Saturday, 12 May 2018

I Am a Planner Convert

I love my planner! Last Christmas I felt like I'd give a planner a try. In the past, I never saw the point in things like bullet journaling and elaborately decorated planners, especially for the sake of being more organised and saving time. I thought it was a serious waste of time (still do, really), considering how long it takes to do all of this. My colleagues will tell you that I am far too efficient already (how very German of me), so I didn't want a planner to help me with that. However, I liked the idea of a planner as another creative outlet. Being able to actually record all important dates is simply a bonus.

So I asked Mark for a specific planner for Christmas and got this beautiful limited edition Kikki K planner in light blue with gold polka dots. It's even got my initials embossed inside, which is very special to me because they are for my married name, which still feels incredibly new. The planner is an A5 ring binder with a few dashboards, sets of paper, and perpetual calendar included. I like the practicality of being able to put pages in or take them out as needed. Very helpful if I mess something up!

I added the colourful index tabs to separate the pages by month. The paper that comes with the planner consists of basic lined pages, so it's great for creative people who like to make their own weekly or daily spreads.I have a week on two pages, added a water log to make sure I drink enough every day, and I decorate each day with a sticker or drawing. I can't tell you how many stickers I've been buying! And washi tape. Oh, the washi tape! I needed to buy a separate box for the rolls and really need another.

Of course I have some knitting-related pages as well. The one above shows my list of blog topics to help me come up with new content. This way, if I have an idea, I can jot it down instead of forgetting it before I have a chance to type it up on here. Soon I'll need to do another brain storming session to add to the list. 

I especially like my WIP section of the planner. I created a dashboard collage that leads to a month-by-month calendar where I mark off the days on which I have knitted. I also record what I have been working on, which will be a great way to look back on the year once completed.

As you can see, I tried my hand at some fancy script, which is harder than it seems. It looks a bit shaky there, but I still like the overall effect. I have bought a few new pens in the meantime, including a fancy Tombow brush pen that I need to practice with so that I can add a few more pretty touches to the planner. Kikki K planners come with paper that is sadly too thin for markers and brush pens, so I am bit restricted now. It's easy to buy suitable planner paper, though, and I found some great packs with rainbow-coloured lines or simple dots. I can't wait to use them!

So I have been thoroughly bitten by the planner bug. Do you have one that you use for knitting in some way? Do you have any recommendations for stationary? Let's hear them! Comment here or tweet me @KnittyNadia.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

FO: Pixelated Pullover

It is done! At long last, after two years and nearly a complete reknit, I have cast off my Pixelated Pullover. It isn't perfect and far too fitted for my liking, but I am very proud to have managed a full-sized garment that I can actually wear. I even got to wear it for a full day before the British heatwave started. (See, I told you it would get warm once I cast off!)

I tweaked the pattern a bit and am happy with most of it. I decided against waist decreases, which is a good thing, but I wish I had made more hip decreases. Right now the jumper is a little too tight at the hips for my liking. You can't tell from the above photo, but it is obvious from the rear. I should have started the red section at the hip earlier to match the sleeves. It's not bad how it turned out, but it would have looked better, I think. I don't like the ribbing at the hem and may alter it one day. For some reason, one of my sleeve cuffs is shorter, too, so I will lengthen it at some point. In fact, I would like to make both a bit longer.

I like how the stranded knitting has turned out, even from the back. It looks good, though it took a long time to knit those sections. Believe it or not, I have already cast on a jumper for Mark based on this pattern, but I am not going to knit the pixels. To save time, I will knit stripes. Given how long it took to finish mine, Mark said he expects it to be ready to wear by 2024. Sounds about right.

The collar isn't lying entirely flat, but I hope that will change with time. I have to admit I haven't washed or blocked the jumper yet because of a lack of space, so the fit may become more relaxed afterwards. I used Cascade 220 Superwash, so it is likely to stretch a little bit. Have you used this yarn before? Let me know how it behaved after washing.

Because I didn't know how much yarn I would need, I bought enough for two jumpers, it turns out, which is why Mark is getting one, too. My jumper is nice and warm and I suspect I will get a lot of wear out of it next winter. There is a severe shortage of warm garments in my closet so this is a welcome addition. I just wished it didn't take so long to knit a jumper in my size - I would like to have more.

Do you enjoy knitting jumpers? What do you like or dislike about it? I look forward to hearing what you think - here or over on Twitter @KnittyNadia.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Holiday Time means Knitting Time

I am back from very windy, very cold Brighton!

