What I Talk About When I Talk About Knitting

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Guest blog post on the Let’s Knit website! Yippee! Let’s Knit Blog

I like to knit, as does my sister, LouBug. I also like to run. LouBug does not. In fact, knitting is probably the only part of our lives that overlap. There’s a great book I read recently by Haruki Murakami – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. A whole book about why he loves running, what he thinks about while he is running and how running is integral to his well-being. I guess this is the point of our blog, LouBug and KnitWit. We write about what we’re thinking while we’re knitting (and about the amazing things we knit, of course!).

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LouBug‘s shrug pattern 

We started the blog a couple of years ago in very different circumstances. At the time, I was buried under a couple of small children and LouBug was preoccupied with the workload from a very stressful teaching job. Having a creative outlet, something to show for our day and something separate from our drudge and daily lives was really important for us. Fast forward a couple of years and the doom clouds have now lifted – now we just knit and blog for fun!

LouBug and I are like chalk and cheese, Laurel and Hardy. I studied science; she studied art. I like gritty dramas; she likes science fiction. I like running; she likes… erm, not running. You get the picture. What we do have in common is the love of having something to show for our time. We sisters are busy bees; we like order and plans. We do share some genes after all. LouBug’s love of knitting started way before mine, however, as her skill and mountain of knitted produce duly shows.

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LouBug’s pillow pattern

In the spirit of order and lists, here are my top five reasons why I love knitting:

1. Nobody is watching. A botched stitch or two is not going to get my pay docked. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. There’s not much in life that you can truly say that about.

2. One row or 100 rows, it doesn’t matter! Only got 15 minutes? Who cares, all of these rows add up in the end. As if by magic, something wonderful appears.

3. People think I’m clever and artistic, even though I really am NOT! I hated art at school and have a lower-than-average artistic ability. And yet, here I am, adorned with beautiful knitted creations.

4. It gives me an excuse to write. I knit a bit, then write a lot. Oh, how I love to broadcast my thoughts and opinions. Knitting is my vehicle. It could well have been something else. Now, of course, I’m addicted to the knit. Save yourselves, there’s no hope for me now!

5. Hmm, number 5… erm… well, I get to watch people who really love knitting and have spent a lifetime perfecting their skill. It’s like a secret world that I’ve just about scraped into. And it’s quite fascinating…
If you’ve got this far, then well done. As a reward, you can have some images of knitting. The good, the bad and the ugly (namely the accidental “knitted bib”).

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Out of all the things I’ve knitted in my knitting life, scarves are by far my favourite. I feel a list brewing…

1. They are easy and portable. Or perhaps not-so-easy and portable. Either way they can be transported in my bag to random events and worked on.

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2. They are a cheap-skate’s option for plastic surgery. I’d like to add I’m not at that stage of life yet, but they do have an excellent way of hiding a scraggy old neck, or a fat neck, or perhaps even a neck covered in lizard scales. Very handy.

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3. They are almost at eye height, attracting the maximum amount of compliments (shallow, I know).

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4. They can try complicated stitches, which in my case involves perhaps a cable or two, without fear of botching the whole thing and chucking millions of pounds worth of yarn in the bin in a hissy fit.

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5. For the commitment-phobic, scarves are the perfect project. Garter stitch, cables, chunky lace – all of these can all be achieved in just a few days with the correct yarn purchase. You could even try your hand at super chunky yarn if you’re prepared to use giant 15mm needles. The downside to the super chunky yarn is that it’s so massive that one can’t see one’s feet or indeed crucial coat zips or buttons. Oh well…

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For more knitting ramblings, see the KnitWit posts over at the LouBugKnitWit blog. If you don’t like ramblings, skip the KnitWit posts and head straight for the more informative LouBug posts and free patterns. She does far more knitting, and far less rambling…

KnitWit

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Let’s Knit The Bookshelf #knitting

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Happy New Year knitters! After a brief hiatus, I’m back. I was buried under a pile of books somewhere trying to resurrect my brain from a 15 year slumber, long enough to complete a written assignment. My attempts at study thankfully have been fractionally better than my attempts at knitting, which sadly have taken a back seat. I haven’t been totally at rest these past few weeks, I have managed to knit this (more on the fluff scarf later):

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Anyway, back to more exiting news! Behold – LouBugKnits blog post mentioned (dare I say featured) in the sacred pages of Let’s Knit The Bookshelf!! The page has since been cut out and laminated (not an uncommon thing in my world), and will be stuck to the wall of my home office forth with. Tragically nobody seems as excited as me (and LouBug), and have largely backed away as I’ve come at them waving my laminated evidence. But hey ho, it certainly brightened my day.

This blog is shared between two sisters, and there’s a little something for everyone! LouBug is an experienced knitter who has been making beautiful  projects for years, while beginner KnitWit is learning all the time.”

As part of the honour LouBug and I get to submit a guest blog post to the Let’s Knit website. I have a few ideas and have started a draft, but I have slight writer’s block as I feel it should have slightly more content than my usual blog ramblings. Ho ho ho – Happy New Year knitters!

