Sunday, 11 March 2018

Tea, Tissues and Some Knitting

Tea, Tissues and Some Knitting

It's been a weekend of medicinal tea, knitting and snotty tissues, I'm afraid. Just when I wondered how on earth I managed to get through this long, cold winter without my obligatory cold, it got me. Luckily, this cold appears to be progressing quicker than usual, so I should be back to normal very soon.

The good thing is that I have had more time to knit my jumper because I haven't been feeling as miserable as usual when I am ill. I am well on my way to finishing the first sleeve already and most definitely on the home straight now.

Having said that, I haven't dared to cast on anything new yet even though I can't wait to get something else on my needles. I haven't even dared to think about what to make next. I have to be patient and not let myself get distracted from this jumper. It has taken me two years to get this far and I don't want to make it three!

There is a chance I may not get to wear this jumper as soon as I finish it, but if I keep at it, I will! The weather is finally milder and I do hope it stays that way because I do not cope well with the cold. Then again, I hope it doesn't warm up too soon so that I can wear my new jumper at least once before putting all my winter clothes away.

What knits have you been getting a lot of wear out of this winter? Mine have been my Stockholm scarf, my handspun  Spikelets cowl, and my handspun Hinagiku hat.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Pixelated Pullover: Continued

Knitting my Pixelated Pullover

Yes, yes, it's still going.

It's been two years since I nearly finished my Pixelated Pullover the first time round and right now I am exactly where I was back then. I have reached the end of the body now, but need to try it on and check to make sure. I somehow suspect I knitted it too long, actually, in which case I will rip back a little bit before starting the ribbing. I don't care how much longer it takes - I want to get it right!

Right now I am aiming to finish this jumper by my birthday in late April when I will be celebrating at the seaside and may well need a warm jumper. You never know what the weather will be like at that time of the year. (Actually, I need it right now because even though it is nice and sunny lately, it is also absolutely freezing.)

As you can see from the photo, the sleeves are still missing. They will be fairly quick to knit, so it really shouldn't take me too long to get this done. Of course I will be procrastinating...

What do you do when you work on something that's been going for ages? Do you just want to get it done or do you want to make sure it is absolutely perfect first? Let me know!

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Tempted by Portuguese Knitting

Portuguese knitting technique

Being busy knitting my jumper doesn't stop me from looking around, thinking about what I am going to do next. Today my fingers are itching to do some spinning on my beautiful IST Turkish spindle, but it's going to be a busy day and I suspect I won't get to spin. I really need to wash my knitted socks instead. Ah, chores!

Something I'd like to try one day, I realised, is Portuguese knitting. Have you given it a go yet? I think it would be particularly useful for my Pixelated pullover, the one I am working on right now. When I get to the stranded knitting sections, my yarns always get tangled, no matter how hard I try. Another advantage of the Portuguese technique would be that I don't need to hold on to the yarn so carefully. Goodbye death grip!

Having watched some video tutorials, I think it will be hard to get my head around knit stitches, but purling seems to be really quick and easy. (Check Youtube for lots of tutorials.)

I am also curious about whether this technique makes knitting faster. I knit Continental style, so it is already faster than English knitting, but would Portuguese knitting increase my speed even more due to the smaller motions? If you've given it a try, please let me know. 

Are you toying with the idea of trying something new at the moment? What's tempting you and why are you keen to try it?

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Knitting Inspiration: Ready for Spring

Spring jumper knitting pattern

Winter is a tough time for many of us. The lack of sun light is particularly difficult for me so I just can't wait for spring to arrive and get rid of my urge to hibernate. How about you?

A good way to alleviate the winter blues is crafting and right now I feel like planning my spring knits. So today I want to share four jumper knitting patterns with you that will bring a bit more colour and light into your days and get you excited about spring. What's your favourite?

1. The Circular Yoke Summer Shirt by Purl Soho looks simple and stylish in its pastel colourway and minimalist shape. No fuss, no drama, just a plain short-sleeved look that's ideal for spring and early summer. 

2. The colours of Light Wave by Dani Sunshine caught my eye here. They are perfect for lighter days even if the temperatures aren't yet as high as we would like. Cold and sunny days will be all the more fun with this garment.

3. Lemon Pie is for all knitters with a sweet tooth. The lace panel running down one side are reminiscent of lemon pie wedges. Hanna Maciejewska has designed a simple, delicious sweater great for slightly chilly, grey days that need a bit of cheering up.

4. Finally, Este may not be a cheerful colour, but the short sleeves and lace panels make for a light jumper that will make you look forward to warmer days. Choose a shade you like and cast on! The only complicated bit is the lace.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Craftivism is Not Futile

We hold in our hands the power to kick-start great change. It is a shame that Vanity Fair, when suggesting Hillary Clinton should take up knitting and get off the political stage, seem to ignore how the whole Women's March came about. They have, it seems, forgotten that sea of pink hats marching on Washington. Pity. It's the marches first anniversary soon and I hope people remain vigilant to what goes on in politics, be it in their own country or in the world. 

The only response to "Go knit and be quiet" is to be quiet, go knit a pussy hat, put it on, march, and be loud

Sunday, 14 January 2018

KB100DECK: A Knit British Gathering in Bath

KB100DECK Knit British
Images are a mix of my own and Mazzy's

Yesterday I did something I haven't done in a long time: I went to a meet-up with complete strangers at a hotel. What connected us all is that we listen to Knit British, Louise Scollay's podcast all about British wool. This week saw her 100th episode and a gathering was organised in Edinburgh to celebrate the occasion. Sadly, the southwest doesn't see a lot of knitting/wool events, so a brave person set up a Bath meet-up for anyone who couldn't make it further afield. Thanks again, Mazzy!

