Category Archives: knitting musings

Making a mark…

Although I’m part way through the sixth cloche, I’m finding that I’m still having to look at what I’m doing too much ūüė¶

So I think I may switch to doing this hat, which requires a specific cast on.
I went to look at the cast on required, and, just, no.

HOWEVER, I found another very stretchy cast on video here, which I’ve been using for a few minutes. ¬†It seems quite simple and I’m finding that it is, indeed, quite stretchy. However, the admonition to “snug the stitches up” is well said – otherwise you end up with excess yarn! Which, if it’s stretchy enough (it = the pattern) won’t matter but still, it’s worth knowing…


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How to avoid a seam…

Like many people who sew (time was, I made Renaissance costumes in my spare time….), I hate sewing up little things…. And that includes seams on knitting.

For the chemo turbans, you’re supposed to knit a 40 inch long strip, then seam together the top 8 inches, after grafting the ends together. (Look at the pattern, linked below – it makes sense, really!).

Someone on ravelry suggested doing Judy’s Magic Cast On to avoid this 8 inch seam.
That’s great -but I think the cast on linked there is overly problematic. ¬†Here’s what I do…

Take your working needle. ¬†For this, the working needle (wn) needs to be a long, circular needle. You aren’t going to knit in the round, but you are going to need the cable.

Hold it with the point of one end going away from your dominant hand – for me, that means holding it in my right hand, pointing to the left.

Place another circular needle (acn) underneath the first, pointing the same way, level with the first one.

Ok? Akward? Yup. ¬†Deal – it’ll make sense soon. ūüôā

Make a slip knot in the wool.  The working wool Рnone of this waste yarn for you, you want to get right to work!

Slip the knot on the working needle, which is on top of the other needle.

Take the yarn down, between the needles, and wrap it around the other needle. ¬†Now up, again between the needles, and wrap it around the top one. ¬†And down… and up. ¬†You’re making a figure of 8, do you see? ¬†Over and between and under and between…

Each wrap is one stitch Рeven the ones on the bottom.  So, for the chemo turban, you want 50 stitches a side Рso 100 stitches IN ALL. So, 50 wraps on the top and fifty on the bottom.

When you get that number, ¬†breathe a nice sigh, you’re mostly there. ¬†Slide the second, nonworking, bottom needle *forward* – that is, away from your dominant hand, so that the stitches glide nicely onto the cable. ¬†That’s why you needed two circulars. ¬†Just let it flop. ¬†(It won’t really flop because it’s held with the stitches, but get the needle bit of it out of your way).

Turn the whole kaboodle around, so that the last wrapped stitch is now facing you, on the working needle, just as if you’d just cast it on in a regular way. (You need to make the last wrap go around the other needle – you’ll see why as soon as you look at the work). ¬†Grab the other end of the working needle, and knit away on the stitches….When you get to the point of needing to knit the stitches on the second needle, THAT’S when the cable comes into its own. ¬†Work as for magic loop, from here on in.

(In other words, you’ve got a corner in the work that won’t knit in a straight line – not for a goodly number of rows. ¬†Knit up to that point, puuuullllll the cable out till you have slack in it, and carry on knitting – this will allow you to reposition the needle so you can work going around the corner. ¬†Be sure to pull the yarn tight, and you’ll be fine). ¬†When you’ve knit the row, and pushed it all on to the cable, it looks like this…¬† ¬†Unpreposessing, I agree – but just keep going, it will be fine. ¬†Knit back and forth – NOT in the round!

When you’ve knit about 8 inches, put half the stitches on a holder, knit on the first half for about 24 inches, and graft the end together with the stitches on a holder (don’t twist!).

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Making a virtue of necessity

In September, I will have a very, very great deal of marking to do.  17 MA dissertations, to be exact Рof 20k words each.

As I may have said before, when I mark things, or read on-screen, I do simple knitting because it helps my concentration.

So I thought to myself, I thought, “Self, what can you do that is worthwhile during this enforced knitting marathon?”

It needs to be something simple, because the whole idea is to *increase* my concentration on the reading, rather than decrease it.

