Monthly Archives: April 2012

To Knit, or to Crochet, that is the Question..

To Knit, or to Crochet, that is the Question….

I have always considered myself a knitter, since I picked up the craft properly aged 21. I’d learned to knit as a child, and forgotten again, so when I was introduced again to it at a house party, drunk, by a friend, also drunk, it all came flowing back.

Golden Hands, 3KCBWDAY7 © Buttons and Beeswax Knitting BlogMy mum collected these books in the 70’s, and as a teenager I’d been fascinated by them. I bookmarked all the pages on dressmaking and worked out how to do macrame and basic alterations.

Golden Hands, 3KCBWDAY7

Golden Hands

Golden Hands, 3KCBWDAY7

The books I learned to knit from

So when I woke up hungover after the party, these were my go-to books for the next few weeks, while I reminded myself how to cast on and knit my first few rows. After that, I was hooked, and made swatch after swatch in royal blue acrylic yarn, trying out different combinations of knit and purl, increasing, decreasing, and learning how to pick up dropped stitches.

My first finished project was a deformed blue bootie that wouldn’t have fit a doll, let alone a baby. Shortly afterwards I discovered Knitty.com and bought a copy of Stitch and Bitch by Debbie Stoller.

Ladybird - Learning to Crochet

Vintage Ladybird Learning to Crochet book

I can’t remember when I decided to give crochet a go. I’ve got a Ladybird guide to Crochet, I think I picked it up in a second hand bookshop, but I found it so hard to follow it never really happened. One of the girls in my knitting circle started making herself a granny square blanket and I loved the way they came together, and tried, and failed to make one of my own. Then I made a discovery – The Happy Hooker! I’d found Stitch and Bitch so easy to follow and helpful, it made perfect sense to learn from Stoller’s crochet book.

Frou-Frou - The Happy Hooker

Frou Frou - The Happy Hooker - a WIP!

So I can do the basics, but it still confuses me that the abbrevations are different in the UK and the US, and I have to go back and check every time. I’ll always consider myself a knitter first, but I think having that extra skill helps and makes everything that bit more versatile. Also, knitting seems to have more drape to it and I love cables, and I just prefer the over-all look to knitting.

Crcohet Hat, 3KCBWDAY7

Crcohet Hat no.1

Crochet Hat no.2, 3KCBWDAY7

Crochet Hat No.2

Having said that, I have an ongoing crochet project, which some of you will have read about last week!

Granny Squares! 3KCBWDAY7

Granny Squares!

This baby is gonna be huge, and I don’t anticipate finishing it until at least 2020. There’s just too much knitting to be getting on with !

2012: The Year to Improve My Knitwear Design Skills

3KCBWDAY6 Improving myKnitwear Design Skills

I think my subconscious is trying to tell me something.  The last three books I went out and bought are all tools to improve my knitwear design.

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Mmm, lovely books...

Actually that’s a lie.  I asked for Ysolda Teague’s ‘Little Red in the City‘ for Christmas after seeing the copy that the girls in my knitting group had bought themselves at Knit Nation.  And oh my! This is the book that I wish I’d written – it’s just beautiful!  I do appreciate a nice design – the pictures, layout and the hand drawn style text in here are gorgeous, and when I first received it I couldn’t even look in it out of sheer jealousy that I hadn’t got it together years ago and made something this lovely myself.

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Ysola's book is really inspiring'

Little Red in the City, 3kcbwday6

Maths

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I love the design of this book!

I’m over that now and I realise I have a lot to improve on before I can write anything like this – sure I can knit, but the mathematics of writing a pattern, getting it to fit right, and sizing it up is an artform that can’t be learned overnight.

Ysolda explains all of it, talking about different body types, how darts affect the garment, and different ways of creating drape depending on your shape.

