(or how I definitely don’t thread lightly)
When I asked what you guys wanted me to write about (2nd try lol) I got one answer: Knitting! When I asked if the previous articles where I talk about my knitting wasn’t enough, I got the answer: Go Big! Aah well, since I’m home already, I might as well go big don’t you think, haha.
So anybody who’s not interested, you can stop reading now, but since I really appreciate people responding to my questions (Still waiting for some Feedback btw 😂) lemme see what I can come up with…
If you’ve read Mix and (-game-set-) Match and Creativity Flows, you’re already a little informed about my hobby. I also mention it on my Homepage of course. So I will do my best to not repeat myself, but y’all gotta humor me a bit…
The first thing I ever knitted was – of course – a scarf. In a basic garter stitch, the one everyone starts with. Just straight forward and back. I must have been about 6 years old. I still remember the colors I used too: white, red, yellow and blue. Basically the scraps of my Mom’s knitting. From the early beginnings, using different colors did not only appealed to me fashion wise, they also helped me to ‘divide’ the seemingly endless work, into parts. This way, I worked from one color to another.
It also helped me, to make all parts the same size lol. Although when you first start knitting, you might discover one part might look smaller than the other, due to the fact you’re not really accustomed yet to knit with a steady hand. This causes irregularities where some parts are knitted more tight and thus look smaller.
You see, it was only later I found all these really handy little knitting tools, which can help you with all kinds of things. From counting the rows, till separating different colored threads and so on. But when I started, it was all very simple and to be honest, I don’t even think my Mom had all these things until I got older and more serious about knitting. what you see below, is basically what I use to not only knit, but also put the pieces together in the end.
I remember when I finished that scarf I was proud as all and I wore it to death. It must have been about 30 stitches wide and knitted on a thicker needle, most likely 6. Yeah, that was another thing I caught on early: the thicker the needles and wool, the faster I could work. When you’re not fast enough, you just gotta be smart about it.
It took me a couple of years until I knitted my first jumper. By then I mastered a couple of more stiches, next to the garter stitch, the most used by me are the purl (to the left) and seed (in the middle) stitch. From there on variations are almost countless, including cable and raster knitting. Which I all tried, the more difficult a pattern the better the challenge for me. That’s how I ‘invented’ my own hemline, see 3rd pic.
Now I already told you how I did everything on intuition. Reading knitting patterns felt like one puzzle, containing so many abbreviations, and I wasn’t good at that either. So I just took my own measurements and also measured some of my favorite jumpers. With that information I got to work. Nothing too difficult, since my goal was to actually finish and wear it one day.
I started with straightforward parts, nothing really fitted. Lucky for me, at that time, fashion prescribed a lot of ‘oversized’ sweaters. I could hardly go wrong there. Starting with a sleeveless piece, a spencer, I slowly worked up to a short sleeved jumper until I got to knit a long sleeved one. And if you read about my Great Aunt who always made one sleeve longer than the other, you know that was definitely something I was avoiding!
My love for colors has always been a blessing as well as a hindrance. Not a curse, never a curse. Since money was tight, we never went to a real knitting shop and to be honest, I think there are more of those to be found today, then way back when. But there were enough shops selling the cheaper ‘wool’, basically acrylics. But hey, I wasn’t a star knitter and still had to see if the end result would be worth it all. I was not going to spend too much money on it anyways. But choosing colors for any project…yeah…I take that very seriously…
When I start a new project, I will sit on the couch, surrounded by almost every color I have to my disposal and start putting colors together to get a general idea of what I will work with. Although I am now able to read knitting patterns – well, sort of – following any presented color scheme might not be exactly what I want. More often I only use a certain pattern and create my own color scheme to my taste and to what’s in my baskets. Or the other way around, use the color scheme and create a pattern for it. If a particular pattern is to my liking, just changing the colors, gives a whole different look.
Back to the quality of the wool. When I got all those bags full of wool form my Great Aunt, these were filled with the most luxurious wool I had ever seen. She was definitely not being economic about her knitting. And though all these kinds are really beautiful, it is a pain to keep that quality when you need to wash and dry it. Also, the level of itch you can get from it was not really appreciated by my kids when they were still young and wearing my homemade knits.
So the acrylic versions may be cheaper, for me they are much easier to handle when a washing is needed and they itch way less too. I have a sweater, one of the more intricated patterns I started to knit, that still looks great after 20 years and I don’t know how many washes. This is actually an ‘urban’ pattern. When this one succeeded I dared to step up to more complicated patterns.
