Lately I have been knitting big things. I’ve knitted a large amount of gorgeous yarn into a lovely dress for my friend Lucy in return for letting me kip at her house for a while as I got settled in Newcastle upon Tyne. It took a few weeks and it was a tad monotonous towards the end but totally worth it for how fabulous Lucy looks wearing it.
I knitting my niece something for her birthday which will not be appearing on here until she is wearing it.
At the moment I’m knitting my sister a jumper. This is the only picture you’re going to get of it until it’s done and on my little sister. She’s one of the best people I know; smart and funny and a brilliant mum to her little son Jayden. It’s her birthday in April and I’m not able to be there because of my new job so I’ll be bringing this jumper with me when I visit just afterwards.
Yes, I did take a picture in my little cubby hole at work from the laptop. It was my lunch break and my camera is broken.
Because I am insane, I have not used a pattern for this. I used Knitting Fool to work out how much to cast on and I’m going from there. I’m knitting at a very loose gauge with silk and merino (with sparkly bits!) and I’m going to do a lace panel down the side.
The yarn was bought from The Knit Studio and was hand-dyed by a local fibre-artist who happened to be there when I purchased it. I’m not a fan of pink but this, I love. I will find out the name of the artist and link in a later post.
Next up I’m going to knit some socks. Smaller but just as many stitches!
Sometimes life throws you hard times but if there’s one thing I’m sure of it’s that there is always something good to take from it. There are many things wrong with my life right now, including the most impressive run of bad luck I’ve experienced in a long time (even worse than the whole getting-a-serious-rare-illness-a-week-before-leaving-for-Canada thing). Still, if I’m stuck in England for a year or so, I thought I might as well make the most of it.
First things first; getting somewhere to stay. I really don’t like my hometown. It’s alright to visit and I’m sure it’s wonderful for the people who fit there but I have too many bad memories of the place. When my lovely friend Lucy suggested I come to Newcastle-upon-Tyne and stay in her spare room until I get my own place, I couldn’t resist.
I’m glad I didn’t. Not only is it great seeing Lucy, Newcastle is full of creative folk in a much higher concentration than I have experienced before now. Maybe it’s just the circles I’m moving in but I’ve never been somewhere with so much inspiration to soak up.
As a result I’ve been knitting constantly. It helps that I’m still unemployed and have plenty of time to do so. Since Lucy is letting me stay in her spare room for a little while she has now adopted me as her personal knitting slave. I’ve made her a pair of mittens and a hat so far. It’s been snowing a lot up here so it’s necessary.
We visited The Knit Studio yesterday. It’s awesome. Lots of nice yarn to choose from so Lucy bought 110 pounds worth of Manos del Uruguay (wool clasica) in a luscious tonal green for me to knit into a dress for her. I’ve already started.
It’s going to be Idlewood (link goes to Ravelry) with a few modifications, like a panel of this lace up the back:
And the pockets are going to be in a contrasting colour – Manos del Uruguay again, but this time the silk blend in a paler green. I’m also knitting it a little longer so she can wear it with leggings.
After the dress I’m knitting her a pair of socks and in the meantime I’m crocheting her boyfriend a hat to match hers but in dark blue.
At least I have an outlet for all this creativity!
So it came to pass that the people did gather around an indoor tree piled high with generous gifts and then did celebrate the acquisition of new shiny things with the consumption of copious amounts of food. Yes, Christmas has been and gone (thank goodness) and it’s time to wind down from the crazy-fast knitting most knitters dread.
I kind of love it though.
This year I didn’t gift presents to just anyone. Not handmade ones. My departure from Canada and my charming girlfriend coincided horribly with the lead up to giftmas so my energy was limited.
Still, I have tiny relatives to indulge. Beware the brilliance of crappy iPhone photos. (The worst part is it’s not even my iPhone… I am burdened with a Nokia held together with masking tape.)
It’s easy to knit and crochet for most little girls thanks to the awful pink stereotype. I try to avoid it the majority of the time – there are so many other colours out there! – but I had the perfect amount of malabrigo leftover from another project and I couldn’t resist the snuggability.
Find the pattern here on Ravelry.
My first attempt at a sweater seemed to be going wonderfully. I was knitting at a rate of knots (har har har) and I finished the pocket and body in no time. However the rest of the pattern was horribly vague and assumed previous knowledge of knitting raglan sweaters which I did not have at that time. After fretting a while I abandoned it and started again with only a week to go until Christmas.
Find the pattern here on Ravelry.
I succeeded! This may be my proudest creation. I got to squish my nephew in it and it was glorious. It’s nothing special in terms of yarn (there’s not much variety around here, especially if you’re skint as I am) but it’s soft and easy to care for which is important for toddlers. Jayden is a bit fussy (understatement) so I’m glad he wore it all day without complaining.
Honestly I still can’t believe I knitted this in less than week. Best thing is my almost-forgotten aim for 2012 was to knit a sweater. Level up!
Find the pattern here on Ravelry. As you can see I completely ignored the colourwork.