After Christmas I treated myself to a copy of Stitch ‘n Bitch Super Star Knitting – Go Beyond the Basics. (I would rather link to Debbie Stollers website than Amazon, but it wasn’t on there)

Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar by Debbie Stoller

Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar

I purchased this book because I wanted to learn two handed fairisle, but also because I’d learned to knit with the help of Stitch n’ Bitch, and crochet with The Happy Hooker, so I figured I couldn’t really go wrong!  The book includes loads of techniques and skills I wasn’t even aware of, such as knitting with a colour on each side – in theory it sounds crazy but after I’d read about it I wondered why I’d never worked it out.

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Two handed Fairisle

The third book I bought was the mighty ‘Principles of Knitting‘ by June Hemmons Hiatt.  Now this baby is going to take some reading.  Prompted by a thread on Ravelry, and the tweets by Math4Knitters, I took the plunge and ordered yet another book to improve my knitwear design skills.

The Principles of Knitting, 3kcbwday6

The Principles of Knitting

The Principles of Knitting, 3kcbwday6

The Principles of Knitting

Of course I can’t give any of these books a proper review, as I’ve failed to mention I haven’t actually read them yet.  All of the information is there, but somehow it’s easier to spend time blogging and knitting than it is learning new skills.

So this summer, I’m going to sit down, read these books and take notes.  It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone when it comes to designing, but I think to improve my skills I’m going to have to push the boundries a little bit!

For more posts on today’s topic, google 3KCBWDAY6 or click here

View my other Knitting and Crochet Blog Week posts here

My perfect knitting weekend (one of)

I had a chance a couple of years ago to take up a course at Knit-1 in Brighton – a highly acclaimed fashion design company, where not only would I learn to machine knit, but also go on to create individual pieces and possibly my own collection.

Photo Courtesy of Knit-1 - click for website

I had been searching online for courses in Brighton, and couldn’t believe it when I found this huge studio literally just behind my house. I went to Knit-1 in for a chat and gawped at the machines, the walls of yarn and the items that the students had been producing.

The course was 12 weeks, and I thought long and hard about giving up work to go and play in this amazing place, daily, for the duration. I don’t regret not doing it, as I know it’s still there, and I still could, maybe someday 🙂

Knit-1 in Brighton - click for website

So I’m playing the wildcard today for Knitting and Crochet Blogging Week (3BWKCDAY5), and thinking about what my perfect craft day (or weekend) would be. I’d definately spend some time in Knit-1, before possibly heading to The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace for some serious yarn and goody buying!

Recently I got me some Knit Pro needles, so I’d definately grab myself more of them, and some crochet hooks while I’m at it..

Knit Pro? - Yes Please!

And as I’d be in the South East, rather than Bristol, I’d head back to Brighton for a big knit and barbeque on the beach at sunset with my old knitting buddies!

Brighton Beach at Sunset

Obviously this could be MUCH more exciting – I’d love to go to the States, and visit some of the lovely yarn shops over there, but I’m a bit worried I wouldn’t come back! I’d also love to knit with the ladies in Peru – there are some fantastic photos on Zoe Hillyard’s Website.  Hopefully someday I’ll also find myself at one of the Vogue Knitting Live events – I might have to coincide that with the America trip.

Anyway enough dreaming, I’ve got work to do!

For more posts on today’s topic, google 3KCBWDAY5 or click here

View my other Knitting and Crochet Blog Week posts here

 

I am Officially a Winter Knitter

It’s official, I am a winter knitter.  I like to think that I knit the whole year round, but I can’t help myself, as soon as the sun comes out, I switch to sewing and my yarn stays tucked away in a bag until the nights grow dark and the air turns frosty.

That said, last year, I started designing patterns.  Winter, as usual, was easy (though friends and family received less in woollen gifts this Christmas. )  I seem to have fallen into a trap of making things that match each other, rather than letting things flow a bit and see what comes out.

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Many Hats

Looking back at the projects I have on Ravelry, it’s all knitwear intended for winter. I have a lot of hats. Can you have too many hats? Probably, yes.

