Tag Archives: knitting

All my unfinished knitting, exposed

New Year’s resolution! Actually start blogging again! Let’s just dust off this thing and start over. Easy. Hello 2016! This particular resolution also coincides with my other resolution of not knitting in such a half-arsed unbloggable manner, which is quite convenient don’t you think?

When it comes to keeping a resolution, nothing motivates quite like shame. So I hereby expose my aforementioned half-arsed knitting to the public eye in the hopes that I may actually do something about it.

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What is this: Too much ribbing to think about. I have turned the Victory Twinset Top from A Stitch In Time into a V-neck because V-necks are 100% sexier.

When did you start it: September 2015

So why isn’t it finished then: Hey now! I think this has gone pretty well considering it’s nothing but 2×2 ribbing in 4-ply! DID I MENTION THE RIBBING?

Likelihood of finishing it in 2016: Only one sleeve and the cuffs/collar to go, so I like those odds.

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What is this: It’s the Sweater of Broad Shoulders from Midwestern Knits, in an unblocked lumpy mess

When did you start it: August 2015

So why isn’t it finished then: 90% of my knitting gets done in transit and this cardigan is now unwieldy as hell. Our freakishly warm winter has provided no immediate motivation

Likelihood of finishing it in 2016: High. Am now making decent progress on the sleeves thanks to numerous Twilight Zone marathons. TWIST: This project was actually a war veteran in a coma the whole time.

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What is this: Bray, in Rowan Purelife

When did you start it: August 2014…

So why isn’t it finished then: Have you seen the price of purelife?? Plus I still haven’t decided whether I want the back to be the same as the front which is a totally legit hold point.

Likelihood of finishing it in 2016: Well I might want to buy property at some point this year too so not great.

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What is this: Me slapping random monotone patterns onto a basic raglan jumper pattern after seeing a similar Topman jumper I liked.

When did you start it: September 2014

So why isn’t it finished then: Low on wool, increasingly dreading repeating every single pattern on the sleeves.

Likelihood of finishing it in 2016: I didn’t realise this thing was so photogenic until this post! Maybe this will inspire me to get it done for winter ’16.

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What is this: That unbelievably small gauge Blouse from A Stitch in Time.

When did you start it: April 2013

So why isn’t it finished then: I ran out of laceweight and hope.

Likelihood of finishing it in 2016: Nah come on that’s crazy talk.

 

Ellen, have you been appropriately filled with shame: Yes

 

 

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Knitting as a subculture

Karie Westermann fills her blog with the sort of thoughtful writing that is rarely seen on knitting blogs, and her most recent post has given me more than usual to chew on. Enough to actually bring my own blog out of hibernation and write my own thoughts in response.
I’d recommend reading the original post in full, because it’s good, but in short: she expresses concern that the indie craft world is becoming a commercialised, ‘aspirational’ and therefore exclusionary lifestyle; a precisely marketed consumer product masquerading as values; a shabby-chic wasteland devoid of diversity and creativity. (These are my words, not hers!)
Well, it’s not an unreasonable concern, especially for someone like Karie, who makes a living from that world. I don’t, by the way. I just do things for attention.
Personally I’m inclined to see knitting as a subculture, and subcultures always tend towards monetisation and caricature with each successive wave of adopters. That sounds terribly cynical of me doesn’t it? Bear with me, I get worse.
Meta-analysis of subcultures is a tricky thing to pin down, but if we limit it to modern aesthetic movements, then very roughly speaking they rise and fall in similar ways to fashion trends, only over a slightly longer period of time. Mea culpa, I cannot remember where I read this, but it lodged in my brain nonetheless.
There are 4 waves of a ‘successful’ subculture:
1. Innovators. A loosely connected group of people start doing something original and new. They are underground, indie, and explicitly removing themselves from popular culture as they see it. They may not even see themselves as starting a subculture.
2. Establishment. People are attracted by the ideas of the first wave, take the ball and really run with it. They get creative within the original framework, build opportunities and gain power in numbers. A style and look, and even values, become associated with the subculture, and it starts to attract public attention.
3. Sell-outs. The next wave of adopters are attracted to the public perception i.e. the look of the subculture. They are sufficiently disconnected from the first wave to be a ripe marketing opportunity. With increasing publicity comes increasing monetisation, and why not? The larger a subculture the harder it becomes for an individual to get noticed, but larger companies can still profit.
4. Assimilation. The subculture becomes large enough to count as popular culture. Assimilation is not a given; plenty of subcultures just fade away. Either way, it’s no longer a place for individualists, who splinter off and begin another subculture.

