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Not that long ago, knitting was my nemesis. Growing up I had tried various crafts, played different musical instruments and had a variety of hobbies. My grandma was always keen for one of these to be knitting. She successfully taught me cross-stitch tapestry, and over what must have been a decade persevered in trying to teach me the art of knitting. She failed... I don't know quite why, but no matter how many times she demonstrated and explained it didn't sink in. A couple of years back I was working in a library and had the opportunity to attend a craft workshop we were hosting. After the main cupcake decorating demonstration, everyone sat down with whatever projects they were currently working on. Several ladies were sat knitting, and a colleague offered to try and teach me. For some reason her explanation finally began to make sense. For some reason, I should have inherited left-handedness from both my parents but I write with my right hand. It is only in recent years I have come to notice that in some activities my brain almost thinks the other way round - more as a left-handed person would perceive something. I've been responsible for the death of many a tin-opener, and now think my initial failure at knitting was not wrapping the wool around and making loops in the wrong direction. Now I know to be aware of it, it is a lot easier. My colleague sent me away with a ball of wool and a pair of needles, and I persevered with it for a little while, but soon forgot about it. Then, a few months later I was working elsewhere and got chatting to a lovely lady who lent me a whole variety of knitting and crochet needles, and I got out some library books and gave it another go. I've persevered off and on ever since, usually over-indulging to the point of numb fingers, or having a quiet couple of months. To me, knitting is a very relaxing hobby. To be honest, my skill level is still very basic. I am fantastic at anything square or rectangular shaped. I've successfully knitted a variety of scarves and phone covers, but I lack the confidence to branch out further. Well, that and I got distracted when Santa brought me a sewing machine... Even if you make mistakes, nothing is permanent in wool. You can pull it back to the point of the problem and just remove it - unlike real life! I've picked up a variety of stitches and techniques. Youtube is a great resource as you can watch videos and pause as much as you like. For me, they are still no substitute for a real book. Sometimes the description on the page only comes alive when you watch a video, or vice versa - but it's worth using a couple of approaches to start with. I have used a variety of needles, and have come to realise that the bamboo knitting needle is one of the most under-rated innovations of the last few years. I have had wrist problems in the past, so found the traditional heavy metal needles could be very inflexible. This eventually led to throbbing pains through my wrists, exacerbated by the coldness of the needles in mid-winter. Bamboo needles may not have the life span of metal, but are more environmentally friendly as bamboo grows at astounding rates. They come in a wide range of sizes and are strong, but with a very small amount of flexibility which really helps when trying to move tricky stitches between the needles. The flexibility also seems to relieve my wrist no end. You can't avoid the cramp forever, but I would never go back to metal now. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of knitting is wool shopping. Living in West Yorkshire, even in the twenty-first century, we seem have a good concentration of local wool shops, market stalls and high street retailers offering wool. The range of colours and textures is astounding. Personally I am a big fan of hitting the markets for wool as you often get good quality wool at discount prices. Independent retailers and market stalls often have helpful staff who have many years experience of knitting under their belts, so I would definitely suggest asking for advice if you're not sure what you're after. Prices of wool vary wildly from 50p for a small ball of synthetic up to £10 or £20 for a designer ball of wool. I've made myself an oversize canvas bag that is now full to the brim of all the different balls I've stocked up on. In my defence, I'm working on a giant knitted patchwork quilt. The idea is to use a large assortment of colours and textures, and of course patterned wools that just look like someone had an accident with the dye when you see them in the shop. It's only taken me 18 months to make about two thirds of the squares I need, so by winter 2014 I'll be toasty!
