Tag Archives: Knitting

Never-ending Knitting and other random updates!

Firstly a big Happy Birthday to two very important ladies in my life, Mum and Step-Mum!

Secondly, yesterday was very exciting as the Photographer fiancé and I both went along to the registry office to officially ‘give notice’ that we plan to get married. We met a lovely lady and probably gossiped far too much about irrelevant things but finally signed our pieces of paper (pink for me and blue for him colour co-ordinated for filing and kind of cute). I also booked one appointment at a wedding dress shop. Woo!

Liberty Print Wedding Scrapbook

‘Homemade’ Liberty Print Wedding Scrapbook

This is pretty good progress as apart from booking the venue I haven’t done much planning unless you count starting a wedding scrapbook which I covered with some pretty Liberty cotton and watching lots of episodes of Don’t Tell The Bride (highly entertaining UK show where the groom plans the wedding).

As a nice segue into my next topic I’d like to say thank you to everyone for your encouraging and insightful comments on my last post about blogging principles. It seems many of you don’t mind or indeed actively enjoy a bit of random personal stuff on a blog. Not sure about how interested you are in knitting but you only have yourselves to blame, and I do promise to put some bookish updates on over the next few days!

You may or may not remember that I started knitting a rather ambitious jumper way back in Autumn 2011, full of confidence after completing my first cardigan.

Debbie Bliss Cable Knit Cardigan

The cardigan of doom…

What with being distracted Christmas knits, spring coming around and it generally being a huge, never-ending project I lost my momentum. I did make some progress:

Cable knit up close

Pretty cable and moss-stitch in 100% merino wool

The back – with A4 knitting pattern book for scale

Left front panel

Work in progress…

So now the nights are closing in and there are episodes of Downton and The Paradise for me to catch up on plus the first series of Homeland (yes I’m letting TV steal my reading time but at least it’s not TOWIE!), I’ve decided to crack on.

Oh, only eleven-and-a-half balls of wool to go!

Anyone want to guess when I’ll be finished?

Christmas Knits

In this previous post I mentioned that my knitting energy had been diverted in December to knitting gifts. Now that they’ve been gifted I can reveal what they are…

Sparkly sequinned wristwarmers in soft and cosy (Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran) 100% merino wool:

A pair of socks in a soft yet sturdy cashmere / merino / acrylic mix (Rowan Cashsoft 4 ply) for toasty feet:

(a little too big even for my feet!)

And a tea cosy, knitted in a lovely shade of teal (Rowan Felted Tweed Chunky) Merino / Alpaca / Viscose mix, which I wanted to keep.

And here they are all together:

Thanks OH for your photographic skills. All patterns are from Jenny Lord’s excellent book Purls of Wisdom – reviewed here.

Everyone needs a bit of granny-chic in their lives surely?!

Did you give / receive any handmade presents this Christmas?

My first cardigan!

Ok, so it is not my first cardigan ever owned, but it is my first cardigan made by my own fair hands! I’m so excited I have to share. Here are some cheesy pics …

The pattern is from Rowan Studio Knit edition 10, and I substituted the yarn suggested with Lenpur Linen in ‘incense’ shade 568 with help from the wonderful ladies at Liberty (because it was in the sale and I do love a bargain!). Mother of pearl button from John Lewis haberdashery.

At first it was quite a challenge to get the hang of the shaping as I’ve never followed such a detailed pattern before and some of the instructions baffled me (especially about ‘alt rows’) until I did some searches on the internet and found out that it wasn’t just me and there were plenty of answers out there! I also kept my trusty copy of Purls of Wisdom handy for looking up tips. The stitches were simple (stocking and rib), and the yarn was silky smooth. Because it’s quite a loosely twisted yarn it tends to split so I had to be careful not to accidentally add stitches or ruin the texture.  I’m glad I chose the yarn in the end though as it gives a lovely sheen and seems to adapt to the climate I’m in well, keeping me warm when it’s cool and cool when it’s warmer. Making up required quite a lot of concentration but I’m learning that patience and measured progress is key in getting a good result – looks like I’m learning a bonus life-skill along with the knitting!

This little cardigan was really a prototype of sorts for a more ambitious project. This beautiful hooded cardigan with cable and moss stitch detail from Debbie Bliss. I’ve already begun, and despite quite a few moments of furrowed-brow and head-scratching it seems to be going quite well (fingers crossed!).

I’m so, so enjoying my little knitting projects. Although I have to admit that I’m a sucker for cheap clothing when I need a fashion-fix, making items myself really makes an item personal and special. I really have to think before I start a pattern, am I going to love this when it’s done? I also find it wonderfully therapeutic sitting in front of the telly clacking away and so rewarding when I’ve completed a project.

Have you been making things recently, or planning to do so for Christmas? Do you prefer a visit to the shops? 🙂

(N.B. Thanks to my kind bf photographer for taking pictures for this post.)

Honeycomb Cable Cushion – finished!

At the weekend I finished the cushion I was knitting. Feeling quite pleased with my newly learned cabling skills, I thought I would share!

