A Christmas Miracle!

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Finally, the hat…it lives! Why, you might ponder, has this seemingly easy hat taken me so long to complete? My list of excuses and distractions is long and rambling, but I would like (just for one moment) to focus on the miracle that you see before you.

Picture the scene: Small pile of essential equipment assembled, TV on, blanket over legs. It is then I chose to actually read the instructions… The “knit in the round” part had previously escaped me, and despite my brand spanking new KnitPros poised ready for use, alas they were not in amongst my small pile of essential equipment.  They were upstairs. Or on the moon. Same things as far as I was concerned parked on the sofa. So, to the first miracle. Cast on 40 on circular needles…hmm how about 60 cast on on 7mm straights? My slightly sub-standard maths has paid off – the hat fits!! Hurray! It’s a miracle!

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Here’s the picture of the required hat. I wouldn’t say my efforts resembled the photo exactly, but I manage to create something that wasn’t all together unwearable, a miracle in my knitting world. So here it is, a second miracle! Considering I had to ‘translate’ the ‘in the round’ instructions to straight needles anything was possible…

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So back to the original question – how has this hat taken me so long to make?

1. Studying for the first time in almost 15 years has rendered both my brain and eyeballs near useless by the evening. Exerting my rusty brain cogs plus an underlying fear that my brain cells have started their inevitable decline have meant that my evenings have been spent lying down in a dark room.

2. Christmas starts early if you have small children (the requests for Christmas decorations started the day after Halloween). It starts especially early if your kids are at primary school. Manning the school fair’s ‘splat the rat’ stall was a highlight – spending the best part of a day trying to protect my shins as a troop of 6 year olds with baseball bats tried to ‘splat’ a teddy ‘rat’ after a brief ascent down a tube. Add in a additional 5000 school fundraisers/trips out/wear you Christmas jumper to school day/carol concert and a nice lie down in a dark room is once again in order.

3. Faffing. Just general faffing. Faffing on Amazon, faffing about Christmas shopping. It’s just one big to-do list this time of year. Day time drinking and cramming in a load of mince pies is socially acceptable, at least, but all that faffing, drinking and eating does tend to chomp away at free time. Oh well, I shall focus on the new year soon and my new year’s resolutions!

KnitWit

Cracking The W.I.P

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Two projects are now gleaming in the “done pile”. Mittens and jumper done, oh so many still to go!

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First up. Bye bye ruby slippers. These have been malingering for over two years and re-started more times that I can remember. The fun left the building a long time ago and now it is time to pull the needles. Bye bye ruby slippers; hello yarn for fabulous red and white (with a sparkly red thread) snowflake mittens. Amusingly, the pattern I plan to use was from a pair of mittens that got pulled several years ago mainly because I kept having to restart them (the small issue of them being pulled too tight to get over my child-like hands). So maybe the ruby slipper will rise again!

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Second up. Hello first finished Christmas hats! Two cat hats for my nieces to make them look extra cute in the cold weather (ears and bow to follow). Time allowing I might make some matching mittens, but if I am honest it will probably be teamed up with a teddy or colouring book.

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Thirdly, I have finally cast on my Brioche scarf (you might remember that I played around with this technique about 6 months ago with face cloths). I think I have my head around it and progress is slow, but (fingers crossed) no frogging so far. I am liking the way that the purple seems to be light/dark striping up the stitches and the charcoal black is showing it off nicely. It is also ridiculously soft. Alpaca purple and blue face Lester black, combining to be so very snuggly it is a crime to put it next to a kitten (as the kitten would cry, broken hearted in jealousy).

Time to crack on!

LouBug

Another One For The Knitting Win

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Fresh from the victory of the wavy mittens, I have also managed to finish the last sleeve of my big red jumper. This was a bit of a slog (48 stitches to 125 rows in rib) but I decided to make it my only choice for TV knitting and I have powered through this week. I am now feeling particularly smug.

