Sunday, 26 January 2014

How to Price Knitting

Handknitted garments are something very special, but they are certainly not cheap. People who don't knit themselves often don't realise why such items cost as much as they cost, but what is worse is when knitters underprice their work. Quite often they just don't know what to charge, how to calculate a fair price, and don't take into account the amount of time it takes to knit something. 

I recently came across this video which explains exactly how to price handknitting.  After watching it, I no longer feel bad about quoting a friend £100 for a pair of socks!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Knitting Inpiration: Socks, Shawl and Cardigan

Every day there are new patterns being published and some of them catch my eye, so today it is time for another round of knitting inspiration!

1. First off, Dawn Hansen's There and Back Again socks are so simple it's genius! Despite the name, I suspect there is no connection to Tolkien, but I really like this pattern anyway. The way the colours change back and forth is perfect and I hope to knit them sometime soon. (Help! I have too many socks already!)

2. Natalia's Maple Leaf Knit Shawl intrigues me because of its shape. One of my focuses during my studies years ago was Canadian literature, so this pattern naturally aroused my interest right from the start. Now if someone created a fern leaf shawl pattern to go with my focus on New Zealand literature, let me know! 

3. Key and Knot by Margie Mitchell is a cardigan I found in Knitty's winter issue 2013. I don't care that the design would make me look boxy - those cables are beautiful! Maybe one of these days I will actually knit a cardigan at last, who knows? If I do, I hope it will be something as stunning as this.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Smaug Socks - Knitted and Ready to Wear

The sun came out this morning so I took the opportunity to take some photos at last. I finished my Smaug socks before Christmas, just in time for The Hobbit, but we didn't have much good light most of the time since then, so pictures had to wait.

I love the scales and the diagonal cable of the dragon's tail. The socks were a surprisingly easy knit and I would definitely make them again. Can't wait to wear them again soon!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Books: The Knitter: Knitting Masterclass

Last Christmas I was given The Knitter's collection of masterclasses in book form. Knitting Masterclass is a pretty book: hardback cover, the beautiful pictures we know from the magazines, a range of techniques and corresponding patterns. It has to be said that if you regularly read the magazine, there is no need to buy this book as there is nothing new in it. The reason I had it on my wish list was that I stopped buying the magazine after issue 7 or so. The masterclasses were the only interesting feature after a while, so I thought the book would be a good buy.

I would say the book is great for beginning to intermediate knitters who would like a quick reference book, especially if they don't have many knitting books. In our digital age, of course you can easily find information and videos about all the covered techniques as well, so whether you get the book or not depends on how much you like to have a physical book on your shelf, especially one that is so nicely made. It isn't necessary, but it is nice to have. 

There are 13 chapters in all:

1. Choosing & Substituting Yarns
2. Casting On & Off
3. Different Styles of Knitting
4. Cables
5. Liberating Lace
6. Fair Isle Techniques
7. Shaping & Fit
8. Steeking
9. Slip Stitch Colourwork
10. Reversible Knits
11. Stripes in the Round
12. Kitchener Stitch
13. Creating Curves

I consider myself to be a knitter somewhere between intermediate and advanced, and I found that there were only 3 techniques I wasn't (too) familiar with. I have an issue with the magazine itself: I find it appealing because it is not as basic as Simply Knitting, for instance, but it is not as advanced as I had expected either. The book is similar. An intermediate knitter, I would imagine, does not need a chapter about casting on and off, for example. Steeking, however, is interesting and something many may not have tried before. For me, chapters 1, 7 and 8 are the best ones and possibly the only really useful ones as an intermediate to advanced knitter.

At 160 pages there is a limit as to how much you'll find in this book. I was disappointed to see that there was nothing new in it. You'll find exactly the same photos, the same text, and the same patterns that were in the magazines. So in a way the book was just put together quickly, collecting existing material with no extras. It strikes me simply as a minimum effort to make more money (just like all the Mollie Makes books and spin offs). The appeal of this book would have been greatly enhanced by some new additions, especially in order to also appeal to the regular readers of The Knitter. As it stands, there is no incentive for them to buy the book.

I understand that there is very little space in magazines for in-depth explanations and as many photos as may be necessary to show a new technique, but I would have expected the book to offer more. Sadly, it does not. It needs more information and certainly far more images. As it is, it would make sense to look up instructional videos (or find a more in-depth book about the technique in question) in addition to what you find in Knitting Masterclass just to make sure you really understand what is being described. However, this book is good as a first introduction.

So to sum up, Knitting Masterclass is a beautiful volume to flick through and it serves well as a first introduction to some techniques. You won't find very detailed information, for the most part, and may need to find other resources to elaborate. For me, the most appealing things about the book are, firstly, the look and feel of the book and, secondly, the albeit few chapters introducing techniques such as steeking I have been curious about. So if you are a beginning or intermediate knitter interested in an introductory volume to some techniques, this is a good book to start with. Advanced knitters will most likely be disappointed and might want to look for books with more in-depth coverage of their topic of interest.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

New on Etsy: Lace Stitch Markers in More Colours

 The best seller is back!

Last year I introduced the first snagfree lace stitch markers in emerald green, sky blue and purple. This year I have expanded the colour palette to include amber and lime. I think they look amazing!

I've been using my emerald green markers while knitting my Koi Rama shawl and I love how easy they are to use. Nothing ever gets stuck in the fabric and it's as if there are no markers there at all.
In future I hope to include even more colours so that a whole range will be available at Abso-knitting-lutely. I am also thinking up some new ideas that I will be testing soon, so watch this space and make sure to browse my shops regulary for updates.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A Happy New Year of Knitting

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a good start to 2014 and are looking forward to what this year will bring. Personally, I mainly spent New Year's Eve ill in bed. Perfect timing as usual.
(Image: Kitman Figueroa)

Having just looked back on the projects I knitted and spun last year, I have no idea what I am going to knit this year. Have you got any plans yet? At the moment I am working on the Koi Rama shawl I have had my eye on for ages. The pattern was a gift as well as the Wollmeise yarn I decided to use for it. The colourway is a lovely warm and deep yellow. This is one of the "We are different" skeins that didn't quite turn out the way they were supposed to. The original colourway is called Mango, and I can certainly see why! It is a beautiful colour.

 Please excuse the blurry image.

Koi Rama requires concentration while knitting, so that explains why I had to unravel it twice shortly after starting. I misread the chart and only realised on row 13. So on Christmas Day I started again and so far everything's gone well. Fingers crossed!

I am almost finished with the first chart (which is half of the shawl's edging), but I have no idea when I will finish this project - I am making slow progress, but then again I am ill and finding it hard to focus on anything for long, and I am not knitting every day. It's not a difficult knit, though, even if you do need to be careful. Once you get into the rhythm, it's all good.