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I’ve got my knitting mojo back….again!

4 Mar

Given that in the last post I was getting close to finishing the aforementioned adult-sized cardigan you’d think I’d be finished by now, right?


Not only have I not progressed I’m even further behind than I was a few weeks back. How? Well one of my sleeves went wrong (damn sleeves!) so I had to frog it back and start again. Grrr.

Frustration: when you're knitting just won't go right

There’s a bigger reason why I haven’t progressed as much as I’d planned because *drum roll* I got a full-time, graduate (read grown-up) job. Huzzah! I’ve spent the last few weeks being trained up and it involved a week-long trip to London, followed by some more intensive in-house training in Manchester. Now I love nothing more than a bit of commuter knitting, but I have been that tired I spend most of my train journeys conked-out praying I don’t dribble/lean on someone.

But this weekend has been my first one off for over a month, and to celebrate I’ve been wearing my pyjamas, drinking copious amount of tea, and knitting like a demon while watching stacks of ever-so-slightly naff dvds. Bliss.

I’m making decent progress and all I have left to do is pick up a ridiculous number of stitches (boo), sew all the seams up, and sew on the buttons. Not much then…..

I’m hoping that the next post will feature the finished article….and that the photos will be better quality than the last one *fingers crossed*

Happy knitting! SKP x

Feel the fear and do it anyway

18 Feb

I absolutely adore the nipped-in look of forties and fifties-style tops, jumpers and cardigans. The women in the images look so glamorous *sigh*.


I’m a sucker for any knitting patterns that feature these elegant designs, and my knitting to-do list is getting ridiculously long. However I wouldn’t make any headway with said list if I didn’t overcome a knitting problem of mine. The fear of making sleeves.

 Ok, ok, stop laughing, I know it sounds absolutely absurd to be apprehensive about knitting sleeves, but a worry’s a worry. Then as I was flicking through my stash of individual patterns and books I decided the best way to overcome this was to face it head-on, and do it. Knit something with sleeves. Crikey.

My vintage-style knitted capelet, featured in the last post, was the first non hat/scarf/mitten pattern I’d taken on. It was the nearest thing to a cardigan, without the problem of having to house the arms separately.

At the Knitting and Stitching Exhibition I picked up, among other things, Wonderland, an adorable children’s knitting pattern book which features contemporary patterns for children.

One of the items that caught my eye was this jacket. I love a bit of military detailing in fashion, and this jacket was so out of the ordinary from the usual children’s knitting patterns I knew I just had to make it for my two and a half year-old nephew. Plus it would help in my sleeve therapy programme.

I must have been mad; I bought the pattern book on November 27th with a view to giving the jacket as part of his Christmas present. As I would only get to seem him on Boxing Day, that gave me just under a month to knit it, including two *gulp* sleeves, sew it together and present it to him. Yikes.

So here it is. Apologies for the poor quality of the pictures, it was taken on my phone just before I wrapped it up to be delivered to the little guy.

It's got sleeves! The finished item

It doesn’t look much in the pictures, but in the flesh, or wool if you prefer, it looks so lovely and professional.

What you can’t see in the picture is that there are two fawn elbow patches which match the shoulders. So cute.

I certainly got the seal of approval from the little fella, he jumped up and down on the spot at the sight of jumper peeking out of the wrapping paper, and after shooting his arms up to allow the jacket to fit over his clothes, he ran around to all the relatives who were over to show them what his aunty had made him. *knitting pride*

So did it help me overcome my sleeve phobia? Well, I’m mid-way through making an adult-sized cardigan for yours truly and have knitted the sleeves, I just need to position and then sew them in. So I’m obviously not that frightened of them anymore.

Do any readers have any knitting-related apprehension?  My motto? Feel the fear and do it anyway!

Vintage capelet

25 Jan

As I mentioned in the last post, this featured item takes inspiration from the 50s and 70s. I know it sounds a strange era combination but the style is very much from the 50s, but has a 70s knitwear feel which I think complements it beautifully.

I was admiring (read drooling) over the patterns in Susan Crawford’s Vintage Gifts to Knit a few months ago, saw this beaut and thought ‘I gotta have me some of that’.

Town & City Tufted Cape: day-to-day glamour

 I decided to steer away from the green and black combination, and decided on black, with a slight glitter trim, that way I can wear it in the daytime, or use it as an evening capelet.

This project was the first ‘proper’ item of clothing I’d knitting beyond scarves, hats and fingerless gloves. At this point I had a ridiculous fear of knitting (messing-up) sleeves and thought this was the perfect item to knit before embarking on something with *gulp* sleeves.

I had no problems with doing tufted stitch, and found once I’d got the rhythm of it, I could quite happily sit and knit while watching television. The only issue I had was picking up the stitches, it took a couple of goes before I got them picked-up and evenly spaced, but overall, I’m really happy with the result.

