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Archive for the ‘Knitting and Crochet Blog Week’ Category

Bring the fortune and life of a past finished project up to the present. Document the current state and use of an object you have knitted or crocheted, whether it is the hat your sister wears to school almost every day, or a pair of socks you wore until they were full of holes. Or maybe that jumper that your did just didn’t like that much…

Oops, I seem to have completely missed yesterday’s post. I might try to catch up tomorrow or Monday. Is that allowed? Anyway…

By way of a past FO I present to you the sweater I am wearing right now, Baby Cables and Big Ones Too. I originally saw this pattern when Kate from  Needled made one and blogged about it. I bought some New Lanark pure wool DK, because it was cheap but still Proper Wool,  and I knit it up over a month, finishing it on Christmas Day, 2008.

Chris and I were staying at my parents’ house for Christmas, and I didn’t bother blocking it at first – I just wore it constantly for several days, during which time it took the usual battering from my Mum’s ponies and my parents’ Boxer dog. When I got home I gave it a good wash, got out the drool and the hairs, and blocked it properly.

The yarn, which was scratchy right out of the ball, softened up with knitting, and now, after several washes, it has bloomed into a beautiful soft, fluffy texture. This sweater is the perfect weight for most of the year – my aran and chunky sweaters have mostly been put away for the summer, but I know that my Baby Cables will get worn all summer long on chilly evenings and windy hills.

Here it is in action on our honeymoon on Skye, in front of the Eas Mor waterfall, with Bruach Na Frithe looming behind. My Baby Cables is the perfect hillwalking sweater: light enough and fitted enough for fit easily underneath a fleece or a waterproof, warm enough even in cutting winds, but airy enough to breathe when the incline warms you up. It is my go-to sweater on almost all occasions (sadly, it’s not quite smart enough for work). I love it.

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Is there a skill related to your hobby that you hope to learn one day? maybe you’re a crocheter who’d also like to knit? Maybe you’d like to learn to knit continental, knit backwards, try cables or attempt stranded colourwork.

Mooncalf said in her post earlier in the day that her skill acquisition tends to be project-driven. I’m the same – if a project requires me to learn a new technique, I poke the Internet or pick up a book and figure it out.  I did have a plan to learn two-handed colourwork, but so far I’ve only got round to making a single Ziggy sock (which I frogged because I didn’t like the yarn). The actual colourwork wasn’t too hard, though, so I’ll probably do some more of that another time!

Actually the skill I’m most curious about at the moment is probably crochet. As far as I’ve been concerned so far in my knitting career, crochet hooks are for picking up dropped stitches. In a pinch I’ll use a crochet invisible cast-on, and once I crocheted a neckline onto a knitted sweater. But that’s about it. I never really thought crochet looked particularly nice. However, I’ve seem some lovely crocheted items recently, and some of my knitter friends have been getting into crochet. I’m also going on holiday to Kenya in July, and I’m told airlines look much more favourably on crochet hooks than knitting needles.

Oh dear, I seem to have committed myself to learning to crochet!

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Write about a knitter whose work (whether because of project choice, photography, styling, scale of projects, stash, etc) you enjoy. If they have an enjoyable blog, you might find it a good opportunity to send a smile their way.

I first discovered Kate Davies’ blog, Needled, a couple of years ago. I promptly became a regular reader, at first drawn in by her beautiful creations, but then thoroughly hooked by the tremendous depth of her writing. Kate is a very knowledgeable and articulate lady who writes with grace and fluency about all sorts of things from the history of fibre crafts, through hillwalking and allotment-keeping. The little details about her home city of Edinburgh are helping me to learn to love that town, with which I have a somewhat troubled history (being more of an adoptive West Coast girl myself, and having had a terrible job in Edinburgh that made me very miserable).

Kate’s photographs are just as evocative as her writing, bringing out easily-overlooked detail in objects and landscapes, with a certain haunting use of light. Her patterns, too, are beautiful – quirky but stylish, never over-done. I love the Owls sweater (and have been wearing mine ever since I finished it until the last couple of weeks when it’s been warmer) and am partway through Manu.

While some bloggers are to be admired from afar (I’m thinking of those knitting celebrities who can’t possibly have time to reply to comments or read the blogs of everyone who reads theirs), I feel very friendly towards Kate. When I was struggling with my Clothkits skirt (back in 2008 when I started it!) she spotted a short-lived ramble about my problems on this blog (I took it down because I don’t like complaining in public!), and emailed me to help. As well as knitting, I share her interests in Scottish hills, malt whisky, and growing things. She always has something interesting to say.

As you probably know, Kate had a stroke recently and has been blogging her road to recovery with her customary insight and eloquence. I was amazed by how quickly she re-learned to knit (and released the pattern for Manu from her hospital bed!).  Her determination and perseverance are inspiring and I truly hope to be reading about her return to the hills in the not-too-distant future.

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Blog about a pattern or project which you aspire to. Whether it happens to be because the skills needed are ones which you have not yet acquired, or just because it seems like a huge undertaking of time and dedication, most people feel they still have something to aspire to in their craft. If you don’t feel like you have any left of the mountain of learning yet to climb, say so!

Well, as I said at the end of my last post, I certainly don’t feel like I’ve climbed that mountain yet! There’s always more to learn. But as soon as I started thinking about what inspirational pattern I could write about, it became clear that there was only one possible candidate: Muir.

