Thursday, 31 March 2011

Where are they now? 2KCBWDay4

Whatever happened to your __________? 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.

This topic I almost wimped out of. As soon as I saw it, I thought, 'I'm not sure I want to know'.

I knit a lot of things for other people (occasionally forgetting to photograph them), and I get lovely thank you texts, cards, and hugs. People usually seem genuinely touched about getting something handmade, in my experience at least. Even my mum, who requested I knit a white acrylic 2x2 rib hat one Thursday, was really chuffed when I presented it to her the following Monday after a weekend away (memorably exclaiming, 'I knew Inverness was a long train ride away, but I didn't think it was that far!!').

However, I normally get a little paranoid when I see the person over the following weeks and months, and they're not wearing the knitted item - or worse, wearing a different hat / scarf / etc. Did they really like it? Or was that beautiful thank you card given out of pure politeness?

Fortunately, my faith has been restored. I knitted this hat and gloves for an old friend, Hannah. She requested mustard yellow and I went as close as I could without gagging...

When I gave them to her, she let me take a face of how they made her feel. A week later, she sent me a little text saying she still loved them and was wearing them every day.

But then, when I saw her over Christmas, another pair of gloves was being worn, and I thought another one bites the dust. Then, when I saw her on Sunday night for pizza and G&T (yes, that's how we roll), the hat and gloves were on when she appeared on my doorstep. And my heart glowed with pride.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Tidy mind, tidy stitches - 2KCBWDAY3

How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

Well, there used to be a sensible system. The yarn came in, it went into the Box, then into the Knitting Bag when the project was all ready to go. But then, both the Box and the Knitting Bag got full, so it evolved. Now I look at it, the system is rather complicated.

The yarn is bought, and often cuddled for a bit or left somewhere in my eyeline for an evening. It then goes into the Sheep Bag if I'm inspired about it, or into the Box if not. But I've always had an idea for something to do with yarn when I buy it, even if I then decide it's a bad idea.
When I've nearly finished a project, I have a look through the Sheep Bag to see what lurks within. Once I've actually finished the project, something gets pulled out of the Sheep Bag and becomes the next project. There's also the pattern folder and the Dalek, that's been hibernating for a good long while now.

When something is actually being knitted, it gets put into the Spotty Knitting Bag. Within that are usually a few project bags and my notions case (though there are more notions in the front pocket, too). This is the bit I'm most proud of because, until today, it was the only part that anyone else saw, and I do take care of it, organise it and clear it out often. These project bags occasionally get pulled out and dragged off to a knitting group or on a long train journey.

The original Knitting Bag is now kept indoors (it is less waterproof...), and used for storing needles, more notions, and all the sewing things and cross-stitch kits. It was cleaned out about a month ago, though I think I need more storage within it - particularly for my interchangeables which are still in their not-great-quality case they came with.

This has also spread to my parents', where I have a work-desk-come-craft-desk, which has a drawer of 'Wool I'm not sure why I own' - mainly stuff given to me by generous relatives that I have never had an idea what I'm going to do with it, so when I go home I open the drawer and wait for inspiration. So far, I've been doing this twice a month since Christmas, and no joy.

In terms of projects, I try to keep myself up-to-date on Ravelry with mixed success (for example, some projects have now been given away and I haven't taken photos of them). I have a project notebook that is woefully out of date, but I will now have a go at it this weekend. Overall, it is a system that works and I understand, and can deal with change to how many projects are ongoing, or how much wool I have lying about.

Skill + 1UP – 2KCBWDAY2

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. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

Over the past year, my crafting skills have progressed mightily. I have only been knitting for 18 months now, so a year ago I was very much getting on the basics - garter stitch scarf, hat and wrist warmers.

Exactly a year ago, I was learning to knit in the round, and do a little lacework with the beautifully simple cupcake mittletts.

Since then, there has been a lot of lacework, but only a little cabling. I like lacework, but often my cabling seems to not turn out how I'd imagined. I've since realised that this was partly because I was making up the cabled patterns as I went along, but was following a pattern when it came to lacework. Note to self: stick to following patterns until much more skilled at knitting.

Overall, it was a year of making sure I could walk before I tried to run - making sure I have the basics down before trying anything more complicated. However, I really have progressed and made some things that I am really proud of.

Deciding what I should learn in the next year is tricky. Colourwork is an essential thing I plan to learn by knitting eskimimi's Snowbaby Hat, though I'm not sure who for. I would also like a pin cushion, and just at the moment I'm excited by the idea of a hedgehog one. Knitting or crochet I'm not yet sure - I was thinking crochet but then Ysolda Teague's Smith is oh so cute!! And then there's modular knitting, entrelac, crochet, spinning, felting - and that's before we get onto other crafts! Card making, sewing clothes, tapestry, needlepoint.... it's impossible to choose! As a modest aim, I think Snowbaby and a hedgehog this year. And then, who knows?

Monday, 28 March 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns – 2KCBWDAY1

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.

The first yarn for this post was a really easy choice. I loved this yarn the second I saw it, and it is so beautiful. It is the artisan yarns wool I bought at Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Fair waaay back in November. The colours are all my favourites and the yarn is cuddly, but so cuddly that you know it will be a fiend to knit with.

This ball in patiently waiting to become a Simple City shawl. Now, I cannot WAIT to start it - it's a project for myself after what feels like a lifetime of selfless knitting. In fact, I might start it this very week. I just need to finish those socks.

Anyhoo, thought was required before the second yarn could be chosen. I have knit with my first Zauberball and enjoyed the experience (except that there was lots of frogging involved, but that wasn't the fault of the yarn). I have knit a lot of projects with good solid brands like Patons, Sirdar and Wendy. I have some other beautiful yarns in my stash that are waiting for ideas, time or inclination. However, when I look back at my knitting projects of the past year, there is one brand that I keep going back to: King Cole.

That is just what I have lying around - plenty of the ball bands have gone in the bin and plenty of the projects have been gifted away. So far, made into two hats, a bolero, two pairs of mittlets (one frogged), and almost a complete pair of socks. And I love this yarn, because it doesn't itch, it's warm, comes in many colours but best of all: it's completely fine to knit with. Maybe not so inspiring, but sometimes the pattern should be the star, not the yarn. But it doesn't split, knot, pool, or anything else that makes yarn annoying. It's just fine, all the time.