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Last Friday saw the last of our summer After Hours for this year, at which we were descended upon by some 150 enthusiastic knitters and stitchers for Stitch London’s Stitch a Squid event.

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Squidius knittius observes the great stitch up in the Museum's Central Hall

After an initial scrum in the Central Hall that reminded me of the wild pony round-up in Misty of Chincoteague, the stitchers settled down to a quiet hum of activity that lasted for the rest of the night.

 

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There were 3 workshops for those who wanted to learn to knit, and Stitch London brought in their amazing Giant Stitched Squid (Squidius knittius as they term it, pictured above and right) which we put out on display in the Hall. Stitch London organiser Lauren O’Farrell gave me some fascinating facts about the squid. Some 162 orange recycled plastic bags had been turned into the 1,080 metres (3543 feet) of yarn from which Squidius knittius was crafted; and it took approximately 80 hours to knit on size 12mm needles. 

I’d cadged some specimen jars in various shapes and sizes from Clare Valentine, our Head of Collections, and Stitch London used these to display their cute knitted interpretations of a coleaocanth, viper fish (see below), snipe eel and oar fish, all created from specimens in our Deep Sea exhibition.

Tony Rice, the equally enthusiastic deep sea expert, gave an extremely entertaining talk in the Attenborough Studio on the HMS Challenger voyage.  Curator Andrew Cabrinovic from Zoology kindly brought along some specimens collected on the voyage as a bonus.

 

From 6 September, we start to dismantle the Deep Sea exhibition. It always seems sad after you have lived with an exhibition for so long, to see it taken down and an echoing empty gallery left behind. You can still catch The Deep Sea though if you are quick - it is on until 5 September.

But of course, unless they take down The Deep Sea we won’t be able to put Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year on, and I know that 1000s of you will want to be visiting that at winter After Hours, which begin on Friday 29 October.

Ahead of that, coming up fast apace like that herd of Chincoteague ponies out of the surf, is our massive After Hours: Science Uncovered night, our biggest ever after hours event.

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More than 50 of our scientists will be in action on this night, and you can be a part of this intriguing event, like the half a million people across Europe who will be engaging with science in 200 cities on 24 September. Take a look at our website and see just what is on offer at the Museum.

Knitted viper fsh in specimen jar - my favourite of the tiny sea creatures Lauren and her team created
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Looking out of my office window at the grey fug of rain cloud hanging over the London skyline I am rather hoping that the last of our first ever summer After Hours, tonight 27 August, doesn't turn out weather-wise to be a bit of a damp squid.

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If it does rain, we’ll shift the bar and food offer into the Darwin Centre atrium but as I’ve been assured that the forecast is for fine weather I am keeping my fingers crossed we can bask in the last of the summer After Hours sunshine(!)

 

blue-sea-creature-800.jpgAs well as the last chance to visit The Deep Sea exhibition in the evening, we are very much looking forward to having Stitch London here for Stitch a Squid, a 3-hour knitting event. If you would like to create the rather cute mini squid shown above, then come along any time from 18.30 and Stitch London will be very happy to teach you this very simple pattern. And you can take mini squid home with you.

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I'm sure you'll enjoy the artistry of Stitch London’s organiser Lauren O’Farrell and her team. Lauren has knitted a life-size model (8 metres) of our giant squid, Archie, out of recycled plastic bags, a truly amazing feat, bearing in mind that when we met up 2 weeks ago, when Lauren came in for a photo shoot, she’d only knitted about 2 foot of it!

 

Knitted Archie will be on display in our Central Hall, and is truly a sight not to be missed. The Stitch Londoners are also displaying some amazing tiny knitted marine specimens dotted around the hall, so look out for these. Here's Lauren busy photographing one of the tiny specimens, on the right.

 

Ricardo Curbelo, an amazing Columbian harpist of international renown will be playing some of his Latin American rhythms in the Darwin Centre atrium so do try to catch him.

 

 

We're hoping Archie the knitted giant squid will make an appearance back at the Museum in the near future.

 

At our last August After Hours, we've also got a fascinating talk about the historic HMS Challenger journey by marine expert Tony Rice, in the Attenborough Studio.

 

We've enjoyed this first season of summer After Hours, and we will soon planning our winter run of After Hours - the late night opening of Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

 

In the meantime, watch out for our special After Hours science festival coming next on 24 September.