Monthly Archives: February 2013

Frost flowers

The most stunning frost grew on our windows overnight.

Frost patterns

Frost patterns in rising sun

Having been reading Barbara Walker’s ‘A Treasury of Knitting Patterns’ in bed for a while, I’m getting to know the names of lots of lace patterns – so frost on the windows naturally led to knitting a Frost Flowers lace swatch.

Frost Flowers lace knitting pattern

I really like this pattern, though I don’t agree with Barbara Walker when she says it is quickly learned! I had to concentrate pretty hard. The lace is worked from both sides, so there’s no relaxing on wrong side rows.  I think it would be lovely as an all-over pattern on a top.   Its name fits pretty well too.

I also learned more about correcting mistakes in lace knitting:

Frost flkeowers knitted lace mista

Sometimes, being able to sort out problems makes me feel like a more accomplished knitter than when I just get everything right first time. Not long ago I would have unravelled the whole piece; now I’m confident enough to drop down just a section of stitches and knit back up the offending area. Of course in an ideal world there’d be no mistakes to fix, but in the real world I live in it’s good to be able to get out of trouble when it happens.

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Corrugated ribbing

It’s my new favourite thing – corrugated ribbing.

I’ve been meaning to try it for ages. The knit and purl stitches are each worked in a different colour, giving a lovely vertical stripe to the fabric.

On my first attempt I kept the yarn for the purl stitches in front and the yarn for the knit stitches in the back. Turns out that’s how you do double knitting (the kind where you end up with a two-layered fabric), not corrugated ribbing!

The correct way, I discovered, is:

  • Cast on required number of stitches, using either colour or alternating between colours A and B (my ‘go-to’ cast on is a cable cast on)
  • Using colour A, knit 1 (or 2, or 3, depending on whether you want a 1×1, 2×2 or 3×3 rib)
  • Using colour B, purl 1 (or 2 or 3 as above)
  • Repeat as required

And here’s the important bit: Keep both yarns at the back when they are not in use.

Corrugated ribbing

The ribbing is lovely and neat, quite firm and not particularly elastic.

The wrong side is pretty too, if you like the wrong side of stranded knitting, which I do.

Corrugated ribbing wrong side

Knitting for love

There’s no getting away from it; knitting takes time. Lots of it.

Non-knitters think we’re crazy to spend months patiently (most of the time) knitting to end up with a jumper we could have bought in five minutes. What they don’t get is the pleasure that’s been taken in every stitch; the thoughts we’ve had while knitting that are now forever in the knitting; and the love that’s gone into the knitting for whoever we’re knitting for.

That’s what makes this picture special.

Knitted toys on pillow

Little littl’uns current pillow menagerie. Each of those was made for her – the left hand bear by her great aunt; the next by her great-great aunt; the penguin is in a ‘sleeping bag’ that used to be one of the first pair of socks I ever knit and her beloved Mousey is in his brand-new Granny-made trousers.

I think that means she’s one very loved girl.

There may have been crochet

We’ve had a mid-term break here; four days off school frustratingly arranged either side of a weekend. We went to stay with Granny and Granddad – 18 hours driving there and back. It’s a good job they’re worth the trip.

I did pack knitting of course. Two projects, just in case. Don’t judge me for this, but I didn’t do any. I may have picked up a few dropped stitches on the littl’uns’ knitting (their Granny had bought them some funky multi-coloured yarn) but I don’t think that counts. Granny and Little littl’un made a pair of trousers for her Mousey (stuffed, not real) but she has taken them to school for ‘news’ so I can’t even show you them.

I haven’t been entirely abstaining from yarn; there has been a small amount of crochet. I bought myself Erika Knight’s Crochet Workshop for Christmas with the intention of teaching myself to crochet this year. I know I have been able to crochet in the past; there was a memorable 70s theme student party for which a friend and I made granny squares (I’m not sure what purpose they were intended to serve; they may have been purely decorative). I think my friend taught me how to make them but I haven’t picked up a hook since.