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When I stitched it together I wasn’t too cautious so the honeycomb pattern is slightly off centre but when you are knitting with such lovely coloured wool, it’s difficult for anything to look very bad. Here’s the back:

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I chose some natural wood buttons as I liked the way the colours contrasted. For some reason (silly iPhone) the close up pictures look more green, but the true colour is as above.

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A close up of that lovely honeycomb pattern. When I’m more proficient, I’d like to knit it into a jumper or cardigan.

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Pattern from Jenny Lord’s Purls of Wisdom.

Cable skills – done!

Enough pictures for now – just looking at the wool is making me feel positively overheated in this muggy summer weather the UK is currently experiencing.

New, ambitious (for me) project coming tomorrow.

Not Knitting

Just a little note to say after all my recent knitting-related posts and reviews, I promise there are some book-related bits coming soon.

In fact my first ever giveaway is coming up – more news tomorrow on that, and a couple of reviews of debut novels which I’ve been curled up with!

Seriously though, I can’t go completely cold turkey  (although I sadly won’t be taking my knitting to Thailand), so here’s a picture of my latest project in progress… Any idea what it’s going to be?

Knitted Cushion

Purls of Wisdom, by Jenny Lord

5 stars 5/5

If you have ever fancied trying your hand at knitting, Jenny Lord’s Purls of Wisdom is the book you should buy.

Purls of Wisdom

Penguin Books, 2010, paperback, 208 pages - review copy.

I have been able to do simple stitches ever since my Nan showed me how when I was about seven years old, but I usually only pick up a pair of needles once a year when the nights are getting darker and I decide to make something for a loved one – usually a scarf! This year I have decided that I will learn to knit properly. One day I’d love to think that I could be making all sorts of beautiful items including clothing for myself in whatever colours and textures that I like. It sounds a little selfish, but I tend to agree with fitknitchick that you do a better job of something when you do it for yourself.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I want to say that I got hold of Purls of Wisdom: The Book of Knitting because I met Jenny at an event. We somehow ended chatting about knitting and she said that she would sent me a copy of her book. To be honest, I simply thought ‘well that’s nice – a knitting book’ and thought little of it until it turned up in the post. When it arrived I realised that I had spotted it in the library and thought it looked rather nice (bonus!) and decided that when I’d finished the blanket I was knitting for a friend  would try something from the book. Here’s what I thought…

First Impressions

  • Pretty cover, great title (I do like a good pun) and simple patterns that I might actually use / wear
  • Introduction – brilliant! Conversational (completely agree that knitting is an excellent excuse to sit and watch crummy TV programmes) and also informative.
  • Nice colour pictures and looks like the author and her friends are modelling them – I like!
Case Study: Knitted Wristwarmers

I’ve decided that in order to learn to knit properly I’ll do a series of small projects which will teach me a new technique each time. Having become more confident with creating pattern and texture I decided that the next step would be to knit ‘in the round’ and after some lovely encouraging comments chose to knit wristwarmers.

Jenny’s instructions were really easy to follow. For each pattern she has a useful little box which explains which techniques you need to know and what tools you need.

She references where in the book you can learn each technique. I found the black white (and pink!) graphics really simple to follow – clearer than photographs in fact.

Admittedly, I didn’t follow the instructions to the letter. She recommends specific yarn (and tells you where you can get it from) but I was too impatient to order over the internet and picked up some lovely Debbie Bliss yarn from John Lewis haberdashery. I also decided to add a rib border (get me improvising already!) to add a neat edge.

The outcome was pretty successful I thought!

Knitted Wristwarmers

Knitted Wristwarmers

Admittedly I did get a little grumpy and unravelled my first attempt after being distracted by the film I was watching and it all going a bit wrong. This is why it’s good to do small projects! After the first hitch, it took no time to finish my cosy, if unseasonal wristwarmers. Probably a couple of days.

Anything I would change?

At a push, I would say it might be nice to have a ring-bound version that can be laid flat when reading instructions – as I can with my copy of Knitting (Instant Expert). Incidentally this is also a nice book but I find that the patterns jump up in complexity too quickly, and are not as youthful / fresh as those in Purls of Wisdom.

Purls of Wisdom is a book that I know I will refer to time and time again. I love the informal writing style because it feels just as if a friend is teaching you and passing on all her little tips. It’s obvious that Jenny loves the craft, it’s history and the freedom that comes from creating your own customised items. It seems to be the book with everything I need to become an advanced knitter, capable of making some fabulous clothes!

Thanks Jenny for the book and inspiration, and thanks Alan for taking photographs of the results.

Ne’er cast a clout…

After a week or so of beautiful sunny weather in England, the air has turned decidedly chilly. It just goes to show that maybe my latest knitting project wasn’t so unseasonal after all.

And here they are in all their glory – my lovely purple wristwarmers modelled by yours truly, and teamed with a fetching animal print cardie :

Knitted Wristwarmers

They are knitted in Debbie Bliss, Rialto Aran #13 using 4.5mm double-pointed needles. I used a pattern from the wonderful Purls of Wisdom (review coming soon), and added my own ribbed edge – get me, improvising already!

They were surprisingly simple and quick to make and now I can knit ‘in the round’ I expect that I’ll be making all sorts of circular garments!

Have you ever tried your hand at knitting or similar crafts?