In an age where technology reigns supreme I have found solace in knitting and other crafty activities. I went to university for the first time and being a few years older than everyone else and not interested in going out on the lash but having loads of extra time on my hands I felt I needed some new hobbies. Knitting became one of those new hobbies as a way to do something productive with my time (instead of wiling away the hours on facebook), a way to keep my hands busy and a way to keep my mind off of homesickness/loneliness/feeling a bit different to everyone else! I'm not sure why I chose knitting but it was near Christmas and I decided I wanted to knit my mum a scarf so off I went! I remember my nan trying to help me learn to knit when I was younger with a pair of children's red metal knitting needles, I was always dropping stitches, making a mess and generally didn't appreciate knitting. So when it came to trying to knit a scarf I had to educate myself from scratch, learning how to cast on and how to do a simple knit/garter stitch. Now this is where knitting and technology work well together... thanks to YouTube I could watch videos of people casting on and knitting and could pause and rewind as many times as needed rather than trying to fathom it out from a set of pictureless instructions! I highly recommend YouTube to anyone wanting to learn to knit! I had no idea where to buy knitting equipment so ended up in John Lewis as I was living in a new city and didn't know of any independent shops, and left there with some chunky 10mm knitting needles and some chunky and very funky) wool and with my YouTube videos I was well away! Since those early days I've learned different stitches (more thanks to YouTube), discovered Ravelry which meant discovering loads of free patterns at my disposal and a whole knitting community, learnt some new techniques (cabling, increasing, decreasing) and have finally mastered the art of knitting in the round and particular magic loop, what a happy day that was when I finally cracked it! My projects are still small, but they fill me with a lot of pleasure, not only when I'm knitting them but also when I have the finished product in my hands. My first project was the scarf for my mum which she loved and since then I've made things for me and most recently a hat for my housemate which she also loved! I've found that people really appreciate the effort put into knitted gifts and you can knit 'cool' items rather than just baby clothes and the sort of jumpers your nan used to knit! I've now got some more friends at university and though at first I was a bit embarrassed about revealing that I knit, they all know now and I think some even admire the fact that I knit (yet don't seem to want to try themselves)! It's a nice change from being glued to the tv or the computer because you can challenge yourself and if you're a beginner like me you have to think about what you're doing! I'm looking forward to being able to knit myself some cardigans and a few more challenging projects! Overall I think that more people should learn to knit, especially when everyone is short on cash and places like Topshop are charging £20 for a simple bobble hat - why not make your own?
I was sat in a Wacky warehouse with my husband last year, knitting away while the 2 boys were running round playing on a wet bank holiday. 2 women at a nearby table were staring at me. Eventually they started a conversation about what i was doing, and were saying how nice it is to see someone knitting as no-one seems to any more. How right. I had not thought about it till that day, but it is a bit of a rarity particularly amongst people aged 35 and under. I guess as we became a richer nation and more women were working mums, there was less need to know the skill so it has become a bit of a dying art although something that obviously still appeals to a lot of people. Knitting is one of those things that falls in and out of fashion. It was quite popular when i was a kid in the 80s. I remember watching my mum knit little baby cardies for my brother and sisters before they were born. It was one of the ways we worked out she was pregnant with my brother. We also were given some beautiful but very scratchy mohair cardies one christmas from my nana, which i then couldn't wear as it set off my eczema something terrible and i could never wear it. I remember when i was at university there was a bit of a revival (early 2000s) when Gerri Halliwell got into it, and i briefly remembered how much i wanted to do it as a kid. I was taught by my nana the basic knit stitch, and i used to make squares which were then collected at primary school and sewn into blankets for people in Africa. I never got very far with it though as i wasn't quick or talented at it then. Last year i decided that i should get back into it now i am at home with the kids all day. While i was working, my evenings just disappeared and i never got time to do it. So, in February, i got a book about teaching yourself to knit, and reminded myself how to cast on and do a knit stitch. I was then very confused by the instructions for other stitches. My mother in law showed me the pearl stitch, but then as she lives 200 miles away i was left to it. I found out my sister in law was expecting a little girl, and i fell in love with a knitting pattern on the lion brand website for a tree of life baby blanket. It was described as a knitting pattern for an experienced knitter, but i threw myself into it. It took a lot of months, but with some tuition from youtube, i taught myself how to do very complicated cable stitching and managed to follow the pattern to produce a gift that was beautiful and very much appreciated. Since then, i have made several other friends who have had babies their own blankets, and also a little jumper for my niece to wear. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to knitting. Although i am not experienced really, i always fall in love with really difficult patterns, and i am so stubborn that i don't stop till i make the object in question. I have become obsessed with buying pretty yarns and knitting books, and i have so many projects that i really want to do. Knitting is really good for me. It keeps my hands occupied on an evening so i don't spend the whole night snacking. I feel it is keeping my brain cells ticking. It would be so easy to stagnate if i was not doing anything new, and i can always find a new stitch or pattern that i want to make. I have also found that i can make a lovely baby blanket for a gift for £2.50, which the recipient has enjoyed using, i have had the fun of making, and i have not broken the bank buying a toy or similar gift. It might just be me, but i also warm up really well when knitting, staying really toasty on cold days. The disadvantages for me, is that if i try to do it during the day, you can guarantee that the kids will urgently need me when i am in the middle of a row, and as i am not experienced at it, i find it easy to lose my place in the pattern or drop a stitch, and then have to unpick loads to get back to where i am happy i know what i am doing. I've also managed to spend a fortune buying different sized needles, circular needles, darning needles, and so many balls of wool i've lost count. I am really glad i have come back to it after many years, and it is so easy to do. Having self taught myself to such a proficient level in only a year, i feel proud of myself. It is very fulfilling, and i think more people would enjoy doing it if they had the time to try it.
