Time to do the Fire Dance!

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She came, she knitted, she swore and frogged, she swore some more and then she knitted on until her eyes danced.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your viewing pleasure, I give you the now finished Fire Dancer Socks!

Some of you may have followed the saga of these socks (which were cast on shortly after we joined the blogsphere).

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First came the brown stripe of doom. A completely random dark stripe, occurring in the middle of the colour-way. This didn’t come as a massive surprise (as I could see it coming on the ball), but instead of the gentle fade from orange to brown that I hoped for it was a sharp, jarring and very solid jump from red/orange/egg yellow to brown. I managed to recover my wits enough to reposition the next stripe so it came on the heel flap and then the toes, but the one in the middle of the leg just wouldn’t fade from my view.

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So I did what any (in)sane person would do. I re-knit the top, cut the sock in half, and then tried to graft the new to the old.

Something like four damn hours of failing to get an (in pattern) invisible join later, I gave into my fate and frogged the bad and picked up and knitted from the new. As I am sure you can appreciate, my knitting spirit (a fickle beast at best) was drawn from these (now tainted with failure) socks to other projects.

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But I still wanted these socks! And I have been pecking at them on and off slowly getting each row done. I really like the pattern (taken from “favourite socks” by Interweave, the pattern is Ann Budd’s “mock wave cable socks”) which despite it’s name, doesn’t have any cables in. The pattern is quite logical and I found myself pattern free after the first few repeats.

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Obviously the whole thing is now astoundingly perfect now the brown stripe is gone! I really can’t count the number of times I had to remind myself that I plan to wear them for longer than it took to re-knit them. Here’s hoping that they will survive their first trip through the washing machine!

LouBug

“I would learn, but I don’t have the time to knit”

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This has to be the most annoying thing anyone can say to a knitter. I can actually feel the knitting community puffing up like a cat in a fight at the very idea of hearing such a sentence.

Some of this is about context. Most of us have heard this – usually seconds after a turned down offer to teach someone to knit. Offering to teach someone is by far the most fun way for me to diffuse the “want that one” fever when showing new knitty goodies off, as teaching generally takes less time than knitting a dozen scarves for people.

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But what is it about knitting that most people equate with both being a waste of time and, conversely, a large commitment of time?

Many commentators have speculated on this (often ranting about how “normal” people have no issue with spending time watching TV or playing on their phones). It is quite odd though that someone who grows an allotment (or even tomatoes in a growbag) is often treated differently to someone who makes clothes or knits. I’m not even sure that it is a gender thing (a lot of commentators get het up with the idea that “man” hobbies are often seen more worthy than “woman” hobbies), I think it is more about tv.

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No one questions spending hours on making nice food, as there are whole cable channels dedicated to celebrity chefs. Garden or home improvements are also given reasonably screen time. But other than Kirsty Allsop’s shows and the Great British Sewing Bee, there is little out there for fibre crafters, and it is easy to think that we are a small minority.

So I say, it is time to educate the world on our fantastic hobby! Let’s get everyone behind the world wide “knitting in public week” this year (8th-16th June) and let’s flex our woolly power and show the world that they may not be allowed to play with our stash but they are welcome to bring their own!

LouBug

Half Term Knitting!

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Year 11 have now submitted, Year 10 are mid module and I have hidden lower school marking in the boot of the car. Time to hit the yarn!

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First things first. I have been gradually collecting cool charms, but not doing much with them. As a girl really can’t have enough bling on her knitting, I plan to make some stitch markers and maybe knock out some new project bags (believe it or not, all my small and mid-size ones are currently either in use or holding yarn in the queue).

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Now some people might take that as a message from the universe that it is time to stop bagging projects and get knitting instead. There is something nice though about wanting to start a new project and then finding the pattern, yarn and needles already bagged up. It is like having posh knit kits lined up! Also (and let’s be honest) it helps ease the crowding in my stash box and also hides the amount of yarn I have actually got. A few of the bags have live projects that have been “resting” for a while and I will try to knock off a few rows on them to help them out of the projects pile and into my wardrobe.

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One priority knit for me this half term, is a special pair of socks for a teenage son of a friend. He has had a foot operation and is facing both exams and most of summer in plaster. I don’t often knit for people I don’t know that well, but he is a sweet kid that looks after his mum and I figure a random act of kindness should drive some good karma his way. I also figure that when the plaster comes off he will need some large, soft socks to protect his poor tootsies.

