Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 2 – A mascot project

Yesterday, in the Fourth Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, we declared our houses, choosing which of four mascots best represents our crafting style. I chose house Monkey – knitting is all about new challenges.

Kniting and crochet blog week house of monkey

Today ( search 4KCBWDAY2 to find other participants), the brief is to describe a mascot project.

Your task today is to either think of or research a project that embodies that house/animal. It could be a knitting or crochet pattern – either of the animal itself or something that makes you think of the qualities of that house. […] Whatever you choose, decide upon a project and blog about how and why it relates to your house/creature. You do not have to make this project! It is simply an exercise in blogging about how you come to decide upon what projects to make. Try and blog about the journey which inspiration and investigating patterns, yarns, stitches, (etc) can often guide you through.

My initial thought, which would have been an easy post, was to choose Cookie A’s Monkey socks. I like Cookie’s designs, I have the book they are in (or could very easily download the original pattern from Knitty for free) and I’m not exactly low on sock yarn either. That doesn’t really meet the brief. Time to think of something more challenging.

Most of the yarn I buy is bought on a whim: single skeins of lovely sock yarn or lace-weight. They are all just waiting for the right pattern to come along. The more expensive the yarn, the less likely it is to end up as socks. Feet deserve a treat, but there is a limit. I’m heading towards a shawl-type project instead, and wanting to use up some of the stash. I’ve made one shawl, one lace-weight stole and one cowl for me to wear. I would enjoy a non-traditional construction, or some new techniques.

Here are some of the fancier yarns I’m looking to put to good use in a project.

Mmmmmmalabrigo

This is some Malabrigo sock yarn, bought at Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show and waiting for the perfect pattern.

webIMG_2803

Here’s some beautiful lace-weight 2-ply that I picked up in York when I needed to make up the amount I was purchasing to enough to use a credit card. 260 yards

webIMG_2747l

More laceweight – a bigger skein (870 yards). Another Harrogate purchase.

So, here we have three options for yarn to use, of slightly different weight and yardage.

The next stage is to hit the pattern section of ravelry and play with the search options. Never done this before? Try it. Seriously, stop reading, click here and come back when you’ve finished. You can narrow down the options in so many different ways.

I’ve gone looking for shawl-type patterns before and queued up some possibles:

Woodland Shawl – a long, thin rectangular shawl. No idea why I picked this one. It looks fairly similar to the Willow Leaf Stole that I made a few years ago. Not sure I want another long, thin shawl at the moment. NB – Free pattern

Simmer Dim – Sort of triangular/semi-circular. Brenda Dayne from Cast On has been talking about this shawl for quite a while and I rather like the look of it. Comes in lace-weight and 4-ply.

Verve – This is a circular shawl, worked flat. It came from Twist Collective Winter 2011, so its been in my queue for a while. I always read Twist and pick out my favourites, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually bought any patterns from them. This could be a first. It has bonus monkey-fodder of having picots, which I don’t think I’ve knitted before. There’ll be a lot of shawl to get through before the interesting bit though.

Windward – Not sure where this idea came from. It’s a Canadian designer, so could be via Yarn Harlot. Described as having a non-traditional construction, which I find interesting (and the description uses the word ‘contiguous’ – marvellous). It is written for Malabrigo Sock yarn, so I could actually use the correct yarn for the pattern – not what I usually do, but there’s a first for everything. So, this is definitely on the short-list.

The next option is to look at Romi Hill. The shawl I made last year is one of her patterns and I loved it. I went looking for lace-weight shawls and didn’t find one that particularly appealed, although Firebird came close.

The final option is to make a standard shawl, using a set of instructions from Laylock, and make the shawl a bit more interesting by adding a pattern. This is what I’m inclining towards for the little ball of yarn, so I can use as much of it as possible. Heart-shaped looks as if it could be quite interesting.

In conclusion, I’ve no real idea what I’m going to do, which is fairly indicative of my knitting style. However, this project will continue in the Extra Credit section of blog week. Within the main blog week there is no expectation of actually making this project – it is just an exercise to look at the process of knitting decisions. For extra credit you can decide to make the project and continue blogging throughout the year. I’ll keep you posted.