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I am particularly happy with the way the garter/picot trim has worked (indeed I liked it so much that I picked up the stitches at the bottom and did a matching base trim).

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I also like the extra wide neck opening, which looks really good with a lacy vest top on underneath.

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All in all a good win! In fact I liked it so much that I broke my “no yarn buying between Ally Pally and Christmas” rule (well, more of a guideline) to get another big ball of the yarn. My logic is that the shop I bought it from is basically a curtain/sheet shop with extras, so it might not renew its contract post-Christmas (everything seems to be constantly on sale). Plus it is a good jumper yarn! A mix of acrylic and wool (so easy to care for and nice and soft). This time I bought it in a tweedy green.

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I am tempted to have a leafy lace panel up the front and down the back to break up the rib (possibly the one I didn’t use on my green cardigan) . I may even go crazy and break into a bit of a Gansey cable action.

But first, I must keep on cracking the WIP.

LouBug

Nothing New Under The Knitting Sun

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So, this was to be my big blog about how I had finished my wonderful and fabulous, and of course totally unique, waving mittens. As you know, part of the knitting joy is that I have something that no-one else on the planet has (usually because I have worked it all out myself) and I have thus shown my genius and mighty skills.

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Sadly, I am an accidental ideas thief! While I was finishing up my epic magazine sort out (started in the summer to finally file the patterns from my hoarders worthy Magazine Mountain) I came across a very familiar looking mitten in my “gloves and mittens” file.

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The worst of it is, I think the designer (many years ago) used to go to my knit night and I do have a vague memory of her test knitting the colour-work part. This could (of course) be false memory syndrome, but I cannot deny that it is a foxy little pattern and we must have referenced the same pattern directory (although to be fair it is a classic colourwork pattern). I have used two colours (opposed to the three she has used) but I cannot deny that they are the same pattern. Pity I didn’t find it before I sweated and cursed my way through designing these!

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With baited breath I “fulled” them in a little bath. I was a little worried as I noticed that the dark blue transferred dye onto my fingers when I wound up the left overs, so I will admit that I did put a “colour catcher” sheet in the sink. The water did go a bit blue, but thank fully not enough to affect the light blue parts (and barely any on the sheet).

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Here is a close up of my mighty fine thumb gusset. Please ignore the subtle tension switch from main body to thumb, it should fade over time and I think it was just where I pulled a bit tight on the body and relaxed when I switched to the round of the thumb. There is also a bit of a learning curve to be climbed on how to control which colour pushes itself forward (not that noticeable in the photo, but there are patches where the light is pushed slightly forward and patches where the dark is). I shall hit the books on that, but I suspect it is down to which yarn was being held in which finger.

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Next time, I think I will check the folders first…

LouBug

Fashion And Textile Museum

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A couple of things struck me about this knitting exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London – how truly awful some knitted items really are and I’m glad the world invented Lycra®!

The displayed items at this “Knitwear, Chanel to Westwood” extravaganza were taken largely from the private collection of Mark and Cleo Butterfield and knitted items were grouped by era. Painstakingly knitted under garments from the early decades of the 20th century led onto the grey and depressing jumpers of the second world war era. It carried on through to the crazy giant mohair jumpers of the 1980s and the weird and wonderful creations of the 1990s.

Looking at the knitted pre- and post-war swimwear and imagining the inevitable wet wool droop, I had visions of my poor dad suffering the double indignity of having to wear a saggy wool hand-me-down girls’ swimsuit. Childhood seaside trips out in a girls’ woolly swimsuit – the late 1940s were clearly tough times. Never mind rationing, bombed houses and no TV – think of the outfits!

In fact, it was only the 1950s that seemed to produce anything that you wouldn’t gladly toss onto a bonfire. Beautiful ‘cocktail sweaters’ with big skirts looked exactly as you’d imagine – fitted, glamorous, sparkly and like you should only wear one if you’re poised drinking a cocktail, perhaps with James Bond. You can keep your giant jumpers from the 1980s, your scratchy re-hashed dreary jumpers from the 1940s and definitely the weird jumpers knitted from plastic bags from the 1990s. We want glamour! Cocktails!

