Tag Archives: chemistry

early to bed, early to rise

Now that my Open University course is in full swing1, I need to try and balance my desire to knit with my need to study.  One possible solution is to get up earlier so I can study in the mornings, leaving evenings free(er) to continue indulging myself in bad tv and knitting.  So I’ve signed up for this lifehack challenge.  If nothing else it’ll break me in for when the clocks change next weekend.

My two seekrit projects from the ravelympics can now be revealed …

Curling Mitts, for mum for Mother’s Day
curling mitts, for mum
so-named not because she’s going to curl in them but because they were mainly knit at silly a.m. watching curling matches
pattern: improvised, to match her Christmas beret (
yarn: Sublime Yarns Cashmere Merino Silk Aran shade0133 cardamom & Noro Kureyon shade 183

Lennard-Jones socks, for Karl
Lennard-Jones socks, for Karl
Lennard-Jones socks detailso-named because the stitch pattern reminds me of a Lennard-Jones plot

pattern: improvised, because I couldn’t find a man-friendly pattern than worked with the yarn
yarn: Violet Green Solemate shade B5

I’m pretty happy with how both of these improvised patterns turned out, and will maybe get around to writing up the patterns one day.

Now I am twiddling my thumbs, yarn-wise, waiting for the colours I need for my fair isle jumper project to be re-stocked.  In the mean time I am grinding out a few rows of the never ending crochet blanket of doom.  Why I ever decided it was a good idea to make it full single-duvet size I have no idea.  Still having thoughts of stopping now and calling it a lapghan ….

1. and if you happen to be a chitosan chemist, do say hai; that’s what I’ve opted to spend the next 6 months studying. Yes it is just a co-incidence that one of its many applications is to make yarns

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/audreyrobowen/4450565616/&#8221; title=”curling mitts, for mum by audreym, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4035/4450565616_24ca4051e0_m.jpg&#8221; width=”240″ height=”205″ alt=”curling mitts, for mum” /></a>

beginnings and endings (and carrying-on-ings)


On Sunday I started another pair of glittens, this time for a homeless or vulnerably housed person, as part of the Big Issue Knit .  Which was a great fun afternoon out, too, and amazing to see so many knitters in one place.
big issue knit

100119And it being January, another Open University course is about to begin. This is (fingers crossed) my final course for my degree and is a literature-based research project. Which is scary,100126 being left to myself to turn out 5000 words by September. I’m probably going to concentrate on physical organic chemistry, but the past year of studying physical chemistry has pushed all the organic I knew out of my brain.

most importantly: buy more knitting patterns!

I’ll be starting lots of new beginnings soon with all my new knitting patterns.   Lots of lovely designers are contributing money from their January pattern sales to the Haiti relief effort. So if there’s a pattern you were thinking of buying anyway one day, have a look if the designer is taking part in the Help for Haiti efforts and buy it sooner rather than later.


potions class socks, for mefinally, at long last, I have finished my potions class socks.I really don’t know why it’s taken me so long, except that they got pushed to the back of te work in progress queue. I love both the yarn and the pattern and am very happy with the finished socks.

pattern: Hallows and Horcruxes by Kate Heppell
yarn: Old Maiden Aunt Merino Superwash 4ply shade K1

I’ve also finished some glittens I promised my favourite small girl, an experimental short row slouchy hat, and (with a lot of help and advice from my mum, ravelry friends and the nice lady in Leon’s) sewed myself a bag organiser and a top.
mosaic for blog


I’m still pushing on with my Bohus cardigan. I finally got the waist decreases to work out for me, and am just about to start the short row shaping for the bust. After that I can join in the sleeves and start on the colour work, which will be a relief from all this stocking stitch.

And the never ending crochet blanket of DOOOM is continuing in occasional fits and starts. It seemed a good idea when I started, to make son’s blanket full sized so he can use it for a long time, but I am regretting it now.


Sorry it’s been so quiet hereabout lately, a combination of viruses (several minor ones in quick succession) and the Christmas Knitting have left me without much to post about.