 

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 1 – The House Cup

So, here we are with Day 1 of the Fourth Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week (search for 4KCBWDAY1 to find the other participants). Welcome, if you haven’t been here before.

The challenge today is to declare your house and explain what sort of knitter/crocheter you are. The four houses are Bee, Monkey, Manatee and Peacock, each with their own attributes. See eskimimi’s post about all four for more details.

Looking at the four houses, with their badges, I instantly wanted to be a bee or a peacock because I loved the look of their crests. However, peacocks are all about the finishing, adding sparkle and pretty touches to make something unique. When I finish something, I want it out of the door and on to the next thing straight away. Bees, on the other hand, have low concentration levels and flit from one thing to another. Let’s be honest, we all have days like that, but I don’t think it is my primary mode of operation. I tend to queue up possible next projects and let them marinade for a while before casting them on. Any day now I’ll be casting on a Color Affection shawl – so last summer, but I’ve had other things on the go.

It came down to manatee or monkey. Manatees love the relaxing part of knitting and, while I do see the value in settling down for a relaxing afternoon of garter stitch and a film on tv, that isn’t the reason I knit. I knit to learn new things, conquer difficult challenges and keep interested in what is happening in the fabric in front of me. Monkey it is then.

Kniting and crochet blog week house of monkey

The House of Monkey: Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting.

I’m writing these posts in advance and scheduling them to appear because my hours of work at the moment are a little crazy and who knows what I’ll be doing on Monday morning. I’ve set aside a whole day for knitting, it’s mid-afternoon and I’ve not yet picked up the needles, but I’m feeling as if I have spent the day knitting. I like to think things through, so I was thinking about knitting in the bath this morning, I’ve been reading some books on knitting, I’ve caught up on some knitting blogs and now I’m writing.

I love the challenge of thinking through a pattern and figuring it out properly. Socks are my usual learning tool. According to my ravelry profile, I’m knitting my 32nd pair of adult socks and they’ve all taught me something. My first project when I came back to knitting was a simple pair of top-down socks, all in stocking stitch, with a heel-flap. I don’t think I have ever knitted another pair like that. I’ve done toe-up, many different heel constructions, colour work, lace, cables, beads and plenty else. I’m not done knitting socks yet either. my current pair – Tintern Abbey by Brenda Dayne – have included learning the Sherman method for toes and heels. I found the instructions an absolute swine to follow, but got there in the end. I even ripped a heel back twice in order to get it right. This is progress, since I’m normally too stubborn to redo things and will just knit on and make things work .

Sherman Heel
Sherman Heel
Not a Sherman Heel
Not a Sherman Heel

That was Day 1 of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. Do leave a comment with a link to your blog. I’m always interested in adding new feeds to my reader. More tomorrow.

Decisions

The best thing about finishing knitting a pair of socks…

…is deciding what pair to cast on next.

I am about to cover the living room in yarn and pattern books. I’ll let you know what happens.

A finished object and a glove dilemma

The beaded socks are done.

These were the 3rd stage of Tour de Sock and are in pattern Stardust and yarn Smoothie Sock. The yarn was a birthday present from my sister-in-law. I got the beads from Beads Direct.

I know there were some queries about the practicalities of beads on socks, but I can’t yet settle the argument one way or another since I haven’t worn the socks out of the house. I’ll let you know.

I’m quite glad to get these finished, since they had been on the needles for a couple of months. My usual rule is only one pair of socks in progress at any one time, but competitive knitting means adding more things into the mix and last week I had 5 socks on the go. Now I am back down to 1, of which more another time.

The rapidity of the WIP completion means that I can start planning my winter knitting. This is what I have in mind:

  • A swirl jacket from the book Knit, Swirl. See previous post for a look at the yarn.
  • Socks for the husband for Christmas
  • Gloves in bright blue Millamia to match, or at least vaguely go with the hat I made 2 years ago
  • A Color Affection Shawl – I went through my entire sock yarn stash and picked out a possible selection of yarns, including a (horribly fuzzy) blue with a very long colour repeat that needs very plain knitting to avoid driving me mad trying to read the knitting.
  • Catch-up with the When Granny Weatherwax Knits sock club from Knitting Goddess. I subscribed from January to June and I’ve only made 2 of them so far.
  • Do some more to my mitred square scarf and maybe even some squares on my big cotton blanket.

