Crafting Balance – 3KCBWDAY7

K
It’s safe to say that there is absolutely no balance in my crafting… it is almost entirely knitting (to the extent that I’m rubbish at finishing things which need sewing up).  That said, today marks a day where I’ve packed up a handmade card, sewn up the outstanding WIPs and made the care labels.  What I enjoy is the creativity associated with making something successfully which looks really good (and I can be appropriately pleased with it).  I am, however, ridiculously critical of my own work, which means I no longer draw/paint.  I think it’s also partly why I no longer sew much.  In the title bar for this page is the one piece of recent sewing I’m very pleased with.  It was designed to be one of 7 pieces yet, after 4 years, remains the only one.

So, what did today lead to, with the sewing up?

The finishing (at last) of the gifts for my soon-to-be Goddaughter.  Having noted yesterday that it took a mere 18 months to make my Godson’s Elefante, I decided to get ahead of myself… I started with a sensible pattern, with limited sewing up, in plenty of time for her birth.  All that went to plan… It was ready ahead of her arrival, save for the small tasks of sewing up, and finding and attaching buttons.  She’s now 6 weeks old and it’s only just been completed!  So, what did I make: The beautiful Maile cardigan and reliable two needle cable booties.

Goddaughter's outfit

I’ve also finally finished Mrs Dubrais’ Owl hat to be sent off, to her.

Who Hat

While today demonstrates my ability to do something other than knitting… in particular card making (which I’m not photographing) but I really *do* need to be in the right mood for it. This is rather unlike knitting which I do at any available time.

As I reach the end of Blogging Week, I hope that I’ll come back to some of the themes (like today’s, to discuss things like crafting background) when I have more time. That won’t be until after the assessment period but I hope to keep on sharing my knitting.

Improving your skills – 3KCBWDAY6

K
In the last three years or so I have been spending more time knitting. I got as far as knitting in work meetings before returning to university and now find lectures useful time to knit. Despite this increase in time spent knitting, it’s almost all been dedicated on socks (with the occasional hat).

Since moving house, and as friends have had children I’ve started being more adventurous. Well, started seems very accurate… I’m less good at finishing things off! My biggest project for expanding my skills was my Godson’s elefante.

Elefante

I hate sewing up with a passion, so this really was a labour of love (and thus a one-off). It has been received well and the elefante has made his home in the toy box. It only took me about 18 months to get round finishing off. Oops.

To develop my sock knitting skills, I decided to make the largest sock to date, especially for Christmas.  It was my first significant attempt at fairisle, and turned out well.  In fact, it grew to be such a size that it was bigger than the girl I’d knitted it for.  Oops.

Finished Christmas Stocking

I started to play around with lace. The first piece is the multnomah pattern in the cream/brown zauberball. It looks beautiful but is too small and, as I’ve cast off, it will be frogged and remade (picture to follow).

The biggest challenge ahead is to use the skills from that pattern in making my first cobweb weight shawl. My initial attempt at the Miss Lambert shawl didn’t work out so I’m giving the Japanese Leaves pattern a go. My initial response to knitting it is the way it feels so different to my normal sock knitting (especially as I normally knit tight). We’ll soon see how it goes.

Shawl with yarn cake

A Knitter For All Seasons? – 3KCBWDAY4

KLooking back over my finished projects, it’s hard to say there is any seasonality to it at all.  As a sock knitter, the weather doesn’t affect the choices of yarns, colours or patterns chosen.  Perhaps it’s a British thing, in as much as there is little difference between mid-summer (cold and rainy) and mid-winter (cold and rainy).  While that statement isn’t entirely true, the sentiment remains valuable. This year we’ve had glorious sunshine and snow in March, and the threat of non-stop rain is predicted for the rest of April and much of May!  The photo from Monday emphasises the epitome of British and current weather, to me.  That said, specific projects have been planned with the optimistic assumption that there will be lighter weather.

The current WIP, ‘God-daughter’s cardigan and booties‘, are made from cotton rather than wool to be cooler for the summer.  I hope it will be the right size for her as the weather is most appropriate for her to wear it.

