Checking in

I was back in work today, but I’ve finished much earlier than usual and have much more energy than usual, so I thought I’d let you know what’s on the needles tonight! (I know it’s not actually night yet, but I’m in my PJs and it’s dark outside. That counts.)

C’s sister is expecting a little girl in April, and my broodiness has gone into overdrive! I’ve got about a million plans for what I want to make for her, but I’m having to restrain myself slightly. No point in making scrummy newborn knits – she’s going to be a summer newborn. So the plan is, I’ll wait to see if she’s a tiddler or a dumpling, then knit size-appropriate autumn/winter clothes.

Yeah, right.

Dress 1

Apologies for the awful light. Wales in winter!

I’m starting off with a little tunic – a free pattern here. The theory is that she can wear it as a dress in summer, but it should still fit as a vest over a warmer top in winter. That makes sense, right?! As I don’t have children, I generally have no idea at all what handmade clothes will be useful for babies. So I try to make something that’s pretty and versatile, and then keep my fingers crossed.

I’ve actually finished both the front and back already – two evenings’ work. I did make some changes: I changed the moss stitch for garter stitch to match the border at the bottom of the tunic; I added some YO eyelets along the top hem, again to match the border; I decreased a couple more stitches on each strap of the back section when I was casting off, for a more rounded edge. I always feel like I’m cheating on the pattern when I modify it! I’m hoping the garter stitch instead of the moss stitch will give it a little bit of extra stretch so it’ll last a bit longer.

Dress back Dress front

According to the pattern, I just need to sew up the seams now, and add a couple of buttons. But I was thinking… These colours remind me of a granny smith apple. Apples are cute. I could crochet a little apple. What colour would go? Red would go. I should crochet a red apple applique. But then it won’t tie in. How can I get it to tie in? I could crochet a little red hem. That would be nice.

I think in quite short sentences – easier on the brain. The upshot is, I’m not quite as nearly finished as I thought, but hopefully it will look extra cute when it’s done! I’ll keep you updated 🙂

Now, as an addendum: I was looking through the rest of my photos to see if I had anything pretty to show you. And I do – check out this colour combination:

Teapot

Pastel green and red. Sound familiar?! Apparently I’m more drawn to these colours than I realised! But then, when I kept looking:

Blue and red

Pastel blue and red! I’ve got a feeling this baby’s going to have a little red hem crocheted onto everything I make. The spoon in that photo is, of course, a Rice DK spoon. I ordered a set of six for myself last week – I always order some January presents to cheer myself up! Look at the mix I got.

Rice dk spoons

I love the combination of pastels and brights! This might end up being my new thing.

In other news

Ahoy! Two posts in one day. Must be nearing the end of the holidays, and I haven’t managed to get all my thoughts out of my head yet. Five things to tell you:

1. I have a Twitter account! I think I’m going to use it for stuff that’s too brief to go on here. And I’ve got one of those twitter feed things on the side of the blog, over there -> I’m @woolheadknits 🙂

2. I did some entrelac and it worked!

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I have always thought of entrelac as being well beyond my capability. But six weeks ago I got a pile of knitting books out of the library, and just got round to reading this one:

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The instructions were so clear, I found it really quite straightforward. As long as you can keep count of your stitches (or can work it out from how many are left on the needle) while you watch Downton Abbey (just me?), it’s fine. I found that, instead of reading the instructions and working out what would happen next, I had to just get on with it and it would become clear straight away. I was thinking about doing one side of a cushion cover in entrelac, but my sample was in dk and it took quite a long time, so I’m going to hang on until I’ve got some chunky wool so it goes a bit faster. Also, I thoroughly recommend the book – loads of information about how you can go a bit more freestyle with your knitting, which I’m finding very exciting at the moment!

3. My button box arrived this morning. I ran straight upstairs to sort out my buttons 🙂

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I love them all sorted by colour! Had a chance to play around with combinations – I’m thinking about some knitted flowers with these at the centre.

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4. I have officially taught myself to crochet! It was my summer project, but I was keeping quiet about it because I’ve tried it once before and it was too difficult for me. So when I was in Cornwall, my mum helped me to count the chain and showed me where to hook into the chain for the first row. Seriously – it was just the first row that I couldn’t do!