So we’ve had the scrappy revolutionaries of Stitch ‘n’ Bitch and Knitty et al. Ravelry has grown to over 3 million members and spawned many self-made successes. Does that mean we’re past the age of creativity for indie knitting and into the third wave? Will the scene collapse under its own weight? Are we succumbing to entropy?
If this bothers you then congratulations, you’re probably part of the knitting subculture.
I don’t want to be a harbinger of doom, but I am trying to get to a point. If this post has emotional weight for you, then I do think it’s worth putting consideration into what you bring to this subculture. Even if you think of yourself as tiny, just someone lurking on Ravelry and buying two patterns a year, you are still determining what sells, and who gets to build their modest little hobbies into a business. You don’t think you’re noticed? Just read Bristol Ivy’s Ravelry trend breakdowns. You are noticed.
In turn, you have a role in who else gets noticed, whose blogs get popular enough to attract sponsors and build sales. And this is definitely where the privilege Karie discusses starts to rear its head.

You live in a capitalist society which has determined some demographics to be more profitable and superior to others. Are you blindly reinforcing that? Now that’s an idea that gets some people upset.
“Jesus, I’m just trying to have a hobby here! What is this! Now I have to feel bad because I’m not retweeting enough LGBT knitters? Because my Pinterest boards aren’t ethnically diverse??”
Well maybe you should feel bad! I don’t know! But you are getting the subculture you are responding to.
Maybe in the coming years the indie knitting scene won’t be sustainable. Maybe it will fracture and new non-conformists will go off in unexpected ways and we will have to start all over again. And maybe I’m wrong, because I’m not a fortune-teller. But it is a culture of sorts, and culture is only the sum of individuals like you.
Where do you think we’re going? What changes do you want to see & do you think you can be part of those changes?

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Bristol Wool Fair

The very first Bristol Wool Fair was last weekend on the Clifton Downs. Finally, a wool fair on my doorstep! It’s so much more agreeable to just wander up late afternoon, no big deal, just checkin out some wool. The Bristol Wool Fair (BWF?) is much more open air than any other I’ve to so far. The weather was perfect too, so it was kind of like a big picnic, plus wool, plus farm animals.

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Above are some show sheep being sheared in a demonstration. I have never seen such chilled out sheep before. I was convinced they were models until I got up close. All previous sheep I have encountered have been fussy little cranks that want attention the moment you stop giving them any. Clearly that guy is some kind of sheep whisperer.

There were also alpacas! Amiably milling about going “wehhhh!” now and then. Bless their spongy heads.

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The surrounding marqees were full of stalls demonstrating just about everything you can do with animal fibre; knit and crocheted garmets, yarn, spinning, weaving, felting, hats, rugs, needlepoint, tapestries, I’ve definitely forgotten at least 3 more.It was a well balanced spread. In a horrifying shock twist I didn’t buy anything, but I did think very hard about walking past these pretty yarn bowls.

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There was also this century old sock-making machine being demonstrated.

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Turn the crank, a sock comes out below! According to the original manual, which was nearby on the stall, even those febrile lady knitters can do it. Incidentally Kate Davies has recently written a comprehensive post about the history of socks, and I’m inclined to guess this particular machine came in when no-one was very excited about mass production anymore, hence the manual’s tone of “cute little hobby to keep the lady-brains occupied”.

wool2There were some crochet flower workshops, the results of which all got painstakingly stuck to this giant sheep! I believe said sheep is now in the window of Paper Village, blinding the eyes of anyone walking past.

Before I left there was a sheepdog demonstration. With ducks instead of sheep! Probably the highlight of the fair if I’m honest! Believe me, I tried to get a good picture I really did, but this dog was mental, like literally every border collie ever.wool1

 

I think this was a pretty good start for a wool fair, so here’s hoping it comes back next year bigger, better and with more cute animals.

www.bristolwoolfair.co.uk

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Some rejected knitting ideas

A beanie hat that looks like spaghetti and meatballs.
Reason for rejection: No designing on an empty stomach.

A jumper in multiple shades of blue, which represents the human genome somehow.
Reason for rejection: Human genome too vast, complex, contains multitudes etc.

A reproduction of a jersey dress worn by Christina Hendricks in Mad Men.
Reason for rejection: Too much effort for something that won’t actually make me look like Christina Hendricks.

Having accidentally worked hair into knitting before, how would it work as sock heel reinforcement?
Reason for rejection: Idea shelved until risk of voodoo curses has been thoroughly evaluated.

Something that would get attention on Ravelry, like…a giant wang wearing a moustache.
Reason for rejection: I could never live with myself if it actually worked.

