highlights. I tend to knit a large number of smaller objects, ie hats and gloves, as opposed to a smaller number of large objects like jumpers. I am desperate to get people wearing my work! I may finally have a chance this Thursday, as I will have a stall at my college in Kensington from 6.30. Please leave a comment for more details, or for commisions and purchases!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Shopping for Make & Do bits in Soho!

Today, despite the protestations of my Grandma (she is sending another few dozen balls of wool down from Yorkshire), I went into town to buy me some wool! I needed, specifically, grey wool to finish my Shruggly Cardigan which I had to get from All The Fun Of The Fair, a sweet and cheap but far too small shop in Kingly Court, just behind Hamley's by Regent Street. Since I was heading there from Piccadilly Circus, I also popped into Buffy's Beads and got 1000 of those really cheap chunky plastic beads that emos like, as I have a cunning plan involving them being on a scarf. Searching for multicoloured wool that wasn't sock yarn, I was advised to visit Liberty's, who are INSANELY overpriced but who did have some patchy pink baby wool that would make a bitching headband. I should mention that these three shops are so close it's nearly incestuous. Then I ate a pasta salad, throwing away all the salad. Euurrgh, I hate lettuce.
I'm still hunting for my favourite wool shop. There was a pretty nice one in Cowbridge, near Cardiff (Wales), two in fact. One had a tea shop, and one had ducks. I will visit them often when I move to Cardiff in the summer (eek!). My usual haunt is Lyndon's Stitch and Beads in Portobello. It's cheap, close to my college and even closer to my boyfriend's house! For some reason, it is always raining when I visit. On a side note, I would like to express how grateful I am that my boyfriend doesn't get jealous. I heard something of a horror story earlier today. Anyways, Lyndon's is pretty good and they have all the basic primary coloured acrylic wools that I want, but I still feel like there could be an even better wool shop out there somewhere...I've heard good things about I Knit in Waterloo, but I have had many stressful experiences in Waterloo.
With the wool that my Grandma is sending and the stash I have already accumulated, I should be ok for the next few will slow my knitting progress too. When next I get the itch to leave the house, I vow to travel to Waterloo and check out I Knit and tell you all about it. Tell me in the comments if there's anywhere else in Zone 1/West London I should check out.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Charlie Sheen is my new INSPIRATION

What I'm going to do, make scarves with some of his more succinct verbal eruptions knitted onto them! My favourites include:
I am on a drug, it's called Charlie Sheen.
Drink my urine! Lick my feet!
Dying's for fools!
I expose people to magic!
Can't is the cancer of happen.
I have tiger blood and Adonis DNA
Defeat is not an option
Epic behaviour
Normal's not normal
Droopy eyed armless children
Total freaking rockstar from Mars
They picked a fight with a warlock
Your children will weep over your exploded body!
If this makes no sense to you, you should know that washed up American actor Charlie Sheen has found a new lease of life and source of fame by being MAD. I totally love him now, and forgive him for Two and a Half Men.
Watch this video: Sheen.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Ballad of Stew Girl

