Jan 31, 2014

Knitting And Crochet Books From The Library

Thanks to the Internet there are a lot of free resources online for knitting and crochet addicts like me who always want to learn more. From YouTube tutorials to free knitting patterns, as long as you have a working Internet connection, nothing can stop a knitter who owns yarn, however, sometimes it's nice to unplug and learn a new skill without having to glue your eyes to a computer or smartphone screen.

Being on a limited budget I don't buy many knitting books, but I know of a place I can always get a good reference book for little or no money: my local library's fee is €5 for one year, and my children can borrow books there for free as long as I am a member, so I have a good reason not to spend a lot of money while still reading books.

I used to borrow only novels, until I discovered the reference books aisle of my library, and this is what I came home with 3 weeks ago (and sadly have to return, but I will renew one of them for an extra 3 weeks because I hardly got the chance to open it):

The Encyclopedia of Crochet Techniques - Jan Eaton

100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet - Lesley Stanfield

Crochet to Go! - Ellen Gormley
 I bet the librarian thinks I'm a little mad!

If you are planning on buying knitting, crochet, or reference books for any other hobby you may have, but don't know which ones are the best for you, just have a look in your local library, there might be a book you've wanted to buy that turns up not to be that useful and would have wasted money on if you had bought it, or you might find a book you can't live (or knit) without and decide to buy it, like I did with my Knitter's Bible:

The Knitter's Bible - Claire Crompton

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Jan 26, 2014

Crochet Flowers to Light Up A Stormy Sunday

These Crochet flowers were made by my 11 and 3/4 old daughter. I hadn't realized she had made that many, but when I saw them in her crochet hooks case this morning, I took them out to have a better look and I just had to take this picture:

Crochet flowers made by my 11 and 3/4 year old

I'm a little jealous of her ability to learn crochet so fast: while it takes me hours to search for an idea of what to crochet, another hour to select the one I want, adding an unknown amount of time to learn, rip, try again and again until I'm happy with the result, this kid just asks me how I'm doing a crochet flower, listens to me starting to explain and stops me after 5 seconds telling me she got it, then she picks up a crochet hook and some wool and just goes ahead and has 8 of these crochet flowers done!

While I'm adding an 11 year-old brain to my Christmas wish list, I will leave you with a picture of a crochet flower I made, after a long day of learning, ripping, re-doing.... I hope this will cheer up your Sunday, as today this little Irish country is being battered once again by wind and rain, and the only thing there is to do is knit or crochet sitting by the fire:-)

Crochet flower made by me
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Jan 19, 2014

Knitting My Blue "Chocolate Passion" Cabled Cardigan

I've been hesitant about knitting large projects because of how time consuming they are, but rather than heading to Penneys and buy some cheap "I hope I won't look like everyone else around here" piece of junk, I've finally decided to start knitting a nice cardigan for myself.

A while ago, I bookmarked a free knitting cardigan pattern in Ravelry with nice cables that I really liked and I happened to have a blue yarn in my stash, not the one specified in the pattern, but a similar weight yarn for which I managed to get the same gauge.

The pattern is called Chocolate Passion jacket with cables but of course, since the wool I'm using is blue, I can't call it that.

January isn't the best time to cast on a winter cardigan pattern, especially since I'm still at the same time learning how to crochet, trying to stock up my Etsy shop with more knitted headbands and studying my double-knitting online course, but since I live in Ireland where the weather can be unpredictable, I guess I'll still be able to wear it in May or June, in between 2 mini heatwaves. And if my knitting is too slow, there's still next winter (a full 11 months and 3 weeks' long one, ha ha!).

It's a funny knitting pattern for a cardigan, as it begins with the back, but at about a quarter high, and the lower back piece is knitted with the fronts, (I guess I'll have to do some sewing afterwards to join them all together, sigh!).

The cardigan has lots of lovely cables and the picture of the finished knitted cabled jacket looks amazing: I hope mine will look beautiful too. If it turns out the way it's supposed to, I'll be wearing it a lot to show off my cable knitting skills!