A few years ago, I did a challenge when I tried to fill a rather large box with charity knits, working from the longest to the shortest day – and then donated the products.

This time, I’ve decided to knit chemo turbans. ¬†They are very, very clever, (and the pattern is here) – just long strips of knitting, that one then seams and twists. ¬†I’ve made one, to see if it would work for what I want, and am in the process of making a second one. ¬†I think they take about 6 – 8 hours to make.

And I think they look rather good, don’t you?

I may even ask people to sponsor me (if I can set up a just giving page or something so that the money goes straight to the charity) or to donate to their favourite charity for each one I make.

What do you think? ūüôā

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Finding time…

People often ask me how I find the time to do everything, which is an odd question to me – I’m not nearly as busy now as I was some years ago! ¬†Ok, I have a full time job, and I knit, and I have a bit of a social life, and I read – that’s not that impressive….?

It’s the time for knitting that people don’t seem to understand, but I suspect I’m like a lot of other knitters – I rarely just sit and knit, and do nothing else. ¬†I knit while I read (the simple, upstairs knitting – it gets me through a lot of student and other reading!). I knit while I watch TV (the more complex, downstairs knitting). ¬†I knit while other people drive, and while waiting for things to happen… ¬†I don’t like to sit down with NOTHING to do, I’d get bored!

And speaking of upstairs and downstairs knitting… The current upstairs knitting is yet another feather and fan shawl (why stop a good thing?), again in Harmony one ply. ¬†This, though, is in what I think can rightly be called “baby colours”… ¬†If you look closely, you can see that I’ve got two stitches in the spine, rather than one – the last shawl turned out ok eventually, but had to be reblocked to get the spine looking reasonable, so this time, I’m giving it a bit more body, with two, rather than one, stitch.

The downstairs knitting is also coming along, but it’s taking a LOT longer because it’s wider….

¬†This isn’t a particularly good picture in terms of color ¬†but you can see the spider stitch pattern there. ¬†It’s becoming a bit of a sampler-shawl. ūüôā ¬†There’s a section of spider stitch, and I’ve just gone on to a trellis lace pattern (there are only a few rows of that so far and it doesn’t look like much). ¬†I’ll let it get a lot longer before I start on a final pattern – probably Old Shale but perhaps something else.

And I noticed a thing, the other night. ¬†We were in the pub for supper – a pub we go to quite often, sometimes one or more times a week. ¬†As we walked out, people were staring at me! Most people had seen me before, so, what? I checked – my skirt wasn’t hitched up, and my blouse was done up. ¬†I didn’t have a huge piece of spinach in my teeth. Then I realised, I had this slung around my shoulders…


¬† I’m not even going to say what the pattern is. ūüôā It’s in Zauberball, which I’ve talked about before. ¬†(And yes, observant readers will see that there’s a biggish hole in the border at the bottom. ¬†I don’t think this shawl was ever blocked – but I know it needs it now!).


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One of the things I like about knitting is that it allows me to be just as creative as I wish to be.

I can, should I choose, follow a pattern slavishly and do precisely what I am told to do. ¬†That’s what I did, for intsance, in making this shawl, ¬† which is Panache (ravelry link). ¬†The photo shows it drying over a balcony in France, which you must admit, is quite a cool way to block a shawl, even if a bit unconventional.

There are other things where I’ve followed a pattern rather like one follows a well known recipe – you check every so often, but pretty much go your own way. ¬†I’ve done this with the Pi shawls, a number of times… and of course the feather and fan shawl,

 (Pattern here).

But you can be even more creative than that, and just use a stitch pattern to create whatever you want… as I’ve done with many other things here.

One useful thing is a set of recipes – Zimmerman’s books are fantastic for this, and if you are into making shawls, this chart of how to make various shapes, is a must.

So be as adventurous as you like!¬† Follow a pattern to the letter, and create something beautiful, follow a pattern as much as you like, ditto, combine patterns… or set sail on your own. ¬†Just enjoy what you’re doing! ūüôā


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When it comes to work, I’m really organised. ¬†Databases, spreadsheets – it’s all there, and I can generally find whatever is needed fairly quickly.