Knitted Necklace

Falling Leaves Necklace (Rav Link)

There was also a piece to celebrate an ordination, which was very much designed to be a light piece for all seasons:

This scarf/necklace is made from the beautiful Habu Stainless Steel/Wool and retains shape fantastically.  I hope that, once I’ve caught up on the current WIPs, I’ll move back onto Jewellery.  Perhaps this will be a summer project for this year?

I also intend to knit a first laceweight scarf, which will be focussed on for the developing skills day.

 

My Knitting Heroes – 3KCBWDAY3

K

My heroes are an ecclectic bunch, and all are real people who’ve had a significant influence on my knitting.

Passing of the Years by Rae Merrygold

Passing of the Years, © Rae Merrygold 2009

The first pair of heroes are my grandparents, presented in this piece of work by my sister. It took both of them to teach me to knit, Nanny providing inspiration and a checking eye, while Grandad taught the technique.  Nanny’s left-handedness presented a problem for learning the skills required but as I grew up she was always making a cardigan or a jumper.  The one Grandad wears in this picture is one of Nanny’s endeavours.  Grandad’s skills were, apparently, learnt in the army and he taught both his daughter and granddaughter to knit.  The interest in textiles remains in each generation, but in different ways.  Mum’s a textiles teacher, and clicking through to my sister’s artwork shows the use she’s made of textiles and textural influences in her work.  Mum’s interests are diverse but are primarily in sewing and my sister’s is in texture, so knitting is something which has become very much my thing.  This is particularly evident as mum is always keen to receive another pair of socks!

First Sock

First Sock

It wasn’t until after university that I progressed much beyond garter stitch scarves and that owes much to the next hero.  Seemingly a few lifetimes ago, LMM and I lived not that far from each other and spent time encouraging each other in crafting.  She took to sock knitting fantastically and gave me both my first sock knitting kit and my first sock club membership.  Her meticulous socks are a real inspiration to me, and despite not managing to catch up with her as often as I’d like, it’s still a great spur to hope my socks are as good as hers.

Elefante

Other friends who inspire my knitting are Blissfully Eccentric, who had a reputation which reached me at work for her ability to make anything (particularly with her eyes closed, and/or her hands behind her back… literally), Seen in the Street (not that she blogs about knitting) for her engagement with what sounds like the coolest knitting group ever and for her reaction to being invited to see my yarn stash.  Finally, of the friends, is Muffetly.  A friend from uni, she has made some of the most beautiful things ever put together by crafting.  Included in her repertoire is knitting, cake making and decorating, card making and generally being very very cool.  Long before the Mrs and I moved to the current part of the world, she’d take me to exciting yarn shops and craft centres.  Ahead of the birth of her son, last year, she made the most stunning baby blanket which inspired me to make a matching elefante.

It now feels that there are a good gathering of knitters to spend time with.  My recent birthday celebration led to vast amounts of time spent in the roof playing with the yarn and showing it off to a variety of friends.  This has also been matched by joining the uni Stitch and Bitch Group, where I’ve come across Stephcuddles and Jenny_Knits amongst others.  It’s really great to be part of a continuing knitting community, which covers generations and geography, internet and reality, old and young.  It makes me very happy!

Photography challenge – 3KCBWDAY2

K

Hidden Cafe Knitting & uni work

Today’s post is a little more mundane than yesterday’s despite the challenge of providing an interesting photo. Feeling rather buried by uni work, that (literally) is where the knitting is to be found. It does feel rather like the owls are staring accusingly at me from their knitted safety.

Owl Socks Detail

However much more exciting they are than theology the latter calls but I’m sure the owls will get my attention intermittently as I attentively read on.

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week: Day 1 Colour (3KCBWDAY1)

K

The Knitting & Crochet Blog Week has been just the incentive I needed to restart and kick start my blog.  As an occasional blogger for the best part of 10 years, I’ve written regularly for short periods and on particular themes.  That blog was started when I moved into a convent for 6 months and now has a mostly church-related theme to it.  A transition to a knitting-focussed blog didn’t exactly seem natural so I bit the bullet and here I am.

