Thursday, 31 March 2011

Day 6: a skill I would like to learn 2KCBWDAY6

Is, without doubt, to knit continental style.  I tried to find a picture of the idiotic way I knit, and then realised that I am the only person around to take pictures ha!  So obviously there aren't any really.  This is the closest I could find:
I am a thrower.  A lot of people are throwers, especially I think as a lot of us have had to teach ourselves, and perhaps didn't have a kindly grandmother standing over us rapping our knuckles with a steel knitting needle every time we inclined toward poor knitting technique.  Apparently the world speed knitter (who knew such things existed) is a thrower, so its nothing to be ashamed of.  But it is irritating when someone who knits 'properly' happens to see you, a thrower, knitting.  And you can see them cock an eyebrow, thinking 'tch, she throws the yarn.  She'll come to no good'.

Some people even come right out and say it 'hey, you're holding it all wrong!' I quite appreciate that, at least they are open and trying to share skills.  I always retort 'yes, thats because my mother is an ardent feminist who refused to allow me to learn any traditionally female skills, so I had to teach myself to knit by torchlight under my duvet for fear of being forced to recite the female eunuch as punishment'.  Usually shuts the old bags up.

Anyway, I'm not a slow knitter.  Neither am I a fast knitter, but that might be because I keep stopping to drink coffee or watch a juicy bit of eastenders. 

I observed myself knitting recently and noticed that, although I let go of the rh needle to bring the yarn round, it doesn't really get fully dropped.  Somehow it balances on the knitting, and I bring the yarn round so fast that the needle doesn't go anywhere and is back in my hands just-like-that.  Usually.  Also the left hand needle does a fair amount of the work.

But it would be awesome to be able to knit continental style, because it would make knitting colourwork a lot easier.  I have knitted stranded and woven colourwork, but it takes a bloody long time, which makes me bloody cross.  So I mostly don't.  Or I do cheat's slip stitch colour patterns.  These socks only had one colour per round

Same with these gloves

This isn't such a great picture, but the fair isle style pattern on this dolly jacket also only had one colour per row

I'm not sure I'll ever manage to achieve my goal though, it seems like a whole other language that my hands are not willing to learn.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Day Four: 31st March. Where are they now? 2KCBWDAY4

The other day, a  friend said it seemed like abi had been wearing this cardi forever
I'm not sure if she was commenting on the remarkable qualities of it seems to grow with a child, how something handmade can be better quality and longer lasting etc...
...or possibly, that Abi doesn't have an awful lot of clothes, and therefore we all get to see an awful lot of it, and I should launder things a bit more often (another remarkable quality of wool of course being the fact it magically cleans itself, or thats what I like to believe anyway)...

...or maybe she's sick of the fucking sight of the thing and wishes I'd dress her in something else for a change...

well why would I when its such a useful cardigan?  And although I wasn't sure the pink and orange shades were right next to each other when I first knitted it, I really love these colours on her now.  I'm so used to seeing her in it.  Its like her amber necklace, always there, always protecting and comforting (apart from on rainbow jumper, grey vest, or grey or black cardi days, but even then it often gets plonked over the top when we go out) 
and it accessorises well
I have never once had to shave it (I hate debobbling things, ugh) which is a minor miracle as it has actually been washed a few times and worn a LOT
It isn't what you would call soft wool.  It certainly isn't itchy or scratchy, but its possibly not what most would knit a baby garment from...and yet it seems to good for snuggling...
But it has served her so well, thankyou clare for the beautiful yarn and being a wonderful friend and an excellent dye witch who continues to feed my barely suppressed yarn fetish, I cannot wait to see what you come up with next!  Oh crap I wrote another soppy post.

(I wish I had earlier photos to post, I first blogged it in Oct but can't get those pictures now as they were on my since wiped phone...sob...but anyway, I am actually starting to believe this cardigan has been around forever...and I never did make that final buttonhole...)

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Day 3 Knitting and crochet blog week...Tidy mind, Tidy stitches?? 2KCBWDAY3

Um, I guess this doesn't say a lot about my state of mind...
tut, look at abi sticking her cute ickle hand in the bag of toy stuffing
a pic of where I keep my usual WIP, which I took yesterday but now looks like this
where I keep hibernating projects (I try not to look at this too often, can you tell?)

some felting supplies:

and half a fleece waiting for carding:
and the box where I keep every tail I cut off after weaving...very nice for toddlers to play with, to darn socks, sew on buttons, make repairs, embroider faces on toys etc etc
My original plan was to take some after pics this morning, after tidying it all up.  But you can guess why I haven't done that! 

