Sunday, 29 April 2012

3KCBWDAY7 - Crafting Balance

I learnt to knit while I was at primary school, I think I was 8 years old. My mother taught me using squeaky green acrylic and red plastic needles that would bend when I tried to pull my stitches through. I hated those needles but in a funny way I wish I still had them! I remember one of my first projects being a garter stitch scarf for my teddy made in pastel pink, blue and purple. It was a little wavy with dropped stitches but I was very proud of it.

I re-discovered knitting after university. Someone gifted me a copy of Stitch n Bitch by Debbie Stoller, I bought a big bag of yarn from a charity shop and knitted a cat bed

My cat, Tilly and her kittens using the fugly but wonderful cat bed :)

It made me deliriously happy at a time when nothing else seemed to. It continues to make me happy and has introduced me to a lovely community of crafters through Craftster and then Ravelry.

When it comes to crochet, I can crochet...........a chain. I have heard that the first row of crochet after the chain is the hardest row, and this is definitely true. I did try making a granny square but it was misshapen, so I put down the hooks feeling that I had made a real effort to learn. This was in February 2011.

(c) Betsi Brunson

I have seen some beautiful crochet projects, amigurumi and jackets and hats - oh my! I love the fact that crochet is so quick and has real substance to it, without having to use bulky yarn. The portability of crochet is also appealing, and the fact that it's more difficult to drop stitches, since you only have one live stitch on your hook (I think Tunisian crochet is different). I am planning on taking a learn to crochet class in the summer at a local college, because I am a kinesthetic learner, I need to physically do things to learn. Watching Youtube and reading books doesn't seem to be working.

(c) Vogue Knitting

Pattern: #33 Circle Jacket

So, to sum up, at the moment I'm a knitter through and through but I hope to be a crocheter too! This may take some time though as I seem to have more plans than time or money!

(c) The Dainty Daisy

Pattern: Shell Stitch Beanie

Saturday, 28 April 2012

3KCBWDAY6 - Skillums

Improving Your Skillset
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 for 5 or 6 years seriously. I've been happy to do simple projects because I am a process knitter. The FO is important to me but the process is what really makes me happy, so I'm happy chugging along doing miles of garter stitch or stockinette. However, I'm realising that some of these simple projects are a bit uninspiring and I recently had a clearout and donated some FOs to charity.

Perhaps I am slowly becoming a product knitter....

This year I would like to learn cables and socks. Both seem like a mystery to me at the moment but like other techniques I've tried; it should all become clear after a few stitches. You just have to jump in and try! As a champion procrastinator, this is the hardest part for me. I'd really like to learn colourwork but all those floats scare the beejesus out of me, I get crazy-tangled just doing stripes!

I think my first cable project should be a small one. I currently have Salty Dog Mittens in my queue. Bella's Mittens are also a possibility...

For socks, I plan to follow Silver's Sock Class which has been in my queue for over a year. A YEAR! See? Procrastinating again :)

I'm hoping the Ravelympics will give me a kick to get started on one of those projects! Go Team Sasquatch!


Thursday, 26 April 2012

3KCBWDAY4 - Raining in my art

A Knitter or Crocheter For All Seasons?
As spring is in the air in the northern hemisphere and those in the southern hemisphere start setting their sights for the arrival of winter, a lot of crocheters and knitters find that their crafting changes along with their wardrobe. Have a look through your finished projects and explain the seasonality of your craft to your readers. Do you make warm woollens the whole year through in preparation for the colder months, or do you live somewhere that never feels the chill and so invest your time in beautiful homewares and delicate lace items. How does your local seasonal weather affect your craft?

The UK is famed for its wet weather. I am always cold, even in the summer. Conversely I also over-heat easily! My thermostat is broken...

I love to knit wool and wool mix items because I never manage to perfectly time the completion of a summery cotton project so that it coincides with the month or two of true summer we get in England. I've found that I don't like knitting with cotton very much so that could be the other reason!

Scarves and shawls are awesome for layering but I don't like a big thick lump of wool round my neck so I like to make them in fingering weight yarn.

I made my Colonnade in Bessie fingering weight yarn from SuperKnits. If you haven't checked out the shop, you really should! Her colours and especially her teals are amazing. I wore my Colonnade pretty much every day over the autumn and winter but I recently left it at a friend's house by mistake. She smokes (yeuch!) so when little Bessie Colonnade got home she was most stinky so she had a bath in some Soak and a re-block for good measure :)

This year I hope to make many more items in fingering weight or lighter weights such as Whisper Cardigan by Hannah Fettig and Rubbish Mojitos by Woolly Wormhead because I just love the look of knitted fabric at this gauge. And because wool is so warm and light it's perfect for our changeable weather and my broken thermostat!


