Saturday, 29 July 2017

5 Questions to Ask a Knitter

Knitters get asked  lot of questions and especially beginning knitters like to know what wisdom the more seasoned ones amongst us can share. So let me answer five of the most common questions today:

1. What if I run out of yarn?

Hahahahaha! Hahahahahahahahahahahaha! Haha! Ha! 

Stop it. You never will. Your stash will be bigger than Trump and May's inflated egos combined. It will be as endless as time and space. Your storage box, closet, cupboard and/or spare room will be like your very own TARDIS. Your yarn will outlive you.

2. What kind of knitting needles do I need?

All of them. Ever single kind in every single size. Ideally multiples. You know, just in case you loose one or want to cast on the fifth project and all other needles in that size are already in use. And when you think you have enough, get some spares just in case, in all available colours. Oh, and don't just stick to one brand because you need to make sure you find the perfect set just for you.

3. How do I avoid mistakes?

Don't even try. You'll drop stitches, read the pattern wrong, create the weirdest stitch patterns and realise it's all futile anyway. But don't despair. Unpick, tink and pull up those stitches and carry on. It's going to happen again, so you might as well embrace it. Knitters are great problem solvers - and occasionally throw knitting into a corner in a rage. It's ll part of the process.

4. I won't take my knitting on holiday with me. What should I do instead?

I don't understand. You're obviously in need of this holiday because you're not thinking clearly. If you decided to leave your knitting behind (Why???), you're in luck. I bet your holiday destination has at least one yarn shop or general craft shop. Go! Do not waste another minute! Get your hands on some yarn, needles and any notions you might need. Bonus: You'll have the best kind of souvenir a knitter could possibly have.

5. Seriously. You're exaggerating, right?

Nope. If only.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

I Think I Have a Problem

It's inevitable: knitters have knitting books. I do, too, though not as many as I would like, and my collection is a mix of excellent resources, simple pattern books, and everything in-between. As a spinner, I also own a few books about wool and spinning techniques.

But there is an issue: I have all these books, but apart from looking at the pictures, I have read hardly any of them. I think I have a problem.

I love looking through my books and I should devote more time to some of them. When I find a new one, it goes one of two ways:

1. The mathematical daze: There is a lot I could learn from the book and I start reading about how to ensure perfect fit and use the formula to calculate this, that and the other, and my eyes just glaze over. I suspect it is the maths rather than anything else. Maths has never been my friend and just the sight of numbers makes me nervous.
2. Theory vs practice: I read the book, take everything in, and have a lot of theoretical knowledge - but I rarely put any of that knowledge into practice. This seems like a waste of time, although it is good to know that the knowledge is there should I ever need it.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get into one of my mostly unread books and tackle it properly. But what about you? Are you the better-read knitter? Is there a book you would never part with? Perhaps there's something I need to add to my shelf... and eventually read.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

What Are Your Bad Knitting Habits?

bad knitting habits

Let's be realistic: We aren't perfect and will have developed a few bad habits over our lifetime. This does not stop at knitting, I'm afraid, and there are certainly some things I know I should or shouldn't do, but I always find an excuse to go right ahead the way I always have. My inner, stricter Nadia is shaking her head at the mere thought right now. Are you guilty of any of these bad habits?

Not swatching

Guilty! I rarely ever knit a gauge swatch. Actually, I may only have done this for a jumper - at least I can't remember any other time. I just like to give it a go and hope for the best. If the fabric doesn't turn out as I'd like, I simply unravel it all and choose a different needle size. 

Ignoring the recommended needle size

As I rarely swatch, I usually start out with the recommended needle size printed on the ball band unless I know from experience that a particular yarn works best for me with different needles. Personally, I think that since our gauge is different from person to person, a recommended needle size isn't all that important. It is a good guide, however, if you are new to knitting or are using a yarn weight you are unfamiliar with. 

Not modfying knitting patterns

Why not personalise the fit of a garment or the look of an accessory? I often tweak a knitting pattern a little bit unless I am trying something totally new. It works well with things I have lots of experience with, such as socks. I know where I have to go off pattern to make them fit better. If I am not entirely happy with the look of something, I may change the stitch pattern as well. So I don't think that this is a bad habit, but it may well be one if you do it and always end up with something you dislike or which doesn't fit properly.