Here's what I have knitted so far:
Middle back of my blue "chocolate passion" cable cardigan
I'll try and keep sharing my progress here, in between crochet and double-knitting bits and bobs and hopefully some of the ideas that keep popping up in my head - I think I'm suffering from knitting ADHD, wanting to do it all at the same time:-)

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Jan 12, 2014

First Double Knitting Homework: Double Knit Duvino Headband

I already mentioned that I am following a double knitting class from Craftsy. There are some very nice projects to make in the class and during the week I've been doing the first class project: a double knit, reversible headband.

I already dabbled a bit in double knitting when I was doing my Christmas double-knit coasters, but taking this class gave me better tips on how to cast on and bind off in a neater way, and also how to have cleaner edges (in the case of flat double-knitting), and I'm still only at the end of lesson 4 out of 10, so I'm hoping to learn a bit more from it.

One thing you need for double-knitting is A LOT of patience. This is a very slow process that requires focus so not something to do while watching a movie (better switch to an easier project!). I haven't been able to knit more than 4 or 5 rows a day (each row has 3 repeats of the pattern and a total of 111 stitches) because I would have been on the verge of losing my mind. Even though I love the effect achieved by double knitting, this is not a knitting technique I would recommend for big projects.

So here we go, I present you the Duvino Headband, designed by Alasdair Post-Quinn and knit by my own ten nimble fingers:

Now I'm going to knit something simple before I get back on the double knitting horse because my brain needs to rest a little, but then again, I might just decide to get on with the next lesson tomorrow!

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Jan 7, 2014

Knitted Headbands: Aran Wool Ear Warmers to Finish Off Winter

The weather has gone all crazy out there and whether it's winter, spring or Autumn weather, I think a warm headband made out of Tweed Aran wool is always a useful accessory, for wearing inside or outside (it keeps hair tidy too, which always gets my vote!).

In order to use up some of my Aran wool, I started knitting these ear warmers, I really like the cable design on the first hairband, I think it makes it look more Irish, which would fit perfectly for Aran tweed yarn like this.

Aran Tweed Headbands

As you can see on the picture, both headbands are of different sizes: the cable one fits my head, but as my head is small (I tend to swim a bit in standard size hats or hairbands!), I think I will make another in the same size as the flower headband. It is knitted straight but using a temporary cast-on, so that I could join both ends using a clean grafting join, which is nearly invisible (it looks just like one row of stocking stitch and doesn't mess up the whole thing with a bulky join).

For the flower headband, I had planned to make it my size too but I took my gauge from a flat knitting piece and I knitted the hairband in the round, which is why I'm getting a difference: it doesn't really matter, because I can list it in my Etsy shop as a Medium-Large size headband and make another smaller one to list as Small-Medium. The flower is made using my new found skill: Crochet.

I can afford to do these ear warmers in 2 sizes as I have quite a bit of that yarn (a giant-sized 400g ball, to be exact!). I will also do them in at least 4 colours, as I have the exact same wool in 4 different colours: Cream, Grey, Green and Blue.

Right now I need to keep my head away from all the online yarn sales (I'm not going to tell you how many times since last week I've had yarn in my basket, only to exit the website telling myself I had to pay off my bills and use up some of my existing yarn first!). I'm sure there will be other yarn sales before my own yarn shelves are empty.

Luckily to keep me busy, I have lots of new headbands to make, an online double-knitting class to study (very excited about this one!), a few patterns to write (I've finished the Craftsy pattern writing class I was enrolled in), and to top it all, there's a nice cabled cardigan I want to knit for myself - which means the kids are next and I'm thinking vests they can wear over a T-shirt but nothing particular in mind yet.

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Jan 3, 2014

Sophie's Knit Stuff January Sale Starts Today

The picture above should be self-explanatory, but just to make sure: to celebrate the start of the New Year, you can buy all the items in my Etsy Shop listed in 2013 with a 15% price reduction. No promo code necessary.

The sale will end on 31/01/14, after which date the prices are going back to their December 2013 prices so don't wait too long, visit Sophie's Knit Stuff now!

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