Category Archives: Knitting and crochet

My Handmade Wardrobe

Spring has begun to spring here in the UK and I have very much had spring cleaning fever (by that I mean clearing out all the junk that none of us needs). It started off as quite fun but I am now at the point where I have had enough and the house still does not quite look like I would like it to. Hey HO, I shall persevere.

With As part of my Spring clean I decided to tackle my clothes. To be honest I am a bit fed up with my clothes. I don’t know whether it is an age thing or I have not updated recently but I just don’t feel excited by many of my outfits now. Sorting through them I did notice that I have a lot of greeny/browny coloured clothes. I always thought that I was quite a colourful person but it seems not. This is something that I will have to consciously address over the next few months.

I did sort out quite a few things to get rid of (including some smelly running tops that my husband will be so pleased to see the back of). As May is rapidly approaching along with the challenge started by Zoe called me-made-May  where you pledge to wear your handmade and upcycled clothes as much as you  declare, I decided to take photos of the things that  I have made so that I can truly see what clothes I have ready for the May challenge. (Last year I thought that I would have made loads by now…..)

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This was my first ever knitted item that I made when I was a teenager. It is incredibly warm and only worn when I want a bit of comfort.

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This poncho was the first item I made on my return to knitting.

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This Angel wings ‘Bolero’ is a favourite of mine. Nice and warm but not too bulky.

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This falling leaves jumper looks amazing on.

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This is a wrap dress that is the first item of clothing I made from cloth as an adult.

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My first pair of trousers.

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A jersey top.

I also have 2 pairs of socks, a scarf and three shawls. I wear the shawls the most.

At the end of last year I thought that I would manage to make 1 item of clothing a month. I have failed on this target so far although I have a cardigan that is nearly finished (buttons and ends) and another one well on its way. I also have the pieces cut out for another jersey top so if I get my skates on, I am not that far off my target after all……I have just not finished one a month.

 

 

Yarny Goodies.

Finally – a non-running related post :).

Look what lovely yarn my amazing friend bought me for my birthday:

Isn't it divine?

Isn’t it divine?

I have to admit to never having seen anything like this before. Each skein gets slightly lighter (or smoother depending on your view-point). It is 100% Superwash Merino and it feels divine. Perfect colours for me too.

It is called nougat on coffee which contains just the most perfect colours for me.

It’s name is Nougat on Coffee which has just the perfect colours for me.

Aren’t I just so, so, so lucky? I am thinking a beautiful shawl.

I have also ‘acquired’ these:

All my favourite colours.

All my favourite colours.

I just feel so happy when I look at my new acquisitions. The same friend that bought my nougat yarn was having a clear out and these just jumped out at me. Not quite sure what I will do with these but now they are giving me lots of pleasure just as they are. Planning is part of the enjoyment right?

What would you make?

Wyrt Socks – finished.

A very happy new year to everyone. I hope that you have had a good one? I am very pleased to report that after my slight accident earlier this week I managed to complete my socks with about an hour to spare – about 11 O’clock on New Years Eve.

I love them.

I love them.

I really enjoyed knitting these socks. They have the right mix of interest with the cables along with the fairly easy knitting part. Perfect knitting for when you are tired and are sat in front of the TV.

 

 

I also learnt some new techniques:

  • these are toe up socks so I learnt how to do Judy’s magic loop.
  • I had done short row shaping before but always nice to have another practice at something like this that I don’t do very often.
  • I also learnt a new stretchy bind off. I am not sure what it is called as I simply typed stretchy bind off into google. As I came to the end of the second sock I did have a mild panic as to whether I would be able to find the same bind off again but it all turned out ok in the end (luckily!).

If you have not knitted socks before then I suggest that you try it. They are highly portable and fairly quick too.

Wyrt Socks

The only question I have is when should I wear them? I love my socks and don’t want to hide them inside boots and shoes :(.

 

The adventures of the socks

So, last night this happened.

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Yep, my needle broke 😦

I guess this is why I usually use metal? It is especially frustrating because I finally sat down last night with a whole evening ahead of me intending to near enough get my project finished. This obviously didn’t happen.

So what is was my project?

Ages ago (as in November) the lovely Louise Tilbrook was tweeting about a mystery kal (knit along) on one of her sock patterns. I have knitted  one pair of socks before which I quite enjoyed and a bit more research revealed that these were toe up socks which are all new to me. The final clincher was that I had until the end of December to finish them. (Anybody else find that crafting time in December is a very rare thing?) I signed up.

The hints

The title of the project is Wyrt socks which apparently is the old English word for root.

