Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 7 – Looking forward

This is my final post for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week (4KCBWDAY7). I’ve enjoyed this year – thanks Eskimimi for organising it. Here’s the brief:

One year from now, when the 5th Knitting & Crochet Blog Week rolls around, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?

This could be anything from mastering a technique (broomstick lace, entrelac, etc), trying a new yarn or skill, or a long term wish to crochet only from your stash, or knit every stitch in one of the Harmony Guides. Maybe you have no desire or plans for your craft at all, no new element of knitting or crochet that you dream of mastering, in which case write about why that might be. In a year’s time participants will be asked to look back to see if they achieved any goals, no matter how general, and see which house conquered the art of looking forward.

Last year during Blog Week I set myself the following challenges:

On the colour day, I said I should make and wear a pair of pink socks. Well, I haven’t worn them yet because I only cast off about 10 minutes ago and the lace needs blocking, but here they are:


On the final day, Improving your Skill-set, I suggested

  • Another sweater or cardigan for me, possibly from the book Knit, Swirl.
  • Design a pair of socks and learn how to write patterns
  • Brioche stitch, just because I’ve still not figured out what it is
  • I’d love to have a go at knitting a pair of socks one inside the other and that would involve learning double knitting.

I’ve cast-on for the Knit, Swirl cardigan but it is going slowly because I keep breaking the cables by pulling on the stitches to move them round. I just need to get a couple of replacement cables and I’ll be able to carry on.

I did design a very simple pair of socks for my husband, but the subtleties of pattern-writing are beyond me for now. I just didn’t really get the hang of writing down all the decisions I made, like which particular cast-on or bind-off to use at any point.

Brioche stitch and double-knitting are still on the non-urgent to do list.

This year, I’d like to add a few new aims. By the end of KCBW5 I would like:

  • to have knitted something wearable from yarn I have spun myself.
  • to possess less yarn than I do now, either by weight or number of skeins (I’ll do a count next week to see how much I have at the moment)
  • to have progressed further with the mascot project, which I have now decided to make from the small ball of purple yarn and design my own heart-shaped shawl using Laylock’s shawl-design sheet, but make it more complicated by adding patterns to it.
  • to spend some work time looking at spirituality and knitting, organise my research so far and investigate the possibility of publishing an article of some sort.

Thanks for reading. The blog will now return to the usual schedule of posts when I get the time between work and kids.

The Ravellenic Games

I’ve declared my projects for the Ravellenic Games.

  1. 14 squares on my sock yarn blanket/scarf – competing in the Modular Relay
  2. The Anthracite Cowl – competing in Cowl Jump, Lace Longjump and Synchronised Stash-busting

Go Team GB!

I’ll post a before-photo of the scarf for proof of progress.

Must get on with winding the silk for the cowl before Friday.

Yarn Along again

This week I’ve had a horrible bout of tonsillitis that left me off work and too sick to knit. As I started to recover, I wanted to knit something very simple so I started this scarf – the Doughnut Scarf. The yarns are all Colinette, from my trip to their factory shop last summer. The tabs on the bottom are various scraps of Hullaballoo yarn and the main body of the scarf is in Art, a lovely yarn with some bamboo content. I’m enjoying the complete lack of challenge, although I got bored yesterday evening so stopped. For some reason I am using straights – most unusual, although I’m quite enjoying it.

The book is one of my current library books – The Campus Trilogy by David Lodge. Having grown up living on a university campus, I love books set in similar environments. This one so far is quite good: the story of an academic exchange between a UK academic at the University of Rummidge and a US professor at Euphoria University. It is quite densely written, but clever. The academics have just found themselves simultaneously in strip clubs on opposite sides of the world. I await developments with interest.

[edited to add yarn along button]

Back to work

I left you nearly a month ago with the revelation of having discovered mattress stitch and going off to sew together the sweater for my son’s birthday. I haven’t really been sewing seams all that time, although it did take about four days worth of knitting time.

Here is the result:

And here he is wearing it post-shrinking (deliberately) in the wash.

My son’s birthday took up a lot of time. He’s been really good (on the whole) with coping with having a little sister, plus this is the first year he’s really had a good handle on what a birthday is and what it means to wait for it, so we decided to spoil him. We hired the church hall, put a bouncy castle in it and invited all his friends. There was cake (or rather cakes – I had help with the decorating from an artistic friend), and biscuits made in the shape of the number 4.

Then I took him over to York to see all the engines at Railfest. I was particularly pleased to be reunited with the locomotive Princess Elizabeth. My first identifiable memory involves seeing this engine steaming through Shrewsbury station. She was only in light steam, but we got to go up onto the footplate and have a good look.

