WWKIP Day 2019

It’s that time of year again, when crafters get twitchy and start to make nuisances of themselves by coming out of the woodwork and flaunting their skills and beautiful wips under the noses of unsuspecting passers-by. That’s right, it’s World Wide Knit in Public Day.

As is typical for SnB, we included a range of crafts, not just knitting of course. And unusual for us, we actually went to a yarn shop/cafe. In the past, we’ve chosen some unlikely – but fun! – venues (check it out here and here), but this year we kept it casual.

Our destination of choice was the lovely Folklore Yarns in east Belfast, and owner Åsa (pronounced Oh-sa) and her daughter Hannah made us feel right at home. While we munched on a variety of baked treats and sandwiches, she kept the teapots filled and coffee brewing! We had a variety of crafts on display: knitting, crochet, fibre spinning, patchwork and embroidery. Perhaps best of all was Emma Whitehead ‘s tent: a 20+-year project that never fails to amaze crafters and non-crafters alike. It truly is a sight to behold.

There was some Pom-Pom making, cross-stitching, yarn squishing and yarn sniffing too! Some new friends were made, and old ones caught up. And a few skills were passed on too, because what’s the point of a fibre community if you can’t share the love?

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Meriel’s first time spinning!

 

Happy WWKIP Day! 

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Knitflix and Mankinis

 

A while past (perhaps two birthdays ago?) Jaele very kindly gifted me the Sencha shawl pattern as I fell in love with it the minute I saw Hutch’s sample on her Dye Candy stall at Yarnfolk. I’ve braved a few shawls to date and finally felt like this was something I could tackle, although I had no idea how on earth to knit zig zags.

The yarns I’ve chosen are both by the fabulous Ewemomma (online and B’n’M in the Buttermarket, Enniskillen). Sparkle sock in ‘Have you seen that wizard’ and ‘Judas’. I loved the glorious richness of Judas the moment I saw it and bought it with absolutely no plan for how to use it. We happened to be in Enniskillen for a day trip earlier this year and I had the chance to call in to Tracy’s shop where I saw the beautiful black sparkle and my colour combo for the Sencha pattern came into my head.

 

It’s coming on nicely and has given me the opportunity to knit whilst we blast a few box sets on Netflix due to its easy to remember four row pattern repeat once you pass the initial set up rows. We’ve watched “Dead to Me” and are currently on the second series of “Good Girls” (very enjoyable, definitely would recommend both). I’ve even taken to carrying it round in the car with me so I can knit whilst I wait to pick up my kids.

 

I have taken a bit of banter for the early project photo I posted on facebook though; being asked if I was knitting a pair of knickers is the funniest thing I’ve been asked for a while. This joke has now morphed into a knitted mankini for my old school friend Neil, although what he’ll make of the sparkle in it is anyone’s guess.

To be fair, it does look rather pantie-like!

 

 

Crafted Revelation

A few weeks ago I came across a shared facebook post detailing a wonderous event –  a Crafted Revelation hosted by Joymount Presbyterian Womens group in Carrick.

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As you may know, I’ll go anywhere for knitting, so I rounded up a willing volunteer (Patricia) and off we went on 18th May.

Many many photos were taken, each display was poured over, each detail taken in.

We stopped midway through to regain our strength

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These are of the highlights

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We had a fabulous time there, who knew that tinsel yarn would be the perfect mane for Daniels lions!?20190518_125835

If you didn’t get the chance to see this fabulous creation, I hope this has given you a bit of a taster.

Maybe it’ll be on display elsewhere, it would be a shame to box it all up – after all, it did take a year to make!

 

 

Fade found ( I hope!)

Despite having been a knitter for nearly 40 years, I’m still a bit of a magpie when it comes to picking projects ‘ Ohhhhh, I like that, I’ll make it’.

This has resulted in me becoming a serial ‘premature abandoner’ – my many many attempts at the Clapotis (Nikki gave me hers in the end to shut me up) and a nest of folorn half socks in a drawer are testament to this.

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I also contributed to a crochet magazine for an entire year so that I could get a pattern for a blanket – you guessed it – not even started.