The Christmas knitting is nearly finished (only 1.5 hats to go), I’ll be sharing photos & details after the 25th. I don’t think anyone who is likely to receive a knitted gift from me actually reads this blog, and I know none of them are on ravelry, but it still feels wrong to post pictures of gifts before giving them. When I was a kid my mum always told me it was wrong to read a book you’d bought to someone else, or try out a toy or listen to a cd, or whatever, before you’d given the gift. Posting pcitures woudl feel like playing with the gift before giving it.

One thing I can post is this hat from the Woolly Wormhead knit-a-long. It was meant to be a gift for an adult, who is petite and unlikely to appreciate a very slouchy hat, so I chose the smallest size. Sizing fail, no way will it fit an adult woman but fortunately it looks adorable on on a 6 year old.

Mayrose, for Laura
pattern: Mayrose by Woolly Wormhead
yarn: King Cole Mirage, shade 866 Georgetown

Work on my bohus cardigan and son’s blue blanket has been on hold for the Christmas knitting, but I’m looking forward to have a Big Push on the cardigan over Christmas. In other news, I got my Open University results and have passed all my courses this year (2 summer schools + chemistry with hard sums), which leaves me with one more course to do, to complete my molecular science degree.

life long learning

I took my chemistry-with-hard-sums exam last week.  Now I have no studying for a couple of months, until my next course starts in February (although I may do a little light reading in preparation for it).   Even though my chemistry studies are over for this year, I still have plenty of new things to learn.  I’ve cast on for my bountiful bohus cardigan.  This features a couple of techniques I’ve not done before – short row shaping and steeks.

I have done short rows before, but not for shaping a garment.  The pattern does give some shapings but I’m going to recalculate my own, as well as tweaking other parts of the shaping, using my hard-won mad algebra skillz. If  I can apply the steady state approximation and understand the Langmuir adsorption isotherm then I can damn well work out where to put a couple of bust darts.

Steeks, though! Steeks are a different story.  You want me to cut my knitting?  I think I’d rather derive some more kinetic equations, thanks.  Cut. My.  Knitting! ?  This is terrifying.  But I know lots of knitters who have done it and survived, and they assure me it’s not that difficult but even so, I’m scared.  But ’tis a long way off yet.  I have started with the sleeves, by way of checking my tension calculations (my yarn is knitting up looser than the pattern so I am following the instructions for a smaller size).   I’ve made the sleeves narrower than the pattern has them – I already have one cardigan with big sleeves, don’t really need another.
cardigan sleeve

I did finally finish my summer school shawl, and wore it during my exam – it gets quite cool in the exam hall after 2 or 3 hours sitting still.
bidentate shawl, for mebidentate shawl
pattern: Litla Dimun by Cheryl Oberle (from ‘Folk Shawls‘)
yarn: Jamieson & Smith 2 Ply Jumper Yarn, shade 1403 (the red is slightly deeper/darker than it shows in these photos)
needles: 4 mm

I love the finished shawl, the Faroese shape really does stay on well. And I love the yarn, in all its crispness and slight roughness. This feels like the kind of shawl my great grandmothers would have worn. Airy lace and softy delicate yarns are good for dressing up, but this is an honest, everyday working shawl.  Although I wear it for working in  the library, rather than the fields or mills.  Ah, which reminds me …
Poetry Society U
I kniktted this ‘U’ for the Poetry Society’s Knitted Poem.  They asked you to tell them your favourite poem.  One of mine is Digging by Seamus Heaney

But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

Teaser Tuesday

Still doing very little non-study related reading, so here comes another chemistry teaser …

Ozone (O3) occurs throughout the atmosphere, but only ever in trace amounts.  Indeed, if all the ozone contained in the first 60 km or so of the atmosphere could be brought down and assembled at the Earth’s surface, it would form a layer only some 3 mm thick.

p. 9, The Threat to Stratospheric Ozone, K Warr (ed), The Open University, 1996

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 😉

bang for your buck

I can’t in all conscience claim that knitting your own things saves money.  Even with the cheapest nastiest baby-melt you’d be struggling to make a jumper for less than you’d pay for a new one in Primark.   And let’s not dwell on the economics of sock yarns.  But when it comes to gift-giving, knitting makes your money go further with the addition of your time and skill and lurv *.   Some things I have given to people recently ….