I’ve got five jumpers on Ravelry and two on the needles.  I’m longing to get that one done, but I was writing the pattern as I went and foolishly didn’t make a note of the needle size. Five isn’t many, but I know I’m not in need of another jumper just yet.  They are great fun to make, but recently I don’t feel like I’m knitting for myself and plus, they are costly, if you have expensive taste in yarn (and I definitely do.)

I used to be quite good at making presents for new babies – a few of the lucky ones got a bear or an outfit of some sort, and the intention was to make them something every year, but then suddenly there were a lot of them and I couldn’t keep up!

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Charlie's Hoodie

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Tommy's Booties

Looking at all these things, I realise I should probably broaden my horizons a bit. I love knitting lace, but I wouldn’t make a shawl or scarf in it because I wouldn’t wear it – I’m clumsy and it would snag on things and get ruined. Maybe I’ll make a challenge for myself to create something this summer that isn’t for winter!

For more posts on today’s topic, google 3KCBWDAY4 or click here

View my other Knitting and Crochet Blog Week posts here

An Interview with Erika Knight

I mentioned today’s topic – “3KCBWDAY3 -Your Knitting or Crochet Hero” to my boyfriend yesterday and he said it conjured up an image in his head of a knitting superhero, armed with sticks and a knitted cloak. Brilliant!

3KCBWDAY3I decided to do a slight twist on this subject and conduct a small interview with my friend Erika Knight, who has been a great inspiration to me the last few years. As an aspiring designer myself, I am drawn to the stories of those that are succeeding in the industry, which is so hard to break into.

Erika Knight is an inspiration to me as she has been a big name in the knitting world for so long, and has found herself where she is through hard work, new ideas and a passion for her craft. More recently, Erika has released her own yarn collection, all sourced personally in Britain to support the livelihood of farmers and to help our industry survive.

Who taught you to knit?

I think it was my granny when i was about six, but she was pretty scary and a real perfectionist, so I think the next time I took it up and taught myself was during the punk days and it didn’t matter too much if you dropped a stitch or two.

How/when did you first get into the knitting industry?

My passion and hobby for knitting turned into a business and soon I had a cottage industry, through this I learnt importantly how not to do it as well as how to do it, because I had to control everything and create a handmade product meet the high demands of top retailers.

I had the opportunity at this time to work in Italy where I learned from couturier knit technicians, so I was working in two very differing aspects of the industry at the same time.

When did you start designing your own patterns?

From the outset, most especially when at college if a friend was into Frank Stella or Bridget Riley I would devise a sweater for their birthday and I often did the knitwear collections for friends on the fashion courses.

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Erika

What do you enjoy most about your work?

The design, creating fabric, the process .

What inspired your new yarn collection?

Wool! A natural, sustainable, renewable resource, comfortable and beautiful, and absolutely fit for its purpose.

I want to go back to grass roots, to look at the process of making lovely wool yarns in a traditional way in Britain, and to support the British hill farmers to keep sheep – not only for the meat but for their fleece.

Stockists for Erika’s new yarns can be found on her website.

For more posts on today’s topic, google 3KCBWDAY3 or click here

View my other Knitting and Crochet Blog Week posts here

Colour Lovers – A Sneaky Peek into My Stash!

3KCBWDAY1 – Colour Lovers

3KCBWDAY1 – Colour Lovers

“Colour is one of our greatest expressions of ourselves when we choose to knit or crochet, so how do you choose what colours you buy and crochet or knit with. Have a look through your stash and see if there is a predominance of one colour. Do the same with your finished projects – do they match? Do you love a rainbow of bright hues, or more subdued tones. How much attention do you pay to the original colour that a garment is knit in when you see a pattern? Tell readers about your love or confusion over colour.”

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Day one of my first knitting and crochet blogging week!

This is the first time I’ve had a proper look at my stash, and tried to see if I have any particular buying pattern when it comes to colour. This is a tough one, as a lot of the things in here are remnants from yarn I bought to make gifts, choosing colours for other people, and yarn that people have given me.  I definately have an inclination to pick up reds and purples if it’s something for myself, as I think warmer colours suit me better, but I’m not scared of wearing bright colours.  The lilacs that you see in there were for gifts, and aren’t really a colour I think I would wear, as pinky shades don’t really do much for me unfortunately.

