Sunday, 8 April 2018

Make! Craft Britain

Make Craft Britain
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán

Last night I got sucked into Make! Craft Britain, the 3-part BBC Four series all about crafting. Have you seen it?

I noticed the trailers, but completely forgot about it all. If you've missed it, you can still catch up on iPlayer, and I heartily recommend it!

You will see a variety of crafts, with groups of beginners learning to knit, make mosaics, create silver clay jewellery, cross-stitch and more. In between, advanced crafters show their makes and briefly talk about why they do what they do. 

Highlights include:

Beautiful mosaics, including one based on a Lowry painting
A baker's silver mini-croissant
Traditional letterpress printing (reminded me of my internship at a printers in 1997)

I very much enjoyed this show. Before watching it, I was worried it would turn out to be just another craft show like Kirstie's Handmade Christmas, but this was so much better. The focus lies on the new crafters, there is no host guiding you through the show, and the voice-overs are pleasant and non-intrusive. There is no hyperbole or overly excited screeching, which is a nice change. Also, there is a good mix of men and women, both when it comes to teachers and learners. I loved that! The whole show makes for relaxed viewing and is informative and motivating at the same time.

Because I was keen to watch the knitting workshop in episode 3, that's where I started watching. In the same episode, we are also introduced to mosaics and, to my surprise, Mark, my totally uncrafty husband, said he would quite like to try making mosaics! Hm, a possible gift idea?

If you've watched Make! and want to talk about it, comment here or tweet me @KnittyNadia

On the BBC Four website, you will find more information about the show, including tutorials, so have a look if you enjoyed the show.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Knitting On the NHS

Knitting on the NHS
Photo by Pineapple Supply Co.

Recently, you may have come across the claim that knitting could save the NHS millions of Pounds (The Independent) and that it should be prescribed by the NHS (The Telegraph). These conclusions have been drawn from a Knit for Peace survey in which knitters stated that the craft makes them feel more relaxed and takes their focus off pain, for instance. 

It's left me puzzled. Quite frankly, I am not sure how anyone could come up with the silly idea that this is an effective way to deal with health issues and that it could possibly save the NHS any money. The Independent indicates knitting could reduce the need for antidepressants, for example. The problem with that, I think, is the assumption that depression is just people feeling a bit sad. It ignores that depression is a chemical imbalance that is often best treated with medication. Just picking up needles isn't going to solve that. 

Of course knitting is calming and relaxing, but it won't help you deal with high blood pressure effectively or I could have stopped taking Ramipril in 2007. Surely with the amount of knitting I normally do, I should be the most relaxed person  in the world!

I can see how knitting can distract you from pain, but it can also make some types of pain worse. After all, you are using your hands and arthritis, to take an example, will make it difficult. Knitting can also be frustrating at times, so the calming factor goes right out the window there. Furthermore, knitting can also be isolating unless you are  happy to go to knitting groups.

I am surprised that nobody seems to have mentioned that any craft would have the same effects as knitting. Basically, it's all about finding something to keep you busy, distracted and agile, mentally and, to an extent, physically. It does not have to be knitting. If you're doing something you enjoy, of course it will make you feel good and calm.

But it is silly to suggest that a craft is the answer to medical problems, because it isn't. (You don't have to believe me, of course. I am a doctor, but not that kind of a doctor.) So crafting on prescription won't work. How would one go about that anyway? What's the prescription for? Would you get classes on the NHS? Yarn? I suspect knitting isn't going to save the NHS money, but would require  even more funding because the need for medication, treatments and appointments won't go way.

It must have been a slow news day or papers are desperate to find something to write about other than Brexit. I can't blame them.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Tea, Tissues and Some Knitting

Tea, Tissues and Some Knitting

It's been a weekend of medicinal tea, knitting and snotty tissues, I'm afraid. Just when I wondered how on earth I managed to get through this long, cold winter without my obligatory cold, it got me. Luckily, this cold appears to be progressing quicker than usual, so I should be back to normal very soon.

The good thing is that I have had more time to knit my jumper because I haven't been feeling as miserable as usual when I am ill. I am well on my way to finishing the first sleeve already and most definitely on the home straight now.

Having said that, I haven't dared to cast on anything new yet even though I can't wait to get something else on my needles. I haven't even dared to think about what to make next. I have to be patient and not let myself get distracted from this jumper. It has taken me two years to get this far and I don't want to make it three!