I know I made Granny squares; here is the evidence

I know I made Granny squares; here is the evidence. The icky colour choices were for the purposes of looking more authentically seventies.

I have a couple of crochet garments and I regularly covet projects made by the talented Lucy at Attic 24, so in my mind that is perfect justification for (re-)learning to crochet myself. Crochet workshop says that it is:

the perfect book for the beginner. Under Erika Knight’s guidance even those who have never picked up a crochet hook before will soon be making gorgeous projects and all the while learning new techniques and adding to their skills. Each of the 20 projects in the book will teach you a new stitch, technique or trick, and will build on and consolidate crochet techniques already learnt in the preceding projects, until you have mastered a wide repertoire of skills and completed an enviable collection of gorgeous crocheted items.

Sounds good to me.

I have been a very diligent student and started at the beginning of the book. I’ve practiced the basic stitches and things like working in-the-round and into-spaces. There are twenty projects in the book and I can see myself trying most of them (one exception being the dog/cat bed; my dog is rather large and I’m not sure he’d be the most grateful recipient). There’s also an asymmetric cardigan which isn’t the kind of thing I’d normally wear, but I do like the flower motifs it’s constructed from and I have made a few of them. They’re mildly addictive.

Crochet flowers

Erika Knight’s Crochet Workshop and flower motifs crocheted from it.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them. Maybe a scarf …. maybe a table runner …

Any suggestions?

Why I am not knitting

There are many reasons why I am not knitting.

1. I have quilts on the brain

2. Littl’uns require feeding or clothing or playing with or taking to swimming/running/choir/piano

3. I saw crochet hearts on Craftgawker

4. It is cold outside. I am a tight arse environmentally aware and don’t have the heating on so my fingers are cold too. Cold fingers and knitting do not mix.

I could convince myself that they are the only reasons I am not knitting, but I would be lying. The real reason is I am a fool.

I found a reason to go to town. I went to a shop which sells yarn. I bought the yarn to finish the snaw-day cowl. I brought the yarn home. I lovingly caressed the yarn. (Everybody does that, right?) I compared the yarn to the cowl.

Not even close.

Not even close.

No. It’s not the same colour. We’re not even talking dye-lots here. The cowl is CREAM, the yarn is WHITE. Doh.

Order is everywhere

As I’ve been thinking about making the girls scrap quilts I’ve been looking for inspiration in other people’s quilting on Pinterest and other places around the internet. Now I see order – regular arrangements of shapes and colour – everywhere I look. I know the universe tends towards chaos, but nature (and humans) seems to stick two fingers up at the universe and impose order on everything.

Order in nature

Clockwise from top L: Peacock feathers; Small Tortoiseshell; Houses in Burano, Italy; Smoking bloaters, Stonehaven, Scotland

Lots of the quilts I’ve been ogling use very simple shapes – squares, rectangles and half-square triangles. These same shapes are found in design for all manner of objects, from buildings to brollies.

Quilt shapes in design

Clockwise from top L: Squares in paper woven by little littl’un; Rectangles in building in Glen Tanar estate, Scotland; Half-square triangles in mosaic, Verona, Italy; Half-square triangles in my umbrella

Given my limited quilting experience, I think simple shapes are definitely the way to go. My past quiltmaking is limited to a cot quilt I made for Big littl’un’s first birthday. The fabrics were all naturally dyed (not by me I might add) and they’ve faded considerably. (The blocks top right have faded to a particularly dirty looking shade, please pretend you didn’t notice.)

Blue, pink and purple cot quilt

Quilt made for Big littl’un’s first birthday

I arranged the blocks on that quilt by trial and error, laying them out on the floor until I was happy with the layout. This time I’m embracing technology and have been using Adobe Illustrator to mock-up some ideas for block placement. It’s been a doddle, I’ve had a great time playing around with different arrangements of pattern. Illustrator is brilliant for quickly manipulating size and shape of blocks, rotating and reflecting objects – so much quicker than sketching it out on graph paper.

Tonight the girls get to choose which layout they like, and then the fun bit starts – cutting the fabric. Now where did I put that rotary cutter?