From an early age I can remember both my mum and nanan knitting away and as I got older I became more interested. Not that I would have admitted it to any of my friends at school! My mum did teach me how to knit and I made my first scarf when I was around 13 years old. I really loved the fact that I had made something out of a ball of wool. In the last year I have picked knitting up again mainly because my mum had made a gorgeous chunky loose knit jumper. That's when I thought I should give knitting another go. At first I wondered if I would have forgotten how to knit after not knitting for years. However I found that it was like riding a bike. To begin with I decided to stick to knitting a scarf until I felt more comfortable. I knitted a red scarf and it is definitely coming in handy now the weather has turned cold. I am still learning and sometimes have to double check how to do certain things with my mum but she is a great teacher. Slowly but surely I am getting better and will be as lightening quick at knitting as my mum is. I find the whole process of knitting great, for starters i'm not snacking as much as I am concentrating on my knitting. I'm not watching as much telly now as I tend to put on the radio or have a cd on in the background. I also love to have a look around the markets for wool and you can even pick up the odd ball of wool in Wilkinsons. I do tend to have to go a bit further a field as the stalls selling wool are becoming few and far between although I have found quite a good stall in Leeds Market. At the moment I have two projects on the go, I have nearly finished my first jumper and I am also making a blue scarf for my husband. Hopefully he will like the finished project!
During a day to day 'what did you get up to last night' conversation with my colleague, she informed me that she had finished knitting herself a scarf. I immediately wanted to get involved in making myself items to wear so asked her to teach me. Before long others in our office had joined in the fun. And that's what knitting is, a fun past time. And it's lovely to have an item to show for your hard work at the end. I am still a novice at knitting, so far I have not steered away from making scarves. Although now I do feel like I have perfected my knit and pearl I may give following a pattern a go. This does require a lot more concentration and work though. Although knitting does seem to have become more trendy these days, it is still viewed by most as being an old ladies past time, not helped by the recent 'Shreddies' advert with the knitting grandmas. The fact that many celebrities are not ashamed to admit they knit, Julie Roberts, Cameron Diaz, Sarah Jessica Parker, Madonna, to name just s few, is really helping knitting get on the cool wall (Sorry I am also a big Top Gear fan). The thing I like about knitting is that you don't require much equipment to get started. Knitting needles are really cheap and can be used time and time again, although you may need to purchase a few. Depending on what size wool you use will make a difference to the size of needles (This is stated on the wrapping of each ball of wool). The wool itself varies a great deal in price depending on where you get it from and the quality. If you are going to create something a little more challenging than a scarf you will need a pattern, these can be pricey although if you know people who also enjoy knitting you can swap patterns between you.