Weather

Grey, wet weather (rubbish for photography)

 

Colour:

The theme for the day is colour, and something which seems particularly appropriate given the rather grey weather outside.  Given the lovely natural light at the top of the house, I’d planned to take a couple of photos which really would show off the colourways, however as you can see the rather cheerful weather outside rather prohibits that.

Herringbone Scarf

 

I do love the ways colours play together, from the brightest which confront you all the time, to the most subtle ones which barely seem to change yet still keep your gaze.  It’s why I love the tweeds of Rowan, and think the flecks which appear brightly against this black yarn are stunning.

Red and green flecks on black tweed yarn

One of the achievements over the last week has been in finally finishing off and blocking a scarf promised back in January 2011 on the facebook craft exchange.  For numerous reasons, including moving house and starting a course at university, the 2011 challenge got rather put on the backburner.  It’s not forgotten about, but maybe assuring the remaining people it will be completed by the end of next year might be more realistic!  Oops.  Anyway, the scarf has turned out beautifully with the bright green and red flecks really making it have far more life and vibrancy than expected.  The pattern is Cogknition’s Red Herring Scarf but rather than a plan, smooth yarn the Rowan Yorkshire Tweed offers the opportunity to play with the colours and textures (both of the yarn, and the pattern).

Space Odyssey Yarn

Flamboyance Yarns Space Odyssey (from Flamboyance Yarn’s photo)

By contrast, the socks I’m currently knitting for a friend have absolutely no subtlety in their colours and are all the more exciting because of it.  Socks form the majority of my knitting exploits, and I’m increasingly becoming more choosy in the yarn texture and colours that I choose.  In an attempt to find something cheerful, I discovered Flamboyance Yarn’s Space Odyssey Yarn.

Brown Cachoeira Detail  Cachoeira Detail

After a couple of false starts, with patterns which didn’t really show off the beauty of the yarn, I am doing the Cachoeira pattern from Knitty.  It’s the second time I’ve made this pattern and, save the fact that I can’t remember the repeats off the top of my head, it’s really engaging.  It also reminds me the vast difference between the way one pattern looks in one colourway and yarn, compared with another.

Grey effervesce detail

 

A new development in my choice of colours has been selecting solid or semi solid yarns to highlight the pattern work within the socks.  I’ve enjoyed the multicoloured and patterned yarns but as a pattern such as Cachoeira demonstrates, sometimes it’s better to have a clearer focus on the knitting.  I’m using up some of my stash to have a go at the Effervesce Socks for myself (unheard of!) but have intentionally purchased some new hand-dyed plainer yarns in a recent splash-out with birthday money!  In particular I have got some lovely greens from Yarn Yard and some Natural Dye Studio Spice from Purl City Yarns.


Spice Sock Yarn Yarn Yard Pale Green Yarn Yard Green Sock Yarn

Sadly the camera doesn’t seem to do true justice to the colour of the middle one, but the others are as vibrant as they appear.  I was going to suggest that none of them really represent my normal choice of colours, as I’m far more likely to go for blues/purples and earthy colours but then I looked at the stash and there is far more green and pale colours than I expected.

Stash

But when it comes to colours, there are still some which stand out to me above and beyond all the rest. This weeks notable colours are all recent additions to the stash, and either are notable for their complete beauty, and again they all come from Flamboyance Yarns (from whom I’ve borrowed the skein photos).

To the Lighthouse is a lovely sock yarn in the most beautiful blues and turquoises:

Blue Sock Yarn To the Lighthouse Yarn
Promised you a Miracle holds all the beauty of something of the earthy, beautiful colours I love (and contains not too much pink). Interestingly it’s an almost perfect match to some Rowan Tapestry I’ve just made hats from.

Promised you a Miracle yarn Promised you a Miracle
The most exciting yarn of all, which I’ll discuss more later in the week, is the Morgaine laceweight/cobweb yarn. I’ve not made anything this fine but the yarn is beautiful and I am excited by learning some new skills.  The rich purples go well with the rust and the striking verdigris green.  I think if you could bottle my favourite colours ever, it would be this yarn!

Morgaine Yarn Morgaine Yarn