Having just finished my most recent project a colourful hitchhiker and a Tome Crean hat with rather spectacular tonsils (house name for tassels) I was feeling bolder.

Over the last few months I have been pondering about one pattern in particular. Two of my friends Anja and JL have created the ‘Find your Fade’ shawl / scarf.  It’s an epic production and JL’s runs the entire length of her living room, but I was keen to try. I was also drawn by the shear volume of material it used. The ‘shelf of lovliness’ (my nice yarn collect) has been steadily growing over the last few years and I really needed to actually use some of it.

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JL’s incredible fade – i’m a wee bit in love.

So I have begun the process.  It was great fun, printing the pattern, selecting a project bag and of course the colours. My ‘lovely yarn’ had a strong bias towards green and blue so this is what I chose.  My daughter Livi acted as creative consultant and I think we have done well.

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I have just started the second colour and things seem to be going well…… i’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Strawberry Sundae

The weather in Belfast is positively glorious at the minute, and everyone is clamouring to get home from work ASAP. No doubt they want to fire up the barbeque, put the beer on ice and relax for the rest of the evening, but not me.  No, I want to do something completely different. I want to tidy my stash.  Yes, I know I’m a smidge weird but I’ve been trying to find time for a good old rummage for ages now.

At the start of the month I sorted through 9 years’ worth of knitting magazines, seeing which patterns I actually wanted to make and which ones I didn’t. The keep pile was very quickly whittled down to 5 and the rest were recycled (I did apologise to the fella picking up the recycling box, I even had a “This box is heavy” note stuck to it)

Those in the keep pile were added to the ravelry queue and yarns assigned. Its mostly quick projects so once they’re made, the magazine will go.

One particular pattern will be a repeat performer I think. Its called the Strawberry Sundae blanket and I love it. I saw the pattern in issue 90 of Knit Now and actually bought a skein of the required yarn –  King Cole Curiosity DK in the Merlin colourway. My plan was to knit it cuz I liked it and donate it somewhere.

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However, something exciting happened. My friend told me she was expecting a rainbow baby. I immediately remembered the yarn I had squirreled away and thought of the Strawberry Sundae blanket! It would be perfect for a rainbow baby. But what colour to pair with it???

I decided black would be nice and make the colours pop, so I hunted through the stash and found a ball of Stylecraft Special DK in black, and set to work.

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Here’s the finished blanket.  I have to say what I really love it. It reminds me of  stained glass window with the black framing the colours.

It’s a great pattern, there is a chart of you’re that way inclined, but I stuck to the written instructions.  It’s easy to memorise and the yarn was nice to work with too.

I may or may not have another ball of the King Cole in the stash that’s going to become another blanket, just trying to work out what the other colour should be…

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Any suggestions????

*yarn photos from http://www.woolwarehouse.co.uk and since you’re there anyway you may as well buy yourself a treat.

A Happy Little Birthday

Today was my daughter’s 7th birthday. She’s always been a happy little thing. And when it comes to her birthday, there’s no exception. She’s pretty easy to please, but we still wanted to give her something she’d really like. The problem was, she doesn’t ask for much. She has a passing interest in dolls, loves Spider-Man but isn’t really into all the merch, and last week a neighbour – in a moment of complete serendipity – gave her a secondhand bike. Which she can’t ride yet, but no matter. She’ll learn.

And then it came to my husband: there was something else she was always asking for lately. Something useful, too, like bike riding. Something we’d been meaning to tick off the list of things to teach our kids but hadn’t yet got around to it: swimming lessons!

And with that brilliant idea, it was obvious that I *had* to make a swimsuit for her. Right? I mean, I already had the fabric, and a pattern. It would almost be rude not to. Bangs the cat agreed to help.

So after much swearing and fiddling around with zigzag stitches, ballpoint needles and gathers in stretch fabric, I finally produced a passable swimsuit. And then the big day arrived!

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We went out, we had fun, we showed our true selves. In the kids’ cases, it was a dragon, a ladybird, and a pirate. And she opened her swimsuit and loved it, and literally leaped into the air when she was told why she needed one. ❤️ 🏊🏼‍♀️  There is a very happy little 7-year-old tucked up in bed right now who can’t wait for the weekend. ☺️

The Deets:

Swimsuit pattern is the Cosi Swimsuit by SewPony.