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An abrupt change of plans

There are several bits and bobs to report on the knitting front, my fellow knitters.
Firstly, I have a guest post over at Let’s Knit! It’s about tension squares, a worthy subject. They’ve also put lovely flattering words about my blog in their actual magazine, which I’m pretty chuffed about!

Also, a few weeks ago Susan Crawford put out a call for sample knitters for her next vintage knitting project. Naturally I was all over that like a kitten on a laser pointer. So as of now I’m thoroughly stuck into recreating a piece of knitwear from the Shetland Isles museum. It’s a lot of fun but unfortunately there will be no advance sneak peeks of this one! The blog will have to go a bit quiet whilst I go hogwild with sample knitting.

Perhaps of more interest: My Tyrolean Cardigan pattern, originally featured in The Knitter, is now up on sale on Ravelry for your convenience and knitting pleasure. It’s a good Autumn cardigan, so if you start making it now, you’ll be done in time!

(C) The Knitter

(C) The Knitter

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Pattern: Pipsqueak Shawl

My first shawl pattern! Another little milestone, and another step in my ongoing mission to put fair isle on everything.

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I’m so pleased with how cute this came out! This is a bit smaller than a standard shawl, more of a shawlette, and is great as a wrap, or folded as a scarf. As of now, it’s a bit too hot (tropical almost??) in the UK for wearing such a thing, but I figure if you cast on now it’ll be ready just in time for the first Autumn breezes to hit.

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As always, my patterns are available for sale on Ravelry, and you can buy Pipsqueak by hitting this button right here:

Pattern Details:

Dimensions:
The finished shawl is intended to be approximately 160 cm wide and 30 cm deep at its deepest point.

Tools:
3.0 mm (US size 2)circular 100cm
3.25 mm (US size 3)circular 100cm

Also required – tapestry needle

Gauge:
Matching gauge is not essential but recommended if you want to achieve the stated dimensions.
Garter stitch is 5sts/13rws per inch on smaller needles
One repeat of Chart B is 7.5cm/ 3” wide and 5cm/ 2” high on larger needles

Yarn Requirements:
4-ply wool or wool mix yarn in the following quantities :
Yarn A (Red) – 684 m/750 yds
Yarn B (White) – 184m/ 200 yds
Yarn C (Green) – 12m /25 yds
Yarn D (Brown) – 1m /1 yd

Sample uses Jamieson & Smith 2-ply jumper weight (114 m/125 yd per 25g ball)

 

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Road trip!

I have had a lovely holiday, thank you very much. We saw sights! We ate nearly a whole family-sized sack of haribo sweets! I got stranded on a zip-line over a quarry, which was possibly the highlight of the week.

My Hetty cardigan is looking much more like clothing now. I got as far as one sleeve and then decided I wanted it to be a full-length sleeve rather than the pattern’s shorter sleeves. I took diligent pictures each day of the trip and am not letting my recently accquired gif skills go to waste:

HettyprogressYou’ll notice I made some pretty spectacular progress after the first day, when we drove straight to Scotland. We went to Edinburgh Zoo (penguin parade!!!) and ate all the Scottish food.

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We went to Newcastle and had a good drive around the whole area, including a slightly terrifying late night drive up to Kielder Waters and the observatory. It’s a fantastic ‘dark skies’ area. At one point we drove past an owl, just casually sitting on the side of the road, which made the whole trip worth it alone.

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For some reason we thought it would be a good idea to drive to Bangor the morning after that! In a historic slate mine in the area, there exists the longest zip-line in the country. It’s about a mile long – you get strapped into a very large harness and trussed up superman style before coming down at 60mph from the peak of this hill…

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right over the lake, and to a platform some distance away. You might be able to see the zip-line in this one, although you can’t in the previous pic.

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It was absolutely flippin glorious, only muggins here got hit by a crosswind halfway down and stopped about 10m short of the platform before sloooowly sliding all the way out to the edge of the lake. Naturally the instructors had procedures for this kind of thing and soon a guy on a rope was hauling himself out to rescue me. The really fun part was that he was in a sitting position and every time the ground team gave another pull on the rescue rope I went facefirst into his thighs, which is a hell of way to introduce yourself to someone. My only regret is not cementing the awkwardness of the situation by calling him a sight for sore thighs.

After that we stopped by Chester and headed off to our final destination of Alton Towers. Not much point showing ride pictures here, as they’re all the same: T looks mildly pleased and I look like I’ve just been slapped awake.

But the main thing is I ended up with this!

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Oh and here’s a final pic for any Stewart Lee fans in the house…

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