KnitWit

Hitting the Knitting Kits

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With the Christmas knitting finished on time and now safely delivered, I can now turn my attention to my backlog of Let’s Knit kits. I really like these little kits as they are cute and self-contained (hopefully I can remember where I put all the patterns!) and perfect for short-goal knitting.

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I have wanted to make some of these things for a couple of years now, but either crazy Christmas knitting, or post-Christmas casting on have always go in the way. I’m sure everyone has a bit of a post-Christmas casting on frenzy; when all those big projects you dream about while knitting for others are meticulously planned, bagged and desperate to start. But the problem is that big things take time to finish and this year I have decided to give into my inner five-year old and knit a few quick things as well.

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First up is going to be this angel kit. Ok, so Christmas may have passed, but it can be stored away as the chances of it being knitted next year in the Christmas run up are as tragically unlikely as they were this year. Lucky for me, my teacher instincts were firing up and sparking and I put the pattern with the kit before bagging it up!

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I have now crocheted a wreath (inside is a cunningly placed foam pipe-lagging formed round a coat hanger) with shop bought pompom threaded off it. The original plan was quite ambitious but I have decided that life is too short to make 20 different designed snowflakes and I am going to settle for felt stars and the angel instead.

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If the snowflakes happen in the future, well, I can easily take the stars off, but for the moment I just want it done. The only modification I am planning is to knit a base on the angel and stuff it as it will make it easier to attach to the ring. I might also include some sparkly yarn on the wings (possibly even some Crystal Barbie style thread) and I am tempted to use plastic eyes but I shall see if it makes the angel creepy!

Failing that, there is always next Christmas…

LouBug

Toys In A Million, All Under One Roof

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Yes, it is that time of year again! The leaves are starting to turn brown, there is a nip in the air and I get up super earlier on a Saturday to brave the crazy-town driving in London and (over)indulge in yarny goodness.

So here it is, my big hoard! Which has two points of note, firstly I managed to spend less this year (sadly, even my yarn budget has had a trim down) and oddly I seem to have come home with more.

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Some of this is because these two (irresistible) skeins of Jitterbug represent all the sock yarn I bought. I know; this is an impressive show of self-restraint, up there with not eating the last biscuit.

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As part of my pre-Ally Pally prep I emptied out all my yarn and inventoried what I had. I then drew up a list of things I wanted, rather than my usual approach (which is a five-year-old in a sweet shop). Part of this yarn sort revealed the full extent that my sock stash has, well, exploded in size. Stress buying over the summer, day trips to places with yarn shops and a general sense of “but it is only one more skein” has made its impact felt. So I had to stay strong as I walked past the sale sock yarn, and keep reminding myself of the yarn mountain I already have. The flip side of this is that I shocked myself at lunch by still having well over half of my cash left (those pesky £15-£20 skeins normally burn through my wallet).

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I am also impressed that I avoided adding to my fat quarter pile (and believe me there was plenty of temptation) and lace weight yarn. Both are so very easy to buy and both are slow to use, and so I shall have to be contented with using up the fabulous things I already have. On the other hand, I did give (and keep to) a cross stitch kit budget. The goldfish is my favourite (I shall try to get a better photo later).

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This Rowan Calmer yarn was my best bargain (£20 down from £80!), and was even on the list! I had to be cruel to myself at Blacksheep Wools, the pile was just as inviting as usual. The temptation to burrow inside and build a yarn fort was there, but my yarn inventory had showed me exactly how many unused packets from previous years I still have. It is all good stuff, but there is a limit to how many jumpers I can finish in a year!

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On the other, I can always use a scarf! Especially one with a light reflecting thread. The original plan was to make the light one into a hat, but I keep looking at them as a pair and thinking some kind of striped scarf situation may need to happen.

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Another plus side to not going mad with the sock yarn is that I could totally justify going nuts on beads. I think I pretty much got something from every bead stall there, and I have got some lovely things (a bit too small for my camera to do justice to). My best surprise buy was from a £3 lucky dip bag of charms, in which I managed to get a pumpkin coach (perfect for my fairy tale stitch marker set). Alas, I also have 6 random rabbits with tennis rackets to find a home for….

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This was also the year of the kits (feeding into my aim of buying with a purpose, not with a giddy child approach). This little cutie was my “show special” gift for renewing my Let’s Knit subscription! I am already planning on knitting him/her a little hat and coat. Paws off diddy Knitwitlets, aunty is keeping this one.

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This next kit was a Stylecraft bargain (£25 for 15 balls) which will make a “Coast” ripple blanket by Attic24. I have already decided to trim it with light blue sparkle yarn and I also got a cute keyring as I managed to impress the stall holder by fashioning a handle out of a second plastic bag to help contain the yarn-splosion.

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Saving the best for last, I got this Latvian mitten kit (£10!) which I fell in love with. I was not alone in this mitten love and believe me, a set of 1.5 DPNs could not be found anywhere in Ally Pally for love nor money. I am a little daunted to knit on that kind of gauge, but I have been dancing around the edges of knitting a pair of these style mittens and seeing the kit made it seem too perfect to pass up.

