I learned to knit as a child. My mother taught me. I knitted through my teenage years and into university. Then, I put my needles down. I’m not sure why: maybe it was my job with its long hours, shift pattern and UK-wide travelling. When I next picked up my needles, much had changed: modern circulars; interchangeables; independent local yarn shops; YouTube tutorials; and Ravelry! Hats, scarfs and mitts flew off my new single-pointed needles but I lacked the skills or knowledge to progress further.
So, on the day of returning from a family holiday touring round northern Portugal, I dropped my bags and headed out the door to travel up to Stirling for a one-day Finishing Techniques course run by Carol Meldrum at McArees. Saturday 10th August 2013 was one of those pivotal days that come along in life occasionally. I learned to pick up stitches with precision accuracy, to sew up seams with seemingly invisible yarn, and to create flawless buttonholes! More importantly, Carol’s knowledge, enthusiasm and endless patience were inspiring. Knitting which previously had been a casual aquaintence, within the space of a day became a very close friend! Carol encouraged us to take notes during the course. I hadn’t brought a proper notebook so on the train back to Edinburgh that evening, I started thinking about what sort of notebook I wanted: A5, hard cover, square paper, and an elastic band to close the book. A pocket of some sort would be a bonus! After trawling the Internet, I found it: the Habana Graph Notebook A5 from Quo Vadis.
And so it started. First page was copied notes from Carol’s class. Second page was a stuck-in photocopy of a sleeveless pullover pattern from one of my knitting books. Then I thought, why not add details of yarns and needles used, and the project start date. It snowballed: yarn samples, pattern amendments, and finally a photo of the finished article were added. Washi tape started to play a big part in my life! That Museum of Modern Art tape purchased on a previous trip to New York suddenly found a use. Other multicoloured, patterned or pastel Washi tapes followed.
The notebook had surreptitiously slipped from a few course notes and patterns, to a chronological documentation of my knitting projects and progress. When the first notebook was full, a second and now nearly a third have been filled.
And, always in the back pocket I keep my most treasured class and workshop notes: Carol’s Finishing Techniques; Clare Devine’s Kitchener Stitch picture tutorial; and Tom of Holland’s notes on darning.
I have quite a few hand knitted jumpers in my wardrobe. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know which one to wear when I’m planning a walk with my dog, Badger. However, until today, poor Badger only had one black fleece from which to choose! After numerous comments from friends and family about the paucity of knitwear in Badger’s wardrobe, I decided to create for him the ultimate Fair Isle sweater!
After researching dog patterns, I choose the beautiful Fetching Fair Isle pattern from “Dogs in Knits” by Judith L Swartz. After swatching the Jamieson & Smith 2-ply jumper weight Shetland wool, I increased my needle size to 3mm and reduced the number of colours in the pattern from eight to six.
The coat knit up beautifully, though the distraction of other projects delayed its progress, taking me three months to complete the main body. Sewing in all the wool ends then took almost a whole weekend! The steeked leg holes were relatively easy to do, having steeked a few cardigans. Finally, the coat was washed and blocked.
I’m delighted with the result, and as the pictures show, so is Badger! Just need a cold day to take him for a walk and an “in-action photo session”!
For my birthday last year, I received the book, “30 Slippers to Knit and Felt” by Arne & Carlos. The patterns looked wonderful though I’d previously never tried to felt anything I’d knitted! I decided to start with knitting a simple pair for evening use to match my “cardi gown”, my oversized cardigan I’d knitted in New Lanark Aran that I use as a dressing gown.
I bought the Aran yarn in Blue Lovage and Lovage from Kathy’s Knits in Edinburgh and started with a tension swatch. Then, using 6.5mm double-pointed needles, I cast on the first slipper. The easily-followed pattern was quick to knit up, and within a few days I’d produced a pair! They seemed rather large, but after washing at 40degrees they looked amazing. As I still found them to be a little loose, I washed them again at 60degrees. This produced a perfect fit!
As I was so enjoying wearing my evening slippers, I decided to knit a second “daytime” pair! Again, I used New Lanark Aran yarn, this time in Como and Verdi. I also decided to knit them using the magic loop technique. I actually found it easier and quicker using magic loop, but this is just my preference. The second pair seemed to shrink slightly more than the first, but by blocking them they are a great fit now; perhaps I knit more tightly using magic loop than DPNs?!
During the wonderful Indieburgh Yarn Crawl in Edinburgh this June, I attended a class to learn to knit using Magic Loop. The class, taught by the talented Clare Devine, was so fantastic that I soon picked up the technique.
The next step was to knit a sock! Using Clare’s beautifully illustrated pattern book, “Sock Anatomy”, I started my first proper sock. The Flexor pattern was quick and very easy to follow: a pair of hiking socks flew off my needles followed by a nearly completed “Mind The Gap” pair.
Having thought that I would never be a sock knitter, I’m now a bit of an addict and my yarn stash seems to have expanded surreptitiously with a variety of sock yarns awaiting their turn!
Clare’s Website – Yarn and Pointy Sticks
Mind The Gap sock yarn Website – Trailing Clouds
I have finished my Navia jumper! The beautiful Faroese wool that can be purchased from The Island Wool Company is wonderful: soft, warm and easy to knit. I used a pattern by Malan Steinholm published in Navia Book No. 17. The sleeves needed adapting slightly to shorten them, and the length of the body also required altering. I made a few modifications to the zigzag pattern too, to ensure it “matched up” on the sleeves. I just need to wait for the weather to cool to wear, which probably won’t be long, knowing our Scottish summers!