I enjoy collecting those recipe cards and free magazines from supermarkets. Waitrose obviously have the best, but Tesco have the most. I have finally sorted them out, by which I mean secreting them all into a shiny pink folder in no particular order. I have many, many more stored at my parents' house.
I have no idea why I bother to collect them since I only ever seem to cook the same five meals. These meals are:
Sausage and Mash
Bacon and Lentil Stew/Cassoulet
Roast Chicken (usually stuffed)
Vegetable Curry
Chilli con Carne
If I can't decide what to cook, I look at my recipe cards and pick something similar to one of those five dishes. Occasionally I will add a different vegetable, or an unusual side, but it does get a bit samey. It's probably because my favourite sort of cooking is something that takes half an hour to prep, and then can be left in the oven or on the hob for at least an hour without any attention. I learned to cook risotto but it requires so much stirring! I love cottage pie but that requires at least 2 saucepans! I love cake but my goodness, the fuss involved! I taught myself how to cook sushi (without all the fiddly little mats or special equipment) but the rolls kept getting bigger and bigger as I got more and more irritated by the time it took...
I keep trying to expand my repertoire but I keep getting short tempered at my complicated food. It probably doesn't help that when I do use a recipe, I read through it once and then try to muddle through, guessing wildly where the butternut squash ought to go and how much garlic to use (it's always a lot). Now that I'm working in a food shop, I keep bringing home stray ingredients and trying to insert them where they aren't wanted. Beetroot especially, since I haven't bothered to check how you cook it or what with. I have been boiling it until it goes a little yellow (yellow beetroot can still give you pink wee, btw) then either frying it or eating it with noodles. It's really tasty but it could be tastier if I were a more thoughtful cook.
I need a cooking partner to help me blossom like a delicate flower, but I only have my two housemates, who we shall call 'Toast Boy' and 'Use Every Pan In The House Girl' in order to both preserve their anonymity and explain why we cannot collaborate. My boyfriend we shall call 'Fry It To Death Lad.' To be fair, I hate to have anyone near me when I'm cooking. I will just have to train myself to work harder and stop boiling everything into nutritious grey mush.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

How To Poach An Egg Perfectly Nearly Every Time

You need a saucepan, a hob, a slotted spoon and a slightly old egg. Fresh eggs don't poach well as the white will disintegrate.
Put the saucepan on the hob. Fill with water. Bring this water to a rolling boil (really bubbly). Don't bother adding vinegar or salt. Put the whole egg in, shell and all, and leave for about 15 seconds. Take it back out (with the slotted spoon). Now crack the egg into the water. Boiling it before means you are less likely to damage the yolk!
I really hate slimy whites so I usually leave the egg in there for about a minute and a half. If the water is spurting about everywhere, turn it down slightly so you don't rip the egg apart, but the bubbling will help to stop the egg sticking to the bottom of the pan. Don't poke the egg or try to mix it or anything until it ought to be ready. Then, very gently pick it up with the slotted spoon, allowing as much water as possible to drain away.
Eat with buttered toast, rostis, fried leftovers or my personal favourite, mashed potato and bagged salad mixed together and fried. Mmm, fried salad.

An Introductory Post from the author

I don't hate everything, really. I don't hate knitting, eating, cats (I do hate eating cats), my boyfriend, tea or feeding squirrels in Holland Park. I want this to be a positive sort of website so I think it would be best if I wrote about the things I like, rather than having long rants about the state of bacon these days or how politicians are responsible for reality TV and we're all going to become really, really stupid. We all either know how stupid everyone is, or we're one of the stupid ones. It's like when you move in with friends-if you don't think there's an irritating housemate, it's because the irritating housemate is you. I am currently the irritating housemate because I don't wash up and every time I leave my room I bring with me a tide of wool, needles, pink bags, blankets and RAGE. But then I sweep it back into my room, promise.
In the interests of further setting the scene for my possible readers, let me tell you more. I'm in my third year of a philosophy degree, I work in an organic food shop in Kensington, I used to have a pink mohawk but I shaved it off and now I have a brownish-black shaggy mop, my boyfriend and I are misanthropic bastards who don't deserve friends and are always ungrateful when we find out we do, I only have two moods; hysterically positive or crushingly depressed, I will move to Cardiff in the summer most probably. I'm quite excited about the last bit, I'm going to live on the bay and join the roller derby and Stitch 'n' Bitch groups and apparently not need a job.
My friend Amy made me this website so that she wouldn't have to listen to me whining or showing off about my hardcore knitting skillz. I am very lucky that she puts up with me. I plan to treat you with regular updates, pictures, interactions and whatnot. I'm not much of a computer-haunter but since I found Ravelry I'm spending more and more time here, to the severe detriment of my degree. Meh, you can't sell a degree but you can sell wooly gloves.