LouBug

Knitting and Saving the World

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I read a great article on the BBC earlier.

It is unusual to see the words ‘Brazilian prison inmate’ and ‘knitting’ in the same sentence, but here it is. Knitting is generally a force for good, unless of course you get in the way of the wrong end of a knitting needle. But this, this is taking things to a totally different level.

Raising self-esteem, providing an income to convicts, creating transferable skills from the inside to the outside and even creating harmony in one of the roughest prisons in Brasil. All with two needles and a bucket of yarn.

Check out the link if you get a chance – if only just to see huge, criminal hard-men sitting quietly knitting away like a bunch of prison outfit wearing grannies.

KnitWit

Where are my Priorities?!

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Okay, I’ll admit it…I’ve added about 3 rows to my scarf in about as many weeks. What kind of world are we living in where such woolly pursuits are put to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list? How have I let this happen?!

Several things have taken priority over knitting delights (and more importantly, writing about knitting delights) so far this past week.

My evenings have been cruelly snatched by the following:

1. Trying to make a child-trashed flat look presentable enough for someone to want to buy it. Tricky, as can only be done whilst the munchkins are asleep, and yet hard work all unravelled once they are awake. A futile pursuit.

One must work very quickly and with purpose so that the de-cluttering and painting is done faster than the munchkins can un-do it.

So far, walls have been freshly painted. So far, walls have been ruined by the paint coming off a blue toy as said toy was carefully smashed up against my freshly painted wall – up an entire flight of stairs. Grrrrr.

De-cluttering is more of a success. The plan is to re-home so much stuff that we can save on a removals van. I plan for all of our my husband’s possessions to be stacked in the wheely bin outside our house taken to charity.

2. The over-night stay of Mr LouBug. It was both wrong and unfeasible to start knitting whilst Mr LouBug was perched in my sitting room. Wrong, because I felt he deserved a break from the yarn-crazy world of living with my sister. Unfeasible, because I had a large glass of wine in my hand. Thanks for the bottle of vino, Mr LouBug.

3. School disco. Yes, you read correctly. I was at a school disco one evening. Not like a school reunion, but an actual infant school disco. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds.

The sensory overload I was subjected to with over a hundred hyped-up under 10s, thumping disco music and rancid wine can only be un-done with about a week in one of those isolation tanks. Perhaps with someone gently stroking my hand, administering soothing, milky drinks.

4. Dragon Boat Racing. No I haven’t made that one up. I did actually spend (part of) a day racing in a boat, a bit like a giant canoe, with a dragon head and tail.

Excellent fun, and excellent for raising charitable funds, but not very helpful on the old knitting-up-a-storm-and-blogging-about-it front.

The conclusion to all of this, is that even if there doesn’t appear to be much time, it is still worth just pottering along with one row here and there. They all add up in the end. Just ask LouBug. She’s managed to knit whole pairs of socks in her few spare lunch hour minutes.

KnitWit

Little bit of Lace

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Summer is a funny time for knitters. Christmas knits are starting to happen, but the will and want for summer knits is still burning bright. Those cool cottons, non-sweaty silks and light linens call more to me than the heat packing acrylic and animal fibres on my to-do list. I am a great believer in being a selfish knitter (not necessarily by not knitting for others but knitting only on my own terms) and so my eye has turned to my stash and my books.

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First up there – progress on the bath mitt front.

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I personally like the duck one, but concede that the picture is hard to see (any thoughts, oh great hive mind?). The heart one is fun, and the rectangle is a better shape but I’m not sure I like the 4ply as it is not as soft on the body. Next plan is a simpler zig-zag pattern and it really has to be this orange!

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Inspired by KnitWit’s lace scarf, and unearthing some lovely yarn while stash diving, I have decided to dust off my much browsed, yet to be used, copy of Victorian Lace Today.

I love that book. It is full of ridiculously beautiful lace projects (the ones that casually ask for 1700 yards of sewing thread fine yarn) with lovely photos and tempting instructions (chart led for those who are curious). I have owned this book for years, even started a few patterns, but never had the nudge to start.