When it comes to home… not so much. :} ¬†I’ve spent a good part of the morning putting away clothes – washing them, drying them, folding them – all good. ¬†Putting them away? Not so good. ¬†But I’ve done a lot of that this morning.

And I’ve been organising my knitting stuff, as well.

Wool is one of the things that REALLY needs to be organised, or it will take over your life. And ¬†your living room…

A while back, a local supermarket was doing plastic boxes at 3 for ¬£10, I think it was. I got six. ūüôā

Now, a lot of my knitting wool is MUCH more organised. ¬†A corner of my office looks like this…

¬†(Yes, I could have removed the bag from the top of the boxes, and it would have looked better, but it’d not be a true representation!). ¬†That top box has finished objects in it, the rest have wool (there’s a finished object on the lowest box, as well – I forgot to take it off).

This was brought about by the, “Oh, my, where’s all that really nice wool I just bought??” panic. ¬†I couldn’t find it all. ¬†When I did find it, it was time to sort things out. ¬†So that’s where my SABLE lives. (Stash Above and Beyond Life Expectancy). ūüôā

The other thing that needs organising is all the STUFF that you acquire when you knit. ¬†I’ve shown my needle case before in this blog. ¬†What is shown in the next picture is the box that all that sort of stuff lives in. ¬†I’m very lucky that I have a home office, and a table next to my desk. ¬†The printer sits on the table along with a changing assortment of stuff ¬†and, of course, the cat. ¬†Everyone needs a supervisor….

Under the table, just at my left hand when I’m sitting here at the computer, is a small table. (Ikea for the win…). On that table is a black wicker box, which looks like this,

In it, you can see the needle holder (skulls and roses). ūüôā ¬†There are three pencil cases – a red one with double pointed needles in it (tied together with rubber bands), a pink one with crochet hooks, and a white one with blue and green designs, with general stuff in it – beads, scissors, and so on. ¬†The long roll, blue with white flowers, is a roll that holds straight knitting needles. ¬†I almost never use these anymore, but they’re still here – nostalgia, perhaps?

Some of my other knitting stuff – that won’t fit in there, or would just get lost – lives in a craft storage case, like this one ¬†I got mine from Hobbycraft. ¬†It’s useful, in that it has dividers in it. ¬†I’ve got needles (as in sewing needles, and beading needles) in there, along with a tape measure, and to be honest, I don’t really remember what else! (Yes, I am one of those women who has many, many handbags and leaves stuff in all of them).

I’m trying to be more organised, and it really is getting better than it used to be – and I found that fantastic wool, so that when I finish the yellow/orange shawl, I can move on to a Shetland square!

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Old favourite, Old Shale

There are some things you keep coming back to… meals you fall back on when you’re in need of comfort, books you re-read, music you listen to again and again.

Knitting is the same.

I’ve lost count of the number of baby surprise jackets (more E Zimmerman) I’ve done. ¬†They are all garter stitch, the only seams are across the top of the shoulders, and you can pretty much knit them without thinking about them. ¬†They look inviting….

  If you look carefully, you can see how they are constructed, with lines of decreases forming the shaping.  These have all been made out of stash yarn. (And have all gone to various charities).

Another thing I’ve knit rather a lot are Seaman’s scarves – again, very, very simple. ¬†They are either patterned or plain for the front part, then ribbed around the neck, then patterned or plain for the other front part…

In terms of patterns, the one I come back to, again and again, is Old Shale.

It’s remarkably simple – K2together three times, then do six YO, K, then three more K2tog.

It looks like this….

And like this…

The blue one, just above, I called the traveller fan – simply because I knit most of it while husband and I were travelling. With stitchmarkers between the repeats

¬†it’s very easy to keep track of. ¬†Even in a quite fluffy wool, it’s lovely…. ¬†It may not be the pattern you choose to fall back on, time and again – different people are different. But you will probably find one that works for you!


Filed under Finished objects, knitting musings, shawl