Book Review: It’s My Party and I’ll Knit If I Want To – By Sharon Aris

Taking a leaf from the fantastic Breige over at Rare Opal, one thing I really wanted to do more of this year was to read more books. After a three year English Literature degree, and currently being half way through a post-graduate qualification in Charity and Social Enterprise Management, my love of reading has become non-existent.

Itsmypartyreview

I first picked up this book in 2003, when I was first learning to knit. It takes a light-hearted look at the resurgence in knitting that occurred in the early 2000s, and follows author Sharon Aris as she learns to knit, and learns to love it. The chatty, informal style really spoke to me as I was learning to knit, and it was great to read about someone making the same discoveries as I was. As Sharon is based in Australia, most of her discoveries focus there, and as a new knitter it was fascinating to get an insight into all things knitting Down Under.

As a more experienced knitter rereading this book, it did not speak to me on the same level, but maybe that is because I am not a beginner anymore. Things have also changed so much since this book was written. No doubt if Sharon Aris was to write this book now, Ravelry and the rise of the online knitting community would feature heavily whereas the internet is not mentioned at all.

Overall, I think that this book would be great for beginner knitters who are falling in love with their newly discovered craft, but that more experienced knitters should stick with knitting writers such as the Yarn Harlot. Either way, this book is a quick read that provides interesting information about the history of knitting, whilst allowing you to follow one woman as she discovers a craft that has had such a profound effect on so many people.

If you would like to purchase this book, it can be found on many sites including Amazon.

Bash The Stash 2015

BASHTHESTASH

 

It is no secret that I love yarn. I have since I first learn to knit, and since then my stash has been growing at an unbelievable rate. I have been knitting for almost 10 years now, and my stash acquisition is immense. I could easily continue knitting at my current rate and not need to buy anything for a good few years.

It must have been divine intervention then for me to come across the Bash The Stash 2015 forum thread over on the British Banter Ravelry group.  The challenge is simply to reduce your stash during 2015, and there are three categories:

Cold Sheep – Not buying yarn except if there is something you need to finish a project/attending a knitting festival

Lukewarm Llama – Trying to knit more than you buy

Frozen Shoulder of Lamb – No new yarn will enter the house!!

I have chosen to go Cold Sheep as I already have plans to attend two knitting festivals this year, and it would be a shame to go all of that way and then not buy anything! So far I have done really well and not purchased anything, despite seeing some very tempting bargains.

I have even begun allocating some of the yarn in my stash to specific projects so that I can begin to knit them as soon as I want to without having to worry about matching yarns to patterns or not knowing that I already have the perfect yarn in my stash.

The hashtag #bashthestash2015 is being used on Ravelry and Instagram for those that want to take part, and I have even been extra nerdy and developed a spreadsheet for myself.

What is your stash like?

My Crafty Challenges for 2015

2015 is already shaping up to be a pretty exciting year for me. I have a four day trip to Edinburgh planned for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (and to celebrate my birthday) and a little holiday in Devon planned as well. It is so nice to have things to look forward to.

2014 was very much a year of work for me. Having found a career and job that I love, I threw myself into it completely, maybe too much at times, and for 2015 my aim is to try to find more of a balance. Thats it. No crazy resolutions (well, there is one but I will save that for another post) just a promise to myself to be more mindful oto slow down and enjoy things a little more.

A few months ago I was talking to my friend Breige, and she was discussing having a craft afternoon once a month. This is a brilliant idea, and something that I have been thinking about since. We were discussing all of the different things that I could try, and I have come up with a list of 12 crafty challenges for 2015. They are:

  • Learning to spin on a drop spindle
  • Making stitch markers
  • Dyeing yarn with Kool Aid
  • Learning to crochet
  • Rediscovering sewing
  • Learning embroidery
  • DIY Sharpie mugs
  • Knitting a lace shawl
  • Make 5 Christmas decorations
  • Knit one garment for myself
  • Complete my yarn ball cross stitch
  • Experiment with pom poms

What are your crafty challenges for this year?

Happy New Year!

For once I am a little early with the celebrations this year. Whilst it has been a fair few years since I have stayed up and partied the new year in, I have always liked the idea of a new year, and the focal point for so many people in assessing the year they have just had, and looking forward to the year ahead. I like the idea of everyone trying to do better, be better and to achieve their goals.