The first priority is to knit gloves. The hat that I’m trying to match is the Bloody Stupid Johnson hat from Knitty, ably modelled by T here.

I like the cables, but I don’t think I need to match them on the gloves – as long as there are some cables, I think that will be sufficient. Millamia is sport weight, so I did some searching on Ravelry and narrowed the choices down to 3 possibles.

Vintage Buttons Gloves by Ysolda Teague
These have cables, and are very long. I’m not sure whether I would add the buttons all the way up the side. These would also give me the excuse to buy the full book of Whimsical Little Knits 3.

Twisted stitch Gauntlets by Deborah Newton
Twisted stitches, rather than cables, and I’m not sure I like the pattern

Bewitching Hour by Becky Herrick
Can’t decide whether these are too fussy

The gloves I really want to make ask for a DK weight yarn, and I’m not sure whether the Millamia will do:

Fluency Gloves by Silvia Harding

Any ideas? Which are your favourites out of those gloves, and why?

In a few weeks time I will also be looking for suggestions for a scarf or cowl (depending on how much yarn I have left) to go with these.

In order to find the links to all these, I’ve just been looking at my Ravelry queue and discovered many more projects I want to knit, although the order in the queue bears no resemblance to the order I intend to knit them.

Preparing for Autumn

It is a bleak and windy day. Living on a headland, jutting out into the North Sea, we often get the sort of blustery winds that you expect a mile or so out to sea, when the boat leaves the shelter of the shore. Here there is no shelter, just the sea surrounding us on three sides. The wind is whistling through the vents on the window, the light feels like the sun has taken a duvet-day and declined to put in more than a token appearance, rain drops spatter the slanted glass. For the first time since last winter I have picked up my thickest cardigan from where it lies, ready for days like this. I am warm, I am working.

Today, it appears, is the first day of autumn, at least as far as the weather goes. We are in a kind of hiatus: all the summer activities are done, culminating in the bank holiday. The tourists are beginning to depart and, in another few days, school will be back and the house will quieten down as well.

This feels like a time of waiting, a pause between two seasons. I’m sitting at my desk, looking ahead, planning activities for the next few months at work. Advent and Christmas and all the preparations needed are beginning to become a reality that should be dealt with before it gets out of hand. Next week, all the term-time weekly activities will begin again and things will get busy.

Autumn will be very different this year. My boss has moved on to another role and has not yet been replaced, so I am discovering more of the tasks that need doing. I’m still not completely back into the rhythm of work after maternity leave – stopping work before Advent and coming back after Easter and Pentecost means that I’ve missed out on most of the ups and downs of the year. The weekly routine is falling back into place, and I’m working on establishing routines for things that happen every month and so on, but the bigger spiritual picture is still somewhat elusive.

There’s the added frisson of applying for jobs as well. My contract here runs out next summer, so our family is living with uncertainty, knowing that every significant event now is the last time here.

I’m grateful for quiet days like this, when there is time to reflect on what is happening. In a few minutes I will look at the readings for Sunday’s sermon, then go and sit down and knit on some socks while I think about what I will say.

Something a bit different – 3KCBWDAY5

The challenge for today’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week post is to blog something different. So here I have a cautionary tale for you, of the potential dangers of neglecting your stash.

Please Knit Me (with grateful thanks to W.S. Gilbert)

On a shelf by a window a little yarn ball
Sang “Knit me, just knit me, please knit me”
And I said to him, “Woolly ball, why do you call,
Singing ‘Knit me, just knit me, please knit me’”
Are your plies spun too tightly, Oh yarn ball?” I cried
Or a tangle of yarn in your little inside”
With a twitch of his trailing yarn end, he replied
“Oh knit me, just knit me, please knit me”.

He slapped at his band as he sat on that shelf
Singing “Knit me, just knit me, please knit me”
And he begged all the needles to cast on himself
Oh, knit me, just knit me, please knit me
He sobbed and he sighed, and he started in fright
Then he threw himself out and away like a kite
And an echo arose of the suicide’s plight
Oh, knit me, just knit me, please knit me.