The day after his birthday, I went back to work. I love my job, and I’m really enjoying being back, but I’d forgotten how emotionally draining it is having the split focus of family and work, as well as how tiring it is getting up and ready at specific times. We’ll get used to it, but it does mean that my knitting time has been radically reduced.

The purple socks are coming along, although there is still only one of them. The pattern is Calable.

The lack of second sock is because Tour de Sock has started. I’m not competing to win, but just enjoying knitting some of the patterns. I loved the lace sock that was round one and I have almost finished two legs. I’m hoping to finish the round one socks before the end of round two and then knit either round three or four. I’ve found that I prefer knitting socks with only one sock on the needles at once, but swapping them over every so often. I knit the first leg, then the second. I’ll do the heel-flaps together, then the gussets separately, then probably the feet together. I’m impressed with the addi turbo needles. I’ve had to go down to a 2.25mm needle for sock knitting because my tension has relaxed so much in the last year.

I love this yarn (Knit Witch Witches Brew in Heritage Rainbow) so much. It looks pretty however you arrange it! Waiting for the next colour to arrive makes the knitting just that bit more enjoyable as well.

WIP Wednesday

I’ve made a lot of progress on the cotton sweater for my son. The main body is done and I’m 20 rows from the end of the first sleeve. Sadly, one ball of yarn was not sufficient for the sleeve, so I’m waiting for an extra ball to arrive. The picture is of the main body up to just before the split for the armholes. I’m finding that knitting with cotton for long periods of time is quite tiring on the hands, particularly the left hand, so I’m taking a break for a couple of days.

The new WIP are some socks for a friend who has a lot of pain in her feet. We’ve talked a lot about how socks need to be constructed for her, so I’m hoping these will help. We settled on a toe-up construction with plain foot, reinforced flap and gusset and a lovely cabled pattern on the leg. So far I have a toe.

Oh, and I mentioned a parcel in the post that would help an aspect of knitting go more swiftly…

This is the yarn for the socks, from Violet Green in colourway Lavendular.

The lurgy has hit us all big-time, so knitting isn’t going as quickly as it might. Hopefully things will be back to normal shortly.

Blue, blue, blue

I’m knitting away on my son’s birthday sweater. Nearly finished the main body up to the armholes. This evening I want to get most of the neck shaping done, so this will be a very brief post. My hands are constantly dyed blue from the indigo leaking off the Rowan Denim. Thankfully, soap tends to get rid of most of it.

I’ve taken pictures, but they are downstairs on the camera. Later in the week…

In other news: I was reading the footnotes of my BIG book of knitting (see prev. post) and discovered a book called The History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt. I ordered it through the library and I’m now browsing through it. I was intrigued to discover that Richard Rutt was the Bishop of Leicester. I knew there was a knitting bishop, but I didn’t know he’d written about it. I really must work on making sure that knitting can be partly counted as work in the future. I’ve a few ideas, but they aren’t totally formed yet.

Turning the computer off and heading downstairs to knit.


Birthday bragging

In the midst of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week it was my birthday. Since the blogging topics for last week didn’t really include a “jump up and down and shout about all the nice stuff you have” topic, I thought I’d wait until this week to catch up. Mr H is away in Sheffield watching the Snooker World Championships and having a well earned few days away from the little people (we think this is only the second time in 3 years that he has gone away for a night without us), so I’m having a nice, relaxing evening of catching up on Mad Men and knitting.

Birthday lootI had made a very knitting-focussed wish-list for my birthday, so it is no surprise really that there is a lot to blog about.

Firstly, my lovely children (aided by Mr H, I suspect) bought me The Principles of Knitting, 2nd edition. The first edition of this has been selling for hundreds of pounds/dollars on book sites, since it has been out of print for years. The second edition has been thoroughly revised and updated. Although it is a reference book, I think it bears reading from cover to cover. I’m on page 27 of 712, so it may take a while. The first chapter was all about how to hold the knitting needles. June (author) recommends that you learn at least 3 different ways to hold the needles and yarn so that, in the event of injury, you have a different method to fall back on. According to the book, I hold the needles according to the ‘parlor method’, a hold adapted by Victorian ladies from those using a knitting belt, but without the need for wearing unladylike knitting gadgets! I’m fairly sure that my hold developed from being more used to crocheting and feeling comfortable with having the right hand knitting needle resting in the gap between thumb and forefinger. I’m sure there will be more to write about as I get further along.

The next book is Knit One Purl A Prayer, a book on spirituality and knitting (thank you sister-in-law and family). I’ve been gradually collecting books on spirituality and knitting so that I can figure out how to merge work and knitting! This book is recently published and seems, from what I have read so far, to be from a broadly Christian perspective. Should be interesting.