As a lover of lists, every New Year is a chance to write yet more lists and discuss them with others. My focus this year is mostly around my well-being, and knitting is a huge part of that. I have compiled a list of challenges, to push me to try new things and develop new skills, and I will share them with you tomorrow.

For now though, I will simply wish you all a very happy new year.

 

 

 

Listening to Knitting

I first discovered podcasts when I was in high school. At the time, there was no Ravelry, no Youtube and no Facebook. I had read about podcasts in the various knitting magazines I was into at the time, and was fascinated that people would create these shows just to talk about knitting.

Fast forward a good number of years and podcasts are a firm fixture in my life. I love that come are audio only, whereas others are on Youtube. Each and every one that I listen to gives me new ideas and inspiration, and I often find myself looking at show notes to find the names of dyers that I want to check out. Podcasts can be a fantastic way of discovering new dyers, patterns and techniques, and I thought I would share a few of my favourites with you today.

  1. Dairyland Knits – Top spot has to go to the fantastic Josh and his podcast all about his knitting adventures in Wisconsin. I always enjoy Josh’s podcast, it is always full of new yarns, new dyers and little bits of information. Josh also talks about his experiences of living in Germany,and I could quite happily listen to him speaking German all day long. Occasional sentences are clearly not enough. His podcasts are weekly, and cover all sorts – from knitting to canning and orchids. He also knits the most beautiful items. Check out his Ravelry group here.
  2. Little Bobbins Knits- This podcast is hosted by the lovely Dani, and it first caught my attention as she is from England. It is always nice to see a fairly local knitter and to learn about what yarn they have been buying. She always has lovely projects to show, and she also has a shop.Her Ravelry group is here.
  3. Cast On – This was the first podcast that I fell in love with. Brenda has such a soothing voice, is the perfect audio companion for your knitting adventures. Her very last podcast may have been in October, but with 132 episodes to catch up on, you’ll be fine for a while.
  4. Knitting in Circles –    This is a recent discovery for me. Aimee and Darren share their knitting and spinning projects every week, and with Episode 151 being their most recent – I have lots of catching up to do. Their Ravelry group is here.
  5. Mole Knits – This is the first venture into podcasting featuring myself and my friend Amy, and as such it has an honorary spot on my list. If you feel like listening to two Brits as they stumble through their first podcast then please do. We also have a Ravelry group.

Which podcasts are you loving right now?

Evergreen Socks

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be chosen by the lovely Madeline of The Little Mount Yarn Co. to test knit her new sock pattern. It is a fantastic pattern and super easy – perfect for knitting whilst watching festive movies. Madeline  published the pattern last weekend and you can get it on Ravelry. The Evergreen Socks were top of the Whats Hot list on Ravelry within 48 hours of being published, and everyone seems to be loving them.

Tree Closeup

 

I used 2.5mm DPNs and about 1.4 balls (320 yards) of Adriafil Classic Azzurra in a lovely festive green (colourway 035) – Madeline had already used a semi-solid colourway for her test knit, so I used a solid to highlight the stitch pattern of the tree.

These would be perfect for anyone who has already completed vanilla socks and wanted to try something a little different, or for someone who has never knit socks before and wants to give themselves an added challenge. There are no complicated stitches, and the pattern caters for two sizes (medium and large) and the medium size is perfect for most women – with a cast on of 64 stitches.

Trees Full

These will certainly be keeping my feet warm this winter. What are you currently knitting?

 

A Change Can Do You Good

This has been a funny old week. Everything seems to have been a little off. Not wrong, just off.

You know how you can get stuck in a knitting rut? And nothing can make it interesting for you? I totally reached that this week. I was happily plodding along, knitting socks for the gift draw (not my secret Christmas knitting – don’t worry) when it just stopped being fun. I had completed five socks in a row, and I just could not face the idea of casting on another sock. It was time for a change.

Chunky knitting

I dug around my stash, and found 10 balls of the lovely Rowan Alpaca Soft in a rich mustard colour. This knits up on 6mm needles into a lovely soft fabric. After a quick search on Ravelry, I found the perfect pattern for it – One More Notch by Robin Dodge. One More Notch is a delightful wrap around cardigan – or Jardigan to the lovely ladies of Knit Chorlton, as it could be a cardigan or a jumper/sweater. It is so nice to be knitting something so simple, that grows so quickly, and requires so little concentration.

I’m sure that as soon as this is finished, I will be back to knitting socks, and maybe even a lace shawl – but for not I will just enjoy the simpleness.