A Fair fear?

I thought I would update you all on my Fair Isle progress, because, quite simply, it’s funny.

I cast on my wool sometime last week and started knitting.  But already I had encountered two issues.  The first was that the pattern was for circular needles.  How did I miss that???  As you may remember, circular needles are my only other knitting phobia so this panicked me somewhat.  However, it seemed that I could still use the same pattern on straight needles.  Panic over.  Now the second issue is closely linked to the first.  One of the great things about circular needles is that they come in all different lengths so you can have LOTS of stitches, and so you can make really long scarves or a whole jumper with no seams.  This pattern required 195 stitches.  My needles aren’t long enough for that.  By a long stretch.  So I quartered the amount of stitches thinking the pattern would still work (I’ll come back to this faux pas later).

The pattern includes a section of rib (for non-knitters, sleeves are knitted in rib, its that kind of, ribbed look…) so I started off well.  Or so I thought.  My first stumble from cutting the amount of stitches reared its ugly head.  I must apologise non knitters, I’m going to get a wee bit technical.  My pattern said to do knit pearl rib every row, but because I had altered the amount of stitches, I should have alternated knit pearl, pearl knit every row.  Needless to say, I didn’t, so my edge is actually moss stitch.  I don’t mind, I think moss stitch is prettier, but it was a bit unsettling that I’d messed up the part I thought would be easy.

The first few rows of Fair Isle were relatively simple.  But one of the things that puzzled me was that the pattern tells you to take the wool with you along the back of your knitting.  Now I think I know what that means, but it does leave a lot of stringy bits at the back – to anyone who has done Fair Isle before; is that normal???  Also, by the time I had three colours in the knitting, but was only using two, I kept forgetting the other one and leavng it dangling.  Poor lonely yarn.  So far it hasn’t mattered but I have a feeling it might do further along.  And besides I just feel bad for the limp and solitary strand of wool…I may have finally snapped and gone nuts.

Now this next thing probably isn’t an actual issue or anything, but it’s annoying me somewhat.  My balls keep getting tangled (oo-er)!!  Every stitch loops the yarns over each other and it does my head in.  I might be doing something stupid here, but I cannot fathom how to stop it happening.  I just have to fix it at the end of each row – I know, not a major issue, but irritating nonetheless!

So I have done about 10cms of Fair Isle.  It looks quite pretty, and my tension is actually really good.  But remember my cutting stitches idea?  Oh Lizzie.  Yeah, the pattern doesn’t really work any more.  I don’t know if it will still look decent when it’s done, but I bloody well hope so!  The pattern has three colours; a base colour, and two different highlights.  One of the highlights is fine, but the other seems very random, like I’ve sprinkled some purple in at odd times without actually knowing what I was doing (hmm sounds close to the truth).  Who knows, maybe it will look stunning when I’m done….yeah, that’ll be the day!  But if I don’t believe it will, I won’t finish the damn thing!

So is my fear of Fair Isle fair?  Well I think it’s justified at least, I haven’t had to concentrate so much on knitting for a long time at any rate.  But I will keep you updated, and when it’s done, I’ll show you a pretty picture :-).  Well hopefully it’ll be pretty….

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Sew exciting!

Hello my lovely readers!

So term starts back today, with alot of mixed feelings!  I thought I would ignore all my nerves about exams and starting new modules by writing a blog post.  That’s productive right?  Hmmm…

So sewing.  As I mentioned I got a beautiful sewing machine for Christmas (thank you Santa ;-P).  It’s purple and pretty straight forward to use and I already miss it.  There is no room for it in my uni house so unfortunately it currently lives in my wardrobe back home.  I just hope it’s not too lonely – it does have my clothes and wool stash for company at least.  But I digress.  I have finally used a sewing machine, and with some success too!

I mentioned previously that I had big plans to make napkin rings.  Well, as big as plans can get for such a small project.  I bought the fabric and cut some of it up and then got distracted, probably by something shiny.  But now I have made real progress.  The strips of fabric were finally all sheared one evening and I was ready to go.

Until I discovered that setting up a sewing machine is bloody complicated!!  Sitting in the afternoon twilight (almost) with mother dearest explaining it to me I couldn’t help but panic a wee bit.  It’s all loop this here and thread that there and wind it round your head four times and do a rain dance and you are done!  Well, not exactly, but that’s how it felt.  All the while I kept thinking “If threading the thing is this hard, how tricksy is it going to be to actually use?”

The answer was not tricksy at all.  Once you’ve faffed around for half an hour you just press a peddle!  Exactly my kind of thing.  So I practised on some scrap and was very tickled by all the different kinds of stitch (some of them look a bit like heart rate moniters tee hee) and had my faith utterly restored.

So the next day I decided to tackle a real sewing project.  And I was determined to do it properly.  I pinned all the pieces together, then I tacked them together (this is a very loose stitch that just holds things together temporarily) and then I got sewing.  I even ironed all of the pieces first, and I don’t even iron my clothes!  I thought I was doing quite well, though I was too scared to go full speed with the peddle.  Sometimes the machine growled at me when I went to slow but I was determined not to be rushed!

The first two seams are wonky to say the least.  But I had 12 strips of fabric to sew together and that means 11 seams.  Now 2 wonky and 9 straight is pretty good going in my book.  I am a very happy bunny indeed.

Like I said, term has started again and I am seperated from my sewing machine :-(.  But as soon as we are reunited I will be backing those bad boys and finishing them up royal!  And then, my dears, I will give you some pretty pictures too ooh/scoff at depending on your opinion of my handiwork.

It’s sew exciting!

P.S. Fair Isle update:  I have chosen the wool I am going to use…green, red and purple…good combo I think…but they have yet to leap onto my needles…soon, I promise.

A not-so-crafty Christmas

I mentioned before that most Christmasses, I make the majority of presents for people.  It’s much more personal and unique, and sometimes it’s a more afordable option too.  But it does take time.  And this Christmas, I only gave 1 hand made present.

It actually feels strange to me.  I made a felt toy of a digimon (Terriermon, to be exact, for anyone who cares) for my fiance, and that’s it.  Last year, I spent my evenings leading up to Christmas knitting tree decorations.  I even ventured into my fiance’s world of clay to make some little ducks (I came back out of that world quite quickly because it was scary and made my hands feel weird).  But this year my evenings were spent proofreading for the university paper, struggling through Ancient Greek translations or cramming chocolate in my face.  None of these things are conducive to creativity.

The only other thing I made was Christmas Chutney.  This is a really delicious recipe that I am toying with giving you all, despite the fact that it’s well and truly after Christmas now.  But I forgot that I’d made it.  So no one got it.  It’s still sitting in the garage waiting to be distributed.  Thankfully, it’s a very patient chutney so all is well so far.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with buying people presents.  All of my family were thrilled with the gifts they recieved this year.  Some of them may have even preferred their shop bought wonders (although I hope they can at least appreciate what I’ve made in the past!)  It just didn’t really feel right for me, that I had only made one present.

This one present was particularly difficult though.  I made the digimon quite small, and my minute hand sewing skills are hampered by my impatience so it took a lot longer than I’d expected.  Originally my fiance was going to get other hand made beauties, but those will now have to wait until his birthday in the summer.  I wasn’t even particularly thrilled with the result!  I thought he was wonky and weird but my fiance loves him so that point is well and truly moot.

So along with all of my other goals for the coming year, (making bread, attempting fair isle knitting and learning to sew – I did get a sewing machine for christmas so be prepared for LOTS of sewing posts!) I want to get back to making gifts.  It’s personal, it’s thrifty and hey, I miss it.