…..these socks were inspired by the twist and gnarled tree roots found on ……. woodland walks.

These sounded to me as if they would have an interesting cable which I thought I would enjoy.

Slow Start

As suspected the socks got off to a very slow start. I did finally manage to complete one just before Christmas. I would love to say that I was too busy creating presents for everyone else but sadly this is not true. Along the way I had to learn the new skill of Judy’s magic cast on which is truly magic – for anyone who has yet to find this it is a way of casting on 2 rows simultaneously this starting with a circular part of knitting straight away. As always YouTube was a huge help.

Making progress

As I thought I really enjoyed knitting these socks – the yearn was fab, the pattern interesting but not complicated and just before Christmas I cast on my second sock. I was making great progress until……

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The silver lining was that I obviously had another project to continue with so it is not all bad as I still got some knitting done. I am just wondering if I will manage to replace the needle before the end of December?

(The link to the project on ravelry is here.)

 

OOOoooops!

You know those tests that are designed to catch you out? The ones that are a list of questions that tell you to do all sorts of weird things with a piece of paper but then the last one is to ignore all the instructions above?

Yes? Well I have fallen for that one. I am far too old and (I hoped) too wise to but it has happened 😦 I was so eager to cast on my latest project having gone through all the trauma of swatching etc, etc that I failed to read the instructions properly. By this I mean read them all the way through until the end.

I read  the first bit up until where it says repeat the last x number of rows a total of 5 times, and off I set. Merrily knitting away each evening.  Then I read the next bit where the instructions are slightly different for each increase row. Oh bum. I have now got almost 2 balls worth of knitting wrong.

Tonight will be working out how much of a mistake it is and whether I do truly have to undo the best part of 2 weeks worth of knitting. My mistake totally. Doesn’t make me feel any better though.

(Excuse my while I scream into a nearby cushion; ARRGGGHHHHHH!)

I am so Lucky.

I have a new toy – well actually I have had it for a while now but only got around to actually using it this weekend. Look:

Please forgive me for the photos, we haven't been bessed with very bright days this weekend.

Please forgive me for the photos, we haven’t been blessed with very bright days this weekend.

Up until this point I had to rely on a visit to my good friend Joanne and whilst this is always a good thing I can now wind my own balls whenever I want 🙂

What am I making?

The beginnings of Hut 8.

The beginnings of Hut 8.

The only remaining question is which technique am I using?

So what about the tension?

A huge thank you for all your comments on my last post. It was really interesting. It seems that most of you learnt to knit using the throwing style. I wonder if that is because most of you are predominately English-speaking? I doubt I shall ever know.

I decided to do a bit more investigating into the different styles, both as a practice and out of interest too. I knitted up 3 swatches using each of the styles.

I knit and crochet tightly. This means that I have to use larger needles or crochet hooks than is mentioned in the pattern. I was interested to see if the different styles had any impact on my tension.

I took two measurements, one before blocking and one after:

First the Portuguese one

24st and 29 rows

24st and 29 rows

22 st     29 rows

22 st 29 rows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then the continental:

25 st   33 rows

25 st 33 rows

26 st     30 rows

26 st 30 rows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally my original style:

25 st    33 rows

25 st 33 rows

25 st     32 rows

25 st 32 rows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be honest this was not what I was expecting at all. Before blocking the Portuguese style of knitting was the tightest. This may be explained by the fact that the tension is not just done with your hands but around the pin/neck. This is very different to using your hands so may well explain the even tighter tension. The other two were exactly the same pre blocking. I guess I knit so tight that there is no room for getting any tighter!

The biggest surprise however was when I compared the pre and post blocking – they got smaller. I thought they got bigger! To be fair it was not an aggressive block, I simply took out the curl. I am still surprised. Before you ask, I only soaked them in a bit of water. Not hot as I put my hands in it.

To be honest I was hoping for a simple answer such as; If I use …….style my knitting is a better tension. I like easy answers but it seems that it is not to be.

I have the yarn to knit a cardigan so shall have to think some more about which style to choose. Which would you choose?

 

What is your style?

I was privileged to attend a class at my local yarn store (The Sheep Shop) on Saturday. I say privileged because without Joanne it would totally have passed me by. The class was run by the lovely Gillian and was all about different styles of knitting. It was really interesting. Also quite intense. 3 hours of concentrated knitting. You know the sort….learning something new for the first time concentrated.

To set the scene – I knit in the traditional English or cottage style where you hold the yarn in your right hand and ‘throw’ the yarn over the needle. Having thought about it I suppose it is quite a clumsy style but it was the one I was taught and, until recently I haven’t thought anymore about it. Then I met Joanne who is very interested about finding the most efficient way to knit (well it is her job!).