knitting has got me through so much. i remember seeing a woman on a tv programme once who was fed up with her awful love life. and said, she didnt need a man, she would just knit. i took heed of this advice and began to knit a scarf. i hadn't knitted for years since i was taught by nan and it was full of holes and i was using massive needles! it was quite the failure. but i became convinced and got some proper needles off ebay along with some wool. it was so cheap! around 3 pound for 10 balls of coloured wool and 1.95 for the size 4 needles. i found some fun patterns, like 12inch high superheroes and some jumpers for guinea pigs! i concerntrated and watched some knitting viedos online to make me better and now im pretty good. im currently on a diet and this keeps me occupied whilst in front of the tv instead of heading for the crisps! would recommend giving it a go
Knitting this is such a great pasttime and you can knit and socialise ,watch TV or listen to music or whatever the mood is at the time. I was taught knitting by my mother and I am very pleased that I learnt.A few years ago I did knit a lot but now not quite as much. It used to be quite a cheap way of making jumpers etc but now wool is expensive and it is often cheaper to buy rather than to make. When I did knit on a regular basis I certainly did not have the choice of yarns which seems to be around now but some of the yarn is I feel very costly. In my local library last year they arranged for people come and demonstrate knitting and I was amazed about how many were there and now once a month we go along with our knitting needles and in the library where we meet we 'Knit & Natter' and all ages come from young mums and people who are retired. Also it is very valuable time as the ones who are able to knit pass there skills down to others and hopefully this craft will not die. A few years ago you would find a Wool Shop in every town but now there are not as many but there is always the internet to use so the only disadvantage with obtaining wool by the internet is that you cannot see it before you buy but if you contact the various companies that sell wool they will send you samples of the wool and the different colours,just like you can with paint. As yarn can be costly it is best to look around and buy it when it is in the sale and if you use anything like Ebay then that can be also a good place to buy wool and get a bargain. Also celebraties are turning to knitting and there are many novels now written about Knitting. It is certainly now fashionable to sit down with your needles and make a social event of it with friends or on one's own quietly watching Tv.
When I got back to Dooyoo, the things I most wanted to review were on two subjects - horses and knitting! I was sad to see that Dooyoo had so little to offer with regards to reviews on all the things I like, and more to the point, the knitting category is relegated to the toys and games section! My knitting things are precious and as much as I like children, they're not getting their grubby mitts on my £15 per ball angora! So I thought I would take it upon myself to educate my fellow Dooyooers on what I do and maybe persuade the powers-that-be to give us a more serious-looking category! I'll admit, when I first started knitting I was very small, and my Nan gave me pink plastic (and pretty blunt) needles to start with (I still have those!). I used cheap acrylic/nylon yarn which has a good memory of being straight, good when you're making lots of mistakes undoing and reknitting the same bits of yarn over and over again. But I was learning, and what learners do is spend as little money as possible because they know they will break and ruin things - after all we learn from our mistakes. I think this is how people see the whole knitting world - all cheap needles and cheap acrylic yarn and old ladies. Firstly, I'd like to talk about needles. Basically, think of a material and I bet someone has made a set of needles from it. Lots of people like needles made of wood - rosewood and ebony in particular, which can set you back around £20 for two. Wood is good for slippery fibres, especially yarns containing silk or cotton, as wood causes more friction against the yarn and they're less likely to drop off the needle. Wood is slightly bendy, meaning that it tends to make your wrists ache a little less, but hold them too tightly and the smaller sizes are likely to break (and for God's sake don't sit on them!). Aluminium is stronger and lighter but less yielding and people have linked this to sore wrists. It is a great choice for less slippery fibres, or in lace knitting when the yarn is so thin you can barely see it. Plastic is a bit between the two in terms of friction, and it's generally quite cheap, but some people like knitting on plastic. I'm knitting a lace scarf on my very first pair of needles, which are plastic and pink, but they're slightly bendy and don't hurt my hands, slightly sticky to the stitches, light and shorter than any of the other needles I've got. My interchangeable circular needles are plastic too and believe me they've been a godsend! Just to quickly mention that there are three main types of needles - straights (which are the ones you've no doubt seen the most of) which have a point at one end and a stopper of some description on the other; Circular which have two needles about the size of your palm and a cable connecting them; and Double Pointed Needles (DPNs or sock needles) which have both ends pointed for doing small circular work. Now bear in mind needles come in many different sizes, the last time I looked I had around 36 sets of needles... I'd like next to talk about yarn. Yarn is not just the acrylic that your grandmother knitted your school jumpers from, neither is it just wool. Basically, if it can be spun, it can be knitted. Acrylic is indeed usually the cheapest, but even acrylic has it's good brands and bad - some are definitely softer than others and it pays to read reviews and ask other knitters before you order. Wool is exactly the same, and most knitters now know the different properties of the fibre between big-name sheep breeds such as Corriedale, Bluefaced Leicester and Swaledale. On the more expensive side of things you have your angora (from the angora rabbit), kid-mohair (mohair from baby angora goats) and silk. Alpaca is also lovely to knit with and is VERY warm, but can be expensive depending on where you find it. There are various individuals who will actually spin your pets' winter coat for you, and I know several people who have spun their dog's hair and ended up with a very soft, warm yarn. If I collected all the hair my horse sheds around march time, I'd probably have enough to make next year's winter wardrobe! This may come as a shock to a few people, but knitting is quietly taking over the internet! For a number of years now, we've had our own version of myspace/facebook called Ravelry. This is where we like to show off our projects, people sell patterns they've devised and yarn they've spun. If you have a question about anything even tenuously knitting related, there is someone on ravelry who can not only answer it for you, but come up with about a dozen new possibilities regarding the answer! We also have a growing number of online knitting magazines, www.knitty.com being my personal favourite because it contains pages and pages of free patterns for things I actually want to knit, has loads of tips and how-to's on various knitting techniques by people who actually work in the clothing industry. There are literally hundreds of knitting forums out there too; I'm just waiting for someone to invent a way of knitting and typing at the same time. And if you want final proof of the invasion, type "knitting" into youtube... If you're thinking of giving knitting a go, you don't even have to work up the courage of being seen walking into a yarn shop, there are loads online that do really good deals on the common stuff (try www.kempswoolshop.com) as well as those specialising in luxury fibres. Well I hope this article has sparked a few creative minds, and even if you don't get on with knitting, there's always crochet...