Monday, 28 March 2011

Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP

In the last year I have learnt a lot, by sheer dint of quantity of knitting.  I am not a super fast knitter, but over the last year I have had more time for knitting than the year before, when abi always seemed to be in my arms.  But then, around age 1, she started doing more of this:
Which meant I could cast something on safe in the knowledge it could get finished within a foreseeable period of time!  The jumper in that pic is a rainbow sweater I knitted a good while ago.  Its a bit short in the body now, but she still wears it over dresses or under dungarees.  I loved that jumper.  Anyway, the point it, having this bit of time in the evenings, meant I was able to produce pretty much all of abi's knitwear.  I have bought the odd thing, but because I liked it, rather than because she needed it.  And this has been a fantastic learning curve, not even so much in terms of knitting, but for what I have learnt about my relationship with knitting.  Knitting is no longer just a hobby, or an excuse to stroke pretty yarn.  At the moment, it is how I create warm things for my daughter, sometimes for me, and on the rare occasions I am permitted to do so, my son!  So this post isn't just about what I have learnt technically, but also, what I have gained in other ways from knitting (vomit)
I have learnt confidence in my ability to (usually) produce things which meet a need.  Dan needed a school hat.  It had to be grey, like his old hat.   It had to be not-itchy.  It had to not have any pattern or fussiness whatsoever.  So he chose the yarn, I cast it on, et voila...son has hat.  And it feels so good, to make something which is not only liked, but also fills a need, and will keep his precious ears warm, and be a bit of mama to wear around!
This is what I have learnt, that the dialectic proposition of idea+ needles/yarn = so much more than a garment. 
And technically, from knitting this hat, I got a good feel for shaping a hat well, so that is fits a head.  It shouldn't be a disc at the top with straight sides.  neither should it be a perfect sphere at the top, if sons head seems to be a bit flat up there.  Knitted top down, the hat can perfectly form itself to the shape of that head I birthed almost 9 years ago (and finally, I can no longer see obvious signs of the ventouse)

Another example is this dress (knitted from the same rowan coccoon yarn) which is pretty recent...technically it taught me much,  as I had never knitted top down before this year.  However, if you are scared of knitting top down (ie. improvising it), don't be.  There isn't much to it.  Cast on enough for a neckline.  Increase at regular intervals, placement of said increases depending on proportions required.  Continue for a while, form armholes and underarms or sleeves as desired, knit on a skirt.  This type of knitting is liberating in the extreme.

But even more liberating than the ad lib design, is the function and form of the dress itself, and the vibes that go with it.  Where, in a shop, would we have got a dress which is:
  • made of natural materials
  • not pink
  • comfortable and loose fitting
  • warm
  • pretty, rather than garish or lurid, in a style which I like to think lets abi's beauty show, rather than shouting about its own features
  • has no excess ribbons, sequins, patches, novelty flowers etc attache
  • in fact, it has no fastenings at all.   Fantastic.

And even better than that, no one slaved over its creation for a pittance.  I made it, when I wanted, and I enjoyed it.  That is why I think it (like all knitted things) has such good vibes.  Because no matter how hard we try to turn a blind eye to the fact, right now most clothes we see around us are made in sweat shops, shipped in massive containers across the globe, worth pennies, and seen as consumable, almost disposable.  And I do not care that I am proud of how much I have knitted this year (and there are always things I don't get a chance to blog about, like random toddler socks, odd toys, dishcloths, that lacy baktus which still hasn't had its own post...) because the more I learn about the technique of knitting, the more I learn about all its other beautiful qualities too.

Also, I have learnt to knit socks!
(well, I had knitted one before this year, but one sock does not make a pair!)

A tale of two yarns...(day 1 knitting and crochet blog week)

its day one of International knitting and crochet blog week, see here to find out more!  Well, here is my fave yarn right now (I won't say ever, my fave yarn is generally the one I am knitting with at any moment!)

Noro kochoran...not awfully original...but awfully cheerful and soft!

just so pretty, I love the colours, and I love the way they don't suddenly ping from one colour to another.  I love the length of each colour...not so long I get bored, but not so short that the knitting becomes a garbled mess...this is across 121 sts, I think I will like it even more across slightly less than that...

