Knitting

I am a far less proficient knitter than I am a crocheter. In fact, I’m pretty much a beginner. I learnt a little knitting when I was at school, in fact I’m sure I got my picture in the paper holding the blanket my class had made and donated to an old people’s home or something, but I never knew how to cast on or off. Actually, just a simple knit stitch was probably about the extent of my ability, and was swiftly forgotten.

When I picked up my crochet again as a more regular hobby a year or so ago, I discovered the wonders of Ravelry. Searching for more challenging projects, but something that would be useful and useable, I found myself looking at clothing patterns; jumpers, cardigans etc but didn’t like the effect of the defined rows you tend to get with crochet and found myself drawn to knitting patterns instead.

The Facebook group for crocheters that I am a member of started a knitalong bunny project for those who fancied branching out into other yarn-crafts, so I joined in. I found that I picked up the basics quite quickly and enjoyed the fabric I could create. I struggled a little with how to hold the needles most comfortably and effectively, but a bit of guidance from my grandmother helped there.

My son was delighted with the small bunny that I made for him, so I decided to find a more challenging project to work on. I already own plenty of hats, gloves and scarves, so I chose a reasonably simple-looking pattern for a cardigan that I thought I would probably wear. I paid a visit to my local (to my parents’ house) yarn shop and invested in the yarn and needles I required, plus other bits and bobs to set me up for knitting and some rather pretty buttons. I love that moment of getting home with a bag of new purchases and squishing the yarn as you take it out and admire it.

Test swatch

I immediately set-to and cast on my first real knitting project. The ribbing band at the bottom was quickly worked up and then I switched onto bigger needles to continue working up the back panel. The pattern is straightforward in many ways, but calls for you to work increases and decreases at certain measurements, rather than specifying row counts, which I find a little hard to keep track of if I’m honest. I got as far as the shaping around the armholes and stuttered to a halt. I still need to refer to YouTube every now and again when I come to a new type of stitch, and haven’t quite managed to coordinate sitting at the computer and having my knitting out at the same time. I also admit to being rather daunted by the enormity of the project – particularly with regard to making the two front panels correctly match up with the back panel when, as I say, the measurements seem less than precise. It was perhaps not the most appropriate undertaking for a complete novice, but I do intend to continue with it, not least because I can’t bring myself to frog everything I’ve done up to this point, and also because, having recently perused Ravelry again, I’ve not seen any other pattern that has the right combination of being something I would choose to wear, and something I think is an achievable project to knit.

So, I will endeavour to find the time and inclination to resurrect the cardigan and see how I get on.

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Crochet

My Granny taught me to crochet when I was around 10 or 11. Granny squares. For years, all I knew how to crochet was granny squares! I liked the motion of it, the rhythm of counting stitches, the way they grew quickly from one loop to a small square and bigger. It was faster than knitting, easier (I’d never been able to cast on or off when I’d tried knitting before) and there was only ever one stitch to drop.

I made a blanket for a new baby I knew.

Then stopped.

There’s definitely a limit to the number of granny square blankets I wanted to make. Besides, I had plenty of other things to move on to…

Then, in 2009, when I was expecting my first child, I pulled my old bag of yarn from the wardrobe and made a start on a new baby blanket. The blanket grew and was finished. I wanted to do more. Youtube is a brilliant resource for learning just about anything! I made a hat. I made a bootie. I had a baby boy. The hat was too small. The second bootie never got started. The blanket was all the wrong colours for my baby boy. I made one more blanket for a friend’s baby girl, and then back into the cupboard it went.

Granny Square BlanketToo small hat

Roll on 3 years and I was expecting baby number two. I needed something I could occupy myself with whilst sitting down. I found a pattern for a monkey hat on pinterest (another great resource) and fancied having a go, but didn’t have anything like the right colours, so decided to make it as a polar bear hat for my son. I vaguely followed the pattern, but found it easy to understand the construction and therefore easy to adapt the pattern to suit my ideas and my son. By the end of the day my son was proudly wearing his brand new hat and demanded another – a dragon hat! Said dragon hat duly followed, inspired by pictures I’d seen, but entirely my own design.

I browsed blogs and discovered Attic24, and decided Lucy’s ripple pattern would be great as a baby blanket and started work. A cardigan came next, then matching hats – one for a boy, one for a girl as we did not know what our baby would be – a car seat blanket, then a cake for my son’s kitchen toy box, complete with a plate on request and a slice of cake.

Cardigan and hatBoy and Girl hatsCar seat blanket

Two weeks overdue and desperate for anything to keep my brain occupied I started a giraffe soft toy and was invited to join a crochet group on Facebook. Baby boy eventually arrived and time to crochet was limited, but the giraffe did get finished. I discovered Ravelry and learned about blocking and frogging, new stitches and tried new patterns, and there have been a few more projects since then – a second giraffe, a Heidi Bear Happypotamus, a doll’s blanket for my niece and a beautiful shawl that is very slowly taking shape. More hats and boots and even an attempt at writing a pattern.

Giraffe number oneHappypotamusGiraffe number two

I very much enjoy crochet, but I am quite selective in choosing my crochet projects. I don’t have the kind of house that lends itself to rustic, pretty homemade decorations (they’d just get buried under all the clutter) and I’m not always confident that homemade gifts will be appreciated in all quarters, so I largely stick to making things that I know I will use.  That said, there are the occasional projects I’ve undertaken just because I fancied having a go at something a bit different that caught my eye.

I will be keeping a record of items I’ve made – even just writing this post has made me realised that I’ve made more than I thought I had – and maybe posting a pattern or two should inspiration strike.

Let me know how and when you learned to crochet, and tell me what your favourite pattern is and why you like it.

 

 

Learning the ropes

I crochet. I also knit (a little). I enjoy baking cupcakes, and have been known to bake over 100 in one week. I decorate cakes too. Usually just for a family member’s birthday. I sew. I make the occasional card. I make nappy cakes as new baby gifts for friends. I think that may make me a serial crafter. A Jack of all Crafts. Master of… some? I’m not sure.

I’m usually pretty quick at picking up new things, but I must admit I get bored easily. So I flit from one activity to the next depending on what takes my fancy and what projects I have on the go.

I thought blogging might be a good way to motivate myself to finish projects and also to document what I’ve been doing. It will also give me a reason to develop my photography and writing skills, whilst hopefully getting some feedback and new ideas from the wider blogosphere. Oh yes, I’m also a total approval addict, lacking confidence in my creations until they’ve been admired or approved by someone else.

So here I am. Let’s see what happens.