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So I did a rectangle.

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And I pinned it and blocked it.

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And I made up a border and sewed on some buttons.

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Worked out what it is?

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A hook holder! The lining is really badly sewn – it was the first thing I did on the JL Mini, so I was still figuring out how to do stuff. It’s made from scraps (yes, I have a material stash too); the blue flowery fabric is part of a sleeve from the size 26 dress of a few posts ago. I used some of the Stylecraft – bluebell, lime and cream. I love the hooks, which C gave me for my birthday. For some reason, it seems to make him really happy to see me using them! He’ll soon learn the dangers of a relationship with a knitter/crocheter (not least, the easy access to pointy weapons).

5. I have some new WIPs! Now that O’s hoodie and the blanket are done (BEFORE the deadline!) I’m allowed to start some new things 🙂 sneak peek:

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That’s some more crochet going into the blue bowl… The cream and lilac are sitting there waiting to be decided on (but don’t they go nicely with the blanket?)… And the zigzag ribbed cushion back has been measured up for its partner 🙂 exciting! So I’d better actually get on with it, instead of just talking about it.

Edit to add: I just thought of another thing to tell you – very important that this is made public knowledge.

6. C said that I can have a knitting room when we move in together! Hahaha, the fool has no idea what he’s let himself in for – a whole room to fill with wool?! Seriously, don’t tell him what a huge mistake he’s made 🙂 all I did was show him one picture on facebook of one craft room, and straight away he said I could have one too (one day). Now you know why I needed to record this information!

Finally finished… the two year blanket!

I’m really excited about this… It’s been two years in the making, and I honestly thought it would never be done. But… I made a blanket!
Two years ago, I moved back with my parents for a year – I had a job in Cornwall, and it made sense to save rent money for a year. But it meant packing up *everything*, and I’ve got a lot of stuff. Obviously the biggest challenge was the wool stash, because I had to face reality; I’m sure I’m not the only person who has been in denial about their stash! Anyway, I worked out that I had a lot of blues and purples, mostly acrylic dk, but not enough of anything to make a garment. Also, I knew I’d be spending a lot of time sitting around without much to do, so I decided to start making squares for a blanket. I had a vague idea that I’d try to get it done by the end of the year, but no plans apart from that. I decided to aim for 4x4in squares – tension square size.

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So, every morning before work started, I sat in the staff room knitting and fielding questions about what I was doing. I had the little 6in needles that I learnt to knit on when I was 8 or 9, and they fitted in my bag perfectly. People’s reactions to my knitting were varied – I started a few other people off on their own projects. A few women made noises about starting a craft group, though that never happened. Sometimes I’d knit while sitting with the teenagers I worked with and one in particular seemed to find it relaxing. But best of all were a few of the men I worked with. You know how, sometimes, you might be talking to a man, and his eyes aren’t on yours? It happens. But now they were watching the needles 🙂 maybe it’s a generalisation, but it seemed to be a guy thing: they wanted to know how it works. One of them even knitted two stitches himself before handing it back with a sense of achievement (!).

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Anyway, I got on with it, and they built up slowly. Obviously I ran out of the right colours pretty quickly and had to buy some more. Oh dear 🙂

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Sparkly variegated blues, left over from a triangular lacy scarf

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Cornflower blue from either my Mum’s stash or my Grannie’s, passed on to me

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Sparkly dark blue – 3 for 2 in the pound shop

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Sparkly purple from the pound shop

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And pound shop sparkly grey – I really wish I got more of these, they were really nice to knit with

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O’s hoodie leftovers

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Left over from a jumper my Mum knitted for me (I’m wearing it right now!)

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From a hot water bottle cover I made for my Mum (I think that was my first project – I sewed the buttons on crooked)

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Smoothie dk from some mittens I knitted for a friend’s Christmas present

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And this is some more Smoothie dk from the same mittens – they were stripey

At the end of the year, I had a box of squares which moved back to Cardiff with me and lived at the top of the wardrobe for a year. I hardly knitted all year – it’s been busy! Then I finished my course, and I got itchy hands. I knew I had a whole load of WIPs tucked away, and I decided to work through them one at a time before starting anything new. Then one day I found the box of squares… Ugh. Tedious squares. I knew I was on the way towards having enough for a double bed size, but there was a whole lot more to do before I actually had enough. So I laid them all out and thought… That’s enough for a nap blanket! Problem solved! I just needed a couple more, which were quick off the needles. So exciting!