3KCBWDAY1So while we’re here I’ll just talk through why I bought some of this yarn, and what I plan to do with it!

I bought this lovely red Debbie Bliss ‘Soho’ yarn at the Stitches and Crafts show in Exeter about 7 years ago. I’d got it into my head that I wanted a red cardigan, so I bought about 500g and thought I’d wait until I found a suitable pattern. I had intended to make this:

However, after completing the back and sleeves, I decided that the neck coming off the shoulder would probably do my head in and gave up. So that’s all still sitting somewhere in a bag, and I’m still waiting for my red cardigan!

3KCBWDAY1Two years ago I decided to design myself a new cardigan. I chose this colour because it seemed to go well with my skin. I wanted to use this yarn specifically, as it’s a mix of wool and cotton, so I was limitied to the pallet. I think the choice was between this olivey colour or brown, but this one seemed to make me look a bit less washed out!

This was my first ‘big’ design project and to be honest was a bit of a challenge, and having made a few smaller things since I realise I made a few mistakes. Such as putting it down and leaving no record of what size needles I should be using when I pick it up again. I made all of the left front side of the cardigan, but I’m thinking I’ll have to frog it and start again, it’s been too long and I’ve lost where I was!

Most of the things I have made have been one colour. I’d really like to get practicing on my fair isle, and make something really beautiful, but I can’t see me using me using more than maybe five or six colours tops for a jumper, and I imagine most of the changes would go in the yoke rather than all over. I think I’m more of a texture person when it comes to knitting – I really love doing cables and lace, and I’m not sure either would work if you added multiple colours into the equation.

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I do love knitting these teddy bears in self striping sock yarn though, providing the stripes are close enough together.

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Manos Del Uraguay in 2444 for the Nordic Lace set

I picked the blue yarn above for the Nordic Lace set about two years before I did anything with it. I usually buy yarn with a project in mind, however this one took a bit of pondering. I love the shade of this blue and it just jumped off the shelf at me. Once I’d given it a squeeze, I knew it was going home with me, whatever it was going to become!

I don’t really wear blue so much, I think it washes me out a bit, but I am of the not really caring variety if the colour makes me happy. This yarn falls into that category. You can’t really tell from the photos, but there are multiple shades of blue in there. It has so much depth to it!

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Rowan Lichen by Lisa Richardson - I'm not sure what the yarn is!

The yarn for ‘Lichen‘ was donated to me by my Mum. Ironically she’d started a jumper in a very similar pattern, which sat in her wardrobe for about 10 years before she moved to Cyprus and realised it would probably never get finished. We both share the love of this shade – it suits us both though our colouring is different. I notice I tend to pick up this shade a lot in the shop, and have to remind myself that I don’t need it!

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Rowan Cocoon in Kiwi - used for 'Owls' jumper by Kate Davies

I was working for a short while in Purl, Brighton, on a one day a week basis. Just being in there for a whole day filled my mind with ideas of things to make, but my budget was small and the selection of yarn was not! In the end I asked the owner, Debbie, to pay my wages in yarn for a couple of weeks so I could knit myself a new jumper.

I decided on this yarn before I knew exactly what to do with it. The colour grabbed me first, it was so bright and striking it was hard not to see it! I fell in love with how soft it was when I picked it up, and after debating for a while if I could pull off wearing the shade or not, I took the plunge and looked for a pattern, finally deciding on ‘Owls‘ by Kate Davies.

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I mentioned last week that I’d inherited a HUGE bag of yarn, and as this post is about what’s in my stash, I thought I’d incude a couple of pictures.

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I’m spoilt for choice of colour here, if I ever need a small amount of something I know I’ve got it, and will probably always have it!