And now for a yarn which disappointed me through no fault of its own.  Sometimes you just can't imagine what something will look like knitted up.  In the skein, I thought this mirasol yarn looked a bit rugged, a  bit heavier than dk, and nice and warm
Its actually a much nicer deep chocolate brown that that.  Anyway as I wound it I realised it was very thick and thin, which I hadn't noticed in the skein, and that totally spoilt my vague intentions for it. 

I did try knitting the vest I had imagined it would be great for, as documented here...

but then frogged it.  The yarn wasn't to blame, it just wasn't what I'd imagined, and I had to make too many compromises to what I originally planned to be happy with it.   I have decided to see how it will felt, as I really am not a great fan of the thick and thiness, and so have knitted this little nest (which was fun cos I like short rows)

which is now in the washing machine.  If it comes out great, I might knit a bigger bowl with it.  if not, it might become something for abi, as she looks great in brown and could do with some summery knits.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Things and that

I kind of hate winding balls of wool.  But the nice thing about doing it by hand is getting to know all the colours and variations I can expect to find whilst knitting it.  And the big lumpy knots, as you get with noro.  But thats OK, life's too short to moan!  So because I had looked at each and every bit, I was really looking forward to knitting certain bits, especially the yellow bit!
Its going to be a waistcoat, I've decided.  I am going to shape the back somehow to make it a bit more feminine rather than boxy.   I considered brioche, but went with broken rib for the sake of yarn economy and ease of knitting.  I have wound the second ball now, which strangely didn't seem to have any yellow in it. 

Also, a little pig has decided to join the farm...
the raw wool is looking like wool, rather than a big fluffy pile of crap
And we had a lovely day out in canterbury.  I love seeing them stroll along together.  Mega excitement about going to our favourite bakers, one with a much more exotic variety of iced and decorated things than the local ones have to offer.  Simple pleasures!
babywearing is a lot more enjoyable now the weather is warm enough for me not to need a big coat
gosh I look bonkers.  never mind.

Friday, 25 March 2011

a crazy friday challenge to myself...

... I saw this linked to on a beautiful german blog.

No way can I do it in german without some major, major errors.  I might just be able to do some of it in english...expect errors, all the same

1.  breathe deeply, and then breathe out again.  Do this for as long as possible.
2. (not sure how to translate this without it sounding odd..)  Never say never when it comes to trying something new

3.  what will happen when I am too old or ill to knit?  This worries me sometimes.

4.  desires can be obstacles to the very satisfaction they promise
5.  my blog is a love/hate thing
6.  An afternoon in the sun is as good as a short holiday
7.  This evening I've been shopping online for fun summery clothes for the children, tomorrow I'm planning to take them to canterbury wholefoods, and on Sunday, I'd like to do some gardening :)

friday...this moment...

knitting in peace is lovely, but it is very quiet.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Can't believe I've never blogged about this before...

...I knitted it at least 5 years ago, before the craze for knitted food, so it seemed even more hilarious than it does today.  It still tickles me though.
Its loosely based on some pattern from an ancient jackie magazine, if you search 'fry up' on ravelry it will appear, although I made up some of it.  And left off the sausage, cos it just looked kind of wrong.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


I finished this version of liesl (which is actually a cardi pattern) the other day, I don't know whether to like it or not.  My first impression is to hate it beacuse it is made from yarn bought for a thing I was planning for someone who will no longer be getting knitted for by me!  So I wanted to get that horrid (cheap) yarn used up, so thought I'd try it out on liesl.  In case I don't like liesl, cos it looks like a slightly jobby pattern.  Not only that, the yarn also ran out, so it has this interesting fade into beige.  At this point I realised it was doomed never to be worn out, so just carried on in stocking stitch.

But you know, its really warm, and really comfy.  And I quite like navy and beige together.  I even wore it out...under a sling, on the school run.  I won't wear it in real public.  But I think I'll knit another , just in stocking stitch next time.

Also, I've been washing that fleece some more
and pondering drop spindles...knitting a thing called a gaiter in the 'one skein wonders' book but that seems a horrid word for a hat/headband thing.  Surely gaiters are things for your legs?  Anyway, it is warm thing, I finished it this evening and its very nice.

Its just a tube of 1x1 but its v cosy.  I also...the shame...finally sewed the ends in these socks...
discovered abi and I love refried beans (much tastier than they look)

started building a wigwam in the garden...
whilst the children lazed around...
received a birthday request...
and had a good giggle when I took a break frmo cooking to check on abi, to be greeted with this sight
that girl knows how to use a blanket or 3.
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