I have recently found myself engrossed in a new hobby. As you have probably guessed from the title of this review, it is not parachuting, hill walking or stamp collecting... it is knitting! My friend and I were in search of a new hobby, that we can do together but also do in our own spare time. Something that was sociable, not life endangering and relatively inexpensive. After some hours of looking for information on local groups, we came across a very simple page detailing a local knitting group. We had a few giggling fits over it being a place for grannies to meet but decided to give it a try - what did we have to lose?! They would be able to teach us maybe, and they offer free tea too! Neither of us had any previous knitting experience, and had no idea where to start. So seeking advice from a craft shop we bought ourselves the essentials (1 set of needles, 1 ball of wool, a book for beginners and of course a trendy knitting bag to hold our goodies) and began trying to learn. After a few poor attempts, we began to get the hang of it and practised in our own time in preparation for our first knitting group. In the mean time, while mentioning in passing to friends and family, people who haven't knitted for a while suddenly decided to look out those needles and get cracking again. We have started a revolution amongst our family and friends! Our first class was quite scary, as we're both shy girls. But the people were ever so friendly, and they were all keen to help us, recommend books and encourage us to keep going and to work towards little projects. We are still beginners, learning slowly, but both of us have discovered a new hobby that once we master, we can hopefully pass on to our children and maybe even to friends and family who never quite got round to learning. Our current project is to knit squares and make blankets for nursing homes and for aid charities. Knitting is a dying art and even though it has become cool again to a certain extent, not enough people realise how much fun it can be and how it can help bring people together and provide rewarding entertainment. I would recommend anyone (male of female) to give it a try!
My mum and my nan were both avid knitters when I was younger. I always remember them swapping over knitting patterns and left over pieces of wool. There was never a moment that my mum would not have a pair of knitting needles in her hands. I naturally took an interest in it too. I remember my mum knitting an aran jumber, and it looked so complicated. I didn't want to get into all the technical stuff, just to be able to make a scarf would have made me happy. It took me a while to get used to holding the needles, and I would find them fiddly and my hands would ache. After a while I got used to it, and made my first scarf for my teddy bear. I loved it. I did have big holes in it where I had dropped loads of stitches, but I didn't care, I had made it!! As time went on I tried to be more adventureous, and I knitted my own jumper. I went with my mum to the wool shop and chose all the colours I wanted, and I sat down with a piece of graph paper and designed a picture of Winnie the Pooh for the front. It took me ages, But I was so chuffed when I had finished it, and never wanted to take it off. When I look back now at the photos of me wearing it I cringe, but at the time it was great. I think that knitting now is far too expensive. The cost of wool is ridiculous, no wonder it is a dying art!!
Whats all this about knitting being cool? I dont knwo about that but I know I am hooked (no pun intended - tenious anyways!) I have recently taken up knitting, the simple reason being to try and keep my grandma entertained! My grandad recently died and my grandma has complained of being bored. My mother mentioned that my grandma used to knit all the time but she hadnt for years. So why not as a way of her being entertained, why doesnt she start kintting again? She didnt seem so keen so i thought she needed a push in the right direction. Enter the willing student! So I told her I wanted to learn to knit and that she had to teach me. I had to buy some wool buy she already had millions of needles! after a swift lesson on how to cast on (i blinked and missed most of it!) I thus spent many a happy hour knitting. I find that if i go home and watch TV i just vegitate, however if i listen to the TV while knitting (i'm not good enough yet to knit without looking at it!) I enjoy the evening so much more. the evening seems to last longer and I am less tired afterwards. Plus I have a lovely scarf now! I have found this a really relaxing hobby and love sitting down for a evenings knitting, plus it is a very productive hobby and i have a list of people who want me to knit sarfs for them. I'm hoping i can progress onto things more complicated than something just being in a straight line like scarfs! WHAT CREDIT CRISIS? I'M MAKING MY OWN CLOTHES!
