#Christmas is Coming! #christmasknittings

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Well, the planning (and obsessing) has paid off and I am two pairs of monster mittens away from being finished on the Christmas knitting! Woot woot!

This must be the first year that I can say that in November, and it is making me giddy.  The chances of actually knitting the decorations I have wanted to make are looking like a realistic option. I can gleefully look forward to using my Christmas knit and crochet books – Mini Christmas Crochet (Twenty to Make) by  Val Pierce, Mini Christmas Knits (Twenty to Make) by Sue Stratford,  Felt Christmas Decorations (Twenty to Make) by Corinne Lapierre.  And all this before I hit my folder full of pull-out patterns from magazines! I can practically taste the mulled wine.

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I have been looking at these books thoughtfully for a while now and I especially like the idea of making a knitted wreath (cleverly using a pipe lagging foam tube as the insert) and adding to it each year.  And of course lots of bells and tinsel.

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Who knows, maybe I will even get to make the snowflake window hangs I seriously want in my life!  Such craziness is only a short hop away.  This is a lovely book 100 Snowflakes to Crochet: Make Your Own Snowdrift: To Give or For Keeps by Caitlin Sainio.

I especially like the use of charts, as many crochet books seem to rely on written notes, which I think is a big headache when trying to visualise what stitches connect to what on the row below.  Charts are especially useful as they are universal and as I learned to crochet from an American book it also saves me “translating” the stitches.

But enough about giving, let us now think about receiving!

So here is a good list to print out and place in strategic places around the house.

  1. Yarn.  Yes, we may already have a lot, but that is because we love it! Top tip, check out what we have and assume that if we have “loads” of a type (for example sock yarn) then it is because we love it.
  2. Books about knitting.  Amazon wish lists for books are great (don’t forget that there are knitting fiction books as well).
  3. Notions.  Stitch markers, row counters, tape measures and project bags.  Extra points if they are super cute!
  4. Note books (extra points if they have yarn or sheep on them).  Different knitters use them for different things, but they are useful.
  5. Needles.  Check out what type is used the most often (and what material) and then go posh.
  6. Hand cream.  Soft hands are lovely when using soft yarn!
  7. Storage.  Whether it is stacker tubs or ring binders, you will be surprised what can be tidied away and the plus side is that you won’t have to see as much stuff lurking in woolly piles around the house.
  8. Cute stickers, pencils, mugs and badges that link to knitting.  Personally I have about 6 knit related mugs and I am always on the lookout for more.
  9. Homemade or bought kits (yarn, needles, patterns and a bag), especially nice if you are Christmasing away from home and stress knitting might be medically required.
  10. Vouchers for yarn stores (a bit of an easy one, but useful if your knitter is saving up for a jumper’s worth of yarn).

Either that or you could try making something handmade (soap, cookies etc) as a knitter will always understand what your time and effort are worth.  But don’t forget the greatest gift you can give a knitter: Your undivided attention (an adulation) when you open your own knitted gift from them.  Seriously, we are really only in it for the glory….

LouBug

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Problems with Deadline Knitting

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Ok, so I might be nearly finished on the Christmas knits, but I have now started to drift off task.  I feel like the kid at the back of the classroom who is quietly doodling despite knowing that there will be a test at the end.

There is something about knitting to a deadline that sucks the joy out of the whole thing (which is reasons 1 to 1000 why I could never knit for a living).  A large part of this is that it removes the ability to knit to match your mood and flit between things on whim, and that is a big part of my evening project choosing routine.

Let’s face it, some evenings I have been known to knit one or two rows on five different projects trying to find one to settle on (but hey, every row counts!).

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In my defence, I have been working really hard on knitting for others.  And there is only so much knitting you can do for others before your own, neglected, projects start to call you (oh so softly, oh so pathetically) from the pile.  That scarf, that sock, that arm-less jumper, all wonderful projects and all pushed to the back for Operation Christmas.  And of course my heart mittens.

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My excuse for finishing off my own heart mittens ahead of the deadline knitting is that I needed the needles.  Please ignore the other sets I have that would do as well. It is my Knit-Pro Novas I want to use (as they are really good for tight mitten knitting) and in fairness I am concerned that in order to knit wind-proof mittens I will have to knit like iron (which – in theory- could endanger my bamboo needles).

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The yarn is the DK “Skein With No Name” I bought from the bargain bin in Mandy’s wool (in the West Country). It was a £1 each for 3 25g skeins and well worth the fibre gamble as it is a lovely bright blue.  I have no idea what it is but it feels like a coarse hand spun and should wear well for frosty morning break duties.

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I have double lengthen the cuff (so it can be turned over for extra draft prevention).  The colour-work is the left over alpaca from the gorgeous chain mittens (the hearts used a surprisingly small amount, watch this space for the green to creep into more mittens!) and I love the colour contrast it has produced.  Annoyingly, I botched the first finger decreases and had to re-do them but I figured that it will spend longer bugging me than it will take to fix.

So now they are done, time to stagger over the deadline finish line.

LouBug

Made Up Knitted Cowl

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Yes! My latest cowl is both “made up” (complete), and, well, made up! I am a very slack knitter, I didn’t write down how many stitches I cast on, or indeed how many rows I knitted. Very Poor!

What I do know is that the yarn was a bargain-bin-dipping delight (Marble chunky), and I knitted the full 200g with 6mm needles. The cast on was about 40 I think…don’t quote me on that though!

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This cowl seems to have the very fabric of recent history knitted into it. Row upon row nervously knitted as I waited for news on my house move. More rows added as I sat waiting to start my first ever Stitch ‘n Bitch group. Knit, knit, knit. Rows knitted as I made new friends, knitting in public in broad daylight. Knit, knit, knit. Weather turning from summer warmth to winter cool. Beautiful sunshine and late evenings to curtains drawn at 4pm and the heating on. Knit, knit, knit.

