Sunday, November 26, 2006

Is it a scarf for a baby giraffe?

No it's a sock! (Did you hear the fanfare?) I am unnaturally excited about this little pile of wool. After seeing so many lovely socks on the blogs I've been itching to have a go but wondering whether I should get a few more knitting hours under my belt first.

We have been away for a long weekend and when doing some shopping in Exeter on Thursday I found a lovely craft shop called Inspirations with a good knitting section. Having spent some serious fondling time with the yarn (most of my yarn knowledge is web based and while I can try and imagine what 75% wool, 25% silk feels like there is just no substitute for getting some hands on yarn time) I decided I'd take the plunge and have a look for a sock kit as I was aware I was leaping out of my comfort zone and wanted a bit more than to just buy some dpns. After wandering around looking a bit bemused for a while the very helpful ladies took me in hand and kitted me out with two balls of Sirdar Town and Country in Volcano (yey a yarn with a name), some 2.5mm bamboo dpns and a free sock pattern with nearly enough instructions for an absolute beginner. I was so excited I nearly tried to cast on when I stopped for a cup of tea in the next cafe! Thankfully sense prevailed and as I was seeing my Mum that evening I thought I'd hold out till then.

There were a few moments of pain during the casting on as I'm not used to such fine yarn and when the instructions read divide the stitches between three needles I duly did that and then tried to knit with just the three, soon thought better of that but I do wish patterns were a bit more basic!

Anyway as you can see I've been enjoying myself enormously all weekend but the excitement is starting to be tempered with some fear as I'm approaching the heel flap!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

No more Mrs Nice Knitting

This was it, the honeymoon was over. All my thoughts of 'knitting is so much easier than I expected' were out the window. I could not knit some simple ribbing! Literally knit 2 purl 2 and I couldn't do it, what was wrong with me? Was I some kind of freak? I tried to do a basic ribbed scarf - nice pattern in my kit book of varying ribs so you could practice. After several rows I just had a twisted mess and knew I must be doing something wrong but despite several feverish re-readings of the book I couldn't work it out. Off the mess came in a fit of pique and I resigned myself to another garter stitch scarf with some pretty stripes to cheer me up (still on the needles as other things keep jumping ahead!)
The following Sunday we went to my bf's parents for lunch and I plucked up the courage to ask his Mum, a very accomplished knitter, what I was doing wrong. I felt ashamed to admit to my freakishness but I had to get past this or my visions of goregous jumpers and cardis would remain just that! Turns out not a freak after all just a bit of a fool! Somehow I hadn't grasped that I needed to bring the yarn to the front or the back of the knitting before I inserted the needle. I was convinced my book didn't explain that, yet strangely on rereading it after we got home there it is in black & white...

Anyway I was off now, no stopping me, back on track - today ribbing, tomorrow.......increasing? Gulp!

So a few days later I thought I'll try a ribbed scarf again. Now this leads me on to the tale of the the three start scarf. (Bear with me, eventually we'll get back to ribbing because sadly it doesn't end with and then I knit a beautiful ribbed scarf, here see the pic!) I had bought some truly beautiful space dyed slub wool from The Kaleidoscope shop on ebay which has loads of very tempting stuff. So tempting that it had broken my first rule of wool buying for ebay within about 20 hours of it being made. Rule 1: no more than £1 per 50g until I had knit something tougher than a scarf. New rule 1 no more than £1 per 50g unless you really, really want it. At the time I bought this I hadn't actually knit anything and I was still wrestling with the bobbly nightmare yarn from my kit. You see I needed this wool as therapy, well look at it - I bet you want some ;o)

So this luscious wool arrived and rather than using some of the other plainer yarn that I also had by then I had to knit it. So I did. On 4mm needles. The ones from my kit as these were all I had. Of course you can imagine it really wasn't a great success. I took it to a knitting evening with one of the two bona fide knitters I know in Oxford and she said she'd never seen wool so big knit on needles so small :o( Out it came, row by hard knit row, by this time some of my needles from ebay had arrived and there were some 0's in there which I think are about 9mm. I knit away with my 100g and really loved it so I ordered some more of the same from Anna to be able to do a whole scarf. Strangely though by the time it arrived I couldn't get back into it and the skeins languished in the packet, I kept getting it out but I just wasn't keen to carry on, though I didn't know why. Then the world of knitting blogs enlightened me. I saw a scarf in Colinette Point 5 on a blog (break for hasty searching of fav blogs but I can't find it now, typical!) and it suddenly dawned on me that this wool needed some space to breathe. Thank heavens that so many knitters are such great bloggers, you really saved this yarn. Although I had loved knitting on the 9mm needles in comparison to the 4mm, when I looked back at what I'd knitted up the amazing nature of the wool was lost, suffocated as it was still too tight. A few rows into the 15mm version I knew I'd cracked it! The wool was getting great lungs full of air and was dancing for joy.

So I was really proud of myself, it may have taken three starts but this was it now a ribbed scarf in the loveliest wool.
My Mum came to visit this past weekend and I proudly whipped out Mrs Three Starts and announced that I could do ribbing now. My Mum took one look at it and said she didn't know what I was knitting but it certainly wasn't ribbing. Oh my hopes and dreams crashed down again - this learning to knit business is one rollercoaster of a ride!