What can I say about knitting? Well for a long while it hasn`t been cool to be a knitter but now it seems to be picking up again , it is just a pity that the wool shops seems to be closing down though there are still a few good shops around. I am a lefty which causes me problems with lots of things but especially with knitting. Nearly every knitting pattern is for a right handed person so I have to make some changes along the way to complete my item. I have been to lots of websites and have read lots of books which basically tell me I should switch over and learn the right handed way , but that isn`t so simple if you are a true lefty like myself. I started knitting when I was 8 years old , my mum tried teaching me to knit but as she is right handed I just couldn`t grasp it but then my nanna came to stay for a few days she was a lefty and within a few days I had made myself a sweater for my doll . Ok it was full of holes lol but from then on I was and am hooked on knitting. I think everyone who knits should teach 2 people to knit and then those 2 people can pass on the skill! Come on pattern designers how about some patterns for us leftys?!!!
Yes knitting is cool again! Anybody who knows me would tell you I really am not the slightest bit boring or 'traditional'........ I decided I'd write about this as it's been a big part of my life for the past 3 years. There are very stereotypical views of someone who knits and I hope break all of the moulds of this stereotype, it's really not all about grannies sat around nattering with their knitting needles in hand. Please, please read on! These are my experiences of knitting......... ~~~How I got into knitting~~~ When I started my Degree in Textile Design, I hadn't knitted a stitch in my life. The 3 main subject areas of my degree were: Woven textiles, Printed textiles and Knitted textiles, during the first year everybody did equal amounts of design work in each area, in the second year you chose your favourite 2 (for me Printed and Knitted) and in the final year of the course you could choose 1 to specialise in, I chose Knitted textiles. Interesting fact, in the third year of my course there were 80 students; of these 40 wanted to specialise in Knit rather than the other 2 choices so this proves just how popular it's becoming, all of the people in my final year knit were girls aged between 20-24. We were all interested in Fashion and 'modern' things but just really enjoyed knitting too! There are 2 types of knitting; Machine and Hand. ~~~Machine Knitting~~~ Within the machine category of knitting, there are many different variations of a knitting machine costing from £100 to around £20000. The most expensive types of machine are those used in industry for high-end designers. The machines we knitted on at University were manual machines, as in you had to still take the knitting carriage across the machine with your hands to knit a row. These were each worth around £2000 brand new and the University had around 30 of these in the knit studio. There was also one much more high tech machine called a 'Shima Seiki' which knits direct from CAD (computer aided designs) entered into the machine via disc. We only used this occasionally as it didn't really warrant much work from you so you'd never get great grades if you relied on this machine, the computer does all the work for you! The machines we used were very simple compared to some available, they are easy to use if you just wanted to knit plain knit but obviously being a design course, we had to come up with much better structures than plain knit! ~~First things first, setting up the knitting machine: I suppose in a way its very similar to setting up a sewing machine, taking the yarn up there, across here, through this hole, round that hook.....takes a while to get the hang of but after a while its second nature to you. You could only set up 2 different yarns to use at a time on our machines at uni as they were pretty basic. One yarn at a time can be put through the yarn carriage (that carries the yarn across the needle bed) unless you knit with the computer feature turned on (which I'll explain later) then you can use 2 yarns at a time. Believe me nothing is simple when it comes to knitting!! ~~So onto knit structures on a basic machine..... In the first 2 years of Uni our tutor taught us basic structures and these were adequate to use in projects then, by the final year we were more or less on our own and had to create our variations of 'normal' structures which isn't as easy as it may sound. For those who haven't ever knitted with a machine or are just curious as to what you can create, I'll give you a rundown of these 'starter' structures we were taught: * 1x1 Rib This is knitted by taking alternate needles out of action, even this isn't simple to do without creating big ladders through your piece of knitting (it involves a strange little tool you hold, transferring stitches to the next needle on the needle bed...) * Ripple A simple but effective structure, again taking needles out of action, knitting on a tighter tension so when you remove your piece of knitting from the machine it spring together to give a raised texture in rows, the