Mark and I spent nearly a full week at the seaside to celebrate my 40th (no idea how that happened). While I had no intention of taking any knitting along, the prospect of spending a 4-hour train journey with idle hands changed my mind.

Believe it or not, I finally finished my Pixelated Pullover just before the mini-heatwave this April (details to follow in a later post). This freed me up to knit something new and I promptly cast on… *drum roll*… another jumper. This one is for Mark, though, and is basically the same I just finished, but in another size and with stripes instead of pixels. You’d never know I was sick and tired of my jumper just a little while ago.

Still, no longer having my long-term WIP on the needles made me want to start something smaller, too. Luckily, my first hank of Opus from WalcotYarns arrived and I decided to reknit my Smaug socks that fell prey to moths a while back. They made for perfect travel knitting, too, and I am happy to report I knitted on all but one of the days I spent in Brighton.

So has finishing Pixelated got the knitting juices flowing again? I hope so! I just hope I didn’t speak to soon.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Make! Craft Britain

Make Craft Britain
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán

Last night I got sucked into Make! Craft Britain, the 3-part BBC Four series all about crafting. Have you seen it?

I noticed the trailers, but completely forgot about it all. If you've missed it, you can still catch up on iPlayer, and I heartily recommend it!

You will see a variety of crafts, with groups of beginners learning to knit, make mosaics, create silver clay jewellery, cross-stitch and more. In between, advanced crafters show their makes and briefly talk about why they do what they do. 

Highlights include:

Beautiful mosaics, including one based on a Lowry painting
A baker's silver mini-croissant
Traditional letterpress printing (reminded me of my internship at a printers in 1997)

I very much enjoyed this show. Before watching it, I was worried it would turn out to be just another craft show like Kirstie's Handmade Christmas, but this was so much better. The focus lies on the new crafters, there is no host guiding you through the show, and the voice-overs are pleasant and non-intrusive. There is no hyperbole or overly excited screeching, which is a nice change. Also, there is a good mix of men and women, both when it comes to teachers and learners. I loved that! The whole show makes for relaxed viewing and is informative and motivating at the same time.

Because I was keen to watch the knitting workshop in episode 3, that's where I started watching. In the same episode, we are also introduced to mosaics and, to my surprise, Mark, my totally uncrafty husband, said he would quite like to try making mosaics! Hm, a possible gift idea?

If you've watched Make! and want to talk about it, comment here or tweet me @KnittyNadia

On the BBC Four website, you will find more information about the show, including tutorials, so have a look if you enjoyed the show.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Knitting On the NHS

Knitting on the NHS
Photo by Pineapple Supply Co.

Recently, you may have come across the claim that knitting could save the NHS millions of Pounds (The Independent) and that it should be prescribed by the NHS (The Telegraph). These conclusions have been drawn from a Knit for Peace survey in which knitters stated that the craft makes them feel more relaxed and takes their focus off pain, for instance. 

It's left me puzzled. Quite frankly, I am not sure how anyone could come up with the silly idea that this is an effective way to deal with health issues and that it could possibly save the NHS any money. The Independent indicates knitting could reduce the need for antidepressants, for example. The problem with that, I think, is the assumption that depression is just people feeling a bit sad. It ignores that depression is a chemical imbalance that is often best treated with medication. Just picking up needles isn't going to solve that. 

Of course knitting is calming and relaxing, but it won't help you deal with high blood pressure effectively or I could have stopped taking Ramipril in 2007. Surely with the amount of knitting I normally do, I should be the most relaxed person  in the world!

I can see how knitting can distract you from pain, but it can also make some types of pain worse. After all, you are using your hands and arthritis, to take an example, will make it difficult. Knitting can also be frustrating at times, so the calming factor goes right out the window there. Furthermore, knitting can also be isolating unless you are  happy to go to knitting groups.

I am surprised that nobody seems to have mentioned that any craft would have the same effects as knitting. Basically, it's all about finding something to keep you busy, distracted and agile, mentally and, to an extent, physically. It does not have to be knitting. If you're doing something you enjoy, of course it will make you feel good and calm.

But it is silly to suggest that a craft is the answer to medical problems, because it isn't. (You don't have to believe me, of course. I am a doctor, but not that kind of a doctor.) So crafting on prescription won't work. How would one go about that anyway? What's the prescription for? Would you get classes on the NHS? Yarn? I suspect knitting isn't going to save the NHS money, but would require  even more funding because the need for medication, treatments and appointments won't go way.

It must have been a slow news day or papers are desperate to find something to write about other than Brexit. I can't blame them.

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!