I also knitted a cowl for my sister but forgot to get photos of that. Aside from the above (and a leaf scarf for a dear friend of which I have no photographic proof) I didn’t give any other handmade gifts.
Well, not until I spent all of Christmas Day knitting.
It turns out I can knit an entire hat in a day if I’m avoiding thinking about the fact I’m thousands of miles away from the person I adore on Christmas Day. I got this done in about six hours I’d say, maybe a little more. I spent a huge chunk of the day with the yarn at my side. When I finished, my sister had expressed such adoration for it I just chucked it at her and said Merry Christmas. It’s nice to have a creation appreciated and I think it made her happy so that’s a little more important than keeping my ears warm!
On Boxing Day I settled down to knit through slightly awkward human communication as is my wont. Also, it counted as a sort of physical exercise while I was eating my weight in cheese and Christmas Pudding (or that’s what I’m telling myself).
I got this done in the early evening and gave it to my mum who had expressed displeasure that Sandi had got a knitted hat and she hadn’t.
The pattern for both these hats is wonderful and you can find it here. It’s the most popular hat pattern on the site and I can see why.
That’s a satisfying bounty if I say so myself, but I’m not done. Right now I’m sitting watching Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes which is a cartoon I’ve been coerced into watching by my girlfriend, not that I took much persuading and to occupy my hands I’m whipping up a hat for myself, since I gave away my store-bought bobble hat to my little sister who didn’t want to be left out. I started with a pattern but I seem to be thoroughly deviating from the plan. At the moment I’m deciding whether to keep it as a padded headband or whether to pick up some stitches and make it a hat. THEN I have to decide whether to make it fitted or slouchy!
It’s a hard life being an unemployed knitter.
With less than six hours left until Christmas day I finished the last of my gift knitting. Oh yes.
I cannot believe I managed to knit an entire kid’s sweater in less than a week. My elbow hurts and my fingers ache but I did it.
The pattern I used was this one. It’s nice and easy but I didn’t use the colours, just a plain blue with colourful tweed flecks. I can’t wait until I snuggle up into him while he’s wearing it. My nephew Jayden is the cutest little boy I’ve ever said and this is coming from a person who really, really doesn’t like kids. He’ll say he doesn’t like it because he’s three and argumentative but I can’t wait to see it.
Merry Christmas, fellow knitters (and non-knitters!). Join me in feeling the sheer relief in not having to knit like you’re on fast forward. I’m going to do a slow calm crochet shawl with the yarn my sister bought me tomorrow.
I hope you all have a good break from rapid knitting the next few weeks.
When I realise the world is screwing with me again I pick up a sock-in-progress and it fades enough to function.
When I find out I’m stuck in a country I don’t particularly enjoy yet again I pick up a crochet hook and start a sea silk shawl. Off I go to happy land.
It’s the busiest time of year for all knitters and crocheters and I am busy enough to distract myself. Though I allowed myself a few hours for crochet earlier today for my own sanity I am primarily focusing on the hoody for my nephew and the socks for my girlfriend. The yarn here in my hometown is nothing to the yarn back home in Ontario but I will last another nine months with sub-par facilities.
I knit because it keeps me sane. The rhythm soothes me as easily as meditation and I can focus on something other than crushing disappointment.
…And crocheting, but that doesn’t go with the alliteration thing.
This is my last month in Canada before I need a new visa/permanent residency, so I’m distracting myself with absolutely everything the world can throw at me. I’m crocheting a beautiful bag and a little fish that turns into sushi for a friend from the knitting group at the Little Green House. I am knitting some mittens for someone else and am about to start a little hat/scarf set for someone small. I have a lot of projects on the go and on top of that it’s Nanowrimo, so I’m writing 50,000 words (at least) of a novel this month.
You can imagine I don’t have much time to think about my imminent departure to England, or the fact that a bunch of strangers holds my fate in their hands.
Last month I also taught a three-part class on crochet which was my first time teaching – or at least the first time I was paid to teach. It was enjoyable and I think it went okay. It has rekindled my passion for crochet.
I’ll admit I’m mostly writing this blog entry to procrastinate all the knitting and writing and crocheting I need to do so I’m going to get back to that now!
Sophie Scholl & The White Rose
It’s difficult for anyone to speak up against the status quo, no matter how terrible it is. We live day to day pretending we don’t notice the awful things going on beneath the surface because what else can we do? It’s not as though we could make a difference if we tried, right?
That’s why I picked Sophie Scholl for this week’s Awesome Women from History. A member of a group called The White Rose, Sophie Scholl lived in Germany during WWII. She was caught distributing anti-Nazi leaflets in the University of Munich and she, along with her brother and friend, were executed.
There is a wonderful movie about these last experiences she suffered called, funnily enough, Sophie Scholl. It’s in German with subtitles. I’ve watched it twice now and both times I’ve come away absolutely stunned that someone could see the horror going on around her and not desperately try to hide, but instead fight right up until the end. Her belief that all humans deserved equality surpassed her fear of the Nazi’s strict and terrifying regime.
Sophie Scholl was a strong, brave woman who faced her death without fear, knowing what she did was right. I’ll leave you with her final words.
How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause. Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?