Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Fabulous knitting websites

I LOVE the internet. It is an amazing resource, although obviously not 100% reliable, it can provide the greatest inspiration as well as being a useful tutor - great for knitting. As with everything internet related there are an abundance of knitting websites and even more general craft websites but I thought I would share some of my favourites.

www.vam.ac.uk - Victoria and Albert Museum.

I love the V&A Museum anyway but I only realised recently that the website has a whole section on knitting. You can find out about the origins of knitting (fascinating and complicated); articles about the different regional styles of knitting, interviews with designers and my favourite discovery – ‘Knit a work of art from a free pattern’. The free pattern is for a pair of ‘Conrad’ gloves by Freddie Robins…

'Conrad' gloves by Freddie Robins

‘Freddie Robins's subversive knitting includes a series of gloves where pairs join, single gloves have ten fingers or each finger sprouts a new glove. 'Conrad' is a character from the 19th century book of cautionary tales, Struwwelpeter, by Dr Heinrich Hoffmann. Conrad's mother warns Conrad that if he continues to suck his thumbs the scissor-man will come and cut them off. He ignores her warnings and 'Snip! Snap! Snip!' he loses his thumbs. .’

Elsewhere on the website offers a glimpse into the wonderful environment of the V&A which can only fuel further inspiration and wonder at how creative people are.

www.ravelry.com – An online knitting and crochet community

Ravelry has a really active number of forums and groups (3 million users!) which is what I mainly use it for, my username is pinksamc. I generally go on the forums and get involved in the knitting conversations or there are whole groups dedicated to knitting blogging. I haven’t used much else on the website yet but you can see what projects others users are working on; find free patterns; swap wool etc.

www.pinterest.com – Pinboard style photo-sharing

 Anyone who knows me will know how much I love Pinterest! It is the main reason for my almost constant lack of phone battery (they have an app as well). I am sure most of you will have seen or at least heard of Pinterest. Basically you can view photos (generally with a link behind them) of really cool stuff and you can ‘pin’ it to your personal ‘pinboard’. There is absolutely everything on this site; I like to think of it as the best bits of the entire internet, well, for me anyway. It is inspiring, creative…just go on and have a look.

www.ukhandknitting.com – ‘The Knitty-pedia of all things hand knitting & crochet’

I have only recently discovered this site. There are some brilliant articles about all aspects of knitting as well as directories for knitting groups, wool shops etc. My favourite page on there is knitting for charity, a list of charities that are requesting knitters/crocheters to complete and send to them for charity! How fantastic is that – altruistic knitting! They also have some pretty cool statistics; do you know 4 million women in the UK have an interest in knitting? I have no idea of the viability of their research, but sounds pretty good doesn’t it?!

www.youtube.com – Sharing videos

And last but not least You Tube! Imagine this…you are in the middle of a very exciting project (for me it was adult booties), it is all going ok and then the pattern changes…to a stitch you don’t know. So I look in my trusty Knittygritty book and IT JUST DOESN’T MAKE SENSE! This happened to me with K2togtbl and You Tube came to the rescue! It makes such a difference actually seeing someone do the stitch in front of you and even the most patient of knitting friend or tutor would be tired of repeating the stitch every line you forget (I do that – every line, very annoying). With You Tube you just press play and someone will show you their view of doing the stitch as many times as you need! Some of the videos are a bit dodgy but there are so many that it doesn’t take long to find one that fits your learning style. Just try not to get distracted by videos of dancing basset hounds or a panda sneezing as I do….

So there we have it, a small selection of knitting websites or websites that are useful for knitting. There are MASSES more really good websites but these are just some of the ones I use regularly.

Until next time knitters,

Sam x

Lulu & the blanket Mum crocheted for me AGES ago.x

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Knitting Injury

Hi Knitters! 

It has been a while - I have been suffering from a knitting injury!  Yes, really!  I must have been knitting with such ferocity that I really hurt my shoulder, it sounds ridiculous I know.  The pain was excruciating and it was stopping me from getting a good night's sleep.  Eventually Roberty got fed up of my moaning and made me go to the doctor.  I saw the Nurse Practitioner who was lovely and very understanding and thought it may also be to do with my job and sitting at a computer for a good part of my day.  She prescribed some wonderful painkillers (Codeine) and a referral to the physio department.  Subsequently I have been trying to avoid knitting mostly until it is feeling better and may need to pace myself a bit more.  So not a great deal of knitting in today's post but I'll let you know some of what I have been up to...

I did manage to finish the first part of Lulu's dog jumper (which she is modelling in this photo beautifully) and am currently working on the underside.  This is the ridiculously easy pattern I discussed in my previous post, basically it is a rib 2x2 stitch and garter stitch. 