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Take note of my PJs in the corner 🙂

Once they were all arranged, I stacked them up and numbered them (remember, I’m the sort of person who catalogues wool):

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This made the joining really easy – I didn’t have to keep making decisions or laying them all out again… Oh yeah. Joining. Not exciting. I took a deep breath, got some cream Marriner and dug out a crochet hook. Then looked up a YouTube video about how to crochet squares together. I think the least said about this, the better – it was really boring. I’m not good at repetition. Because I was doing a gradient in the colours, from light at the top to dark at the bottom, every time I got to a dark colour, I’d get excited because I was nearly at the end of that row 🙂

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Getting bored of the life story? Here’s the end: joining the squares was so tedious, I taught myself to crochet properly at the same time. So when it came to finishing the blanket, I knew exactly what I wanted: a narrow band of the cream double crochet and half treble to tie it all together, and then two rows of grey (that somehow got added to the stash without my noticing, totally defeating the object of using up the stash) half treble with scallops.

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It got finished this weekend, while I was still ill enough to want to stay in one place all the time. Want to see it?

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I love it. I love everything about it – wouldn’t change anything. I steamed the edges so the crochet wouldn’t curl, and I even got some new white cotton bedding so I could show it off (err, to me and C, who must be thoroughly sick of it by now) on my bed. It’s exactly the right size – just covers the top of the bed, but not too big for naps – and exactly the right weight. The most exciting thing about it is that I did every single stitch myself. (Apart from the two stitches that my friend from work did!) It wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t made it. I’m not often proud of the things I make – my skills are so much less than what I see on other blogs or Pinterest – but I am proud of this blanket. I really thought it wouldn’t get done, and wouldn’t be worth the effort and time (and sometimes the boredom), but I love it. So next time I’m bored with a project, remind me to look at this again! Want one more look?

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Colour!

Morning!

It’s quite early in the morning (at least it was when I started writing). I’ve got to go into work later (even though it’s the summer holidays) and it looks grey and murky outside (… even though it’s the summer holidays). So… I’m cheering myself up with some colour!

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Remember this basket of loveliness from the knitting tour? I tipped it all out on the floor the other day because the sun was shining and I could take some reasonable photos of the colours. It’s kind of embarrassing how long I spent playing with them.

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The colours haven’t come out perfectly in these photos, but these are the names:

bright pink – pomegranate – raspberry – pale rose

lipstick – shrimp – spice – saffron

citron – lime – meadow – aspen

bluebell – turquoise – teal – petrol

plum – grape – cream – white

It’s also a bit sad that I can remember the names of all the colours without going to look them up! Firstly, it’s Stylecraft Special DK, which comes in 100g balls of acrylic. I got them from Wool Warehouse at £1.69 each. I fell for them ages ago, when Lucy from Attic24 used them in one of her ripple blankets, and then I spent a loooong time putting them in and out of my virtual shopping basket. This was quite a big treat for me – I’d earned some extra money over the last few weeks, and desperately wanted to spend it on something I didn’t *need*.

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Yes, I am the sort of person who catalogues their wool. There’s one that I switched – the jaffa was just too bright for me and I’m not really an orange sort of person anyway. So the lovely people at my LYS (that would be in Cornwall, not Cardiff, so actually not that local) let me swap the jaffa for some bluebell. Obviously the wool comes in normal balls, but it was so soft that I just wanted to touch it, so I wound the first ball by hand. And then the next one… And then my slightly obsessive nature forced me to do all the rest as well, despite a little bit of RSI that started nagging my hand!

After the swap between Jaffa and Bluebell, I’ve got nine ‘warm’ colours, nine ‘cool’ colours and two neutrals. I’m also the kind of person who’s sad enough to record combinations of colours, and even give them names…

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This is one of my favourite combinations:

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It’s pale rose, cream and meadow. I like the softness of the colours, and the vintagey feel to them. They feel like warm spring colours to me.

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And if you add in some grape, it adds depth and richness.

