Cables and stripes and bears, oh my!

There’s probably a sock pattern for every type of knitter. Assuming you’re ok with knitting in a circle, of course. Plain socks, colourwork socks, cabled socks and textured socks. Delicate lacy socks and chunky socks. Main problem, I think, is working out what kind of knitter you are. I’m still not sure. To be honest, I’m not even that sure I’m a knitter – but I have the needles, the yarn and I like making things, so for now, knitting it is.

I think when I started writing this blog I assumed I’d find a ‘craft’ that totally fit me. Something I’d stick with and get good at. I’m not sure I’ve done that – knitting ended up as a default, because its super easy to make *something*. It’s also pick up and put downable without too much fuss. You don’t need to get a sewing machine out or open a cupboard. You can leave it lying about and pick it up when you feel like it. (And usually it is lying about. We had a sock on the kitchen table for weeks. My partner is very gracious about eating his dinner with a sock staring him in the face, while I’m in the process of knitting another one). Knitting’s also pretty easy to take with you if you’re travelling – although not as good as tatting, which is much smaller.

Anyway, that’s long winded way of saying I’m making another pair of socks. (And no, I haven’t been travelling.)

I decided I should see if I liked knitting cabled socks. I used the Winwick Mum pattern, left over yarn from my first pair of socks, and the measurements from the second sock of the first pair. The answer? I don’t mind knitting cabled socks, but I am terrible at counting in the round. I don’t know why I’m so bad at it, (just put a marker in and make a note as you go) but for some reason I lost count, all the time. I also decided I don’t like this colour. Or I don’t like so much of this colour in one go. So I unravelled it and started again. And I bought some grey yarn.

Next I made a brand new cuff (groan) and did about 3 repeats of cable pattern in grey. That was ok. I’m still bad at counting but the cable pattern just didn’t show up in the grey yarn – too small a cable and too woolly. So I unpicked that – but not before totally forgetting to take a photo.

(The colour on these photos is terrible, sorry about that). So one of the other things I wanted to try was ribbed socks. I wanted to see if it added interest to knitting plain socks or just ended up being annoying. Jury’s out actually. It’s ok – but then this sock isn’t whizzing along at the speed of the last pair, so maybe it is a bit disruptive? It’s knit 3, purl 1. I also had a bit of a google to see how I could make the cuff neater. My knit 2 purl 2 ribbing never looks that neat, so I swapped it out for twisted rib stitch. That looks incredibly neat – especially if you do a good job of it, which I haven’t really. But try it. It’s easy to do and looks really nice. Downside is that I had to do it all on DPNs, as I couldn’t get it to stretch across the circulars. (I got there eventually, as you can see, but how do people have the patience to knit whole socks on DPNs?)

Technically speaking, the body of the sock so far is 2 rows of each colour. That’s pretty good as you can carry the colour as you go, so not too many ends to sew in. I say ‘technically speaking’ because practically speaking you can see at least one row of orange which is deeper than the others. If I’m honest, there are 2, but the photo is deceptive. I did tell you I couldn’t count. Also, I’m not in love with the grey and orange if I’m honest, but I’m ignoring that for now. I’ll switch to yellow at some point soon. The three balls look nice together, but just less good when knitted up.

The only other thing to try sock wise, was colour work. But I think I’ve finally got to the point where I understand myself well enough to know that it would drive me a bit nuts. I hate unruly things you have to keep untangling, and colourwork falls into this camp. I do it occasionally – some Little Cotton Rabbits clothing – but on the whole, I probably don’t find it that enjoyable. And I guess you don’t have to do hobbies you don’t find that enjoyable, right? Doesn’t stop me looking at everyone else’s work with envious eyes. Maybe I just need to try harder.

So I’ll stick with the ribbed socks, and probably make cabled socks another time, in another yarn. In the meantime I’ve been wearing the socks I have knitted and I love them. Especially the last pair. I can’t believe I made them.

I also made a small bear! I wasn’t really expecting small bear to be this small. She’s knitted out of yarn I’ve had for years, which just seemed to be a good colour for a bear. I used the head pattern from the Little Cotton Rabbits mini animals and the body from the 7″ pattern. What you can see above, left to right is – regular sized bear in small yarn, in the small size dungarees, a small bear in small yarn and small dungarees, and a small bunny in worsted yarn and small dungarees. I can’t believe how chunky the bunny is! I love her none the less. Small bear became a slight issue in that I was worried I didn’t have the yarn to make clothes that would fit, but Krea Deluxe cotton on 2.5 needles worked out ok in the end. I’m still in 2 minds about those colours, but they’re the ones I had. The colours of the Krea Deluxe cotton range are really lovely though. Even if the cotton is a bit splitty at times.

And that’s all for now. I need to go because I’m making a pie, and apparently we’re supposed to be eating soon. The pie is… not yet pie shaped. It’s in a casserole dish, waiting to be assembled. Onwards.

Hope you’re doing ok.

Last of the batch knitting

When lockdown started, I inexplicably decided to knit a batch of animals. I think it was because I had a few to gift, and it seemed like a good idea? And I really like having a knitting project on the go, so I don’t need to think ‘what should I make next?’ when I feel in the mood to make something.

