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March 2011

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week - halfway round the world.

6knitbloglogo When I was a child in Northern Ireland we were visited on various occasions by Molly, an elderly relative New Zealand. Now Molly had views - on just about everything - and a catchphrase to with them. If she couldn't find what she wanted in a shop or restaurant, or if a museum, stately home or any other attraction wasn't open in the way she expected, you would hear: "I didn't travel halfway round the world for..."

Thanks to Molly and now other family in Australia, knitting has managed to go halfway round the world a lot more than I have. Molly's granddaughter, now grown up, had sweaters as a small child. These days there is a young niece and nephew in Melbourne, their mum and her sister-in-law (and before longer her daughters) all adding to the flow of sweaters, shawls and other items heading south.

Here are a few of the recent projects now with family and friends in Australia - some shawls, which I believe are receiving a lot of wear. The niece's cat has made a guest appearance on Skype - being swung round by its tail and pitched across the room. 

But it's the hoodie on the gorilla that's had the most interesting journey - halfway round the world three times. It was actually for our baby nephew. I posted it to Australia, and then he wore it on a visit to the UK and then back home to Melbourne.


  • Knit1 021
  • Knit1 033
  • Knit 071
  • Baby 001
  • Cat 002
Cat 002



Knitting & Crochet Blog Week - the knitter's friend

6knitbloglogoToday's blog week theme is tidy mind, tidy stitches. So I thought I'd share an essential piece of kit.

Ladies and gentleknitters, I present the humble resealable Knit 152 freezer bag without which any hope of keeping the stash cupboard(s) in order.

These have proved a simple solution for me. Fill with the yarn of your choice.

Seal the top and then place the bag between your knees.

Then open the seal a little and squeeze, then reseal your flattened bag and store.

Knit 153

 (This method has the extra advantage of making the stash appear much less alarming for non-knitting family members)

Find other people's day 3 blogs here.



Knitting & Crochet Blog Week - Skill + 1 Up = 4 needles

6knitbloglogo For someone who has knitted for well over 25 years I have a surprising confession to make - until a few months ago I'd never knitted on four double-pointed needles.

Particularly so, because I remember my Gran and an aunt producing socks that way. But then "I don't knit socks" is almost a mantra with me.

On the other hand it seems I do knit gloves and hand warmers. 

Having been tempted by the gorgeous gloves on the Laris Design's site, I equipped myself with 2.25mm DPNs, took a deep breath and cast on with great trepidation. Only to discover it wasn't scary at all and I only drop a DPN every now and then.

G 003

I have a philosophy with knitting that I use when teaching others: often that the idea of a skill or technique is more difficult than actually doing it. And so it was for myself on this occasion.

You can see other people's skills achievements here.

Glove 006 Glove 008


Knitting & Crochet Blog Week - A Tale of Two Yarns

6knitbloglogo Yarn choice is a very personal thing. The feel across your hands, whether it sheds as you knit, the give, the movement on the needles, all affect a person's reaction to a particular yarn as well as the results in a finished object. 

With so many variable it can be difficult to pick one yarn that you love or loathe. But over the past year I can point to one yarn purchase that was particularly successful and one that was a huge mistake.

On the up side was choosing to buy five 65g skeins of Clan, a merino 4ply, in the Yarn Yard's sale. Even better it was one of my favourite colourways from this hand dyer.

Yarnyard 2

I bought the yarn for a cardigan and soon discovered it was very smooth on the needles with great stitch definition, creating a robust fabric. It also attracted very positive attention from others. At a knit night I was working on the cardie when a visitor from Australia grabbed my yarn and exclaimed: "Oh, Woollmeise!" She took some convincing that she was wrong and given the popularity of the German brand, I think this speaks highly of yarn I really enjoyed using.

Plus I learnt a little goes a long way... 

... for a cardigan, for a glove, and even hat - plus a little left over for a friend to finish a sock.