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Then when you swap the cream for plum, the focus shifts to the purples and becomes much richer and away from vintagey spring. The meadow keeps it soft, but…

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When you take out meadow and put in lime, the combination becomes zingy and fresh. Can you tell I love playing with colours?! Sea colours next:

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This makes me think of being deep underwater, where the sunlight can’t get through so the colours are darker. It hasn’t come out brilliantly in this photo, but the teal is quite greeny.

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Whereas these colours are more like seaweed, with the white bringing a freshness. Sticking with the nautical theme:

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These make me think of a nautically themed child’s bedroom… I’m aware that’s not a normal association! But changing the navy of classic nautical for the turquoise here updates it and makes it more child-friendly.

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Still on the nautical theme, this combination reminds me of chevrons and fashionable nail varnish designs on Pinterest. Yes, again, not normal!

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I love these – a girly twist on nautical.

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OK, getting out of the sea now. So if the first combination was spring, this is definitely autumn. They remind me of harvest and leaves changing and the countryside.

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And this is summer – windbreaks, swimming costumes, fresh fruit and ice cream.

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Not a season now – there’s too much contrast between the zingy lime and citron, and the deep plum. But I love the difference between them and how they bring out the best in each other. I can imagine making something with wide citron and lime stripes, with a tiny plum stripe between them.

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And these are just lovely happy colours. They’re some of the brightest from my stash, and they sit together so happily.

So what am I going to do with all of these colours? No idea! I’m going to play with them, and find little projects that I can put together quickly to try out the colours. Buying a huge stash like this with no project in mind is total luxury – I know how lucky I am that I’m able to do it. I’ve got a feeling Stylecraft Special project will be the theme of quite a few posts in the future!

Seams, selvedges and sewing up: O’s hoodie

I’ve always been confused about whether it’s selvedge or selvage – neither looks right! So I looked it up and from now on I’m going to spell it selvedge. You know when you’ve said a word too many times? Selvedge. Selvedge.

What this post is actually about is: MY FRIEND MADE A BABY! S is my university friend – the first person I met ten years ago when I moved to Cardiff. Since we left university, she’s been busy moving to Somerset, marrying a person and then making two whole new people. Basically, she’s a grown up now. When I drive to Cornwall, she is very conveniently on the way so I try to pop in whenever I can. But this time it was super exciting because she and her husband had a little boy eight weeks ago! When their little girl, J, was born two years ago, I made a blanket for her – I remember it taking forever, but back then I had time. This time round, I didn’t have as much time, so I needed to knit something smaller for baby O, but still something special. I kept seeing these cute garter stitch wrap around booties on Pinterest, but every time I tried to follow the links I couldn’t find a pattern. Step in, Ravelry: it’s got everything! One search later, I had this pattern. I dusted off my A level French (actually, I only got a C, and none of it was about knitting, so I used Google Translate) and an hour later I had this:

IMG_0811Ahhh! Aren’t they sweet?! I love how cute garter stitch looks on tiny items, all those lovely ridges in miniature. I seriously considered making a grown up sized version for me – I still might. They were seriously easy to do: just a T-shape in garter stitch, a bit of pinning, and a bit of stitching. I took a few goes to sew them up because I wanted the toes to wrap around securely.

The yarn is Smoothie DK in the imaginatively named colour 01085: blue. I like the drape of the wool – a large-ish knitted piece in Smoothie DK has a heaviness to it, which makes me feel like I’m knitting something substantial. Also, it’s soft enough that I wasn’t worried about it being for a little person.

Very nice… But not quite enough for A Knitter to present to a friend who has just produced a whole person. So I went in search of a garter stitch cardigan to go with the booties. Ravelry has got a lot to offer, and it took me several evenings just to narrow down the selection. I ended up with this pattern, and made the 12 months size because clearly a baby doesn’t need a hoodie in August (and that’s what S requested).

I had found some lovely matte, slatey blue buttons at the market near my parents’ house which felt like cool little pebbles in my hand.

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Honestly? It was boring. Really, really boring. I’d underestimated how tedious garter stitch would become (stupid endless ridges), and I didn’t think about the fact that there’s no shaping to break up the pattern. What was so charming about the booties was actually a bit annoying in the hoodie, and I’ve been knitting for long enough that I can handle something a bit more complicated. The body is knitted in one piece, with spaces for arm holes and the bare minimum of neck shaping. The sleeves and hood are knitted separately.

