Monday, 11 February 2008

The necessity of knitting

I've been lurking in various forums on ravelry recently, and I've noticed a recurring post, which is usually entitled something along the lines of: You know you're addicted to ... when

Now I don't think of myself as having a particularly addictive personality - sure I feel a bit miffed if I'm unable to get my weekly fix of Heroes, Torchwood etc., and after 'going cold turkey' from alcohol and caffeine (including chocolate - eek!), I realised how much I was relying on the latter to stay awake past lunchtime, I feel I am strong enough willed to resist most addictions.

However, I am developing a increasing compulsion to knit.

I thought I was just knitting for fun, for presents, or to improve my knitting skills for the future when I might need them (after the apocalypse, stuck on an island somewhere with a couple of sheep perhaps). But I think it's gone beyond that.

A case in point. I'm going to a friend's wedding in a couple of weeks. I need a new dress (don't we all, although husband disagrees). Upon finding a nice dress, the first things that rush through my head are:

I've got a hat (handknit) that will go with this ...

But wait a minute, I'll need a wrap (sleeveless dress in York in March)

Aha! I've got some kidsilk haze in exactly the right shade of green to look gorgeous with the dress and aforementioned hat, and if I make Knitty's Wisp shawl then it will be gorgeous and light but at the same time snuggly warm.

But I'll need a contrast colour somehow, so why don't I just nip downstairs to John Lewis' haberdashery department and pick up a second ball of kidsilk haze in a nice brown colour, which will in turn go with my shoes, and then I can get some brown tights (to go with the yarn).

Thus, decision to buy the dress was almost entirely based on the accessories I had already knit, or could possibly make to go with it.

I am actually starting to feel quite naked if I go out of the house without wearing something hand made. I made Knitty's Foliage hat the day before coming to work after Christmas because my previous hat was a bit felty. But then I had the hat so I had to make the mittens, and now I have the mittens I really could do with a scarf ...

And I have some comfort knitting (the Hemlock ring blanket / shawl in baby alpaca) by my bed ... just in case.

I am pretty confident that I could stop knitting if I really wanted to, but I think that my life would be emptier and certainly less snuggly without it.

Blogging hiatus

Well, that was quite a blogging hiatus. Nearly 3 whole months with nary a post nor a pic. I've been off the blogging radar partly by choice, partly by necessity, as I have felt increasingly tied to my computer over the last couple of months and I wanted to dedicate more time to non-screen based activities, plus my Christmas making and doing rather took over. Still, this means that I have quite a bit to talk about now!

So, following the traditions of diarists everywhere, and to put things into perspective, a review of my first ever knitting year.

I learnt to knit on 7th June this year. I can pinpoint the date as Rhona taught me the basics at my first KTOG meeting in Baldock. Needless to say I've not looked back. My cupboards are now full of yarn, I have needles galore from raids on charity shops, and have ventured into many corners of knitterdom. I'm going to list my 2007 FOs now, so look away now if you are of the opinion that "beginners" should not attempt anything other than garter stitch and scarves for at least the first 10 years (yes those people do exist - cowards!)

Pictured (not in order)

  • Fetching fingerless gloves (Marisol Hacho)
  • Knucks fingerless gloves (Rowan tapestry)
  • Short row wavy scarf (Rowan tapestry)
  • Zig zag scarf (Sublime extra fine merino)
  • Thrummed mittens (Wensleydale DK and Shetland combed tops)
  • Very warm hat (Twilleys Freedom Spirit and Wensleydale DK)
  • Baby surprise jacket (Sirdar Baby Bamboo and cotton)
  • Saartje's booties (Patons DK cotton)
  • Breeze socks (random cheap sock wool from t'shop on t'market)
  • Kiri shawl (Garnstudio Alpaca)
  • Watch cap (x 2 - Rowan Freedom wool and Manos)
  • Tea cosy (Matchmaker DK)
  • Lace scarf (Handmaiden Lady Godiva)

Plus (not pictured):
  • Monkey socks (Violet Green Sheherezade wool)
  • Easyknits basic socks (Plums and Custard Easyknits yarn)
  • Foliage hat (Brigantia fusion wool)
  • Odessa hat (Rowan cashmerino DK and some loverly green beads)
  • Koolhaas hat (Debbie Bliss Rialto)
  • Bias garter stitch scarf (various shades of Rowan Scottish Tweed)
Phew! I didn't realise there were quite that many things! And I've frogged quite a few.

