After a year in the knitting wilderness, I’ve started to feel inspired about picking up my needles again. This post is a bit of an idea log. I have a few projects in mind that I hope will come to fruition in 2018. A couple of these projects will definitely happen because they’re my travel knitting for India!
After finishing my Wowligan, I decided to try another kid project. I’m going to have a go at Paper Dolls in the smallest size, with some cute whales swimming around the yoke. Using remnants from my League sweater.
Sraid A’ Chladaich
I’m keen to use stashed yarn at the moment. I have a big box of wool and I don’t want to be one of those crafters who reaches SABLE (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy) status. I opened up Inspired by Islay and remembered this delightful hat, which matches my current favourite sweater.
Wool and the Gang She Loves Wool sweater
This kit is part of a collab with & Other Stories, one of my favourite clothing brands. Although I rarely like WATG designs (too chunky for my body type), I fell in love with this sweater straight away, but vacillated about buying the kit since it starts at £90. I was reminded of my love for it in the Black Friday sales (curse you, relentless consumerism!) and, after nearly buying twice, decided to ask if I could get it for my birthday. Getting this kit is pretty much the only thing that will make turning 31 tolerable.
I knitted a couple of swatches for this sweater a while back. Again, I got close to starting but the cost of the wool I wanted was prohibitive. Pattern? I think I’m going to unravel one of the first sweaters I made and recycle it into a Humboldt, along with some beautiful speckled yarn as the contrast colour.
Lucky charms hat
I’m thinking of making up a pattern for more of a fitted bobble hat using the leftovers of my mini skeins from the Lemonade Shop. It might be a little to similar to the KDD hat but could perhaps become a gift.
It’s nice to feel inspired to knit again, and having ideas of my own rather than sticking to patterns as written. I feel increasingly cynical about my day job and seeing the success of other creative micro-business owners like Kate Davies makes me dream more and more about leaving the 9-5 behind.
Just as I was nearing the finish line and working on the final, extremely long, rows at the top of the shawl, I had to take an extended hiatus in order to squeeze in an urgent secret project. Knitting an entire fingering weight jumper in under three weeks killed my desire to pick up the needles for a while. Just as I started work on the wrap again, I hurt my thumb.
However, fortunately it didn’t take too long for me to be able to knit again. Before long, I’d finished the project. I decided to try out a new method of casting off, which apparently looks better on garter stitch. I used this tutorial for the Icelandic cast off.
My shawl came out pretty close to the measurements on the schematic. I blocked mainly to flatten it, and to improve the ‘W’ shapes. Looking at the pics made me realise that some of the lines are far from parallel, but I don’t think that’s noticeable when I’m wearing it.
Pattern: Wonder Woman Wrap (FREE on Ravelry)
Yarn: 1 skein each Ella Rae Lace Merino (Pineapple Soda) and Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply (Kiss)
The knitting project on my needles at the moment is this beautiful hat, featuring the same slipped stitch pattern as my beloved Port Charlotte. I spent some time thinking about travel knitting projects that I could make from yarns and patterns I already had. I was mindful of how much money I have spent on knitting and sewing this year. Even though I don’t mind spending on my passions, it’s been a little bit ridiculous. I also don’t like having too much yarn or fabric lying around the house.
While glancing through Inspired by Islay for ideas, this hat jumped out at me straight away. I’d totally forgotten it existed after my initial perusal of IBI, but I knew it was perfect. I already had the rainbow colours from Port Charlotte, plus I still had plenty of dark blue left over from my League. I was so excited that I cast on before going on holiday. I had a very long car journey and wanted to spend the time productively.
From someone on Ravelry, I borrowed the idea of knitting the ribbing longer to wear it folded double. I think this will suit me better.
I had just started the orange teardrops when I tried the hat on and realised something. I wanted the brim to be even longer than I had made it. Sadly there was only one solution- frog all of the colour work and re-knit the ribbing to be twice as long. I will now be playing yarn chicken with my navy blue colour!
Although it was sad to undo my work, I am confident that this way I will end up with a finished item that I’m really happy to wear.
I will knit the brim to 5″/11cm. I also got to weigh the yarn I used for each colourwork section and it’s 5g.
Yarn: Leftovers of Baa Ram Ewe Titus and Jamieson & Smith 2-ply Jumper Weight
- Main colour- Endeavour
- Red, orange, blue- Gobstoppers
- Yellow- J&S 91 Pumpkin
- Green- J&S 11FC
Pattern: Sraid A’ Chladaich (Shore Street) by Kate Davies
Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas included a speed knitting contest, for reasons of drama and tension I guess. Perhaps they were hoping for some shots of wooly sabotage. Speed knitting is a bit of a strange concept because there is almost never a timed element to knitting. Although that could be said of baking, or any number of activities that are subject to televised competitions. In fact, the only other speed knitting I have ever done was making my Rainbow bright jumper due to the super tight turnaround time!
It was so strange to see how they edited all the footage they took of me for the final program. It was even stranger to be referred to as ‘yarn geek Monique’ on numerous occasions. But if the shoe fits…
I didn’t get to mention on the show that most of the clothing I wore was handmade. When I was being filmed at home, I had my better Breton sweater on underneath my favourite pinafore. During the speed knitting challenge, I wore my octopus Betty (as pictured here). And I wore my fuchsia tulip skirt with my finished jumper.