Moving seamlessly on from ‘glamour’ to ‘giant, knitted, pink pom pom woolly hat’ – here is a sneak preview of my latest knit. Well I actually have two latest knits, both unfinished of course. I can firstly proudly present … Santa’s leg! Ta dah!

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Taken from a Let’s Knit pattern:

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Pathetic effort I know, but I will soldier on. It does, after all, have quite an obvious Christmassy deadline…

Next up, again pathetic effort, is my latest woolly hat. Bright colours of course, dark can be sooo draining on the face daaarhling!

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I’m attempting a pattern I received for free from the Ally Pally knitting show, that is basically knitting 2 rows, purling 2 rows (opposite shades):

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Fingers crossed I complete these two items before summer…

KnitWit

Waving On – The Knitted Mitten

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To increase the chances of finishing things I have been limiting my scope to two main projects, wavy mittens and big red jumper. This has actually helped to motivate me to knit on as both have large areas of knitting and by focussing on just them I have started to get some real traction on them.

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So first up on the progress report is my waving mittens. Made with incredibly soft alpaca yarn (foolishly with 4 ply) they are shaping up rather well. One box-set marathon later and I have now finished mitten number 1.

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Do not be fooled by their good looks, these suckers fought every inch. 60 stitches (increased to 90 on the thumb gusset) by a mind-boggling 90 rows and all in a six stitch pattern repeat. I have never been so grateful that I have the hand size of a child (seriously, I teach year 7 students with the same sized hands as me).

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Thankfully I have got better at carrying the yarn (which helped stop my nesting ball of yarn from tangling), so I did get quicker as I went on. I now have a finished one to admire and pet, a good motivator for finishing up. Many people talk of second sock/mitten syndrome (when you lose all will to knit the second in a pair), but I have always found the reverse to be true. The first one is always an epic struggle of motivation, errors, re-dos and problems, but (provided I took good quality notes) the second one is always quicker and easier to knit. I even find this when I am knitting old favourite patterns (like my candy cane ribbed socks) when all problems have long been dealt with. Perhaps it is the simple magic of turning string into clothes that still gets me every time; perhaps, I get so caught up in knitting that I “forget” that the knitting leads to products.

Either way, these are going to be some mighty toasty mittens!

LouBug

Knitting For Fun

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So many things it seems, in life, are a means to an end. Part of a bigger picture. An arduous and tedious path to get to where you want to go – the glorious finishing line! Most goals in life are worth this battle – the destination, rather than the journey. Knitting cannot be one of these things! This pursuit has to be exempt from this way, otherwise I shall be throwing my needles from the nearest roof top! If the journey and the destination are not equally as fun, then I’m just going to toss whatever knitted horror I have landed myself with and not glance back. This knitting lark is not for the greater good, or ‘character improving’. It is sacred and shall be preserved as purely fun, fun, fun! There are no rewards, promotions, exams or marks! With this revelation in mind, and having abandoned the lengthways scarf soul-sucker, I have been busy knitting things that have brought me great joy (and a few compliments thanks to the lumio green scarf).

First up is the Christmas pudding. Literally a pointless knitted item, but look at its great beauty!

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It can join all of my other pointless knits, which shall eventually make a Christmas pointless knits break-away unit.

Next up is the compliment gathering lumio green scarf, twin to the bright orange lumio scarf. In fact, they are identical except the colour. This is less pointless, as it has been keeping my neck rather warm, but was a joy to knit (which is a direct example of what I was withering on about above!).

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The knitted poppy (as shown in the first photo) was also great fun to knit, so ticks both the fun and reasonably pointless boxes. It will only be worn on my coat for a few days to commemorate allied losses in the First World War, then will be stored and probably forgotten about.

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Good luck with all of your random, but fun, projects. Be brutal and ditch all of the soul-sapping, boring or hard-slog WIPs. Do it!

KnitWit

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