One of the pieces I will be forever proud of, was my own Toy Story design, which I knitted for our son, after the release of the first Toy Story movie in 1995. I created the pattern myself and I still think it was an epic accomplishment. I would have loved to show you pictures here, but I don’t have them. The sweater is still in our storage.
After that one I designed and knitted sweaters with Bart Simpson, Diddl, and other well known characters. By first drawing a picture and converting this into a knitting pattern, every little x, stands for one stitch.
I was already into ‘figure’ knitting for a long time, when I discovered this has actually always been a ‘thing’. I bought several knitting magazines from the crates in the library I mentioned in Putting in a Good Word, for a couple of cents. The magazines contained patterns, but more important to me, inspiration.
Whenever the mood hit me, I would spontaneously knit something for a someone, for which I always would spend money on nice quality wool. New born babies are always much fun, because I basically knit something really tiny, for like the first couple of weeks and when the babe grows out of it, I always suggest they can use it on one of their favorite teddy bears.
Much later I found the ‘Nordic Knitting’ patterns and the ones that really captured my heart: ‘Fair Isle’ knitting. I treated myself with a really cool book, which I bought and left behind, twice lol. The newest version is the one below, pretty sure the cover only will convince you, why I love this way of knitting so much. Some of the patterns I used you can see here:
When we came to Ireland and our car broke down ( Make that Move), I had to leave my main knitting tools including the Fair Isle book and some knits I was working on, behind. After we got a little more settled here, I longed to start knitting again, but had to basically start all over again. My first purchases were a couple of knitting needles and some wool at one of the cheap shops here, until I found a really nice shop in Dublin where I felt I was in knitting heaven.
My hubby said if I really wanted to start again, I now had to get some good tools, instead of the cheap stuff I was used to – though they always served their purpose well. Next to bamboo knitting needles in several sizes, I bought a really awesome circular knitting set – I did blink when seeing the price – which is multifunctional in use. These needles are perfect for knitting without seams. It still feels like knitting on another level 😂 And when I had to do the night shift, some of the girls and I started to bring our knits to work.
Whenever I haven’t knitted for some time, I always start with the most simple things and return to the basics… Scarfs. Though with the circular needles, it was fun to now be able to knit cowls and beanies, instead of the basic ones I once started my knitting hobby with.
After my slow start I invested in really nice Donegal Wool and started to knit a sweater for myself. Which was the first real project here. I still use the same method to be sure the measurements are a good fit for me. Opposite to when I started – when I didn’t want to loose any time and just went ahead – I now will knit a little test patch. It only takes a couple of minutes and when you’ve got that done, you can calculate how the length and width will work out in the end. It really helps to make sure any knitted piece will actually FIT.
When one of my colleagues left the company, she left me some awesome wool. Ever since I saw a great jeans jacket with knitted sleeves in a store, I thought: I Can Do That. So with that wool, I took my jeans jacket, cut off the sleeves and knitted new ones… It turned out nice and is one of my favs.
Since then I knitted legwarmers – I always use these both for warmth and to make my boots fit better round my legs 😂 – sweaters, pillow cases for my couch, bags, more beanies and scarfs and upgraded another jacket. I am currently working on a new sweater, which I already started on when the weather was still nice. I can knit midsummer, I only need to get the knitting jitters and I will pick up whatever I am working on, or start a new project.
During our last visit to the Netherlands and our storage, I picked up some wool and some unfinished sweaters. I can work on multiple things at the same time, just to keep things exciting lol. I will do about anything from getting bored, while knitting, so yeah…(free tip: audiobooks!!) the downside might be, that working with so many colors, I not only buy loads of wool – though I try to keep it down – but I’m also left with loads of scraps. Then again, these will always lead to great improvisations and new projects. How-to-keep-oneself-busy.
Right now I think I again have enough wool to knit about 5 sweaters, but hey… Since my Knitting Frenzy can start any moment of any day… I gotta be prepared! And once I get started, I can finish a sweater in about 2 weeks, if I’m fired enough 🙄 This amount of wool always leaves me with the same longing, to once in my life, own something like this;
Well, I do hope this was big enough for you. Wishing you all a very happy weekend and if you want to try something new but not too strenuous… Knit Away ❤