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!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

6 Ways to Get Your Knitting Mojo Back

Knitter's block? I know the feeling. Sometimes we just don't feel like knitting even a single stitch. This may be because we've knitted a lot lately and just need a break or because life gets in the way and we can't seem to switch off and relax. Whatever the reason, if you're having a hard time getting back to your favourite craft, there are a few things you can do to help you get your knitting mojo back.

1. No pressure

Easier said than done. When you know it isn't normal for you to not be knitting, you do put a lot of pressure on yourself. This just makes things worse and won't help you get back in the mood. So don't feel bad about it. Just do other things you enjoy doing and return to knitting when you feel like it again. Nobody is keeping score. You will find that changing up your routine actually frees your mind so that you can pick up your hobby with renewed energy later on. You deserve a break anyway, right?

2. Browse patterns

Maybe all you need is a little bit of inspiration to get those creative juices flowing. There's nothing quite like browsing knitting patterns or looking at what other people have been making to realise how much you miss creating something with nothing more than two sticks and some yarn. It's similar to what happens when I haven't written anything for a while and I read a poem or a book: Suddenly I feel that drive again, a longing to put pen to paper. Getting back into knitting isn't any different. So have a look around, go through your knitting books, browse Ravelry's huge pattern database and other knitters' projects and you will wonder why you ever stopped. 

3. Stash dive

Similarly, having a look at your stash might whet your appetite. I am sure that, like me, you have some hidden treasures in those boxes that you forgot you even had. I still have some pretty yarns from my first yarn shows and every time I come across them, I want to cast on something new. It never fails! If nothing else, a stash dive may lead to a little spring clean, which isn't a bad thing either. You can finally get rid of that yarn you know you are never going to use anyway because the colour is terrible, it feels awful, and what were you even thinking?

4. Sort your WIPs

Do you have a WIP or two (or ten) lying around all over the place, just waiting to be finished? Gather them all together, have a look at what's in those project bags and baskets, and perhaps you'll find something that you feel you really want to work on again. Even better if those are small projects that you know you won't have to commit to for long. This helps you stay motivated after a break. This is also the reason I have not yet dived back into my jumper and am plodding along with a pair of socks.

5. Go to your local knitting group

If you can't find inspiration while on your own, how about meeting up with your local knitting group? Bring a little project with you just to keep busy, but focus on your fellow knitters. After all, this is a relaxed social gathering and it gives you the opportunity to ask for ideas and see what others are working on or what yarns people are enjoying right now. There's bound to be lots of chat about what to knit next, what's just come off the needles, and what yarns were just too irresistible to leave behind in a shop. Embrace the community and the knitting will happen!

6. Just do it

Right. Maybe nothing you've tried has worked or you don't like the thought of being sociable and joining a group. If you are absolutely sure you need to knit again even though you don't feel like it right now, there's nothing for it: Just do it! Sometimes we only realise how much we like some things once we've started them, so there is a chance that once you've knitted a few rows, you'll find that you are rather enjoying it. The very disciplined among us will persevere, I'm sure, while others may knit a bit, only to put the needles down again for a while. And that's okay. You can't force it and, to be honest, as in all things creative, I don't think you should. If you don't feel like it, don't knit. You'll come back to it eventually. Needles and yarn are patient friends.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Knitting Inspiration: Unicorn Edition

Unicorn knitting patterns

Our love of unicorns shows no sign of abating! No surprise, then, that there are loads of knitting (and crochet patterns) available for us crafty people who want more rainbows in our lives. This week's knitting inspiration is all about unicorns and I have put together my top 4 patterns for you. Check them out now:

1. This unicorn hat is all kinds of awesome. The horn, the hair, the pompoms - it's perfect! If you love fun accessories that draw attention, then this is for you. The super bulky yarn (suggested: Malabrigo Rasta)  ensures that it is a quick knit. Embellishing the hat looks like a lot of fun, too.

2. If you're more of a mitten knitter and love stranded knitting, these Chance and Comet mittens just have to make it onto your to-do list. There are instructions for adult and child-size mittens, so you can make a pair of these for the whole family, if you fancy.

3. Am I the only one tempted to knit toys even though I don't really have any use for them? No? Good. Spark's Pony pattern is available on Etsy. Not only can you knit your very own pony or unicorn, you can even make your own Pegasus! Three patterns in one? Not bad at all.

4. Oh well. It's probably too late to warn you now. The Magical F-Unicorn is not a glove pattern as such. Instead, these instructions show you how to embellish gloves with a unicorn. Giving someone the finger has never been more satisfying!

Are you tempted? My favourite is definitely the unicorn hat - and I bet people who know me wouldn't be surprised if I turned up with one in winter. What would you make?