Lulu & Kitty - her BFF

Lulu may look angelic in this photo but she has been quite naughty over the last few weeks.  Her little friend Kitty (the Pug) has not been with her during the day recently and Lulu has rebelled big time!  Her recent rampages have included pulling out the stuffing from her dog bed; tipping (& eating) the rubbish bin (on several occasions) and chewing a £60 razor to bits.  She has literally been in the dog house, we had to buy her a cage to go in when she is alone - although it is never for very long. 

Mum's yummy dessert

Knitted Pets Book
For the first time in years I spent Mother's Day with my lovely Mummy.  I bought her the Emili Sande CD which I hope to borrow at some point as it had really good reviews.  We listened to it during lunch.  My Mum also surprised me and bought me a knitting book - 'Knitted Pets' (apologies for the bad photo!).  I love it although the patterns are quite advanced so I am going to wait until I have a bit more time.  I really like that they are quite small so although technically challenging I should see the results of my labours pretty quickly and cost-effective as not a large amount of wool is needed. I will keep you updated.  My Mum also made the yummiest dessert, lemon syllabub with vodka jelly and a chocolate strawberry with shortbread and mixed fruits.  Delicious!   

Apart from that I have been busy as a bee at work - after a couple of unsuccessful interviews I now have a permanent job!  Woo Hoo!  It is the same job I am doing at the moment which is fab.  I am sure you will agree the weather is horrid at the moment, the other day I was wearing my coat in the office and then my lovely friend Jennifer sent me photo from where she is at the moment - Australia!  I was very jealous!

Me freezing at work.....

Jennifer's view in Australia!

Anyway knitters - quite a long post today.  I have been thinking of starting up another blog to run alongside this one as I really don't want to deviate from knitting on here.  However I am not the quickest knitter and rather than do myself an injury it might be better to pace myself and in the meanwhile blog about my other interests?  If I do I will post the new blog address on here.
Please follow me on @KnittedDog1

Until next time knitters,

Sam x


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Sunday, 27 January 2013

Triumph & Disaster

Last weekend I went to an Aladdin’s cave of knitting goodness –otherwise known as the John Lewis Haberdashery department in Norwich. With the help of a lovely member of staff I purchased a darning needle (well a pack of 5, assorted sizes £1.70); threader and 1 set of circular needles. I obviously could have bought lots more…they have a fabulous selection of wool (a little out of my usual price range), knitting books etc. But whilst I was looking around my very patient boyfriend found himself a comfy sofa and very kindly ordered me the follow up to the knittygritty book I use, rather aptly named ‘knittygritty: the next steps’. It arrived Tuesday and I LOVE it. Adult booties are top of my list of things to make as I enjoyed making the baby booties so much. I’ll do a review of the new book in my next blog post.
Luckily a snow day following my purchases meant that I had plenty of time to darn my work! I followed the instructions as closely as I could for the various ways to make up my work. And I actually quite enjoyed it! It was lovely to see my handy work come together. The booties – absolute triumph! Looked really good, I am going to make a few more pairs of these as they are lovely and I know a couple of people with babies (or who are expecting). The hat – disaster! Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, the knitting and sewing up went well but it is absolutely massive. I mean ENORMOUS. I realise I may have used the wrong sized needles and the wrong wool so it has ended up looking more like a tea cosy. However I still really enjoyed making it and will try again very soon. Part of me wants to unravel it and use the fab wool for something else…I’ll have to think about that.
I am currently working on a pattern I found online for a very simple dog jumper. Hopefully this will be finished by my next post, so I’ll put some photos up. Also I’m going to start the adult booties this weekend as the dog jumper pattern is so easy (just rib & garter stitch) that it isn’t really testing my knitting skills and I enjoy learning new stitches.
In other news, I have signed up for the ‘Understanding Patterns’ and the ‘Easy Hat’ workshops at Wibbling Wools in Bury St Edmunds http://www.wibblingwools.co.uk/classes.html - really looking forward to both of these. They are a little way off yet, so plenty of time to save up and in the Easy hat workshop I’ll have an opportunity to knit in the round using my circular needles! I’m also hoping that after I have been to structured workshops I’ll have the confidence to attend a knitting group.
Really enjoying knitting at the moment, particularly as it is so cold and nice to get in my PJs and knit on the sofa. I am wondering whether my knitting will slow down as the weather warms up and the evenings are a bit brighter – we will have to see!
Until next time knitters,
Sam x
Lulu enjoying the snow

Friday, 18 January 2013

Darn it!

Knitting is the perfect antidote for snowy weather - the cold weather has done wonders for my knitting! 

This week I have started and nearly finished several knitting projects.  I say nearly because I am missing what is seemingly a vital piece of knitting kit - a darning needle.  I am continuing my way through knittygritty and this is what I have accomplished so far;

Chunky Scarf (pattern - knittygritty; wool - Robin, Chunky)
My first finished project!!!!  This was super easy (as you might expect from a scarf) but I am so proud - I finished it and no holes!  Whoop whoop.