tighter you knit the more obvious the result. * Ladder The simplest by far you'd think, laddering your fabric? that happens by accident all the time but getting it to happen where and when you want it to is another matter. * Lace You can create lace holes by transferring stitches to adjacent needles, this can take a while to knit a small piece and a lot of working out to create a decent pattern. The machines we used also had a 'lace carriage' you could attach to the machine and this knitted any pattern you programmed into the computer (I'll come onto that next) but in holes instead of solid stitches. * Cable Everyone will be familiar with this one, who hasn't seen a jumper with a big twisted cable design. It adds a lot of texture to a piece. VERY tricky to master, I mastered this one and had people very jealous of my complex cables...lol how sad does that sound? It involves taking 1 needle either side of where you want your cable to be out of action to define it, then with the needles within your cable area you do a lot of swapping stitches from one needle to another and twisting stitches using the hand-held transfer tool. Your simplest cable contains 4 needles but as I mentioned before I soon got into 'complex cable' which included upto 16 needles. Seriously you wish you had more than 2 hands at this point.... Right, those are the structures I most commonly used but I usually created my own variation to come up with some more exciting, original designs. ~~The computer Inbuilt in the knitting machine we used were little simple computers, on this you could programme your own patterns in, for example for one project I used simple love hearts and butterflies (I'm a girly girl) Its best to plan your design on graph paper first then programme it in, for these patterns you could use 2 colours at once to make the pattern stand out. It takes a long while to perfect the shape, positioning and stitch size within your designs! Once it is programmed in though its saved and you can come back to it at any time by entering the design number it gives you when you create it initially. Once you're ready to knit with the computer pattern, all you have to do is take the carriage left,right,left,right...so simple at that point. ~~~Yarns~~~ The type of yarn you use makes a lot of difference to the final fabric obviously; you can knit with anything from fishing wire and cottons to thick, fluffy wool. You just have to alter the tension and stitch size on your machine to accommodate different yarns. There are treated and untreated wools, treated wool does not shrink or bobble. If you knit using untreated wool, you can then felt this or in technical terms 'mill' it. This involves washing it in hot water and a soapy formula until it felts together so no stitches are visible, it's just solid (like a piece of felt surprisingly....) This takes a lot of experimentation to get right, as the material shrinks and sometimes you're needing a certain sized sample and can't judge exactly how much it will shrink. When knitting manually with the machines we used (and not using the inbuilt computer) you can only use one colour yarn at a time, though you can have two set up ready to use. To change colour you need to rethread the whole machine, not an easy process but you don't want to be limited to 2 colours in a fabric all the time. Knitting yarns are quite costly too, in our final project we had to source and buy our own yarns; this involved a trip over to a yarn mill in Rochdale (in the snow!) and I spending a lot of money. I needed enough yarns for a 12 week knitting project and wasn't 100% sure on my colour scheme at this point so ended up buying far more than I needed but at least I didn't run out! I bought 10 full cones of yarns and a few half cones, this came to £100 which I think is a lot for some wool and cotton. The girls with me seemed to spend less but then I've always had expensive tastes..... The yarns were only so expensive as we needed the best and they needed to be on cones to work with the knitting machines. For the other projects throughout the degree course the University supplied the yarns, they had a huge collection of discontinued colours companies sent them and samples too; lots of choice. ~~~Hand knitting~~~ Yep, the traditional type with 2 needles. Ashamed to admit this but it takes me ages to cast on and then I can only knit scarves..... (hangs head in shame) I don't know a lot about hand-knitting, it's not my forte so I'm not going to go on about it a lot. Now I've finished uni and haven't got access to a knitting machine (until I find £2000 on the street!) I'm going to work at improving my hand knitting and maybe when I've done that I'll tell you all what I've learnt! Yarns for handknitting are a lot cheaper than for machine as you just need a ball of yarn, something you can buy pretty much anywhere now, I've noticed them in Wilkinsons and Sainsburys for around a £1 a ball. Needles are cheap enough too, you choose the size you want (which will result in different sized stitches) Buy a decent pair, not the cheapest you can find and they will literally last you forever! You'll only have to pay around £4/£5 for a decent pair of needles, so