Other craft-wise, I was rather overwhelmed by my latest obsession, and haven't therefore much to show other than knitting (see below). I did make a start at the end of the year to wean myself off the yarn, and made some pretty stitch markers for myself and a couple of swaps (knitting related I know, but not actually knitting). I also, with the help of my handy husband finished this just in time for the arrival of the recipient.

I love the felt softies all over the web at the moment, and have been wanting to make something felty for a while. I drew out some random blobby shapes using circles as a basis, then cut out lots of them and arranged the pieces on the dining room carpet, distributing the colours by squinting from a distance. I happened across a massive bag of embroidery threads in a charity shop earlier in the year (I yelped - v embarrassing, but its usually slim pickings in our local shops) and used random colours of these to stitch up the shapes and hang them from the beautifully cut, drilled, fixed and sanded frame. There are also some bells in there for added interest/parental annoyance, and some of the shapes are stuffed with bean bag beans rather than stuffing. I think the small one appreciated it, although he was still at the cross-eyed snuffly phase when we met him so it was a little hard to tell!

I participated in a few swaps in 2007, with varying degrees of success. The International Scarf Exchange was by far the most fun, as knitting something secret for someone you have never met, on the other side of the world, and knowing that someone else is returning the favour for you is a marvellous experience. Both my up- and downstream swap partners were lovely people, and it was amazing to see my scarf being worn thousands of miles away. I'll be hostessing for the next round of this exchange in a very short while, so come and join in the fun!

I was also a member of the Monkey Sock Swap, Stitch Marker Exchange, and Secret Pal 11, although I am not sure if I will participate in the latter again. I received some nice bits and bobs from my pal, and I think my downstream secret pal appreciated her parcels, but sending random stuff is not quite the same as handmaking something for someone.

Speaking of which, I received some amazing handspun skein from Yoshimi (pic to come once I dig it back out of the yarn cupboard!) as part of a Pay It Forward scheme. If any of the 3 people who signed up to receive something from me are reading this - rest assured that I am raring to go after the Christmas present debarcle, and your gifts will be in the post in the near future.

Finally, I must mention a couple of purchases. I was incredibly lucky to become the adoptive parent of Sven, who is of course, a Little Cotton Rabbit.

I have never typed a blog comment so fast as i did to snaffle him, but am very glad I did. Here is Sven posing for you (he took a fancy to other people's Christmas trees and was last seen in our drinks cupboard - I can see that he is going to be a fun rabbit to own!)

Secondly, my sock knitting now travels in style, in one of Monkee Maker's mini totes.

My own monkee made of knit still sadly lies in pieces, but may be revived in the new year so that I can join in with the monkey business spreading like wildfire across the globe.

Next, some plans for 2008. I'm not calling these resolutions as I will never keep them if I do.

I would like to branch out and put my crafty tendencies to good use by making some things to sell. Not sure what yet, but there is a limit to the extent my stash can grow without good reason (or cash).

I will make bigger things. I've already started knitting a hoodie, although I discovered the other day the perils of knitting with variegated yarn and starting a new ball in semi-darkness. Namely, a big stripe right across the back. Sigh. I've decided to press on though as the wool is 50% wool and 10% alpaca, so I think it will probably overdye quite nicely. I'll not be put off though and already have a couple of other 'big' things in the pipeline.

Finally, I will become a 'Fearless knitter'. I think I am already quite fearless, but I'm sure I can be more daring ...