I had initially planned to make a cute mini hat to match my sweater, but I was asked to make a full-sized item. Fortunately, I had a ball of Crazy Sexy Yarn in my stash left over from a wrap I made a couple of years ago. This cowl is basically a Lil Snood Dogg. I would have preferred it to be a bit bigger, but I was limited by the amount of (also leftover) t-shirt yarn I had to cast off with for the circumference. I was then limited by time for the length.
I think it looks pretty good given that it only took an hour, and it’s been pretty useful in the current London freeze.
It was so weird that Jade from WatG was one of the judges! We’d met years ago when I did a knitting audition for them- back when they still sold items made by ‘gang makers.’ It was really interesting to hear how things went for the company.
Yarn: Wool and the Gang Crazy Sexy Wool and a couple of metres of Jersey Be Good
Pattern: Very Lil Snood Dogg
I already wrote about the substantive making of my Port Charlotte jumper, but I added a few elements to make it ‘more Christmassy.’ Even though I knit this sweater specifically for Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas, I was very clear that if I was going to invest so much time (and money) in a project, it had to be something I would love in its own right.
The words on the front are simply some chain-stitch embroidery. A top tip that really helped with this (thanks Jane) was to baste on the design with cotton first, to give myself a guideline. The only time I had to do it was on the train from London to Dorset, hence the uneven appearance. I’m definitely going to remove the embroidery once Xmas is over and done with.
I wore my jumper out and about on lovely day out in Bristol with my friend Jane to get some pictures. Here we are being geeks on the open-topped bus tour.
The yoke looks just as beautiful from the back.
I think this jumper fulfils its purpose of looking good with waisted skirts and dresses.
Something that I wish I’d had some more time to work on was the light-up element of this jumper. I’ve been interested in incorporating lights into my knits for a few years now- this was my reason for backing a project on Kickstarter about making light-up cards.
The card kit didn’t really translate into wearable tech, but I backed another TehnoChic project that came with a load of cool LEDs, which were perfect for this. If I’d had more time, I would probably have knitted little pockets behind the sweater to hold the batteries. In the end, I just slapped them on using Velcro! I’ve been too lazy to get the LEDs out again since the filming, so they’re not pictured in this post.
If you want to see more about this sweater and see how I got on in the Christmas jumper knitting competition, you can see my second small screen appearance of the year at 5pm on Thursday 14th December on Channel 4. I imagine it will be available on demand after that (I hope so because I won’t actually be home when it’s on).
Pattern: Port Charlotte by Kate Davies. I made size 4 and my gauge was pretty much spot on.
Yarn: Titus by Baa Ram Ewe. Around 2 skeins White Rose, Gobstopper mini skeins and some Jamieson&Smith jumper weight from my stash
I haven’t been able to do as much making as normal since I hurt my thumb at quidditch practice a couple of weeks ago.
I actually think I was rather lucky. The injury was absolute agony at the time. I was convinced my thumb was broken. On the way to get it x-rayed, I felt like I was cursed. Images of hand surgery, weeks of recovery and permanent damage to my dominant hand filled my mind. What if my fine motor skills were affected? What if I no longer hand the ability to take a project from idea to reality?
The x-ray revealed no fractures, for which I was incredibly grateful. But that was where the diagnosis ended. My thumb was either sprained or strained, I was told not to play contact sport for at least two weeks, given a splint and sent on my way. I was so worried that I went to my GP on the Monday, but they weren’t able to give me any clearer information, apart from telling me again that soft tissue damage takes 2-6 weeks to heal.
I spent the next few days pretty depressed. You don’t realise how much you use your right thumb until it’s hurt. Everything was an inconvenience, I couldn’t craft or exercise and the splint hurt my wrist. In addition to all of this, our regional quidditch tournament was taking place the week after the injury. How could I lead my team and feel I’d made a contribution if I couldn’t play?
I went to therapy and my analyst asked if I’d seen a physio. I laughed- I’ve never been to a physiotherapist in my life. We spoke about how she kept coming up with solutions and advice for me. Was this a response to my feeling powerless in getting better?
Even though it was expensive, going to see the physio was a massive relief. She carefully assessed my hand and told me what she thought was wrong with it- a strained muscle. The power and movement in the thumb was normal. I was unlikely to do more serious damage if I played at the weekend.
Psychologically, I think that having the input from the physio allowed me to switch from feeling like a victim to feeling resilient. Perhaps I was recovering more quickly than expected because I am strong. I also think it was important that I took action and helped myself.
I rested the thumb for the rest of the week and then tried some gentle throwing and catching on Friday. My hand was okay! Amazingly, I was able to play in the tournament with very little pain or loss of function.
Photo credit: More Quidditch Photos on Facebook
Knitting isn’t too painful, so I’ve been making some slow progress on the last long rows of my Wonder Woman shawl. I think it’s looking great! I’m going to Bristol for a conference this week, so hoping I’ll get to finish it up.
Here we have yet another instance of craft reflecting life. Being able to bounce back from an injury and lead my team in the tournament has helped me to feel like a strong and capable woman. A bit like a certain superhero.