So to conclude, I have every colour under the sun, and I like to think I’m quite varied with choice of colour when it comes to making things for myself. Having said that, I dug out some hats last night for another post later in the week, and it would appear I go for more subdued, darker colours (browns, reds, purples, greys) mostly, rather than anything too vibrant.

I think it all depends on my mood! What are your favourite colours?

To read other blogs on todays topic, click here or Google search 3KCBWDAY1.

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012

I’ve decided to set myself a little blog challenge and be a part of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012.  It runs from the 23rd to the 29th April and looks like fun 🙂 Though I wish I’d thought about it sooner to allow time for planning, I think I’m just going to jump in feet first and see what happens!

I’ve never taken part in Blog Week before – as many of you may have noticed I don’t always post every week, so this will be a real challenge for me! The idea is that knitting and crochet bloggers all over the world post simultaneously on daily set topics for a week.

If you want to take part or find out about Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, more details can be found on Eskimimi Makes

I Received a Blogging Award! :)

I was very pleased to log on last week to discover that the lovely Tecrin Tries had nominated me for a blogging award, thank you Tecrin! I found Tecrin (aka Steph) through Ravelry back in January, and have been following since as I love her pictures (and I think we have a fair few other crafty things in common :))

So the blogging award comes with a few rules:

– Thank the person who gave you this award.
– Include a link to their blog.
– Next, select 15 bloggers that you follow regularly or have recently discovered.
– Nominate those bloggers for the Versatile blogger-award.
– Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Ok so here goes!

Some of these bloggers I have been following for a  while, some not so long.  I was in need of some knitting blogs to follow and just followed everything tagged with ‘Knitting’ from the Bloglovin reader, which I’ve since realised doesn’t take you directly to the bloggers url, so they won’t know I’m there!  However I like the layout and the daily email has been a great way to introduce me to new blogs.

Yarn Bombing in Bristol

I’ve picked these blogs to nominate for the award because they inspire me to keep blogging and taking pictures – I love the photography, the writing style, the projects and the content. Hopefully they haven’t received the award before.. Check them out!

Will Knit for Food – I also discovered this blog recently through Ravelry and find it very inspiring to actually make more stuff.  Mostly about knitting and sewing, its full of fab photographs that keep you scrolling down for more.

 Creating the Day is another knitting blog I was drawn to by the photographs, written by knitter and spinner Erin, from New York.  Recently there have been some particularly cute posts about knitted toys, with links to patterns.

Yarn and Hook Happy is a really cute crochet blog I discovered recently through Ravelry.   Ronnie makes some gorgeous toys and accessories and blogs about the process.

An unrelated photo of the sign for Amsterdam's Artis Royal Zoo

Lilibeth’s Garden – Heidi test knitted a cowl for me a couple of months ago and wrote me a really lovely review on her blog.  It appears that she does a lot of test knitting, which she blogs about along with other projects, and always posts lovely photos!

 A Pile of Sheep – I know Ellen in real life – I met her through my knitting circle.  She seems to have a new project on the go every week, yet somehow finds the time to work, test knit and review different yarns, blog about tutorials and knitting tips.

 Rural Pearls is a very cute blog brought to us by Aubrey, who lives on a ranch.  Expect posts about knitting, yarn, sewing, baking and cute animals!

Stix on the Beach is a really lovely blog about crochet and craft, with lots of beautiful, colourful photos.

Triona Designs is mostly  a knitting blog, which talks about other crafts too (most recently a tutorial on how to make your own lightbox!) Again lots of lovely photos and designs!

Knitting Neels – Despite the title, I was drawn to this blog by the sewing posts.  There are a lot!  I’ve been knitting a lot really and blogs like this make me want to get my sewing machine out and make myself a whole new wardrobe – if you need some motivation, then have a look!

An unrelated photo of some pretty bikes!

Seventy Tree I have known Kerry for years (though we’ve lost touch a bit, hi!) She is an illustrator and mummy based in London, who blogs about art, family, gorgeous hand made things she has bought and scrummy photos of her house.  She inspires me to blog more about myself, rather than just stuff I’ve made!