IMG_1193See all those nice long ends for sewing up? None of them was quite long enough. You may have noticed from the knitting tour post that most of what I make is small. I’ll tell you something: it’s because I don’t like sewing up. I also don’t like the last hour of the work day, trailers before a film, or having to diet before actually losing weight. Delayed gratification is not my thing. I’ve never really thought about it before, but in that respect I suppose I’m a process knitter – I do it because I enjoy doing it, and my hands feel sad if they aren’t making something. Still, the sewing up had to be done. There was a point, when I’d done everything except the last sleeve, when I thought of removing O’s arm rather than sewing up another seam, but it seemed too cruel.

It went like this: shoulders; hood seam; hood to neck; sleeve 1 to armhole 1; sleeve 1 seam; sleeve 2 to armhole 2; sleeve 2 seam. I thought it would take an hour or two. It took a whole day. I was kicking myself the entire time, because of this:IMG_1196Not the Hulk/Flash pajamas. The selvedges. (By the way, I love these pajamas. They’re from Matalan, they cost about £4 because they were in the sale, and they’re men’s. So much better than women’s, for both leg length and cooler designs.) On some of the edges, I’d remembered to sl1wyif at the beginning of the row. On others, I hadn’t, which meant that matching up seams was a total pain. Also, I managed to sew an armhole seam on the outside TWICE, which didn’t make me any happier!

IMG_1189IMG_1199It was an easy pattern, but if this was the first garment I’d ever knitted, I would have been confused. I know you can’t expect miracles from a free pattern (though some do deliver), but there were a lot of experienced-knitter-common-sense tricks that could have been worked into the instructions – little things like giving a number of rows on each side for symmetry above the armholes, or remembering to slip the first stitch of each row! I’m moaning a lot. In reality, this was a bit of a boring knit, but that’s because I didn’t think about it and make it more exciting for myself. If I was doing this again, I’d totally do a moss stitch border (love moss stitch), and I’d do set in sleeves and some shaping on the hood. Serves me right for being a lazy knitter, but you know what?

IMG_1249All sewn up, I really like it. It’s square and simple and chunky and warm, and worth every boring knit stitch.

IMG_1247It’s soft and drapey, and it looks lovely with its bootie brothers:

IMG_1258When I delivered it on the way back to Cardiff, O’s big sister opened it. She gave it a squeeze, then put the hood over her head and rolled around on the sofa in it. I think it passed the soft test, even if it is way too big for O at the moment! It makes me really happy to be able to make something for someone – not everyone can do it, but S and her new little boy have both got something that no one else will ever have. It’s nice.

Cornish holiday

Hello!

This time last week, I was on the beach at Treyarnon Bay, trying not to get sunburnt (I failed). Exactly a week later, I’m on my sofa listening to the storm rolling over Cardiff. I’m just back from a sunny, fun week in Cornwall, and I feel… flat. That post-holiday feeling. So I’m going to make it worse by going through the holiday photos!

Cornwall (14)It was a lovely week of beaches, knitting and hanging out with my mum. I hadn’t been home for an hour before we were back in the car and headed for the beach – we both agree that the seaside is the only place where we don’t need any kind of entertainment. Just looking out at the sea, watching the tide come in and getting some serious barbecue envy. And counting how many boys were wearing Batman towel ponchos. Twice, kids we’d never met before came over to sit with us, to the embarrassment of their parents. One girl didn’t say a word to us, just lay down on our blanket. Hard not to laugh!

On Friday we went for a walk. I requested a short, flat walk, so we ended up clambering up and down the coast path from Fowey for hours. The plan was to go from Readymoney beach…

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Quiet at low tide

Via the cliff path, with some pretty views…

Cornwall (25) Cornwall (27)Cornwall (26) Cornwall (31)To Polridmouth, pronounced Pridmouth.

Cornwall (43)Read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier? This is *that* beach! We made a very exciting discovery here:

Cornwall (42)David Beckham, if you’re looking for your pants, they’re at Polridmouth.