And then Julie released the patterns for smaller animals too… so I think since lockdown started I’ve made and clothed 2 big rabbits, 3 small rabbits and one fox. Also one set of clothes for a bunny I had already made, one extra dress that doesn’t suit anyone, and one extra pair of dungarees for the bear. Oh, and another dress for the smallest of the bunnies, as I prefer the dresses with arms – so I knitted a completely new dress when the pattern was released as I made a hash of unpicking the one I’d already knit. And one basket, 4 carrots, 2 doughnuts and 3 bags. Oh. And 2 small pocket bunnies for the pockets of the larger ones. Actually. That’s quite a lot.

This is some of them. I think this photo was taken before I made the bags. And before I made the fox.

I made a spare grey body, arms and legs when I made the other 2 bunnies, but didn’t give it a head. I wasn’t sure what it should be, but I had half a plan for a silver fox. Then I got stuck in to other stuff, so it sat about headless for ages.

Last weekend I made the tail.

Yesterday I finally made the head and ears and sewed it all together. BUT.

I looked at it this morning and just didn’t like it. I couldn’t work out what it was but it just wasn’t great. In the end I decided it was the ears. They were a mess, really. Luckily, the pattern has more than one way to make the ears. So I made a new one. And removed the others. Then I took off his nose and mouth too. Then I sewed on a new ear and decided it was better (if long), started making another and ran out of grey yarn! Pfft. So there’s a strip of slightly bluer yarn on one ear, but you can hardy tell. And I gave him a new face. He’s much better now.

I’d already made these trousers (forgot to include them in the inventory up there) and this jumper was made in Athens, when I lived there a couple of years ago. It was my first cable project and has been waiting for the right body ever since. Now he’s all set – he has ears and a face he likes and a warm wooly jumper for winter. And I’m happier too. Theres nothing worse than making something, finishing it, standing back for the big reveal and thinking ‘huh. Well that was a waste of time’. So. We’re all good.

I’m building up to trying sock knitting next. Seems like a thing people do? I was going to use Winwick Mum’s tutorial. I’m not sure if I’ll like it or not, but I probably won’t know until I try. I’m still too worried about knitting a human-sized jumper that costs a fortune in yarn and doesn’t fit, so sock knitting was a lower-risk way of tackling that sort of thing. That said, I also have various odd balls of yarn knocking about, so was wondering about knitting some toys and donating them. Hopefully people won’t mind odd coloured toys? We’ll see.

So that’s where we’re at. I don’t really mean to keep knitting the same things over n’ over but… I dunno. There’s something comforting in the repetition. And in the fact that when something goes wrong, it’s not so hard to fix. That sounds like a good thing right now, right?

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Background projects and progress

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I started the Almina shawl (Ravelry link) in March 2019, and finished it in February 2020. That’s a long time to knit a shawl. It’s knitted on 4mm circular needles, with Cascade 220 wool. I bought the wool a long time ago to knit a jumper with, but given my terrible issues with trying to knit anything to scale, and having no idea what I’m really doing, I decided against making proper clothing.

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The wool is actually a charcoal grey. I thought I perhaps should never knit anything in such a dull colour again – because if you’re spending so much time with something, surely you should knit with something colourful and joyous… Like the golden yellow in the pattern example? But now it’s done I actually love it. It’s too heavy to wear outside the house I think (!) but in this grey, it’s perfect to throw on to keep you warm. I thought the triangular starting point would forever curl, but the stiff blocking in the top photo took care of that.

I knit far too tightly, but I know the yarn will relax eventually. I used the exact same stuff for the Guernsey Wrap, way back in 2012. Eeek! 2012. I haven’t progressed much as a knitter since then have I? I should be on clothing by now. Probably.

I must admit, I thought the wrap would never end. It seemed to take forever. There were times when I forgot it, and times when I was sick of it. But there were also times I was glad of it. Something to pick up quickly and carry on with. No real need to think about what to do, or where things were. No getting stuff out of cupboards as it just sat patiently waiting on the sofa. I took it away at new year on the annual trip I usually do with friends, and I was on the 2×2 rib by then.  What a joy that is to knit! So satisfying. Such a nice steady rhythm, no need to concentrate.

Now, after being so desperate for it to be over, I miss it. I didn’t realise how often I used it as a sort of guided meditation. There’s been a lot going on here, a lot to process mentally, and I think it’s helped having something ticking on in the background. Slow progress, but progress with every stitch.

There was the deer, too, which you can see in the photo underneath, on the left:

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I made her when Julie released the pattern – or at least, I made her head. I’d assumed I’d make a mess of it, but when that turned out ok, it took me 6 months to make a body and some clothes. She’s made of stash yarn, stuff that’s been knocking about for ages. I do like her dress and cardigan though, a mix of forest greens.

More recently I made the two unclothed rabbits on the right. The small one is Julie’s most recent pattern. I made them to gift, but due to the virus and cancelled plans, they won’t be gifted for a while. The mess in that photo was me trying to figure out what yarn would work for clothing – unpictured is the tiniest pair of rabbit trousers you’ve ever seen. Oops. I got there in the end, but now I have more time I think I might remake the jumper I was going to use. We’ll see. More photos another time.

I’m still trying to use up my stash yarn, so I’ll probably make some more animals while I look for the perfect Next Big Project. Animals are very satisfying to make. No big commitment, and I enjoy seeing their characters emerge. I also love that they’re knitted flat, and the patterns are so well thought out.

If you’re at home trying to work out what to do with your time, you could definitely do worse than use up some stash yarn, to try an animal of your own.