My knitting and crochet time

Write about your typical crafting time. When is it that you are likely to craft - alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys?

I'm happily retired and these days can do as much or as little knitting, crochet, embroidery, sewing as I fancy. After over thirty years designing and making things for clients and publishers, it's a joy to be able to make exactly what I want.

I ease into a typical day with a mug of tea and an hour or so's knitting or crochet.


I'm usually supervised by Fearsome Miss Flossie who sits by my feet waiting patiently for her breakfast. 

I haven't had a television since 2001 and much of my crafting is accompanied by audio books, radio programmes or music, with the occasional film DVD when I'm knitting something that doesn't need concentration.


I live round the corner from an excellent library (name-checking Hove Library) which has a really good, constantly changing audio book selection (above is yesterday's haul) and I also have a subscription to Audible. Music-wise, I listen to classical music, opera, rock, folk, jazz and I'm a big fan of Radio 5 live's football coverage.


I try and balance hours spent crafting by myself with regular company in the shape of a couple of knitting groups (Brighton Knitters and Knit & Natter at Cocoon) and with regular exercise walking by the sea. 


This is the last of this year's Knitting and Crochet Blog Week's posts - thanks for the comments and see you again next year :o)


Something to aspire to

Is the a pattern or a skill that you don't yet feel ready to tackle (or think you can only dream of tackling) but which you hope to in the future? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft?

No contest here! I lust after this cardigan (Virgin by Mette N. Handberg) knitted in black and white.


It's from Norsk Strikkedesign which is packed with lust-worthy garments.


It's not the technical difficulties that put me off; it's more that I doubt whether I've got the staying power to knit anything as time-consuming as this. Maybe one day...


Where are they now?

Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something you sent off to charity.

Many years ago (sometime during the 80s) I crocheted a huge bedspread in hexagon motifs using Rowan's Lightweight DK. The yarn came in an enormous range of colours and in 25g/70m skeins. I couldn't afford to buy all the yarn at once, so I used to pick up a fivers-worth at a time from Reis Wools in Holborn. I had no colour plan in my head and because the hexagons were joined together as I worked, I couldn't make any changes once they were in place. The small inner voice of doubt in my head should have warned me, but I ignored it and pressed on. And on. And on. Until the bedspread was finished and I'd worked several rows of edging round it. At that point, trying it out on the bed made me realise with horror that I absolutely hated the colours. All that hideous yellow! What on earth had I been thinking of?



So I folded up the bedspread and put it away, firmly out of sight, where it stayed for the best part of fifteen years. Then it occured to me that I could unpick the whole thing and re-use the yarn. That way madness lies; I soon abandoned the unpicking, (don't faint) cut the bedspread into four and ran the pieces through my washing machine a couple of times. I ended up with nice thick felt and the colours didn't look too bad because they'd faded slightly in the wash and each hexagon had shrunk to about half its original size.

Two thicknesses made a comfy seat pad for my studio chair



and some is in use as a cat perch handy rug to take down to the beach. 


Tidy mind, tidy stitches

How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised?

I keep my yarn stash in the bedroom, stacked up in three towers of Really Useful Boxes (84 litre size) guarded by Fearsome Miss Flossie. There's more yarn under the bed, this time in 50 litre boxes. Each box contains similar types of yarn (sock, lace etc) and each has its own Excel spreadsheet on the computer (I know, I know - anal). This system works really well, apart from the obvious flaw when the box you want to get into is located in the tower below a sleeping cat.


Needles, hooks and boxes of other knitting/crocheting essentials live on a cheapo kitchen trolley with wheels so I can move it close to where I'm sitting.


Current knitting/crochet projects lurk in the living room. Some are in an old china washing bowl (strategically placed to deter FMF from sleeping right in the middle of the single-bed-disguised-as-a-sofa)


and some are, er, just strewn across the table. These are projects that need finishing soon and can't be ignored any longer.


Books I use often, beads and buttons are housed on shelves over my computer; large books and printed-out patterns in files are in my bedroom bookcases.

Tour over, folks :o)


Skill + 1UP

Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year.

It's been a curate's egg sort of year. I learnt and used some new techniques but these were balanced out by a lot of frogging of projects that I wasn't totally convinced about. If I'm not enjoying knitting/crocheting something, or I don't think it'll fit/suit me, then I frog it.


I discovered, practised and perfected working a belly button start (brilliant) and got halfway through a circular shawl in laceweight before I had an attack of it-looks-too-much-like-a-doily and frogged it. However, learning something new is never wasted and I'll use the technique again next time I knit a square shawl. I like square shawls, they don't look like doilies ;o)



I knitted a shawl pattern that had a section of lace-on-both-sides patterning across the border section. The finished shawl looks really pretty but confirmed my previous opinion that I don't enjoy working this type of lace stitches even in an easy-to-handle yarn like Koigu; I much prefer purling wrong-side rows.


I designed and knitted a pair of mittens that actually fitted me properly (small hands, short fingers) and wrote the pattern up rather than leaving it in scrappy note form (this is a major step for me).



I learnt much more this year about dyeing yarn from Ravelry forums, a friend who dyes fabric and through trial-and-error. I'm much more confident now about dyeing the colours/effects that I want and getting a dyebath to exhaust. 


In the next year, I plan to get better acquainted with Japanese crochet patterns. I have books, yarn and hooks, so no excuses! 


A tale of two yarns

Part of any fibre enthusiast's hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

I love knitting/crocheting with almost any squishy extra-fine merino yarn but my absolute favourite is the now-sadly-discontinued Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK. EFM is lovely to work with; it shows off textured stitches beautifully and never, ever pills in wear. I have a small hoard left - mainly in my favourite colours of purple, blackberry, grey. I can't quite bring myself to use any of the hoarded yarn yet but the anticipation of doing so is very enjoyable!

Top of the list in my Devil's Spawn category of yarns to avoid is Rowan Kidsilk Haze, narrowly beating any yarn containing bamboo (bamboo is slimy stuff; handling it makes me shudder with that chalk-on-a-blackboard feeling). I seem to be the only knitter on the planet who hates Kidsilk Haze. It's itchy to wear, horrible to work with and an absolute bugger to frog if you've made a mistake. Oh, and for what you get, it's ridiculously expensive.