There is a chance I may not get to wear this jumper as soon as I finish it, but if I keep at it, I will! The weather is finally milder and I do hope it stays that way because I do not cope well with the cold. Then again, I hope it doesn't warm up too soon so that I can wear my new jumper at least once before putting all my winter clothes away.

What knits have you been getting a lot of wear out of this winter? Mine have been my Stockholm scarf, my handspun  Spikelets cowl, and my handspun Hinagiku hat.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Pixelated Pullover: Continued

Knitting my Pixelated Pullover

Yes, yes, it's still going.

It's been two years since I nearly finished my Pixelated Pullover the first time round and right now I am exactly where I was back then. I have reached the end of the body now, but need to try it on and check to make sure. I somehow suspect I knitted it too long, actually, in which case I will rip back a little bit before starting the ribbing. I don't care how much longer it takes - I want to get it right!

Right now I am aiming to finish this jumper by my birthday in late April when I will be celebrating at the seaside and may well need a warm jumper. You never know what the weather will be like at that time of the year. (Actually, I need it right now because even though it is nice and sunny lately, it is also absolutely freezing.)

As you can see from the photo, the sleeves are still missing. They will be fairly quick to knit, so it really shouldn't take me too long to get this done. Of course I will be procrastinating...

What do you do when you work on something that's been going for ages? Do you just want to get it done or do you want to make sure it is absolutely perfect first? Let me know!

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Tempted by Portuguese Knitting

Portuguese knitting technique

Being busy knitting my jumper doesn't stop me from looking around, thinking about what I am going to do next. Today my fingers are itching to do some spinning on my beautiful IST Turkish spindle, but it's going to be a busy day and I suspect I won't get to spin. I really need to wash my knitted socks instead. Ah, chores!

Something I'd like to try one day, I realised, is Portuguese knitting. Have you given it a go yet? I think it would be particularly useful for my Pixelated pullover, the one I am working on right now. When I get to the stranded knitting sections, my yarns always get tangled, no matter how hard I try. Another advantage of the Portuguese technique would be that I don't need to hold on to the yarn so carefully. Goodbye death grip!

Having watched some video tutorials, I think it will be hard to get my head around knit stitches, but purling seems to be really quick and easy. (Check Youtube for lots of tutorials.)

I am also curious about whether this technique makes knitting faster. I knit Continental style, so it is already faster than English knitting, but would Portuguese knitting increase my speed even more due to the smaller motions? If you've given it a try, please let me know. 

Are you toying with the idea of trying something new at the moment? What's tempting you and why are you keen to try it?

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Knitting Inspiration: Ready for Spring

Spring jumper knitting pattern

Winter is a tough time for many of us. The lack of sun light is particularly difficult for me so I just can't wait for spring to arrive and get rid of my urge to hibernate. How about you?

A good way to alleviate the winter blues is crafting and right now I feel like planning my spring knits. So today I want to share four jumper knitting patterns with you that will bring a bit more colour and light into your days and get you excited about spring. What's your favourite?

1. The Circular Yoke Summer Shirt by Purl Soho looks simple and stylish in its pastel colourway and minimalist shape. No fuss, no drama, just a plain short-sleeved look that's ideal for spring and early summer. 

2. The colours of Light Wave by Dani Sunshine caught my eye here. They are perfect for lighter days even if the temperatures aren't yet as high as we would like. Cold and sunny days will be all the more fun with this garment.

3. Lemon Pie is for all knitters with a sweet tooth. The lace panel running down one side are reminiscent of lemon pie wedges. Hanna Maciejewska has designed a simple, delicious sweater great for slightly chilly, grey days that need a bit of cheering up.

4. Finally, Este may not be a cheerful colour, but the short sleeves and lace panels make for a light jumper that will make you look forward to warmer days. Choose a shade you like and cast on! The only complicated bit is the lace.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Craftivism is Not Futile

We hold in our hands the power to kick-start great change. It is a shame that Vanity Fair, when suggesting Hillary Clinton should take up knitting and get off the political stage, seem to ignore how the whole Women's March came about. They have, it seems, forgotten that sea of pink hats marching on Washington. Pity. It's the marches first anniversary soon and I hope people remain vigilant to what goes on in politics, be it in their own country or in the world. 

The only response to "Go knit and be quiet" is to be quiet, go knit a pussy hat, put it on, march, and be loud