Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Knitting for others

I've been reading about the Mitten Ladies who knit hundreds of mittens each year for charity.  Also about someone's aunt who used to knit afghans and give them away - who gave everything away that she knitted, keeping nothing for herself.  And the people who knit for Preemies and blankets for the orphaned and the homeless, for shelters for battered wives [see www.simplyknitting.co.uk]
It made me realise how unutterably selfish I am.  I struggle to knit a single item for myself that might actually compliment my ancient wardrobe...me, me, me, that's me.  I knit for my daughter in an effort to replace the jerseys my mother might have knitted her had she still been alive.  I knit for her to replace the jerseys my mother knitted for me years ago, that I wore out and ended up giving away to charity when I should have kept them.  I seem to be fighting myself in that line:  but that's me.  A mass of contradictions.  How lovely to have the time and the ability to whip out a pair of mittens in an evening for someone who is freezing to death on the other side of the world.  Balm for the guilty soul.  When I think about the endless problems of my life that I can't deal with, I wonder if it wouldn't just be easier to think about other people's problems, to deal with them instead of with one's own life.
Is that how charity begins?  To make yourself feel better?  Or am I once again showing my selfishness, my inability to truly empathize with others, thinking only of myself and how I feel and the tears I cry, the victim inside me that won't take a brave step.
Today I will have a go at stuffing that owl.  It has to be easier than thinking about the world.

Friday, 19 August 2011

On the needles (4)

Here it is, the lovely Gedifra Fiorista bought on a sale at John Lewis - only got 6 balls, so not enough for anything!  I thought I'd knit a tank top, something fun to wear over rapidly aging T-shirts.  I knew at some point that I was going to run out of wool so I planned on 3 balls for the front, 3 for the back, the yoke in a lighter colour and the armhole and neck ribs in something bright.  Hunting about on the internet was no good - I couldn't be sure the colour was exact enough and choosing a substitute yarn that was going to have a similar tension was going to be hugely hit and miss!  By chance I found myself in Liberty's (I think I was having a miserable Sunday....not the best day to hit Oxford Street but it proved to be auspicious!) and with some help from the Rowan assistant, found some Belle Organic Aran by Amy Butler.  It's a wool/cotton while the Gedifra is cotton/acrylic, but they seem to work well together.  While the pinky colour seemed to blend in with the bright Gedifra shades, it looks a bit dull now that I'm knitting it.  However, it's not done yet!  The colour for the ribs is a bright orange and I think it'll all pull together well!

Even if it doesn't, it hardly matters....the stripes are so lovely, who's going to look at my mistakes!

Bad knitting saved by beauty!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Knit Kit

I'm still knitting away happily on my Gedifra tank top...fast running out of yarn too!  (Photos soon!)

In the meantime, here's something I made earlier....it's a very useful Knit Kit which keeps all my knitting bits and bobs tidy.  No more shouting WHERE'S MY CROCHET HOOK!! while frantically clutching a stitch I've just dropped.  Aside from the letters, which I'd never done before, it was quite easy.  The cleverest idea is using curtain tape on the inside for holding all those fiddly things.  I also like the pockets.  I made far too many ties for it, thinking that I was going to go off with my knitting bag and knit in public, but that never happened.  
The pattern was from Let's Knit Issue 31 June 2010 though I used different colours and yarn.  I think this is what they call a "stash buster."

Needless to say, this has MANY mistakes, not least of which the tension was too tight between the letters so that it pulls up slightly.  Also, I knitted one of the letters wrong and had to go over it with Swiss darning but at least I know where my rescue crochet hook is!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Art of Knitting Badly

Here’s the best Bad Knitting mistake you could ever make:  using two different needles.  Yep, that’s me.  Can’t believe I did that!  I must have been grovelling for needles in the dark:  one was 4mm, the other 3 ¾.  Not too hard to mix up size-wise, but golly, you’d think I’d notice the numbers were different. 

Since I’ve embarked on an exercise guaranteed to be filled with mistakes, it only seems appropriate to begin with the wrong needles.  I’ve given up the banana jersey for now (FAR too hot to be knitting a winter jersey)  I really wanted to try out the fantastic Gedifra Fiorista I got on sale at John Lewis.  It makes its own stripes, but they are not perfect self-striping stripes...more like someone threw several cans of paint across the canvas and ran them into one another.  Looks utterly gorgeous.  (Several balls feature in the header photograph.)

I thought I’d go with every knitting mistake in the book:
  • ·         Using the wrong wool for a pattern
  • ·         Using the wrong needles for the wool*
  • ·         Doing bad knitting maths on a tension square
  • ·         Knowing there isn’t enough wool anyway
  • ·         Ignoring the shaping

I will no doubt end up with a work of art.

(*)  The yarn information says to use 6mm.  Previous experience with Gedifra is that they use US needle sizes.  So when it says “6” (and nothing else), I have to presume they mean 4mm.  Which doesn’t explain why my tension square was so wildly off – it came up rather small, which is odd because I don’t knit that tightly.  A website selling Gedifra says to use 6mm.  I tried that too but it seemed hopelessly wrong. 

PS  the bolero from hell?  I strongly suspect I’m going to pull it all out and do something else.  Will have to build up the courage for that one.