KB100DECK Knit British

It was a success! We all had a lovely time knitting and chatting with each other, ogling yarn and WIPs. There were cream teas and sandwiches as well as two pop up shops and a raffle. Becca of Bluebell Yarns had every hue of hand-dyed yarn you can think of as did Rachel of Cat and Sparrow. Of course I couldn't resist buying something, but I did manage not to add to my stash. Instead, I bought two sets of beautiful Fripperies & Bibelots stitch markers. 

KB100DECK Knit British

There was even a two-person (at one point even a three-person) frogging session as a jumper that turned out too small had to be undone. Speaking of jumpers, I am glad to say I got on a bit with my own and have nearly reached the hem. After that, I only have to knit the sleeves. 

I returned from the gathering having met new knitters, marvelled at their skill, and having added a  Knit British name badge to my collection. Not bad for a Saturday afternoon!

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Kirstie's Handmade Christmas: The Jumper Challenge

Kirstie's Handmade Christmas jumper challenge

I promised on #knittinghour that I would blog about the Christmas jumper challenge from episode 4 of Kirstie's Handmade Christmas so here it is! It took me this long to put fingers to keyboard because, as you may have seen on social media, this was quite a controversial episode. Have I calmed down now? Somewhat, yes.

(If you haven't seen it, you can still catch  episode 4 here for the next two weeks.)

Familiar faces

I was really excited about this episode because it was all about knitting as the main feature of the show. And not only that! Monique, a Twitter #knittinghour regular, was on it so of course I had to see her in the flesh (sort of) instead of as an avatar online. It's exciting to see people as actual live people, moving and talking, getting a better understanding of who they are.

So I rushed home from work, missed the first few minutes of introductions, and jumped right into the speed-knitting challenge. To my surprise, I knew all but one of the participants! There was Jon from Easyknits whose hand-dyed fibre I've spun, Jess from Ginger Twist Studio whose yarn shop I visited in Edinburgh many years ago and where I discovered Ripples Crafts, and, of course, Monique from #knittinghour. Tiam was the only knitter I hadn't heard of before. Tiam's speciality is knitting with super chunky yarn, so that explains why I hadn't come across her yet. Chunky isn't really my cup of tea, though I have given it a go.

First impressions

Anyway, back to the speed-knitting challenge: Monique also chose a chunky project to save time (very wise, I think), while Jess ( the "Usain Bolt of knitting", as Kirstie called her) and Jon used lighter yarns for their accessories. At this stage, to me there wasn't yet a clear winner. After all, these were small projects and you can't really tell how the knitters will cope with a whole jumper. Still, to me it was obvious that Tiam was not a winner. As the judge herself said, her hat was "perfect for beginners", so it didn't require the skills demonstrated by some of the others. Especially Jess showed a lot more skill at this early stage already, so I disregarded Tiam and focused on the other three contestants. 

After the speed-knitting challenge, they were all sent off to knit their jumpers, ready to be modeled  by them on the show. And this is when things got really exciting - and extremely controversial.

The jumpers

Jon was the first to reveal his Christmas jumper and it was stunning! Full of colour, made from his own hand-dyed yarn, his own design, and it fit perfectly. Even Kirstie was gobsmacked. He was hands down the favourite and it's easy to see why.

Jess also used some of her own hand-dyed yarn to knit her design, Vintage Winter. It suited her very well and there's no doubt this lady has skills! 

Monique knitted the Port Charlotte jumper by Kate Davies, adding festive words and LED lights to it. Loved the jumper and the new additions went together well, I thought. She is great at knitting jumpers, as I knew from her blog and tweets.

Finally, Tiam modeled her very chunky reindeer jumper. It was so different from all the others and, matching my first impression, didn't show as much skill as others had demonstrated. I was a bit put off by the fact that some bits had been glued on and the reindeer wasn't actually intarsia, but  embroidered. The jumper had tinsel in it, was oversized and shapeless, so it could not be judged on fit. (Shape and fit were, explicitly, two of the judging criteria.) It was just too easy compared to the others, though there's a lot going on as far as types of craft used.

The judging

Personally, I thought Jon would win, no doubt about it. Jess and Monique were a possibility, too, because you never know what the judge prefers. Speaking of judging: At that point in the show I had no idea who the judge was because I missed the introductions. As the show went on, though, I wondered whether she was particularly good at knitting, to be honest, based on how she spoke about the work.

For instance, a lot of knitters would object to being complimented with the words: this looks "like it's from a shop" (said about Jess's fantastic speed-knitted hat). Other zingers from the judge included: "Is it machine-knitted?" (about Jon's jumper), and "Garter stitch is the stitch for me."

The winner

Turns out that the judge, Jade Harwood, is co-founder of Wool and the Gang, who are known for their chunky yarns. I would say that makes her a bit biased. Especially as she chose a winner who needed all of 6 hours to finish her Christmas jumper, used super chunky yarn for the speed-knitting challenge as well as the jumper, and, I feel cheated by not knitting intarsia. Jade announced Tiam as the winner and I am still amazed that anyone on the should managed to keep a straight face at that point.

The social media storm

Social media exploded with people tweeting that Jon was robbed. Frankly, everyone was robbed. Who would expect the quickest, simplest, most shapeless jumper to win this? Compare it to Jon's 160-hour Fairisle jumper! 

To be fair, on its own, the reindeer jumper is fine. However, compared to the skills demonstrated by the other knitters, it should never have won. Mind you, if anyone knits a jumper like this, I'd be thrilled. Managing to knit a garment is an achievement, so well done! It's the kind of jumper I can imagine seeing on the high street. So in a way I can see why Jade chose it. But it holds no candle to Jon's, Jess's or Monique's work.

Over to you

What do you think? Is this too harsh? Did the judge make the right decision? What's your favourite? Let's hear it!