Cornwall (47)Unfortunately, wherever we sat, we were surrounded by very bitey flies. We’d planned to stay here for an hour then walk back, but I couldn’t keep still (I hate being bitten, ever since the Horsefly Incident of 2012). So we decided to carry on and see how far we got before we had to give up – neither of us is very fit, and it’s a very hilly walk! Off in the distance was Gribben Head and the Daymark, but we knew that was way too hard for us.

Except…

Cornwall (67)We made it! The last bit before you get to the Daymark (like a lighthouse you can’t use at night, because there’s no light on it – pointless) is a MASSIVE hill. We seriously weren’t going to do it. Too hard. Too steep. But we did it with a lot of rests (really an embarrassing amount of rests). We were too tired to take photos, so you’ll just have to trust me that it is honestly the biggest hill I have ever walked up voluntarily. In most of the photos above, you can see it in the distance, which is quite gratifying now I’m on a sofa, not a cliff path! We had lunch, then practically skipped back to Readymoney beach. Why does it take two hours to walk there and one hour to walk back? I don’t really care, what’s important is that we had enough time to sit on the beach and have an ice cream.

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Busier at high tide with the sun out!

The hill up to the car park felt like NOTHING compared to our earlier mountaineering!

Cornwall (82)Cornwall (83)Obviously on the weekend we were ruined and couldn’t move (except to go to some wool shops…).

On Monday, we went to Charlestown. I love it there – my great-grandfather was the harbour master there (about a million years ago) so I walk around like I own the place. We were only there for half an hour in the late afternoon, but we managed to time it exactly between rain showers. The sun was so bright I had no idea what I was taking photos of.

Cornwall (95) Cornwall (105)Can you see that headland poking out into the sea? That’s Gribben Head. Squint. Can you see a red and white tower out on the end of it? OK, maybe you can’t, but trust me, it’s there – that’s where we were on Saturday! Looks like quite a nice, flat walk out along the headland, doesn’t it? We didn’t go that way. We went the hilly way.

Cornwall (117)The harbour was really busy – lots of kids jumping in the water, which scares me to death because I’m never sure how deep it is there. I love this photo; the boy in the blue t shirt, right in the middle, cracks me up.

I love going back to Cornwall. I know exactly how lucky I am to have parents who let me visit them as often as I like, and who even let me live with them last year (sorry again about that). For me, the best thing about going home is the sky, and how it speaks to the sea. Living in a city, I can never get enough sky; it’s always penned in by roofs and tall buildings and unambitious horizons. But in Cornwall, the sky goes on forever and the light is rich and pure. The light in a city is like treated water – a bit chemical and recycled. But at home, it’s like drinking from a mountain stream. I know why so many artists live in Cornwall; it seems to me that it’s the only place where you can really see what you’re doing.

Enough of that. Now, I’m very aware that these photos make it look like all I do in Cornwall is hang around at beaches, like some sort of tourist (or emmet – *spit*), but in fact, I also spend a lot of time under blankets – these two in particular.

Cornwall (129) Cornwall (120)My sister and I have had many conversations about who will get which blanket when we cart our parents off to a home and split up their stuff between us. She’s got her eye on this one:

Cornwall (130)A multi-coloured Granny stripe, knitted (aptly enough) by our Grannie. It’s massive, heavy and very warm. And it’s clearly made up of odds and ends of wool – classic stash-buster. I love the mid-row colour changes, where she clearly ran out of a certain colour. But I’m after this one:

Cornwall (126)A Granny square blanket that my mum made when she first moved to Cornwall. She told me that she remembers laying all the squares out on the floor of the house where she lodged. I hope her landlady thought she was mental, like people think when I do stuff like that.

In my last post, I set myself a deadline to knit a present for a baby by Tuesday… I did it! It’s going to get its own post, because I’m going to go on about seams and patterns and sleeves and sewing up. See you then!

A knitting tour

Wandering around my house over the last few days, I seem to be overrun with wool. I think the arrival of all the Stylecraft has pushed this into overdrive, and everywhere I turn I see more knitting. It seems to have sneaked into my life without my noticing, which is strange given that I must have unpacked it myself when I moved into the house. So I thought I’d give you a knitting tour!

Other people think knitted dishcloths are weird. I don't know why.

Other people think knitted dishcloths are weird. I don’t know why.

