Monday, 30 January 2012

Just How Much Knitting Can One Person Wear?

Nice shot of my unfinished Advent calendar in the background there...but these are Jenny Lord's knitted bangles from Purls of Wisdom.  The pattern is also available online - I'll post the link below.  I think I've raved about the book before: it's not a 'basics' knitting book in a tedious way. Some knitting books go over all the basics before getting to any patterns - but this book has a really good ratio of patterns to explanations! In fact, I think finding this pattern online - published in Glamour magazine, no less - was what led me to the book.
As you'd imagine, the swatches for each bangle knit up really quickly. Of these, the left hand one is DK and the right hand one Aran so they're great for little remnants. The book tells you how to do flat, invisible seams too - making the finish neat and flat.  The only thing I found tricky was getting the bangles themselves. I got these in, er, Poundland (! classy !) - but now they're covered in knitting, they are only just big enough in diameter to get over my hand. I have little hands so I'm not sure how other people would cope with this. They have a great texture, though, and are quick and fun to make - what's not to like?

Monday, 9 January 2012

In Which I Continue To Love Caitlin Moran's "How To Be A Woman"

Oh my goodness, this book. I dithered about starting it, as I don't read a lot of non-fiction, and then . . . once I'd started it, that was that.  The book is a mixture of tales from Moran's childhood and discussion of 21st century attitudes to childbirth, gossip mags, Jordan and Lady Gaga. Her style is the making of the book: she is outraged, amused and horrified by turns at the ways our society treats and represents women - and at the ways we woman sometimes behave - yet, although her language is frequently amusingly excessive, her points are always reasonable. One point I am still thinking about is her criticism of the rise of the Yummy Mummy: for Caitlin Moran, this role for women has the consequence of restricting their power and potential to the realms of childbirth and child rearing. She argues that this in turn suggests that women's real value is in 'producing new people', rather than realising their own potential. It also diminishes the achievements of women who are childless. She makes these points persuasively - but I am still thinking....

Still - I have hardly *ever* laughed out loud on the train at a book, nor read such a brilliant homage to growing up in the 80s, listening to the Smiths, sharing cigarettes, painting your nails black on the bus into town, in an era pre-Katie Price, pre-the pinkification of girls, pre-Brazilians....

Highest Praise of all: this book has stopped me knitting. Not because she has vilified it as an oppressive craft - but because I can't hold it and knit. So, my jumper has to wait ;)

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Rowan Big Wool Snood Knitting Pattern

A picture of two finished snoods, knitted in Rowan Big Wool. The left hand one is in Mulberry, the right hand one in Oxidise. They are really easy and the wool is just luscious: 100% pure merino wool. You could buy the wool in the morning and then be wearing the snood later the very same day....There are various patterns for these on Ravelry; here is mine:

You will need:

2 balls of Rowan Big Wool
one 15mm circular needle (mine made by Prym)
tapestry needle for sewing in ends

Cast on 96 stitches and join into a circle -ie, once you've cast on, start to knit by knitting into the first stitch you cast on, pull the yarn between the stitches tight, and you will naturally end up knitting in a circle. (Actually, my mum somehow didn't - but you will!).

Knit in 3 3 rib: so, knit 3, purl 3 all the way to the end of the row... and the next... and the next.... making a nice, soft, chunky rib. As a WIP, it will look like this:

Keep going until the second ball of wool has about 6 or 7 loops left in the skein. It takes more wool to cast off than you'd think. Cast off in rib, trying to do so loosely so that the edge doesn't pull in. Darn in the ends (there will be only four, because you've knitted a tube that doesn't need a seam) then wrap the snood round your neck and feel a warm glow of achievement.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Queen of the Knitted Hottie?

There's Fair Isle Knitting everywhere, due to The Killing. There's also quite a lot written about the origins of the patterns. I don't think I'm up to knitting a Fair Isle jumper, but I wanted to try this kind of pattern. It turns out to be easier than I thought: you just knit the stitch in the colour you want, making a chart on squared paper for the contrast pattern. There are numerous charts and hottie patterns on Ravelry and a great one in Jenny Lord's Purls of Wisdom too, so I just picked one and changed the main pattern to stocking stitch. The wool is Sirdar Click Aran - a lovely cornflower blue and plain cream. This star is knitted through 11 stitches over 11 rows and I arranged them by eye - though I have jotted down their position in case I want to knit another one!