Thursday, November 22, 2007

Are you a "thinking" knitter?

A very interesting, and thought-provoking, post on knit, knit,frog today about being a "thinking (or fussy!) knitter" and what has caused the author to become the way she is. I, personally, am not quite there yet.

I learned to knit when I was a child, taught by my mother. There were no knitting books available to me apart from instructions, although I'm not certain I had access to these at this stage. I was taught one way of casting on (long-tail using my thumb - although it didn't have a name, to my knowledge), one way of holding the yarn (right-handed) and one way of casting off. I did hold the needles differently to my mother and I also threw the yarn differently ( I still can't throw the yarn without taking my hand off the right needle no matter how hard I try! Am I slightly physically different?) but otherwise I knitted the same.

Until the internet! To repeat what millions of others must have already stated but it is amazing how a single piece of technology (I use the word "single" rather loosely here) has revolutionised the whole world! I now have access to a huge range of outside influences when it comes to knitting. Who knew there were so many other styles of knitting in practise throughout the world? I didn't. Who knew there was more than one way to increase, decrease, cast on, cast off etc? I didn't. But now, I do! I am learning, slowly, that maybe the way I have been used to knitting for the past ? years is perhaps not the best/most appropriate method for this particular article.

What I did know was that I had not always been totally happy with the work I had been producing but I had not known how to do it better. Now the answers are only as far away as my fingertips. My knitting library has grown in leaps and bounds since I discovered Knitter's Review and Amazon. Instead of simply a good range of patterns and pattern books I now own an interesting collection of how-to books and what-if books. I have now been introduced to knitters such as Elizabeth Zimmermann, Cat Bordhi, Nicky Epstein and Montse Stanley. I am beginning to not accept my knitting which is "ok", knowing there is a way to make it excellent.

For me, my knitting journey has barely begun!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Mmmhmm, me all over! Putting off what I should be doing, writing minutes, re-hashing a newsletter and finishing off a pamphlet - not to mention the ever-present housework and grocery shopping! But it is chilly today with numerous, short, sharp southerly showers coming through. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

I thought and thought and thought some more about the Cabled Baby Jacket, or, more correctly, the colours I originally chose, and finally invited the Frog in for a little party over the weekend. I will use the bright pink and the blue-violet for something else (or, more accurately, some things else) in the future.

Instead, I bought some pastel pink Cleckheaton Cocoon and have knitted up one sleeve and have started on the next. It is rather unusual for me to be using the yarn the pattern calls for, but that is what was available in the LYS I was in when I made the decision. It is quite a nice colour, maybe a little paler than the photo shows with a decidedly blue lean to it. The yarn is lovely and soft but not my first choice as it is 30% acrylic. Call me a yarn snob but I really do prefer natural fibres. Most of the time. But, whatever. It is what was there so what I bought.

I have finished a couple of small things since I last posted. First up was the pair of Pocketbook Slippers mentioned last time. (A totally horrid photo but what can one do when no-one else is around to help one take a photo?) I guess these are ok for what they are but I don't think I would make the adult size again unless I really wasn't sure of the size of the foot. These really only just fit me so will be just the same on K. Maybe they'll shrink a little with further washing?

The other items I knit, started and finished, since the last post was a pair of Fetching fingerless mittens from Knitty. These were also for K's parcel but, and I hang my head in shame here, I totally forgot to take a photo of them! But they were black so probably would not have photographed well anyway. I made these from some black, probably wool, yarn from my stash. No label so I have no idea what it was. They knitted up well and, apart from a little gaping at the cast off around the top, turned out quite nicely. A pattern I would probably knit again one day.

Speaking of my stash, I wonder how many others have one like it? Much of my yarn stash is made up, not of useful amounts of any one yarn, but mainly of odd balls left over from long-finished projects. Most is not originally mine. Some comes from my late mother when she gave up knitting after her eyesight began to fail. Most of the stash, however, belonged to my late mother-in-law who used to make a lot of crocheted rugs for charity. She must have used a lot of mohair or brushed acrylic-type yarn as well as there seems to be a preponderence of this type of yarn. Not my favourite and mostly not colours I would choose. But most of it could be useful at some stage and my Scottish heritage won't allow me to throw much of it away. (I've tried giving some away but that hasn't been entirely successful, either!) Quite a problem as I have two 60 litre tubs of it! So, I was quite pleased to use up one small ball on these mittens.

Another reason for my procrastination today is that I am a little annoyed with how things have been turning out for me lately. I had recently made careful plans to rid myself of three responsibilties which weighed a little heavily on me at times - mostly because they often seemed to all come at once. But the old saying about the best-laid plans of mice and men came true once again. One of these responsibilities I have finally managed to offload - but only after three months of frustration. The second, I have had to shoulder for one more year. This isn't too bad in itself and there is light at the end of the tunnel for this one. The third, due to be offloaded last night, was also frustrated! The person I understood to take over from me had elected to take on someone else's position. Fortunately, another came in to help but, at the moment, is only taking on part of the responsibilities leaving me with, perhaps, the more fiddly part. Patience. I must practise patience. This, too, will pass as they say.
But we did have a celebration in our family last week - our youngest son turned 21! Happy birthday, M, for last Thursday! He doesn't normally look quite so much like a skinhead but had recently shaved his hair for "Movember" (a charity fund-raiser), or some such thing. He has done this a couple of times in the past for CanTeen week, too. Fortunately his hair doesn't take long to grow back!
So that is me caught up with for now. Time for me to get something productive done before the day gets any older!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Some progress

I cast on something new again this weekend - a pair of Pocketbook Slippers for K. Winter is coming on there and I want to know that she has something warm and cosy to put on when she finishes work. The Christmas surface mail is due this coming Saturday hence the quick knit. There is still something more I want to add to her parcel but time will tell if I can get that done. Sorry about the lousy photo - the lighting was dreadful and I'm not searching for a better position at the moment. The actual yarn is a little less electric looking, but still rather bright! Medium blue, turquoise, magenta and purple variegated. Fine for slippers but not something I would wear in any larger amounts! It is actually a mohair boucle - so wasn't the easiest to knit with. The seams still need to be sewn and the buttons attached. When that has been done I will try and get a better photo if I have time.

I started another sample for the Baby Cabled Jacket this time doing a corrugated rib. I'm still not certain I like it - I guess that is why it is still sitting next to me on the computer table untouched for several days. This photo shows the colours really badly, too. The violet-blue shows here as much more denimy than it really is. The pink is also not as red as in this photo. I may try a third time (isn't three times meant to be the charm?) and cast on with the pink then go straight into the blue. Maybe that is all that will be needed. We are going to Ashb on Thursday for our son's 21st (yes my baby will be 21!!!) so I will take my efforts up there for their approval - or not. After all, it is their baby the jacket is for.

The weather here has finally packed up after quite a good run of nice, warm weather. It is supposed to rain for the next 3 days so maybe I will be able to get a little more knitting done without feeling guilty for not getting work done in the garden. Spinning is calling too - I really do want to get that coloured roving finished and out of the way.