Fabric is from The Fabric Fairy, but I got it a few years ago.

In honour of pattern adapters everywhere.

Throughout my knitting life (which lets face it is most of my actual life) I have been a pattern follower.

Before I embark on any new project I examine the pattern with forensic precision and immediately rule out anything involving:

  • wrap and turn
  • complicated lace
  • ‘at the same time’
  • ‘meantime’  and much more…

I know my limitations and am happy to live within them. However, not all my Stitch and Bitch pals are as vanilla in their outlook.

I have gone ‘off piste’ a couple of times. I have just finished the Hitchiker shawl with sparkly minis created by A Secret Stash. I wanted to use the rainbow minis along with a sparkly black which had been created to accompany it. To be fair, my pattern adaptation simply involved dividing 42 by 7, but for me it was a major leap forward and I am very pleased with the result.

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The Rainbow Hitchiker

I am in constant awe when the ‘High Grade Adapters’ get their hands on a pattern.  While I am still scanning it line by line to see if I can actually knit the damn thing they are saying things like, I’m changing the…..

  • Yarn
  • Gauge
  • Cast on
  • Cast off
  • Sleeves
  • Neckline…

My absolute favourite was, ‘ I’ll knit down to the boobs and then decrease like mad’ – how do you even do that?????

This got me thinking about my family – were they adopters or adapters? It seems I am the black sheep. My mother is a beautiful Aran knitter and made a number of cardigans and sweater for my father and I.  However, she has a pathological hatred of bobbles, feeling that they don’t wear as well as the rest of the garment – so – no bobbles – cables instead.

A generation back, my grandmother was a marvel at Fair Isle. During the war she (along with most other women) used MOD supplied wool to make socks and hats for servicemen. She used the leftovers of this wool to create beautiful and intricate patterns on my mother’s jumpers and dresses, admittedly with a rather limited colour pallet. After the war my mother sported jumpers made from ripped out balaclavas for many years.

My great grandmother was even more innovative. She was a lady who definitely knit out of necessity rather than for pleasure. She knit  socks for all the men in the family who were manual labourers. To make the most efficient use of the available yarn she would make the toes and heels from more durable hardwearing yarn. When these would wear down the piece could be ripped out and replaced, lengthening  the lifespan of the socks.

And how have I honoured this great family tradition? Well, my current project, a Tom Creane hat involves using up the scraps from the hitchhiker scarf, and to get the colours right – I have to divide by 4!! I think I have a bit of work to do.

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GREEN!!

Happy St Patrick’s Day weekend!

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I was having a ponder what to write about when I realised  I would be posting just after St Patrick’s Day, so GREEN immediately sprang to mind.  Green and Patrick kinda go hand in hand here and I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t actually know why…. So I googled

“Legend has it that if you’re wearing the color green, the quintessentially Irish, fairy-like creatures called leprechauns won’t be able to see you. And if they can’t see you, they can’t pinch you. (It’s worth noting that before St. Patrick’s Day, leprechauns were known not for wearing green but red)”

Well, if this is the case then half my stash must be invisible to the leprechauns and will never be pinched!!

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Convenient as it may be, Im currently cheating on the blanket project with a hat.

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Here’s the question –  if its being knitted in green yarn on St Patrick’s Day, does it really count as cheating if its not visible (as per leprechaun theory)??

Yeah, I know it counts, Im just trying to justify my cheating needles. What can I say, other than I shaved my hubbys head and its been blowing a gale recently. I try to be a good spouse…. I have 2 single socks finished for him but alas he can’t wear them together as I may have temporarily misplaced them!

 

This is the sadly neglected blanket.

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I’ve 8 weeks to get it and a few other urgent projects finished, so instead if doing that today, I took the dogs out instead!

 

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A New Obsession

Around this time last year I discovered foundation paper piecing. I was already familiar with English paper piecing but had no idea what the difference was. I just knew I wanted to try it!

Like almost everything I do, I jumped in with both feet and eyes closed. I learned mostly by trial and error, numerous clips on You Tube and lots of swearing. LOTS of swearing. I may have even outdone myself on a few words. Ahem.