Zoe’s Knitting Bag I discovered this blog this week through Bloglovin – lots about knitting, crafts and really gorgeous photos.

Yiskah Knits – I found Jessica’s blog a few weeks ago by chance, and it interested me as she’s a knitter living in the same town as me.   The whole blog just looks lovely and we seem to be inspired by similar things.

Stuff Steph Does is updated reguarly about crafts and baking.  It amazes and inspires me how anyone has enough time to make and blog about so many lovely things!

Knitting is Awesome is a really fun knitting blog, covering everything from clothes to yarn bombed parking meters and monsters.   It is also updated every few days, making me feel like I should make more of an effort!

And Some More Yarn Bombing…


And finally.. 7 things about me!

1. I once had an invisible dog called Sherbert. He was a white Scottish Terrier who was super clever, but old, and was later replaced by an invisible Border Collie called Scruffy, who I still want for real some day 🙂

2. My mum taught me to knit when I was 5 years old. I seem to remember making Barbie clothes, and loads and loads of i-cord! It didn’t catch on until I was about 21 though, and since then I haven’t really stopped.

3. I really really love a veggie chilli. But only the one that I make, with tons of vegetables and 3 or 4 different types of beans, I’m usually totally disappointed when I order this out anywhere!

4.  I still haven’t left Europe! I’ve been longing for the day to go and see more of the world for years, but just haven’t got around to going yet! Hopefully soon..

5. When I was young I wanted to be a journalist when I grew up. After years of retail, office work and graphic design, Mostly what I want to do now is knit and sew, I’m just working out ways of earning a living from it.

6. I love my bike! I’ve never had a driving licence, and have always been lucky enough to live and work in locations where I can get around on my trusty Dutch push bike.  I bought it in 2008 from a specialist in Brighton and have never looked back.  Only 2 gears work but its such a joy to ride around on J

7. Someday I’d like to build a house by the sea, have my own little studio, and knit and sew all day to my hearts content.  In reality, I’d probably spend a bit too much time on Ravelry, reading blogs and pinning things, but that’s all part of the fun!

WIP Wednesday: Forever Ongoing Crochet Blanket


This last week I have been so in the mood to crochet, I have abandoned my knitting bag and picked up these little granny squares.  This yarn was donated to me by my friend Ella, who’s mum had it sat in the attic for years after it had been given to her.  The bag containing it is MASSIVE – and every skein in there is tiny and a different colour. The most I could probably make with any of them is a 25cm square, and as I’m not a fan of technicolour clothing I thought the best thing to make would be a blanket.


As soon as I received this huge bag of yarn, the first thing I did (and you will laugh) is tip the whole lot out on the floor, and arrange everything by colour. It took hours and I still have no idea why I wanted to do that.  I knew it would all go back into the bag, I think I just wanted to see how much I had and if there were any duplicates! Just one of the skeins had a tiny tag on it, with the name of a mill in Yorkshire that I now forget, so I think originally this must have been a bag of samples meant for someone, somewhere.


The grey yarn I have used isn’t from the giant freebie bag of British wool.   It’s Polish – I bought a kilo each of cream (undyed), black and this grey from a stall in Zakopane.  I’m not sure if my friend was suprised or not when I filled his suitcase with the yarn so we could fly it all home, we’d only popped over for the weekend but I couldn’t resist! Sadly when I moved house I had to sell most of it as it was taking over my flat, and it’s pretty itchy so I couldn’t see what I’d make out of it.


So I’ve been making these crochet granny squares – it’s usually my project for when I have no project, so I know this is going to take me (possibly) until I’m a granny myself!  The square pattern is actually from the ‘Granny No Square’ bag pattern in The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller.

I’m not the best nor the fastest at crochet, and as I’ve been having huge breaks in between, I keep forgetting the pattern and having to refer back to it. I’m pretty sure some squares are a bit bigger than others too, but hopefully the more I make, the less this will happen!