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Spinning Wheel Spotting in Torquay

Tiny decorative spinning wheels in the window

It's been quiet over here lately - I've been on holiday. Shamefully, there was no knitting even though I took my own advice to heart and took a WIP with me. And yet, I knitted not one stitch and my project bag stayed in the suitcase.

We went to Torquay and spent a few hours visiting Cockington Village to see the thatched cottages and have some afternoon tea. At the Weavers Cottage Tea Shoppe, I immediately spotted the spinning wheel in the fireplace. This was the place for me! There were also tiny spinning wheels in the window, which I thought were a nice touch. It was a lovely little tea room and I was thoroughly confused by the frequent mention of my name in the kitchen. No, I am not famous. One of the ladies just happened to have the same name. That doesn't happen often at all and felt quite odd.

I shall leave you with this spinning wheel for now. Tomorrow is my first day back in the office and I wished I was still at the seaside. Have a good week!


Sunday, 28 May 2017

5 Tips For Your Summer Holiday Knitting

5 Tips For Your Summer Holiday Knitting
Image source

We’ve had a very hot week here in the UK even though the Bank Holiday weekend, of course, is a bit overcast and we’ve even had some thunderstorms. So instead of enjoying our first ever BBQ of the year with our first ever BBQ grill, I have been thinking about holiday knitting. Not holiday as in Christmas (despite my working on a Christmas project right now), but holiday as in summer, sun and beaches.

I don’t know about you, but I love the seaside and I miss it terribly here in the city. So I am especially excited that we will be going to the south coast again next month and I don’t even really care too much about the weather we may have there. The most important thing is that I can dip my feet into the sea again and, if I am lucky, I may also get to have a swim (unlikely, but you never know).

So with the approaching holiday, I have been thinking about whether to take any knitting with me at all. I will only be away for a few days and I am sure we will have enough to do so I won’t have the energy to knit much. Still, I will be on the train for a few hours there and back and having a knitting project with me just in case is probably a very good idea.

Choosing what to take with you isn’t always easy, so here are 5 tips to help us knitters decide what to take with us on a summer holiday by the sea. Let me know in the comments what else you think should be on the list!

1. Choose portable projects

Unless you’re planning a road trip and have enough space around you on the journey, a small knitting project is the most practical way to go. Nobody likes having to keep their elbows close to them when knitting and seat neighbours on trains, planes and coaches won’t be too happy about being jabbed with needle ends every so often either. So keep this in mind and take a project with you that doesn’t take up too much room. Anything that can be worked on circular needles is even better because you are less likely to drop them and having to crawl around on the floor to find them again.

2. Stay away from chunky knits

Unless it is a very small project such as a hat, it makes sense to not bother with chunky yarn in a warm climate because your hands will get very hot and sweaty very quickly. You won’t want to have something so warm heaped on your lap either, I expect. And that reminds me: Make sure to stay hydrated! We do get so engrossed in our craft that we aren’t aware of how time flies. I can’t even tell you how often I made a pot of tea, sat down with my WIP and totally forgot to drink any of it until it was completely cold. So have a drink within reach (and within sight) so you remember to stay hydrated. Any excuse for a nice cocktail by the pool, I suppose!

3. Leave your treasures at home

It may be tempting to bring one of your most precious yarns with you, but if you are in a salty, sandy environment like a beach it’s probably not the best choice. Take something along that you won’t mind getting a bit of sand on even if you have all intentions of being careful with your knitting. Things happen, you drop something, spill sunscreen on things, a gust of wind blows sand about… You’ll be glad you’ve taken a yarn with you that you can be sure can cope with it and can be washed without fuss. Think a WIP you won’t mind flinging aside for a quick dip in the sea.

4. WIP it

A holiday is the perfect excuse to get on with that WIP you just can’t seem to finish. If you’ve been procrastinating, simply haven’t had the time or haven’t been in the mood to work on something you started, this is the time to take it with you and get it done. To keep you from procrastinating even more, try not to take too many other tempting knits with you or you’ll end up choosing those over your long-term WIP. If all you have with you is that one WIP you’ve been neglecting, you just can’t avoid it any longer.

5. Remember your notions


It’s easy to forget that once you’ve finished the actual knitting part of your project, there’s still some more work to do. There’s the often dreaded weaving in of threads that comes to mind immediately. So if you plan to properly finish your WIP on holiday, remember to at least take scissors and a darning needle along. Your project may also require stitch markers, so make sure you have some with you just in case. Keep them all stored somewhere safe like a box or zipped case that won’t open if you happen to drop it or someone knocks it over. Again, don’t take your best notions along if you can in case you lose them for some reason. 

Happy knitting and enjoy your holidays!