knitting isn't an expensive hobby either! Hand knitting is becoming increasingly popular with all ages. Most recently Sarah Jessica Parker was papped knitting on the set of the Sex and the city movie and you don't get much cooler than SJP do you girls?? Madonna's a fan along with Cameron Diaz, Kate Moss, Julia Roberts, even Russell Crowe!...need I go on? Just google 'celebrity knitters' and gawp at the long list of names you'll find. It is predominantly a womans hobby, so I'm not expecting all you guys to grab your needles, but if Russell Crowe can.... Knitting is becoming mainstream too, helped by the release of books such as 'Stitch 'n' Bitch' a handbook for cool knitters everywhere. I may have to purchase this to help me get into hand-knitting! There are also stitch 'n' bitch meetings, where you can meet up to do just that; Stitch as you bitch!! See their website too www.stitchnbitch.com for meeting near you and just a generally fun website. I have a couple of pairs of needles, loads of yarn, so I have no excuse not to get hand-knitting...... So for a cheap, challenging, addictive, cool hobby, get knitting!! If you haven't already looked (the link is also on my profile) check out some of my knitted design work from that final Uni project. http://strother.leanne.googlepages.com
I am so pleased that knitting seems to be back in fashion; to me it has never been out. I have knitted since being taught by my Mum when I was about five or six years old and it has been bringing me pleasure ever since. I do sometimes knit clothes but mainly I love to knit dolls and toys for Christmas and birthday presents for my grandchildren and my many nieces and nephews. I have also recently started to knit for charity and this includes knitting squares which get sewn into blankets, and tiny items such as hats and bootees for premature babies. These are sent to a group that then distributes them to various good causes, some of them abroad. I have been collecting knitting patterns for years and don't part with them unless someone wants to borrow one which lots of people do once they see how many I have! For toy knitting you can't do much better than looking out for Jean Greenhowe's excellent pattern books. I don't know how she does it but she produces the most fantastic toys and the patterns are so easy to follow. I have all her pattern books and have made many toys over the years. Another great toy designer is Alan Dart; his speciality, as far as I'm concerned, seems to be his animal patterns. He produces the most realistic patterns for dogs and cats. If you know a pet-lover, a great gift would be to knit a pet in the same colours as the real one. I am about to do that with one of his cat patterns. Wool shops have more or less disappeared over the years; I suppose the advent of cheap clothing put an end to knitting for necessity. However, there are still some around and my local one has not closed down. In fact, it is very popular again and knitting - and, of course, crochet - is back in vogue. If you do not have a handy shop, there are many patterns available online for free download as well as to purchase. A pattern is so easy to buy online - once you have paid, it is emailed straight to you so there's no waiting for the postman to deliver it. Knitting wool is aalso available online; you may not get the cheapest ranges that way, though. I use the cheaper wool for making toys but the more expensive for clothes, especially baby clothes. All in all, I recommend knitting - it's never too late to learn, either, and almost never too soon; I'm currently trying to teahc my five year old granddaughter to kntit.
I wonder if knitting will become more popular now that the recession is supposedly on its way? I hope so.... I learned to knit when I was about ten years old - my Mum and Granny taught me and they must have had the patience of saints. Since then I have had knitting phases but am seriously trying to lose a bit of weight and cut down on smoking so may take up the needles once again. It is a satisfying hobby as there is always an end result - not just woolly jumpers and socks but Joan Greenwood produces fantastic books on knitted toys and Christmas deigns which are always good to make for charity-raising and school fairs. Oxfam are also asking for knitted blankets so you don't have to be a genius to knit some squares and sew them up. This is no joke - I used one of Oan Greenwood's patterns to make twenty little Christmas puddings to give my psycholgy students to show that life is full of strange folk! It is a fairly cheap activity as well - I've seen plenty of knitting needles,patterns and wool in the charity shops and there is a huge choice of materials on ebay. It is also a relaxing hobby (depending on the pattern) and portable so you can knit away in the garden, onboard a flight to Oz (as my Mum did!) or curl up by the fire on a winter's evening. If you don't know how to start ask a friend,get a DVD or book from the library, or join one of the many knitting clubs - it doesn't take long to learn the basics & once you've mastered the technique of knitting pass it on to children and grandchildren. This isn't just something for old people to do believe me !