We are in the middle of May Week revelry here in old Cambridge town, entailing trips to Grantchester, champagne picnics, and generally living the stereotype. It has mostly been blisteringly hot during the days, but it can be hard to remember this when the sun is on the other side of the world in the early hours of the morning at a May Ball. This being my fifth year in Cambridge, I have been to a fair few May Balls in my time, so I can say with some authority that, for girls at least, Being Cold is high on the list of Ball spoilers (or busters, if you will), second only to Sore Feet. Many carefully composed confections of dress and shoes can be seen from around 3am hobbling about barefoot and swathed in huge men's dinner jackets. I have found that the best way to get around this is to check in a monster bag at the beginning of the night containing the Ball Survival Kit of flat shoes, plasters, Something Warm, and other sundries.
Hmmm. Something Warm. Despite all this accrued wisdom, it was with a sense of mild panic that I realised I didn't have anything that fit this description and went with a black dress I am planning to wear. No shrug, no wrap, no cardigan. Nothing. What to do? Surely I couldn't buy something: since going knitting-bananas I have developed rather a violent and snobbish aversion to commercially-produced knitwear. There was nothing for it. I was going to have to make myself something.
The only problem with this moment of epiphany was that I had it on Sunday. The ball in question is on Wednesday. I did not initially see this as a problem, however, but more as an exciting challenge. It was in this - mildly delirious - mood that I set off for John Lewis. I had a pattern in mind (the Two-Tone Ribbed Shrug from Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel); I had two full days of knitting time (plenty!); all I needed was some delightful black yarn.
I got this...It wasn't until I got home that I realised the awful truth. Not only was there no way I could knit this thing in time, but even if I did succeed in this endeavour the resulting shrug would make me look like not so much a mysterious, gossamer-clad creature of the night, as a gorilla.