And here it is. Complete.

Despite its cheapo price and non-fancy heritage (100% acrylic, sorry wool fans!), it does sit very nicely around my (now freezing) neck. I’ve had several lovely compliments – possibly because of the expert display of knitting prowess, or possibly disbelief that I had enough staying power to actually finish this giant cowl…not really sure.

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Either way, it does actually hang really nicely and I’m sure it’ll have many outings this winter.

Oh, and one other thing. Dulwich Village Stitch ‘n Bitch has literally DOUBLED in size since last week. Yes, TWO recruits came on Friday – HURRAH!!!

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KnitWit

Stash Management #knittingstash

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Ok, I probably shouldn’t have done it, but I unpacked the stash to have a quick look…

I did go in with good intentions (stash diving for the last Christmas knits) but then got a little distracted and I have bagged up about 4 new projects.

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Stash exploration is never a good idea, especially when on a time budget, as it always results in a mass casting-on as ideas fly around my head.

These range from wonderful new plans, or simply remembering what I originally wanted to do when I bought it.  I also get to look in wonder at the range of yarn I own – ranging from eyelash fun-fur to Kidsilk-haze, that only proves that I do not have the ability to walk past a sale bin.

Then, of course, I unpacked the sock yarn…

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A short while ago I decided to reign in my sock stash when I realised that I had about 70 socks’ worth.  On average I can knock out of a pair of finished socks in a fortnight, so I worked out that it would take me just under 3 years to knit it all up.  And let us be honest, I am not currently finishing a pair a fortnight. Giant granny squares, jumpers, mittens and flowers keep pulling at my interest.  So I decided to adopt a “one in one out” approach to stash management.

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Worryingly, this has resulted in my sock yarn showing a growth spurt (just over 80 balls).  Yes, I do like buying it, but I genuinely thought I was maintaining a good “yarn in-yarn out” ratio.  I have also actively curbed the habit of buying sock yarn in pairs (not pairs of socks but two whole sock skeins at a time). It was a bit of a weakness for me, as I found it difficult to settle on just one colour.

Sadly I don’t seem to be any better at sock stash reduction, just better at squeezing more skeins into the zip-lock back (one has an impressive 16 balls squeezed into it).  This then has the problem of stash explosion (if the top comes undone) and the inevitable problems when rooting out the yarn at the bottom of the bag.

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I have always joked about laying down yarn for my future child-rearing (and budget restricted) years ahead, but I am rapidly reaching the point when the kid will be at university before I have even made a dent…

LouBug

To Market, To Market!

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In a bid to prevent a further ‘loon in corner of pub knitting’ incident again this Friday, I’ve decided to take some action.

I’ve managed to double the number of new recruits (from one to two) by cornering a friend of mine in the street. She doesn’t actually knit, but beggars can’t be choosers and all that. She does sew, which is definitely under the ‘craft’ umbrella and is fine with me.

Advert (above) to go in newsagent shop window tomorrow. The newsagent is cunningly opposite the Stitch ‘n Bitch pub/scene of the crime, so will hopefully attract a stampede of attention.

Wish me luck!

KnitWit

#StitchnBitch #DulwichVillage First Meet-Up!

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Yes, quite a lot of progress on the knitted cowl this afternoon…yes, that was largely because I was sitting ALONE in a pub knitting ALONE on a Friday afternoon…ALONE! Frenzied knitting, so that I didn’t look like a total weirdo sipping my Earl Grey in the corner…knitting.

It did remind me of that strange self-conscious feeling you get when you first step out and try and feed a teeny baby for the first time in public. Thinking everyone is looking, when in reality nobody really cares. This time round there was less chance of flashing a nipple at a random stranger, which was a bonus.

I did fear this would happen, due to the slightly last-minute and slightly poor efforts to advertise, but hey ho all was not lost. My trusted and loyal friend turned up after a while and all of a sudden I changed from a lone crazy knitter lady to a Stitch ‘n Bitch group!

Hilariously, we became mini celebs in the pub, chatting to the glass collector and a couple of personal trainers at the table opposite. Even in 2013, in London, we were a curiosity. My new fellow Stitch ‘n Bitcher, who claimed not to be able to knit, was knit, knit, knitting like a pro in no time at all and really enjoyed it. I started her off on some 6mm needles and some chunky, so as to see some progress fast and not get fed-up. No worries there though…another convert mwhaa haa haa!

The interesting thing was everyone we talked to was really enthusiastic about our woolly pursuit, from the ‘would love to learn’ to the ‘I love knitting, are you here next week?’. The enthusiasm was catching, so I’ve dismissed my earlier thought to give up and will be turning up bushy tailed next week. Am still toying with the dilemma as to whether a glass of wine before school pick-up is acceptable…any thoughts?

Crown & Greyhound, Dulwich Village, London Friday 1-3pm

KnitWit

I got 99 problems but a #StitchnBitch group ain’t one!

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Well, actually I had three (knitting) problems – 1. Wanting to go to a knit group 2. Being too lazy to go out after dark 3. Fear of nobody being there and knitting alone in a public space somewhere.

The solution? Create my own afternoon Stitch ‘n Bitch group of course!

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I managed to glean some advice from the Stitch ‘n Bitch knitter’s handbook, and LouBug, and have started my getting-some-knitters-so-don’t-look-weird-knitting-alone-in-pub campaign. So far I have three likely candidates, none of which can knit as far as I know – oh well!

So, if anyone has nothing better to do than knit on a Friday afternoon then please come and join us at the brand-new Dulwich Village Stitch ‘n Bitch group! Crown and Greyhound pub, 1-3pm.

KnitWit

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