But first I will need those pesky 1.5 needles…

LouBug

Knitting Hiatus Is Good For The Soul

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Contrary to KnitWit’s moaning, I have neither emigrated nor been in a drunken yarn covered heap for the last few weeks. The reality is that, as I am currently in the weird limbo between schools, I will be without a laptop until my most excellent new school gives me one in September. Of all the churning emotional roller coaster moments of my last week with my lovely old school, cleaning out and handing in my laptop was an expectedly emotional moment.

So farewell my constant companion! We have bonded through hours of marking and report writing, we have shared a grimace while booting up on Monday morning and shared bruises when I almost broke a toe dropping you.   I have left some knitting patterns on the hard drive for you, for old times’ sake.

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Words really cannot describe the wonders of the summer holiday. It is the trade-off for all those lost evenings, eroded weekends and dealing with teenagers all day. So I have been anxious to cram in as much as possible, which has (ironically) left me with fewer knit hours than normal. However, I do have a lot of unblogged knitting I can use to make KnitWit think that I have been knitting night and day for weeks. Basically now is the time to deep clean, MOT and fix as much as possible around the house. First up on my summer holiday promise list has been to re-decorate my craft room. I went for pale purple (amethyst shower number 5 for the curious).

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Normal people look through magazines to help them select their wall colour. I will admit to using my stash, as I do have every shade of purple imaginable accounted for (you might have guessed I like purple) and then finding the Dulux card to match (the pale purple in the top right was the winner). Three bloody days up a ladder later (if I haven’t sweated down a dress size then there is no justice in the world) and all hail the mighty purple room! KnitWit will be pleased to note that I have had a sort out as well and managed to remove two bin bags of stuff. The number that will go up after I have finished sorting the patterns out of the magazines.

I think I will play catch-up with the finished projects over the next few blogs (not that I was pouring my “leaving after 8 years aaaaaghhaaa!” energy into knitting), so I will apologise in advance if there are any repeats or omissions.

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So first up is a quick little Christmas knit, from a Let’s Knit kit from a while ago. It’s cute, silly and stripey and I think I will call him Henry. Time allowing Henry might get a lady friend, but we shall see how I get on. I will admit that I find toy knitting both fascinating and irritating. I love the way they look, but I get rapidly annoyed at the number of small parts (and so the amount of sewing up) but then I fall back in love when it comes to putting the faces on. This can be a bit hit of miss (paging my freaky robin) but I think it is worth working at.

And so to the cupboard scrubbing, drawer sorting and garden de-foresting *sigh*. If anyone wants me, I will be in a yarn covered heap in the corner….

LouBug

George Bear From Let’s Knit

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Here he is. George. Taken from a free pattern in last month’s Let’s Knit. I’ve given him a slightly “office loon” look with his improvised bow tie. He’s like one of those colleagues whose dedication to the firm has reached double digits, perhaps even adorning their desk with a little sign “you don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps!”

Life clearly is not as fast-paced as it should be – I am now making up personalities for my knitted teddy. This is very bad. Very, very bad.

George plus Eggberts

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Still, the sun is shining and the temperature is hovering around 25 degrees – so clearly a great time to be ploughing on with my chunky knit lap blanket!

I’m aiming for one black stripe and one (6 row) colour stripe a night (before I merrily collapse snoring in front of some terrible Sky Living programme). As I said, a fast-paced life indeed.

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I’ve completed the three colour stripes that I’m planning, so I’m back on the pink next. It’s all garter, which basically means I’m far more likely to tackle it during my prime knitting time (fatigued at the end of the day).

All the other patterns I’ve seen are all light-weight lace knits. How I’d love to churn out a delicate scarf or shawl, and how tempting despite my many failed efforts and clear lack of skill. I’m more likely to be chosen as a last-minute substitute for the World Cup team than I am to successfully complete one of these wonders. Lace knitting has become like a bad relationship, I know 4 ply is not my type, but I can’t help thinking it’ll be different this time!

KnitWit

 

Deramores Blog Awards 2014

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Wow here we are (bottom, third in from the left) – the results are in!

Honourable mention for the LouBugKnits Blog for the Deramores Blog Awards 2014!

“Highly commended by the judges”

Our runner-up blog post featured Oliver the Fox Pillow, and our “Pass it On” tips for a professional finish. Congratulations to the winners, The Twisted Yarn, who won the knitting category, and Betsy Makes , winner of the crochet category.

LetsGetCraftingCongrats  FreePattern

I know LouBug really enjoyed writing the post, with a little editing from me, KnitWit. We certainly enjoyed knitting the fox pillows!

Thank you to all who clicked through and read the blog – we’ve had a record ‘page view’ today of 738 (and counting!). If you like what you’ve read, please follow us on Twitter (@LouBugKnits) or have our blog emailed to your inbox (details on the right-hand-side).

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LouBug often posts free patterns, and you can follow LouBug on Ravelry, and me (KnitWit aka Stitchbotch) on Ravelry as well. LouBug has also created a handy Library of Well-Loved Knitting Books for honest reviews on some great knitting books & patterns which are out there.

Congratulations again to all the winners and “honourable mentions”!

KnitWit

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