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

3KCBWDAY3 - My crafting hero

I greatly admire many designers, knitters and podcasters. Veera Valimaki, my Ravelry friends and greentrianglegirl of A Playful Day podcast and blog spring to mind.

My ultimate crafting hero is my paternal Grandmother who is sadly no longer with us. My Grandmother, Joan was a prolific crafter and artist. As far as I know she did not sell any of her work, though much of it was of an amazing quality. She inspires me to craft every day.

Tapestry rug handmade by Joan

When she passed away, we were shocked to discover how many of her clothes she had handmade. She had made all of the curtains in the house, all of the cushion and chair covers, all of the quilts and had even beautifully repaired some of her cane and wicker furniture.

The sheer amount of sewing, knitting, quilting, cooking, painting, gardening and crafting she did in her lifetime is definitely impressive. But she is my hero because of her fearlessness when it came to trying new skills and crafts. She was never ashamed of her mistakes because they always taught her something.

She taught me to hand-sew and showed me her latest projects whenever I visited her. She always involved me in all she did, be it gardening or needlepoint. When I was small, she sewed me pretty smocked dresses and knitted me jerseys and my very own Paddington Bear. She made me a huge, beautiful quilted dressing gown when I was 8 which I used every day and which still fit me until it finally fell apart when I was 15.

Her knitting needle gauge

Joan was born in 1922. The Second World War began when she was only 16. Growing up in such a uncertain time meant that she was very thrifty and never threw anything useful away. It always astounded me that her house was clutter-free and spotless until I realised that she was always on the go, hardly watched any television and cooked every meal from scratch. She only sat down to rest at about 4pm when everyone had a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

When she passed away in May 2011, it was a huge shock. She had always been so active and healthy.

I inherited her craft books and sewing machine which inspired me to learn to sew. It helped me grieve as I felt closer to her when I was sewing or reading her books. My Grandfather had been a bookseller so books have always played a big part in our family life!

I hope to continue learning new skills and crafts for the rest of my life, and to instil a respect for crafts in future generations just as my Grandmother did.

My Grandmother and I on Easter Sunday last year

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

3KCBWDAY2 - Photography Phail

My camera has decided to pack up today, hopefully I can get my pic up tomorrow morning.


Monday, 23 April 2012

3KCBWDAY1 - Brown In Town......

Colour is one of our greatest expressions of ourselves when we choose to knit or crochet, so how do you choose what colours you buy and crochet or knit with. Have a look through your stash and see if there is a predominance of one colour. Do the same with your finished projects - do they match? Do you love a rainbow of bright hues, or more subdued tones. How much attention do you pay to the original colour that a garment is knit in when you see a pattern? Tell readers about your love or confusion over colour.

I love colour! I think all knitters and crafters do! 

I like strong, saturated colours. Being pale-skinned, pastels just seem to wash me out and I'm never attracted to them.

Over the years I have noticed that I'm always attracted to blues and greens and teals. Sometimes a pink or orange or sunny yellow yarn will catch my eye and make me smile. But my first instinct is to go for oceanic tones! 

Mmmmm teal.......

The fact that colours do not have to match and do not have to be tonal has been a big lesson for me. I love an eclectic mix of colours together. This has led to some rather disastrous striped 'stash-busting' projects.....

The colour that a garment is knit can be important, I try to pay attention but sometimes I just want to jump in and use what I have to see how it looks. I have decided that I will never knit a garment in black yarn because it does not show detail well and attracts all the fluff and lint present within a 5 mile radius! Having two cats has helped in this decision :)

I do not like brown, my father always told me never to wear brown in town, and since we lived in town, I never wore it! But I've recently found that I quite like brown-toned rather than silver-toned greys. The greys are richer for their slight earthiness and I'm really liking how it's working with the orange in my stripe study. So I think grey-browns may be the way forward!

Stripe study in Zettl Treviso

To read all about other peoples' love of colour from those taking part in Knitting and crochet blog week, simply perform a Google search for the tag 3KCBWDAY1.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

3rd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week starts tomorrow!

I will be taking part because I love blogging and reading other people's blogs. But sometimes I think no-one is reading and no-one is interested so I stop. Self-fulfilling prophecy or what?!

So I've decided to give blogging another chance, and this seems like a really good way to get involved :)

Are you taking part?