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Sisterly competitiveness aside (Mr LouBug accused me a starting my lace scarf just to flex my knitting mojo at KnitWit), this was the nudge I needed.

It is made from some Kid Silk Haze, which has the distinction of being both the most expensive yarn beginner me ever bought and the most frogged. Seriously, frogging anything with mohair type hair should be a punishment only for the truly naughty. It was originally bought about seven years ago when I was trying to make a cardigan from a magazine and not really understanding how to substitute yarns.

The crucial difference between a cotton/wool based aran and a microfibre/cotton based DK was a lesson learnt the hard way (I tried to match the gauge and really didn’t understand why it mocked me from afar). Luckily I hesitated before buying the trim yarn, which was seven balls of Kid Silk Haze (which was actually the named yarn) and hedged my bets with buying only 3. The cardigan taught me that I do not like modular clothes (the back didn’t match the front and could have fit a hunchback elephant) and caused me to learn how to use circulars to knit flat (as the flexible cable means you can try it on as you go).

This then resulted in me both knitting and designing my first cardigan and leaving me with 3 balls of Kid Silk Haze. This yarn has quietly guilted me. Too nice to knit something plain, but any mistakes in lace with it are punished swiftly and with malice. After failing to knit a complex leaf pattern (which would only have been properly visible after blocking) I saved what I could and buried it deep in the stash.

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Until today. Since that wine soothing, chocolate healing frogging hell I have mastered many skills. For one I can read a chart without losing which line I am on! So here I go again, but this time with a much simpler, much more haze yarn friendly pattern (that leaf pattern would work better with a silk based yarn).

LouBug

Phew, I beat the mother to the finish

phew

I may have done the Race for Life this weekend, but I have also recently been chasing a Race for Birth. Knitting for newborns is always tricky on the timings. Ok, so you usually have at least 6 months’ notice, but the final deadline is vague at best. Delicate questions about the likely due date can seem a little weird (especially as you seem as nervous as the father when you hear about unexpected hospital checks).

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I have a good range of books I use for any clothes, booties or hats. Wacky Baby Knits: 20 Knitted Designs for the Fashion-Conscious Toddler is a good one for the more fun silly hats/boots.

Cute Knits for Baby Feet: 30 Simple Projects from Newborn to 4 Years (The Craft Library) is a good one (unsurprisingly) for booties.

Baby Knits For Beginners and Simple Knits for Cherished Babies are a great, simple, but beautiful range of the basic baby essentials.

Knitting for co-workers’ new sprogs is always a bit political (I take the view that the more I like you, the more time I will spend on you – shop bought takes no making time afterall), and it is always a minefield of choices.

Booties or hats? Blanket or teddy? Do you gender it (pink or blue)? Do you go for pastels or bold colours? Do you risk a theme (Addams Family stripes? Animals?) or go plain? Do you knock out a solid safe pattern or try to make something unique? Decisions, decisions.

At this stage there are two schools of thought: Ask the soon-to-be parents and go in, questionnaire style. Or make what you want, figuring that most things can be used.

It might surprise you, especially after my Christmas knit advice, that I tend to wing it on birthing presents. Experience has taught me that soon-to-be parents don’t really know what they want. They will try to please you by guessing what you want them to ask for. Very sweet of them, but not very helpful!

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Time (and loveliness) allowing, I am a fan of the cot blanket. Clothes are very dependent on size (and you have no idea if the sprog is going to be tiny or huge). Newborns grow so fast you can practically see it happening, making clothes a short-lived present.

Blankets are reasonably future-proof and can start as a cot blanket and end as a playmat. I tend to make things that are modular so if time escapes me I can always quit early and still have something ready to handed in.

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So here is my latest effort (shhhh if you know them).

I have managed to beat the birth (so no frantic sewing up – yay!). I have chosen an 80s colour-scheme, as the parents are not really the pastel and bunnies type of people. On a side note, it was a bit of a win for me as the squares are mostly made up from those odd 15g balls of freebie magazine yarn, which both allowed me to stash dive for this project and allowed me to use a wide colour pallet (I didn’t know the gender when I started).

Keen eyes might spot that it is basically the drop shadow blanket, but only using black as the edge colour.

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So there is now nothing to do but wrap it, write up a care label and wait to hear the happy news!

LouBug

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