Owlie Owlings
owlings1owlings detailowlings3

pattern: Owlings by Kerrie James
yarn: Green Eyed Monsters GEM Squirrel in owlie-brown
needles: 3.25 mm bamboo dpns

Made for my sister, with some very gorgeous squishy yarn that lovely Kate dyed to the perfect greyey-brown for me.

Green Fluorescent Jellyfish
gfp jellyfish, for Karlgfp jellyfish, for Karl
pattern: Juvenile Sea Nettle by Hansi Singh
yarn: Rowan Pure Wook DK in Cloud and Cedar; Bernat Glow-in-the-Dark Green Glow

Made for my dear friend and unofficial chemistry tutor, because last year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded for work on green fluorescent protein, originally extracted from jellyfish (and yes, someone has made green fluorescent sheep so all-natural glow-in-the-dark yarn should be on the market soon).

Tasteful House-Warming Gift
loo roll loo roll cover with tasteful doillyloo roll loo roll cover with tasteful doilly
pattern: Toilet Paper Roll and Kitschy Doily by Denise Plourde

*At least I fondly imagine this is so (and ignore any nagging thoughts in those wee small hours that my nearest and dearest dread unwrapping the next ‘soft’ present I give them).

Teaser Tuesdays

I’m spending a lot of time with my text books at the moment, so I haven’t got on to a new reading book and am still reading Guns, Germs & Steel. So this teaser is from my text book.

This folding pattern is known as higher-order structure, and it means that every single molecule of the enzyme will have precisely the same convoluted three-dimensional structure.  The enzyme is held in this shape by hydrogen-bonding, and a number of other intramolecular interactions.

page 37, Physical Chemistry: Principles of Chemical Change: Reaction Mechanisms; Homogeneous Catalysis (Course S342), Open University, 1996
Hope that doesn’t contain too much enzyme-catalysis-related spoiler info for you

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 😉

my comeuppance

I am paying the price for all those socks.  And hats and gloves and shawls. Or rather, the price for ignoring those occasional aches and pains and twinges in my arms and wrists, for now they are much more than occasional.  I am resigned to a regimen of ice, ibuprofen and no knitting (or crocheting) for a week.

Being a crazy mixed up kid I knit right handed despite being left handed and it’s only my right wrist I’m having problems with, so I can still write with no problems.  Less knitting and more chemistry studies is probably A Good Thing with exam looming.  If I say that often enough I might even start to believe it.

It’s my family I feel sorry for ….

this week I’ve been mostly making …

(E)-9-oxo-2-decenoic acid

queen bee pheromone.

And what with all day in the lab doing multi-step natural product synthesisth, followed by tutorials in the evenings and trying to find time to puzzle over results, summer school doesn’t leave much time for knitting.  Including travelling time, I made just over half a monkey.

amethyst monkeys

and this weekend I have to study all about catalysis but right now I am shattered and going to spend the morning reading the Gruaniad’s rebel knitting supplement, feat. Mazz!

heterocyclic hat pattern

A beanie-style hat for organic chemists everywhere.

Heterocyclic Hat (for Karl)
Knit in the round, using dk/sport weight yarn on 3.75 mm needles, incorporating 4 important molecules. If you aren’t familiar with stranded colour work, read Theresa Vinson Stenersen’s tutorial on knitty.com.

click here for pattern pdf

Creative Commons License
licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.


29 January ’10: this pattern is now available as a free ravelry download

Corrections 18 March ’08 – I have uploaded a revised chart which now shows the correct hexagonal benzene rings for serotonin and pencillin; thanks to ‘As you lean’ for pointing out the errors in the original

Heterocyclic molecules have atoms other than carbon (hetero-) in a carbon ring structure (-cyclic). The molecules on this hat are …





I’m new to pattern writing and chart design so please let me know if you come across any mistakes.

photo posed by models – not a genuine organic chemist