Anyway, I chose this cute little geometric sewing machine pattern by Kristy at Quiet Play to learn on:

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I loved it and turned it into a sewing machine cover. Very apropos, no?

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My next project was inspired by my daughter’s love of unicorns and my love of all things rainbow. Who doesn’t love unicorns and rainbows? As soon as I spotted this pattern by Robynie, I just knew I had to learn a lot more swear words or die trying.

And lately I’ve been messing around with all kinds of images, like these sweet little moths by Lillyella and these cute pencils, also by Quiet Play, which I then turned into a tote:

I’ve also ordered Adventures in Paper Piecing & Design, by Sarah Elizabeth Sharp. When I’ve had a good nosey through it I’ll post a review, but for now you’ll find me squirreling away on one or five of the many free patterns out there that look amazing and I’m just itching to try, even if it means I’ll need to invest in a swear jar.

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The non confrontational knitter deals with the hard stuff

IMG_5119Recently the knitting community has been having some hard conversations around the topic of inclusion of minority groups  , and diversity and the attitudes that some hold around ethnicity and people of colour.  It has been hard and sometimes heated but there have also been some people whose have been silent and I’m sorry to say that on the whole  that  probably included me.

You see I’m someone who avoids confrontation.  I’m usually the one who will compromise and back down as I don’t like tension or disagreement.  If heated discussions arise I find myself getting quieter and smaller .  Also for me My social media,  mainly instagram is like other people’s Netflix .  It’s full of pictures  of knitting or friends and family and is my down time and a distraction from daily life.  However as this discussion continued I realised that some things are too important and instead of avoiding they need me to address them.  So a few weeks ago after reading many posts and links from friends of how our fellow members of the knitting community who are Black or people of colour feel and as i believe that everyone deserves to be loved , valued and seen   I decided I needed to take myself in hand.

Now for me that is done in little steps .  Yes you won’t be surprised that the person who follows a new pattern to the letter needs a plan !

Step one was to find a person that I could talk to without the fear that I would say something to hurt or offend them , so for me it needed to be someone who knew me well and would be my sounding board. She isn’t a knitter but listened and added things from podcasts that she had listened to . She helped me understand my unconscious bias but the thing that helped was when she  walked me through a scenario . (Well my imagination may have added on to her original one sentence )

I imagined that I was going to a meeting and when I got there I found only two women,  myself (a white woman)  and a black woman . We are very much in the minority  .  As the meeting unfolds , we find that in this male dominated environment it’s difficult to make our voices heard and to share our opinions or expertise .  We find ourselves patronised , sidelined or ignored .  By the end of the meeting we feel angry , frustrated and tired.  We leave the meeting and for me eveything changes .  As a white woman Im no longer in the minority , a large proportion of the people around me think like me, look like me and identity with me BUT for the black woman  nothing changes she is still in the minority and still dealing with all the same prejudices and frustrations every day .

I can now say that I’m sorry for being racist,  for not understanding.  I will do better .

Step  2 for me is how I respond.  I was lucky to grow up with some lovely wise women in my life. My high school English teacher who would say ‘girls knowledge is power . Seek knowledge!’   My nana would say your have two eyes two ears and one mouth use proportionally.  I guess she meant look and listen more than you speak but for me , speaking up is no longer an optional extra.

The knitmore girls podcast often talk about how we should use our spending power to reflect our beliefs something I already do around fairly traded products .  Recently many knitting friends have linked lovely patterns that they have found  from Biopc and yarn to make them is  now on my EYF shopping list . Many of my favourite shopping places both brick and mortar and online have been fully involved in the discussions and are actively seeking to have more products  from underrepresented groups  .  So thanks to them  I’ll continue to feed my yarny  habit knowing more people are being given a chance to showcase their talent .

Ive heard some say “Can we just get back to the knitting ” and I find this confusing as for me the knitting never stopped. It’s part of my everyday life and it’s something I often use when I’m trying to process things I find hard or uncomfortable . So as I continue to knit , I’ll end with another saying from my  inspirational high school teacher  .  You can’t journey in someone else’s shoes but you can make sure you don’t make their journey harder by stomping on their toes.

 

 

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