So Sherlock Mums investigated and turns out - now listen up here this is seriously complicated, I mean forget knitting two socks at once, master ribbing and you deserve the Nobel Prize for knitting I reckon - if you knit it on the right side you should purl it on the wrong side. Who knew? Well not me obviously!

Oh well I dragged myself out of the dunces corner, thought I really must find a knitting class and proceeded to pump Mum for any further knitting tips. We both decided that Mrs Three could not become Mrs Four Starts and that the rib would be lost anway because of the huge variation in the thickness of yarn. I was feeling a bit better about my dunceishness as I think even I could have spotted no ribbing occurring in a double knit type yarn but in this beauty I just thought that was how it would look. Maybe there is a stitch name for what I did, beginner's rib? I proceeded to finish Mrs Three on Saturday and have been swanning into work with it on all week, my non-knitting colleagues are very impressed as they haven't spotted the beginner's rib, I think it's best to leave it that way!


Monday, November 20, 2006

Simply Scarves

The first scarf hot off the needles was Miss Skinny Minny (modelled here by the lovely Lilith who remained patiently in position for all of six seconds), mainly done so that I could learn to purl. I'd started off with a plain garter stitch scarf in a turquoisey mermaidy yarn(see picture below) but I quickly found that having only one project on the go is just not cricket, or knitting as it may be. Miss S Minny managed to overtake and become FO1 by virtue of her compact and bijou nature making her a more suitable companion for a train trip to Birmingham. She is really a rather lovely sparkly, green which has not come out here at all - Patons Spritz Shade no:03002 (ohI wish all shades had names - I would call this Envious Disco Diva :) ) I was pleased to have a finished project on 27 October - about a week after I really got going with some decent needles and yarn and only 18 days from K day (when I hit pay on the Amazon order).

Is it wrong to feel so proud of something you have made? I seldom do after a bout of crafting - I'm normally wishing the object was a little more this or that - but not so far with my yarn creations.

Above we have two of the simplest knitted items in blog land but that doesn't make me any less proud. I love that I made something I'm genuinely pleased with - let's just hope my unsuspecting friends and family are feeling cold in the neck region this Christmas and share in my delight!

I really like 'big pink' as I have imaginatively named her as I was inspired to buy some 15mm monsters to knit her with to make her lacy and light. She's looking a little pale and peaky here - must be flashitis as she's a lovely mauvey pink when she's feeling full strength!

Sea Haze was FO2 but WIP1 so has a special spot in my heart. That and a couple of dropped stitches mean that she is mine all mine.

Not sure of the type of yarn for either of these as they came to me without a name, orphans adopted from ebay. They are a varying mix of wool and acrylic and nice and soft to snuggle into.

I shall save telling about FO4 for later- there have been a few more ups and downs on the path of her creation!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Shiny happy knitting and blogging

I feel almost as excited about this - my first post on my new and shiny blog - as I did when I opened the knitting kit I bought last month. The time had arrived, after several years of vaguely feeling like I wanted to take up knitting (last seen holding needles with some impossibly tight mess hanging from them aged about 7 ) to take the plunge. The nights were drawing in, the need for woollen garments to snuggle into was bceoming obvious, this was it I was going to learn to knit.

I've always loved making things but often feel like they don't live up to my mental image of what I am trying to create, and require so much 'stuff' to get on with them, that when I slump onto the sofa after a day at work getting out the card, the paper, the glue, the cutter, the glitter etc etc seems like just too much effort. The thought of having a pattern to follow and a ball of wool and a pair of needles ready and waiting seemed very attractive.

I had no yarn, needles or idea of how to combine them so a knitting kit seemed like a sensible place to start and I found this one: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product//0715323660/ref=cm_rv_thx_view/202-8000182-0395021

The book is good and helping me a lot but the needles are a bit flimsy and the yarn was useless to start knitting with - really shiny, bobbly and easy to split. I couldn't see the stitches I was knitting for the bobbles and fuzz and I eventually gave up after a few attempts and got myself on ebay to buy some ends of balls of something plain to practice with.

Well that was an eye opener, a new hobby all in itself - I got my plain yarn and just one or two other knitting things :) !!! Oddly for someone with only one pair of needles my first arrival was this lovely knitting needle box:




closely followed by more needles to go in it and then some yarn, then some more and then a bit more... My boyfriend has been heard to ask whether an addiction to hard drugs might not be cheaper!

Anyway talking about my knitting at work (the stream of ebay packages delivered there as they won't fit through my letter box has alerted people that something is up) led to an introduction to the fab knitty.com and from there a link from Glenna C's lovely pattern Ivy led me to her blog and from there down the rabbit hole to the world of knitting blogs and podcasts. Suddenly knitting and knitting related activities have taken over my world!!

So far the knitting has been mainly restricted to scarves (and plain ones at that), keeping things nice and simple so that I can use some of the mighty yarn mountain that has been sent via ebay (they were all such bargains :) ) to create a scarf each for my nearest and dearest for Christmas.

There have been four completed objects so far - or I guess I should call these FOs (I think I get most of the acronyms now) and one more that is just waiting to be tidied up but more about those when I have some photos.

I just love that though all I have is the barest grasp of the basics I can make items I am happy to wear or give away.

And I really love the world of knitting blogs and so I couldn't resist joining in and keeping a record of my progress and those who have to spend time with me will be so relieved that I have somewhere to talk about knitting :)

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