Finished Chunky Scarf

 Knit hats (pattern - knittygritty; wool - King Cole comfort chunky)
I loved making this as it was the first time I had followed a pattern and used 1x1 rib stitch! I also learnt how to decrease stitches. The wool is really luxurious and lovely to knit.  I picked up the wool from Wibbling Wools in Bury St Edmunds from a bargain bin, I bought 2 balls but tempted to go back and see if there is any left.  This is the first project where I realised I needed a darning needle, so it is not quite finished.  This does not stop me from putting it on my head - sad I know.

Knit Hat

Booties (Pattern - knittygritty; wool -Cygnet DK)
Roberty suggested I make these and I am glad he did.  I loved seeing them take shape and again practised my decreasing skills.  I am very tempted to make adult ones!

Baby Booties
As you can see I have plenty of darning to do which I must admit I am not looking forward to, but I have heard that this is quite common for knitters?  Knittygritty does give some styles of sewing up your work so I'll give those a go.  

On another note, I was meant to have a job interview this week but it was postponed due to the weather - I'll keep you posted!

Until next time knitters...

Sam x

Lulu & her BFF Foxy

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Knitting Epiphany

Firstly, I would like to thank the people who have commented on my blog posts so far. The amount of happiness this brings me is scary – I literally tell everyone I know that real people who I have not forced to read my blog have actually commented! So thank you very, very much.
This week I have had an epiphany! After reading knittygritty (the knitting book which I wrote about in my last blog) I was so excited that I decided it was time to let go of my first project – the disastrous tank top which I have since transformed into a snood. So, I needed to cast off. My first time. Very scary. But I followed the instructions in knittygritty, completely doubting my ability to do it correctly, and guess what? It worked. Not only did it work, it actually looked good, in fact, the neatest part of the entire piece. I was over the moon – for the first time I felt like a real knitter or at least have the potential to become one.

Casting off success!

With this in mind, I resolved to follow the book completely. Rather than jump ahead to the hot water bottle cover (which I really want to do) I decided to stick with the suggested first project – you guessed it, a chunky scarf. Before Christmas I spotted some chunky wool so already had that and then borrowed some chunky knitting needles from Roberty’s mum. Now as I have started a knitting blog you would at least think I have the basics, well, *whispers* I have never cast on by myself….shock! Horror! The last time I did kind of do it myself, but my Mum had to rescue me on several occasions and even if I momentarily lost concentration she had to show me again. This time I followed the book – and it was easy! What was I so worried about?! I think in my head I had knitting filed away in the ‘magical’ section – where only those in the ‘know how’ can do it. Like I said, this week I really have had a knitting epiphany!

 With the chunky wool and needles, this project is growing 100x faster than my last one and no holes so far! I have no idea who it is for yet but I have plenty of time to decide that.

Chunky Scarf

In terms of the blog, I have joined twitter (@knitteddog1) and have been reading some really fabulous blogs, including Grace Paratee (http://graceparetree.blogspot.co.uk/) who kindly commented on my last post. Also after reading about other people attending knitting groups I am considering going along to one myself. I love reading about other people’s projects so I think I would really enjoy seeing people actually working on them and the chance to meet and talk to some like-minded people. It can only be a good thing in terms of my knitting knowledge as well as meeting new people, which I love to do.

So much more to add but I'll do another post in the week,

Until next time knitters.

Sam x

Lulu doesn't like paperwork  x

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Tank Top Catastrophe!

Happy New Year my fellow knitters,

As the title suggests the tank top I mentioned in my last blog did not quite make it into a Christmas present and may need rethinking. I am desperately disappointed and now realise that one of my many resolutions for 2013 must be to learn how to read and follow a pattern!  Which is very lucky as one of my favourite Christmas presents was a fabulous knitting book. (I really should have read something like this before I started my knitting adventure...)   

Knittygritty is really easy to follow, colourful and the order of 'How to...' pages followed by a pattern utilising those stitches makes sense.  The book is made up of an enormous variety of easy projects such as hats, scarves, bags, flowers, cushions and many more.  I think I will start with the hot water bottle cover - it looks simple and is something I could add individual decoration too.  The 'How to' pages use clear photos and the patterns explain what the abbreviations mean in clear English.  I have only two criticisms of the book.  Firstly, it would have been better if the book had been a ring binder rather than a regular book binding - much easier for when I need two hands on my knitting instead of holding the book open.  Secondly, the book uses terms such as 'manly' and 'girlie' for items such as the scarves.  I really think society has moved on from the image of a woman only wearing floaty items and men wearing heavier items.  But hey ho, only minor criticisms of an otherwise fabulous book that I can't wait to get started on. 

I have managed to establish how to upload photos to this blog which I think add such a lot rather than just plain writing.  I am also learning a lot from other knitters, particuarly on www.ravelry.com an online knitting community - my username on ravelry is pinksamc please feel free to add me.  There is such a wealth of information on there, particularly for novices like me. 

Anyway, until next time knitters.

Sam x

The lovely Lulu x