I’d never paid much attention to patterns for lace shawls and stoles before the Autumn of 2007. I’d been knitting for about a year, and always thought that those intricate lace patterns looked a bit old-fashioned and grannyish. Then the Fall issue of Knitty came out, and my mind was well and truly changed.

I had Muir in the back of my mind for a long time. I didn’t really know much about lace (I’d made some socks with basic lace patterns, but that was about it) and I didn’t really know how to shop for laceweight. Then I visited Woolfest in 2008 with a friend, and came home with two skeins of Knitwitches pure silk 2-ply in “Lush Seas” – a gorgeous, rich variegated blue colourway.

I was planning to make Muir, but two things stopped me. One: the silk was blue. Muir has a leaf lace motif, so it should be green (I’m literal-minded like that). Two: I realiesd that a 32-row lace chart was probably not the best introduction to both lace and charts. So I put the silk away for a while, and put Muir to the back of my mind.

In August of 2008, Chris and I got engaged (finally, after 10 years together!). I didn’t want a white dress, and ended up buying a stunning silk maxi dress in rich purple from Monsoon. And I thought: that blue laceweight would go well with this…

So the blue laceweight became, over the course of a couple of months, my Print O’ the Wave stole:

And it did, indeed, go wonderfully with the purple dress:

That lace led to more: Laminaria and Ishbel, as well as numerous other projects that involved lace of some description.

But I’ve not forgotten Muir. Oh no. For years now I have been searching for the perfect yarn: it had to be in variegated shades of mossy green and brown. And a few months ago I found it:

Posh Yarn Maisie, in the “Copse” colourway. It is destined to be a Muir. I’m not sure when: maybe this year, maybe next, who knows? But eventually I will make it!

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How and when did you begin knitting/crocheting? was it a skill passed down through generations of your family, or something you learned from Knitting For Dummies? What or who made you pick up the needles/hook for the first time? Was it the celebrity knitting ‘trend’ or your great aunt Hilda?

My first memory of knitting is my babysitter, Debbie, teaching me to knit. I must have been only 6 or 7, as my sister was just a toddler at the time. Needless to say, I wasn’t very good at it and didn’t have any patience for it. I think I knit a wonky garter stitch scarf for one of my dolls (Debbie cast on and off for me).  And I didn’t knit again for about 20 years.

Then the new knitting wave hit the UK. About 5 years ago, one of my Internet friends took up knitting and within what seemed like a few weeks was posting pictures of funky bags and sweaters. I thought, “I’d like to be able to make stuff like that.” If I remember correctly, she recommended Stitch ‘n’ Bitch to me, so I promptly bought a copy, found some old needles and some nasty acrylic in a charity shop, and started making practice swatches.

Debbie had originally taught me to knit English stye, but I decided when I was re-learning (after 20 years, I really couldn’t remember how to knit at all) that I would learn Continental instead. I’m sort-of left handed – I’m very strongly left-handed at writing, but I do a lot of things right-handed (much to the consternation of a friend’s Mum, who was teaching me to hem curtains – her daughter is also left-handed and she was very surprised to learn that I sew right-handed!). So it seemed logical to give Continental knitting a go.

After a few swatches I decided to make a scarf. I was working in Edinburgh at the time and there was a little craft shop that I walked past on my way to work. One day I ventured in, explained that I was learning to knit, and that I wanted some suitable yarn to make a first scarf.

So the lady sold me some Firefly.

For those fortunate enough to have never used it: Firefly is a novelty ladder yarn. Knitting with it was hellish, but I thought that was because I was a beginner. No. Or at least, not entirely. The tip of my needle kept slipping between the two sides of the ladder, and I constantly ended up with the wrong number of stitches. It took forever. And when it was finished, I was inordinately proud of myself.

It was wonky, not at all soft, and not particularly stylish, but I wore it nonetheless. A couple of years later I decided to knit a scarf for a friend in Firefly, figuring I was now a much better knitter and it would be much less painful. It wasn’t.

After that there was no stopping me. I knit the Chinese Charm bag from Stitch ‘n’ Bitch:

And then made the world’s biggest Clapotis:

When I came to do the ktbls in the Clapotis I realised I’d been knitting every single stitch up until that point through the back of the loop. When I stopped doing that things speeded up considerably!

Since I started knitting I’ve discovered a real connection with older members of my family – some sadly deceased, like my Grandma and great-aunt Frida. I don’t remember my Grandma knitting, but apparently she knit a lot in her younger days. My Auntie Florrie, a wonderful lady whose 93rd birthday is on Wednesday, makes sure that every time I go home I take all my recent knitting to show her. She helps me wind skeins of laceweight and shows me the fabulous yarn she somehow manages to find in charity shops (my favourite was the hot pink alpaca).

And I’m still learning. With the help of the Internet and books, I’m still picking up techniques and tricks. That’s one of the great things about knitting – there’s always more to learn, and patterns to aspire to. But that will have to wait until tomorrow.

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I’d been thinking of joining in with Knitting and Crochet Blog Week (organised by Eskmimi), and earlier tody Sadie reminded me that it starts tomorrow! It’ll be a good opportunity for me to blog about something a bit more thoughtful than just showing off FOs. If you’re reading this, let me know if you’re taking part!

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