Not reading the pattern first

We should always, ALWAYS read a pattern through from beginning to end before even thinking about casting on. I don't take my own advice and it usually leads to problems down the line. Sometimes I will think I understand what's going on, only to find further on in the pattern that I misunderstood a stitch and ended up with something different entirely. That is very frustrating and can be easily avoided. Learn from my mistakes, people! Read first, knit later.

Not blocking your knitting

Always block your knitting! You've probably put a hell of a lot of effort into your work, so make it shine! Blocking your knits will make the fabric more regular and even out the tension. It will also make the stitch pattern pop and you can adjust the fit and size as needed. Luckily, this is something I have always done because I started out knitting a lot of lace. Without blocking my shawls, they would have been tiny, shriveled hankies instead.

Not washing your knits correctly

Again if you have put in all this effort to create something beautiful, why ruin it by not taking care of it? There are lots of wool washes available nowadays and it is worth giving them a go to find what works best for you. These special wool washes won't hurt the fibres so you will be able to enjoy your finished object for a long time. My favourite is Soak, which comes in an unscented and several scented varieties. I am very partial to Celebrate and also use it to wash lingerie that I don't want to risk putting in the washing machine. 

What's your worst habit, do you think? I'm looking forward to hearing about it.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

My Favourite 10 Blogs to Follow

10 knitting blogs to follow

If you're like me, you'll have a list of favourite knitting blogs you return to regularly. A while back I started using Boglovin' to read them all in one place so I don't miss anything.

Because I love discovering new bloggers all the time, I'm going to show you my list of favourite blogs. It's not a complete list by any means, but the bloggers you find here are the ones whose posts I read most frequently at the moment. Let me know in the comments what you think I should add to my reading list!

So here we go. In no particular order:

1. Libby from New Zealand blogs, designs and records podcasts at Truly Myrtle and I just love listening to her. She has a fantastic way of speaking to you through her recordings that feels very personal and authentic. There is always something interesting to learn, be it about her life in New Zealand (the most beautiful and varied country I have ever visited), her designs, sewing and knitting projects, interviews, and latest yarn purchases. If you like audio-podcasts, give this one a listen.

2. Many of you will know Louise from Knit British. While I really enjoy her audio-podcast, the recordings are very long (roughly an hour) and I don't always have the time or attention span to listen every time a new one goes live. However, the podcast is always packed full of information about British wool and very educational.

3. Knitted Bliss is a varied blog by Julie from Canada. She posts about all sorts of things and structures her posts around set topics such as Modification Monday, Pin Ups, and Wee Wednesday. My favourite is Pin Ups which contains links to all kinds of interesting blog posts and articles. I have tried a few of the pinned recipes, for instance, and a few more are in the pipeline.

4. Mochimochi Land is so popular that it has a loyal following and it's easy to see why! The tiny knits are cute and quick to make. One of the best things about Anna's work is the fun ways in which she turns her little knits into animations. You may even have come across them as GIFs on social media - I like using them during #knittinghour on Twitter, for instance. The site has free patterns, too, in case you want to give them a go.

5. Scottish blogger Elise mainly blogs about knitting and her latest charity shop purchases on Elise and Life. Her blog is a fashion and lifestyle blog of a different kind. It feels more real, more authentic and not at all pretentious. Lately, Elise has been adding her own videos to some posts and I always look forward to what she's going to write about next.

6. Dive into knitting in the Netherlands with Woollen Wilderness. This blogger is a fast knitter and it's not at all unusual for her to post several FOs at once. She has an eye for colours and designs that suit her and there are always new patterns to discover. Whenever I see what she is working on at the moment, I go and search for the patterns and want to cast on something new. 

7. Skipping back across to Canada, we have Yarn Harlot blogging about all things knitting. This is a good blog for those who like to see what others are currently making and who enjoy reading more than just a few lines in a picture-heavy post. I read this blog occasionally and it has a large following.

8. Amanda from OwlPrintPanda designs knitwear and I particularly enjoy her photography and easy-to-read posts. She isn't posting that frequently at the moment, but when a new post goes live I always look forward to it. 

9. Becca from Knit Happens is the only blogger on the list I knew in person before I knew her as a blogger. We used to be in the same knitting group until I stopped going altogether and Becca moved. She knits and crochets and has designed a few patterns, too. The blog is updated whenever there is something new to post, so a great occasional read.

10. Not all blogs I follow are craft related, though. I've been following Seasalt With Food for some years now. I like the Asian recipes and straightforward videos. I have cooked quite a few things posted there and many have become firm favourites. If you love your food, too, check this one out!