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Throwing the yarn with the right hand .Source

We started off with looking at the continental style of knitting (Swedish if you live in France!). This is different to my style because you hold the yarn in the left hand. As I do this for crochet this was not too hard a step for me. It also wasn’t too hard because I had actually done this, with my left hand, when doing stranded knitting:

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This is what I made – my first ever piece of stranded knitting. When I made this I had the grey in my right hand as I always do and the coloured yarn in my left.

This time I only had one strand of yarn and it was in my left.

Image result for continental style of knittingSource

With this style of knitting you sort of manipulate the needle around the yarn rather than the other way around.

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I really like this style and found the knit stitch to be really fast. Then came the pearl. This seemed a lot harder and took a bit to get my head around it. I did get there in the end but so far it is not as quick as the knit version.

We then moved onto a stitch called Norwegian Pearl. Again the yarn is held in the left hand. It is a way of doing a pearl stitch keeping the yarn at the back of the work. For anyone who has done 1by1 rib you will know how amazingly useful this will be. No more switching forward and back between each stitch! I liked this,  as again it meant more manipulating of the needle rather than the yarn around the needle.

Next came a style of knitting that (I think) originates from Shetland. It involves a special pouch that you put one of your (long) needles into. This keeps it still and  means that you don’t really have to hold this needle as such.

Image result for Shetland knitting beltSource

The idea behind this is that you work really close to the end  of the needles and simply flick the yarn over the end of the needle. It is meant to be really, really quick. Not for me however. There was one lady on the course who had back problems and she thought that this style of knitting would really help her.

Finally we were introduced to Portuguese style knitting. Joanne thought that this style of knitting might come across as a bit pretentious as you loop the yarn around your neck (or attach it to a pin).

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You hold the tensionin the right hand and the use your thumb to flick the yarn around the needle. Rib is also easy as you change the position of the yarn with a flick of the thumb. I did find that my knitting ended up getting closer and closer to my face as I forgot to pull the yarn around but I am sure that is just a beginner’s mistake.

Which style will I adopt? Probably a mixture. As I have been playing around a bit more I got quicker at the continental pearl but the Portuguese style was one where I could do without looking quite quickly. A good test as I like to be able to knit without looking as it means I can do it during car journeys. I have the yarn for a cardigan so will let you know which I choose to make this. It will be one of the new versions as it seems like the perfect opportunity.

Which style were you taught to knit in?

Joanne to the rescue

For those of you who know that we have half term here you may well be wondering why I haven’t written more posts. The simple answer is that I did but I am struggling with WordPress. It seems to not save everything. Anyone else having these issues?

Anyway back to the point of this post. My lovely friend Joanne came to my rescue this week. I had really lost all mojo when it came to yarn related projects. Luckily I knew she was just THE person to sort me out. After Christmas I had picked up this lovely yarn in the sale:

It is Rowan Sock yarn.

It is Rowan Sock yarn.

The first obvious place to start is with socks. We logged onto Ravelry and started searching. I really liked the look of these:

beauty shot Skew by Lana Holden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I really like these and will probably make them one day. We then saw these:

beauty shot

Wraptor 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The thing about these socks that really appeal is the unusual way the stripes go across the socks. Definitely on the to-do list but not quite right for now.

We then went onto shawls and found the one.

It is Miss Winkle by Martina Behlm. This is a lovely pattern that is easy but the hoops along the edge add that bit of interest. Perfect for those evenings where I am really tired and need something to take my mind off the events of the day.

Joanne being Joanne bought the pattern right there and then. She then popped home to get her winder so I could wind the skein and get going straight away. How lucky am I? I am very, very grateful and look forward to the next couple of weeks. Thank you lovely.

Swatching

I have written about the amazing effect of blocking knitting and crochet before as it opens itself out, giving the stitches the definition that they deserve. I have also written about how important swatching is. Both of these were again underlined to me this week.

This is a swatch I did - before blocking.

This is a swatch I did – before blocking.

During blocking.

During blocking.

The swatch after blocking.

The swatch after blocking.

Looking at the tape measure, you can see that the swatch grew by 2 cm. This was not enough as the swatch was meant to be 13cm square according to the pattern.  I had already gone up a needle size as I know that I knit tightly……

The photographs show that the pattern really opens out post blocking, and the measurements show how important the swatching process is. I have gone up a couple more needle sizes and started again. Imagine how small the top would have been had I not bothered with swatching and blocking!