- What's the biggest craft project you've ever done/been involved in?
- What's your favourite poetic form, and why?
- What thoughts does your brain return to when it's not occupied by anything else?
- My goodness, some of your friends are building something terribly special and they're desperate for you to be part of it, in the form of one of those quaint time-capsule things the 1990s were so fond of. There's room for four things; what are they?
- So what is your favourite cover version?
The one with the largest number of people was probably the knitting evening at the V&A a few years ago. It was one of those evenings where they keep the museum open late and put on interesting things for people to get involved in. I was one of the volunteers helping with the setup and running of the evening.
We spent the afternoon casting on to hundreds and hundreds of pairs of needles; the idea was that we'd give out sets of needles plus wool, already cast on, to people who wanted to see what knitting was like, and then show them what to do. This part was sponsored by Sirdar; they provided boxes and boxes of needles, and huge pallets full of yarn. I have never seen that much yarn in one place in my life.
The evening was pretty good fun. I showed lots of people how to knit, though I was stumped by the left-handed woman who wanted to learn how to knit left-handed. I had to send her away to find someone else. Eventually I got fed up of knitting, stole atommickbrane's crochet hook, and started making a free-form 3-D hot-pink crocheted monster (which never actually got finished).
The physically largest thing I've ever made was a throw for one of the sofas in our new house. It's 2.5m by 3.5m, or thereabouts, and it's made of the loveliest upholstery fabric I have ever met; a dark purple sort of corduroy-like thing, very stroky and nice. Not very complicated to make, though; all I did was sew together two rectangles, and hem it.
The most complicated thing I've ever made was a sideways-knitted, no-seam semi-fitted top with three-quarter sleeves. The yarn was six colours of thin hemp, knitted on 2mm needles. weatherpixie took a photo of the finished item at some point, but I don't know if it came out. The yarn can be seen here. I was very proud of this because I made up the pattern entirely by myself — it's not just rectangles, either; there's waist shaping, bust shaping, hemline shaping, and neckline shaping. One day I will buy more hemp yarn and have another go at the pattern (most of which I wrote down at the time); I didn't get the underarms quite right, though that's not obvious to anyone other than me.
2) What's your favourite poetic form, and why?
This question's a difficult one, because I don't really get poetry. I like things that are written very clearly and precisely, and poetry is kind of the opposite of that. I do understand that this is a failing in me, rather than a failing in poetry. I like concise things, but haiku are too concise. I do like the poems that trishpiglet writes.
3) What thoughts does your brain return to when it's not occupied by anything else?
Practical things, a lot of the time; like how on earth I'm going to use up all the cabbage in the fridge, or what I'm going to feed the boys in the next few days, or how I might go about making the light cord in the bathroom stop catching on the door every time it opens, or how to do short-row shaping in crochet.
Sometimes there will be something interesting or insightful that someone's said to me, written in an email/post/comment, or discussed in a paper that I've been working on, that I've not fully finished thinking through; and when I'm not using my brain for anything specific, that thing will come up and I'll chew it over for a while. I don't always have one of these on the go, though.
4) My goodness, some of your friends are building something terribly special and they're desperate for you to be part of it, in the form of one of those quaint time-capsule things the 1990s were so fond of. There's room for four things; what are they?
Time capsules are intended to show people in the future what everyday life was like “back then”, right? Coming from that perspective:
- A wide-angle photograph of my kitchen as it typically is in the middle of the afternoon, after I've had my lunch and started preparations for the evening meal. With the fridge door and all the cupboards open. And a diagram attached explaning what everything is.
- Six months' worth of bank statements, with explanations of each item pencilled in.
- A snapshot of my to-do list.
- One of those maps with a GPS trace of everywhere I've been for a month. It might be better to use Bob or doop for this, though, since they commute to work, and are more likely to go out somewhere non-local in the evening; I am not a very typical Londoner in terms of travel (I noticed an interesting consequence of this the other day; unlike most of my London friends, I never read the Metro).
5) So what is your favourite cover version?
Aaaa aaa aaa I don't know! I do like the Johnny Cash version of “Hurt” rather a lot, ditto the Jeff Buckley version of “Hallelujah”. I also like brass band arrangements of orchestral stuff; the overture to La Forza del Destino is the thing coming to mind right now. Those count as cover versions, right? Oh, and the euphonium duet version of Deep Inside the Sacred Temple from the Pearl Fishers.
From the CD you gave me, I think my current favourite is the Frou Frou version of “Holding Out for a Hero”. But it keeps changing.
Apocalyptica and people like that are good too, e.g. the London Double Bass Sound (most amusing is their version of the Spice Girls' “Wannabe”). On the other hand I recently listened to the String Quartet Tribute to Led Zeppelin and it was utter rubbish.