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  • Glove 006
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Hat 009

 My tale of woe involves not paying enough attention to past projects. Three or four years ago a I made a colour work cotton jacket - in the end I didn't wear it much because it was too stiff as result of the recommended but unforgiving yarn.

Last summer I was looking for a light cover up and came across a pattern for a net Knit 115 effect short cotton cardie Blithe by Marie Wallin in Rowan Summer Tweed. 

I ordered the yarn and made a start. Then I began to remember - the stiffness, the stickiness on the needles, the little fleck of cotton that shed causing me almost hayfever style symptoms. I was miserable but determined to continue - another mistake. So bad, I'm not even going to post a picture of the baggy shapeless scratchy outcome.

I don't think I'll forget this yarn again...





The Knitter 30: Lace Therapy

Do you buy knitting patterns for the articles or the patterns? 

image from Normally I'd say the patterns every time but with this month's The Knitter, it is all about the articles.  There are some patterns I'll highlight below (I'm not a fan of sleeveless pullovers and cardies) but there are two feature articles that push all the buttons for me and make up for this not being my favourite pattern-wise.

Stitchlinks is a project I already follow but was pleased to read more about it. Founded by Betsan Proj 022 Corkhill, Stitchlinks is all about the therapeutic aspects of knitting and how it can help people with long term health issues.

As someone whose professional life brings into contact with social workers and the social care system and having an ancestor who was an occupational therapy pioneer this is of particular interest to me but I think most knitters will be interested in what Betsan has to say. Knitting and other crafts can have an impact on how we experience pain, our sense of worth and our mood including how we deal with stress. I for one will say that if I'm having a difficult day at work, spending lunchtime in a coffee shop with my knitting can clear my head and help me find positive solutions. Betsan writes about these many effects and how colour and texture can have an impact on people - the silk wool cable project above makes me feel better - something that all knitters could relate to. 

image from One thing that makes me feel good - perhaps because of the sense of achievement - is lace. So I welcome the opportunity to learn more about the Shetland Fine Lace Project which is about maintaining the craftwoman's skills and heritiage associated with the finest of hand knits.

It is also about educating people about the amount of work and craft knowledge that goes into each lace item. The scarves and shawls (like the one left) are sold through the Shetland Museum if you want to find out more.

Meanwhile I haven't many highlight patterns this month which I suppose balances out those issues where I want to cast on absolutely everything, but there are still highlights.

I have a young niece and I think I can guarantee that at some point she will own a Child's Sweater with a Cat Pattern by Kari Haugen. It's a Norwegian colourwork item in DK that features whole cats on the body and cat faces on the sleeves. Think Sara Lund with cats for a 4-year-old.

I'm also hoping my other half will like the subtly striped Ease man's jumper image from in cotton/silk DK by Brandon Mably - the stripes will make all that stocking stitch for a man-size  garment interesting and I think it would suit him.

For me a simple textured and fitted 4-ply sweater may well prove the answer for some of the summer yarn in my stash. Lilium by Vladmira Cmorejova fits the bill - reverse stocking stitch with lines of twisted rib and beads of leaf design it will make a simple spring/summer top.

Hayworth is classic Sarah Hatton - a simple but effective cropped cardigan with a romantic Jane Austen look, this time in aran. A quick knit simmer cover up and good choice as a first cardigan for a beginner.

And finally a stashbusting gem from Ann Kingstone - long fingerless 4py lacy gauntlets with bobbles that give them their name, Pearl

Coming soon: Knit & Crochet Blog Week

Blog week pinkKnitting bloggers of the world unite.

Organised by EskimimiKnits, the 2nd annual Knitting & Crotchet Blog Week kicks off in a couple of weeks. Join in to talk about your knitting challenges and triumphs, the yarns you love and hate and even your battles to organise your stash.

I've started thinking now so that I'm sure to have something to say and am looking forward to discovering new bloggers. 