My take on the capelet:

 Close-up of the stitches

Ready for my close-up: tufted and garter stitches

Ok, so you can definitely see the fifties influence, what about the seventies? As I was flicking through this month’s Company magazine, I noticed a feature called Blown Away, which focused on homespun knits, a main staple of the seventies . One of the items used was a capelet by Orla Kiely which had a whopping £70 price tag.

Company magazine: January 2012

Not that I’m biased or anything, but I think you get more garment (and value) for the money paid for the wool and pattern book, never mind the satisfaction of it being hand-crafted.

What about you? Any of you knitters had that feeling before?


Where it all began

16 Jan

When those outside of the knitting community think about knitting their immediate thoughts turn to grannies (a lot of blame falls squarely on the songwriters of The Wheels on the Bus), ill-fitting cardigans and jumpers, and finished items so bizarre that only a mother’s love could persuade anyone to wear them.

she knits and purls too...

However in recent years, in a backlash against disposable fashion and a desire to reclaim old crafts, knitting has enjoyed something of a revival, and I for one am glad about it.

One of my earliest memories of my grandma was of her sitting in an armchair, glasses perched on her nose, a pattern on her lap, and the frantic ‘click-clicking’ of her needles as she watched the early evening news. That woman was gifted. She could tut-tut the government’s recent disastrous decision in one department or another yet never miss a stitch. She could turn her hand to any manner of garments, ranging from swimwear (way back when) through to evening wear, and not only would she follow patterns, she also construct her own as she knitted. Fabulous.

Unfortunately I didn’t get enough time with her as she passed away when I was 5 years old. However that striking image of her along with her soundtrack has stayed with me.

But we’re something of a crafty family. My aunty was also a prolific knitter, and after watching her speed-knit her way through another fabulous garment, at the age of ten I asked her to show me how it was done.

The next time she visited she brought along with her a short pair of size 4 needles and a ball of luminous orange wool. I remember being amazed at the contrast of the almost neon wool against the cool slate grey of the needles.

My first few attempts were laughable, stitches too tight and then too slack. Holes where there shouldn’t have been and big knots scattered throughout the piece. However with a lot of frogging, patient explanations and demonstrations I managed my first few wobbly rows of knitting, and gosh was I proud.

Various family members were ‘treated’ to garter stitch scarves of every colour and length, my Dad even got a (too-tight) woolen hat, which he wore  regardless of the marks it made on his forehead.

Then the inevitable happened. After a few months I went to high school where knitting wasn’t considered the done thing, I got stuck into my studies, I took up playing the piano and lived my teenage years.

It wasn’t until I turned 18 that the needles started calling again. A few new stitches were mastered, and I wore my ‘quirky’ (read bonkers) scarves and fingerless gloves to college.

I took all my knitting paraphernalia to university, but was too focused on my studies and university life to sit knitting.

It’s only now since I’ve graduated, undertaken post-graduate studies and been on the hunt for a job that I’ve properly rediscovered knitting. As my previous post mentions my eyes were fully-opened to the vast range of knitted goodies that could be made at the Knitting and Stitching Exhibition in London. It was then that I dived straight back in all guns blazing.

Crafting mecca: The Knitting and Stitching Exhibition

I take inspiration from vintage photographs, charity shop finds and women’s magazines, particularly Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Company. I love looking at their fashion pages, capturing the essence of the trend, and recreating my own take on it.

The next post will look at a piece which takes inspiration from 70s knits.

Anyway, I’m off, the needles are calling!


Knitting natter

11 Jan

Well hello and welcome to the first blog post of sheknitsandpurls!

After much umming and ahhing I’ve decided to take the plunge and start blogging my knitting exploits. I’ve been an on-off knitter for the last few years, making more scarves than I care to remember and a few (often-abandoned) attempts to go beyond the odd sock or hat. The turning point was in late 2010 when I attended The Knitting and Stitching Exhibition at Alexandra Palace in London. My eyes were opened to the infinite possibilities a pair of needles, some wool and a bucket load of imagination could lead to.

From 2010 to 2011 I held down two jobs, a voluntary role at a local charity and then embarked upon post-graduate studies. My free time was limited (to say the least) and unfortunately knitting went on the back burner.

Fast forward a year and things are quite different. I’ve finished studying, I only have one part-time job and the rest of my free time is dedicated to searching for a full-time ‘grown-up’ job and knitting.

Again, The Knitting and Stitching Exhibition worked its magic, (this time in Harrogate) and reaffirmed the idea that I wanted to dedicate more time to this wonderful craft. And here I am two months later knee-deep in wool, needles and patterns and full of excitement at what knitting ventures 2012 may bring.

Bring. It. On.