Plans for the weekend

Aaah, the joy of a weekend with nothing planned. No pressing work or chores beyond making sure that the pooch gets her walks and that there is food to eat. In the spirit of making sure I have treats to get myself through the last year of the PhD without going mad but having a tiny budget and also as part of Operation Hygge (see here if you don’t know what I’m talking about), this weekend is going to be all about comfy, cozy things.

I bought myself two Christmas presents last month, knowing that January would be tough and I needed things to look forward to. Firstly, as I have been meaning to learn to crochet for ages and ages, I treated myself to a learn to crochet kit from a lovely lady called Sewfie (you can find her site here). She and I share a love of crafty, eco-friendly things and she has a real passion for sharing her love of crochet with other people so I thought this would be the perfect place to start. This weekend I’m going to finally sit down with it and start having a go!

Sewfie's lovely Learn to Crochet kit

Sewfie’s lovely Learn to Crochet kit

 

The second gift to myself was my first book from Persephone Books (website here). If you haven’t come across Persephone books before, you’re in for a treat! They specialise in books from 20th century writers, mostly women, whose works have been neglected or fallen out of print so they have a whole host of interesting titles but the other main selling point is that they are BEAUTIFUL! They have gorgeous soft grey covers and the end papers are sourced from textiles or interior designs that are relevant to the timing of the book, so you get a hit of beautiful vintage design as well as a matching bookmark. The catalogue is quite large and still growing so I wasn’t sure which to pick as my first treat but in the end I plumped for one of their best-selling titles Miss Pettigrew lives for a day.

My first Persephone book!

My first Persephone book!

It was written in the 1930s I believe and I know lots of people have a huge amount of affection for it so I am looking forward to snuggling under a blanket and getting stuck in to it. It’s going to be a real treat as given the lack of pennies this year, my book buying habit is going to have to be severely curtailed so I’m going to enjoy every minute of it and dream about when I might be able to get another one!

What do you have planned for the weekend? Hope it is full of hygge!

 

 

 

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The PhD blanket or Making it easier on yourself

As part of Operation Hygge, I decided that I wanted to make a blanket to cheer up our bedroom. Sticking to the make do and mend philosophy, I looked at the patterns I already have and went for a little dive in the yarn stash to see what I could make from the yarn I already had. And so I settled on this:

Debbie Abrahams Mosaic Blanket - source: Ravelry

Debbie Abrahams Mosaic Blanket – source: Ravelry

A gorgeous geometric bed-sized blanket and once I’d jigged around the colours a bit, I already had pretty much all the yarn I needed to complete it. So I duly started at the beginning of the year, trying to knit a square a day and have started to amass a little pile of squares.

Lots of knitted squares

Lots of knitted squares

As I was making them, the enormity of the task started to dawn on me. There are 117 squares in the blanket, not including all the stitching together, blocking, knitting the edging and the weaving in of thousands of tiny ends. Plus, as I’m using yarn that I already have rather than the lovely Rowan yarn that the pattern suggests, some of it is misbehaving and making things even harder. That bright petrol blue yarn you can just see the ends of in the pic above is a gorgeous colour but is cheap, nasty yarn that keeps splitting and getting tangled. There’s two different brands of bamboo yarn in there, both of which are lovely and soft but one is loads stretchier than the other so the squares are coming out different sizes. And I started to realise that this blanket project was in fact a metaphor for this final stage of my PhD: loads of things that need to be done and joined together to make one big thesis and many of those things are really bloody hard and make me want to cry and I am not working with perfect materials and it is going to take bloody ages.

And then I thought that the blanket was also like the PhD in that although it will be a real endurance task, it is all about doing one square/task at a time and at the end I will have a PhD/a cool blanket for my bed. And that was going to be the end of my post, feeling quite pleased with myself and my metaphor blanket.

Then the other day after a particularly stressful day, filled with lots of life conundrums I was chatting to a lovely friend who gave me the very wise advice of making things easy for myself and a little lightbulb went off in my head. Why am I knitting lots of little squares when I could just be knitting them in long strips? It’s still lots of work but it cuts out a lot of the annoying work and makes the knitting process much more pleasurable and so the weird knitted snake of squares came to life:

Finding the ease...

Finding the ease…

I’ve been hearing lots of people talking to me about moving with ease recently. Tara Stiles and Michael Taylor at Strala for one. I am pretty stubborn so I think it takes me hearing something several times and someone being blunt with me for it to sink in but when it does…yes, this year is going to be about finding the ease in everything, getting things done and looking forward to the way ahead. Now I just need to work out what the equivalent of knitting in one long strip is in PhD terms…wish me luck!

Hello!

Welcome the the woolly world of the Purly Queen! Pull up a pew and settle down with a cuppa while I introduce you to my ramblings on my knitting business and life as a PhD student among other things.

I have been knitting for about 6 or 7 years and was lucky enough to be taught by Claire Montgomerie, a very special friend of mine who also happens to have a Masters in textile design from the Royal Academy of Arts! She’s the author of several knitting and crochet books and her blog is here http://www.montyknits.blogspot.com/

Knitting became my companion on my many work trips around the country and across the world and as I find that knitting always helps me to work through my thoughts, it was particularly important in helping me make the decision in 2009 that it was time to look for a new challenge in life. I moved from London to Manchester to do a MSc in Social Change and launched myself as a freelance researcher, while trying to get my southern softie self to adjust to the cold and rain oop north! I started my PhD in January and whilst I love the process of reading, writing and researching, the more I do it, the more I need creative outlets to balance out all the theories and statistics!

The Purly Queen was born out of a need to channel those creative urges (and you know, paying the bills!) and I’ll be blogging more in the future about why I think making things by hand and supporting the craft industry is so important. Another reason was that when looking for gifts for babies and kids, I was so tired of the same old things in pastel colours and I’m hoping to offer something a little bit different.

If nothing else, setting up a business gives me a great excuse for searching for vintage patterns and playing with different yarns and buttons – all in the name of work!

The aim of this blog is to chat about how the business is progressing, posting sneak previews of newly knitted pieces and all things knitting. Most likely there will also be rambles about the PhD, cooking, craft,healthy living and yoga so prepare yourself for an eclectic mix!

Thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing this journey with you all. Remember to keep checking http://www.folksy.com/shops/thepurlyqueen for knitted goodies!