Now I feel just as sure as I’m sure that my name
Isn’t Knit me, just knit me, please knit me
That ’twas being neglected that made him exclaim
“Oh, knit me, just knit me, please knit me”
And if you are seduced by each new yarn you buy
If you cast on each skein that you just have to try
Do not be surprised if you hear your stash cry
“Oh, knit me, please knit me, please knit me”

To hear the original version of Tit-Willow from the Mikado, go here.

In other news, I finished the Eskarina socks and have cast on the Sk8ter sweater for my son’s birthday. More on that later.

A Knitter or Crocheter for all seasons – 3KCBWDAY4

The question for today (3kcbwday4) in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is:

How does your local seasonal weather affect your craft?

First, let’s set the scene: I live in the North-East of England, at the top of a cliff overlooking the North Sea. It is a mild climate, without great extremes of temperature. There is often fog, or sea fret as it is known around here, and nearly always some wind. This can range from a bit of a breeze to a roaring gale. Even in summer, most days are suitable for wearing at least one layer of wool. All in all, a perfect location for a knitter!

Despite the near-permanent need for wool of some sort, I don’t knit nearly as much in the summer as I do in the winter. When the need for wool is just throwing on a cardigan to wander up to the village, it doesn’t spark the same reaction as when walking outside needs the addition of hat, scarf, gloves, cardigan and socks. I spend a lot of my work time in ancient, cold churches, standing on very cold stone floors, so my need for woolly socks in the winter is urgent. I generally wear wool socks every day from September to March, so I have knitted a lot of socks and there is nearly always a pair on the needles. At the moment, my sock drawer is full to overflowing, so I have turned my attention to providing woolly socks for other members of the family (although not the children: their feet grow too fast at this age).

Even on a hot day here, it is still usually comfortable to knit small wool items. I have tended to knit gloves in the summer, rather than big, heavy items, and I knit in cotton occasionally as well. Any day now I’ll be casting on for a cotton jumper for my son’s birthday. I was taken aback last summer when I went to France for a week, taking some socks with me, and found that it was physically too hot to knit wool: very disappointing.

I do tend to have vague plans for what items might be needed for next winter. I think my son will need a new hat next year, and maybe some mittens. I knitted a lovely bright blue hat for me a couple of years ago and I’ve just bought the yarn to knit matching gloves and a scarf or cowl. My husband is keen to try some wool socks, although they will have to be plain enough to satisfy his minimalist colour palette (shades of black). If it gets really hot (unlikely), I’ve a lovely skein of silk to knit. This should all keep me busy for the summer, along with the Ravelry sock-knitting competitions I get involved with: Sock Sniper and Tour de Sock.

Not knitting

Spring is in the air, and I’ve suddenly stopped knitting. I’m not sure why – maybe it is a sign that the current project isn’t working out as I hoped. Hopefully, it isn’t permanent – it has only been three days.

In a strange coincidence, I’ve also started having trouble sleeping. Maybe it is the knitting in the evenings that is making me go to sleep so easily.

 

The Urge to Knit

From the Guardian February 1961 (Via Knitty)

The urge to knit is surely the most moral force in the world. Knitting is industrious, economical, virtuous, therapeutic, mildly creative and above all tranquillising. Research would show that knitting wives never become nervous wrecks and that it is never knitting girls who break up happy homes. Conversely it would be found that the Other Woman never knits.

How times change. For me knitting is leisurely, expensive and slightly indulgent rather than industrious, economical and virtuous. I would agree with it being therapeutic and creative. Tranquillising is an interesting word to use and perhaps there is a grain of truth in it, but I don’t really like it. Perhaps soothing and relaxing is a better way to put it, although not when figuring out where a lace pattern has gone wrong or doing rows of twisted rib or trying to p2togtbl.

Anyway, I’ve reached the bottom edging on the cardigan. I’m intending to try picking up round the neckband this evening while watching the first Twilight film. I loved the books, so I’m hoping for a good adaptation.