Knitting 88: A little bit of vintage heaven

Round The Orient Express gives the theme for this vintage-rich collection of classic patterns and articles. Regular readers may have realised I have a bit of a vintage obsession (note my recent distractions during the BBC's South Riding), so Knitting 88's 1930s inspirations were guaranteed to get a thumbs up from one regular reader at least.

Especially with an interview with vintage knitter to the stars Lise-Lotte Lystrup and a technique feature on adapting lace stitch patterns.

But to be honest I would have been happy with just the pattern pictured here. I want to cast-on the DK Round Yoke Sweater (left) from Bergere de France right now and am mentally reviewing my stash as I write. The small of set collar, ribbed circular yoke and lace body and sleeves are right out of a Poirot or Marple TV adaptation (and yes I an distracted by knitwear in those too) and it would look great with a tweed skirt or wide legged trousers. Those same construction attributes make it an interesting knit - expect it on a penguin very soon.

Sian Brown's Sailor Top is another classic - hip length, striped cotton DK stocking stitch with a v-neck and draping collar tie. It is a simple, familiar design that would work in a range of colour combinations.

Different colourways are also worth thinking about for Tina Barrett's Beaded Bolero. Produced here in a deep purple alpaca DK with gold beads  this pretty puff sleeved tie neck fastening garment has an evening look, but a lighter shade with pearlised beads would transform it to a summer day time cover up. It may even be worth considering whether there is a suitable cotton yarn.

Wavy Lacy Cardigan from Fiona Morris is another handy DK option for our summers. Long line, with a slight tunic shape and simple lace panels, it will look good loose or belted over a simple cotton summer dress.

Images from the magazine's online preview

 A quick mention for Alison Pierce's lacy Simplon Cape - Miss Marple would love it but I'm not sure if I'm a cape person. But it is made with possum yarn which is something I've just discovered.

And for a bit of fun how about a Chinese inspired colour work felted carpet bag. Not something I'd usually think of but I'm rather taken with Jeanette Sloan's Orient Doctor's Bag.

 Of course I don't love everything. Suzie Lee's Dogtooth Skirt is pretty much what it says on the tin and depends on how you feel about knitted skirts.

The Fairy Leaves Shrug from Nicky Epstein gave me more pause for thought. In the pictures this is simple shrug with gathered sleeves but then I realised it was made up of rectangular lace panels joined together. This to me always has an element of risk because if you don't get the tension of your joins even and are v careful with your blocking there is a strong chance that you will have gathering and bagging in the final garment.

But these are minor quibbles compared to Martin Storey's Pimpernel - when I tried to describe it all I came up with was a baby blanket with a hole in the middle in Kidsilk Haze so thankfully I found a picture.


Why oh why?

TV knits

 Does the knitwear on the TV make you lose the plot?

Sarah lund I haven't been watching The Killing but have noticed that the sweater worn by the central character Sara Lund has been getting a bit of attention

Apparently when the series was originally shown on Danish telly, the company that made it couldb't keep up with orders, and now UK shops are being scoured for Nordic -style knits.

Of course that got me thinking. My trusty 1960 Odham's Encyclopedia of Knitting has a pattern for a skiing sweater that could easily form be adapted Sara style.

image from





But while I haven't been caught up in Killing sweater fever, my viewing is hit by knitwear envy.

Watching the European Indoor Athletics champs on the BBC the other day, lead to a Twitter discussion over whether former Olympic sprinter Colin Jackson's natty chunky waistcoat was a hand knit.

But what has really caused me to lose the plot has been the recent BBC adaptation of 1930s tale,South Riding. Luckily I've watched the whole series on iPlayer because I genuinely did have a moment when I realised that I had no idea what had just happened because I was considering the construction of a rather fine lace fitted cardie worn by Anna Maxwell Martin as central character Sarah.

I couldn't find a picture of the cardigan in question, but I pretty much loved Sarah's whole workshop and it would go with this outfit.  I'll continue searching for pictures though because I would love to copy the cardie.

  South riding