Now, I’ll admit the first one is a bit sad. This dishcloth is one of my favourite things I’ve ever knitted, because it sums up what I want my knitting to be: useful, a bit pretty, and a durable alternative to shop-bought. I hate washing up almost as much as I hate mountains of unwashed plates, but using a dishcloth I made makes me happy inside. It’s from a free pattern here, and it’s knitted on the diagonal with a YO border. I’ve been using it for a year (I made it as a moving house present to myself) and it’s a good now as when it was new. My mum requested one too, but wanted it twice the normal size – that’s a lot of boring garter stitch! I’ve got another one tucked away in a drawer somewhere with a sheep motif in the middle, that I’ve only just remembered.

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From the kitchen into the dining room… This teacosy was a Christmas present for my housemate – knitting things for people I live with is just a sneaky way of still being able to use them myself. The pattern is here, and I loved making it. I even stuck to the same colours as the pattern, which is unusual for me. I used three strands of DK together instead of the recommended yarn though – I’m not that good at following the rules. I wish I could say that I used acrylic instead of wool because it’s likely to get washed and I don’t want it to felt, but… That’s just what I had in the stash. The roses were quick and very rewarding to make, especially playing around with the colours. The best bit was the time it took for L to realise it wasn’t from a shop!

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Lurking on the dining room table is some Smoothie DK – I love this stuff, even if it is a bit splitty. It got ditched in the table this morning when I realised that I bought the wrong dye lot, and I need to take it out into some natural light so I can tell if it’s too different from the ball I’ve already knitted.

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Living room now: this is the basket of miscellaneous wool that lurks behind the door, waiting to make me feel guilty whenever I spot it. The dark brown was inherited, and the first few hundreds yards have been made into many first rows of ill-judged projects. It’s currently hogging my circular needles on the first quarter of a poncho (when I said ill-judged, I meant it – ponchos usually fill me with horror). It’s been ditched until I’ve forgotten how long I’ve spent on it so far and can unravel it without crying. The cream and green are from the teacosy and a Christmas wreath I gave my dad, and are there because buried underneath the ill-judged poncho is the rest of the wreath things – berries, pine cones, possibly an adorable robin. Get back in the corner, unseasonal basket.

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Ah, Stylecraft Special DK. A sneak peek at some of the delicious colours – and they’re not even the best ones! I’m so in love with these, I’ll definitely be writing more about them soon.

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There’s so much to like in this bag – even the bag itself is exciting! I got it in the sale because I was going on a seaside holiday and it reminded me of windbreaks and deckchairs (and it was £4.50). Then the blanket fitted inside it so nicely, the bag never made it to the beach. The blanket is getting its own post soon – I’m crocheting together the squares, which is quite slow business. I’m using Marriner DK to join them, and I don’t love it. Still, it’s doing the job, and soon I’ll have a lovely blanket and a lovely blanket post to share. Have you spotted the colouring pencils too? I’ve been doing some colouring in for this…

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And I have no idea how it’s going to turn out, so it will remain a mystery for now. Can you see my lovely crochet hooks though? Birthday present 🙂 I love the colours! And the cute little tin was appropriated from my mum and contains knitting pins. The tin says ‘for sore gums and mouths’, which I enjoy every time I hold a bunch of these pins in my mouth and end up stabbing myself with them.

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Look at that mess. This is the box of scarves that lives under the stairs, and it’s a complete jumble inside. For some reason, I just can’t keep scarves tidy.

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Ahh, it’s the first thing I ever knitted! I got Knitty Gritty for my birthday one year (excellent book for beginners, highly recommended), and used this scarf to learn how to change colours and stitches. I remember refusing to accept any help or advice, and nearly drove myself mad in the process. At the time I wished I’d kept a record of which patterns I’d done – it all seemed very complicated and it never occurred to me that I’d be able to look at it years later and just know what I’d done!

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Infinity scarf with unintentional double twist 😦 it was also meant to be in moss stitch, but came out ribbed because I didn’t understand knitting in the round, counted the stitches wrong, and couldn’t bring myself to unravel it all. Boohoo. It’s very warm though!