The last book (thank you parents-in-law) is Knit, Swirl. This is a book of patterns for a distinctive, circular construction of cardigan/jacket. Knit from the outside in, and based on either a circle or an oval, there are only four constructions, but many interpretations of the idea of a ‘swirl’. I am very much looking forward to getting the yarn to make one of these, but I may need some help choosing!

There are also two skeins of yarn in the picture: some grey Smoothie Sock from Artisan Yarns and some purpley-green Knitting Goddess sock yarn. The latter was added to an order I made a while back and hidden by Mr H until now. It is dyed using a double-dipping method, so I’m very interested to see how it works out.

The final item in the picture is a knitting notebook from my lovely sister. I think this may well become my travelling journal for keeping track of ongoing projects and decisions made.

The next month is going to be a busy one as far as knitting is concerned. I’m trying to get my son’s SK8R jumper finished and knit a promised pair of socks for a friend by the end of May. 1st June sees the start of Tour de Sock, the six-round speed sock-knitting tournament. I’d better get back to the needles.

Oh and just one more thing before I go – there is a very exciting parcel in the post to me at the moment, that will make one aspect of my knitting go much more swiftly, I hope!

Crafting Balance and A Perfect Crafting Day

The topic for today is to talk about the balance between knitting and crochet, but I think I covered that in yesterday’s post, so I’m going to play my wildcard (3KCBWWC) and write on this topic instead:

Craft Your Perfect Day

My perfect knitting day would involve being on my own, away from the family. I would wake up bright and early in the morning, not worn out from feeding a baby in the middle of the night, and reach over to where my latest sock knitting was waiting for me. I’d put in a few rounds before getting up, possibly while listening to a podcast or two.

I would spend the day mostly sitting in my favourite chair, without the cat jumping up to check on progress. There would be a DVD of West Wing or something similar on the TV and the phone would not ring.

Around lunchtime I would finish the socks, photograph them and post to Ravelry. Then I would spend the afternoon immersed in pattern books and then browsing the stash to decide what to knit next.

Crucially, between 5pm and 7pm I would be relaxed and listening to soothing classical music, while eating something quick and casting on the new project. I would not be going through the kids’ tea, bath and bedtime routine.

The evening would continue, with more knitting, more tv and cups of decaff coffee magically appearing at regular intervals. At the end of the day, I would head off to sleep with a new Yarn Harlot book to read.

Maybe in 10 years time I’ll get a day like this. Hopefully a bit sooner!

Talking of finishing socks, here are the Eskarina Socks:

Improving your skillset – 3KCBWDAY6

Here is the brief for today’s post for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week:

How far down the road to learning your craft do you believe yourself to be? Are you comfortable with what you know or are you always striving to learn new skills and add to your knowledge base? Take a look at a few knitting or crochet books and have a look at some of the skills mentioned in the patterns. Can you start your amigurumi pieces with a magic circle, have you ever tried double knitting, how’s your intarsia? If you are feeling brave, make a list of some of the skills which you have not yet tried but would like to have a go at, and perhaps even set yourself a deadline of when you’d like to have tried them by.

I’ve been knitting seriously for about four years, maybe a little longer. I’ve been crocheting not-very seriously for over 20 years. I think it is fair to say that there are going to be many things that I still have left to learn.

One area that I think I’m fairly experienced at is knitting socks. I think (giving a cursory glance at my Ravelry projects) I’ve knitted 26 pairs. I’ve tried toe-up, top-down, afterthought heel, afterthought leg, short-row heels and toes, various stitch patterns, dpns, 2 circs, 2 at a time and various sorts of colourwork. There is always more to learn, but I can talk at great length about sock construction. Sometimes people even listen!

Apart from knitting socks and other small items like gloves and hats, I don’t have much experience. I’ve only knitted one adult-sized sweater/cardigan, although I have started to make plans for another.

One of the things that fascinates me about knitting is the sheer amount of different things there are to learn. This week, for my birthday, I was given a copy of The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt. There are more than 600 pages in there, so I reckon it is going to take a while just to read it, never mind put it all into practice. I get bored very easily doing the same thing over and over again, so having many new things to learn means that I’ll probably stay interested in knitting for many years to come.

The things that I am particularly looking at trying in the near future are:

  • Another sweater or cardigan for me, possibly from the book Knit, Swirl.
  • Design a pair of socks and learn how to write patterns
  • Brioche stitch, just because I’ve still not figured out what it is
  • I’d love to have a go at knitting a pair of socks one inside the other and that would involve learning double knitting.

Where knitting is concerned, I’ll pretty much try anything if it looks interesting and it looks like I’ll learn some stuff. Any suggestions?