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Lovely lace scarf in lovely denimy colours. I was in a village in Cornwall somewhere and got very overexcited when I saw a wool shop. Two friends with no interest in wool (one of them is the same friend with no interest in wool as in the last post) got dragged in with me, and I saw a sample of this scarf knitted up. 30 seconds later, I had a pattern and a ball of wool, and two relieved friends. Despite being a very straightforward and repetitive pattern, the scarf is full of mistakes which I ignore!

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Bad hat. I tried to amend the size and it came out too big… But as it was knitted flat, not in the round, I didn’t realise until it was finished. Boohoo again, but never mind – it didn’t take too long! I really like the big button and the knitted bow – must do more of those.

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This pattern was in a magazine, and I love the scarf. Again, it’s got some mistakes which I ignore, but they aren’t very visible. It’s more green and less petrol-blue in real life and just the right length to show off the pattern. I started it a long time ago, and then picked it up again last year when I started a new job in Cornwall. I took it to work with me and knitted in the staff room, where everyone seemed to think I was mental. It made me realise that people’s attitude towards young (OK, young-ish) people knitting is much different in Cornwall from in Cardiff. Eventually, people got to know me and then broached the delicate subject of ‘you aren’t a grandma; why on earth are you knitting?’, then moved on to ‘so… how does it work exactly?’. Fascinating 🙂 everyone was amazed when I actually finished it – it was a bit of a never-ending project.

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Oh Noro. So light and airy, so drapey after your blocking. So bright and cheery. I’d make a whole outfit out of Noro if it didn’t make me look completely insane. Its own post will come soon! Notice how I’ve got a lot of scarves? They’re the perfect project. You can make them as simple or as complicated as you want; they don’t break the bank; they don’t take forever so they’re achievable, but they’re long enough that it’s exciting when you finish. And I wear a scarf every day in winter. Also, having read this though, lots of these scarves have mistakes in them… Maybe I should have been less honest about that.

Upstairs now! Hiding in my wardrobe are these:

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Secret stash. This is the main stash – I keep it hidden so I get a nice surprise when I drag the bags down to hunt through. I can’t remember much of what’s in there, which is the way I like it – they usually get pulled out when I need a new project and can’t think of what to do. Or when I know exactly what I want to do, and know I haven’t got the right yarn for it, but search fruitlessly anyway.

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That’s another hidden basket that lurks in a corner – it’s usually full of odds and ends, but right now there’s just a naked cushion pad and a ball of Stylecraft waiting to become the back of a cushion cover. All in good time, cushion pad.

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Ugh. My nemesis. This is the back of a cardigan that I started years ago. It is another ill-judged item, and incredibly boring. I’m not sure why I liked it, but I must have been keen enough to buy the pattern, which is around the house somewhere. It’s never going to be finished – it’s massive (even more so when the curly stocking stitch is uncurled), because it was started before I lost weight, and I hope it never fits me! I just can’t bring myself to unravel it because I can remember every tedious stitch in vivid detail.

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Last room! The spare bedroom doubles as where I keep my desk and mountains of files, and even here there’s no escape from The Yarn. This is my external hard drive, which I use at work all the time, and am prone to losing and damaging. Therefore, it has a cheery cotton case with a pocket for the cables. Obviously everyone I work with thinks I’m mental when they work out what it is and that I knitted it myself, but there are benefits to this: when I abandon it, plugged into a borrowed computer, everyone knows who to return it to! The case used to be a lot neater than this, but it’s taken a lot of wear – it still does the job perfectly though.

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Last item on the agenda: Owly. He (he doesn’t look like a he, does he? But he is) was another present for L, who puts it on the bed in the spare room when she has people to stay. Sometime he stays in there even after the guests have gone, and he’s currently hanging out on the desk with Badgie. The pattern for this bad boy is here, and I love that there’s a knitted and a crocheted version.

So that’s the tour… Looking over it, it seems extremely boring unless you’re someone who’s very interested in the contents of other knitters’ houses, or if you enjoy stockchecks of scarves. I can only apologise if you’ve noticed how messy my house is (just be grateful you aren’t here in person), and for the quality of the photos. My camera is currently defunct, so it’s photos from my phone for the time being. There’s one secret item that I didn’t include – it’s the cardigan, which is to be given exactly a week from now. It’ll be finished and photographed soon, and I’ll share it with you next week!