So - that was Christmas - and what have we done?! Well, I bloody well knitted a jumper.. and it wasn't half as scary or time consuming as I expected!
It's something I've had my eye on for a while. As many of you know, I only came back to knitting in the summer and I've been keeping everything simple and basic. I am always envious of people who have the time and attention for detailed jumper knits on tiny needles - and feel a bit of a fraud for not being one - but I am not one of these fabulous people and that's ok. I like things I can finish, I like big needles with big yarn that develops quickly - and I loved this knit.
I searched for the right kit for a while. I knew it needed to be chunky and I wanted something on straight needles, because it's accessible - and if one day I finally get round to organising a jumper club, everyone can have fun without the mental boundaries of circular needles! I also have a particular taste in clothes. I like clean lines and fitted sleeves, something that fits properly over the shoulders and is without frills and frolics. Pretty boring right? But basics last the test of time.
I was stuck for a long time between We Are Knitters and Wool and The Gang. Both have a beautiful range of jumpers that fit my requirements, but like the Cinderella experiment, when I knew, I knew - and it was Wool and The Gang's Eden Jumper that got me. The only 'downside' was the vast range of colours, this nearly held me back from buying at all, but I spotted some of their 'Crazy Sexy Wool' in John Lewis on Oxford Street and seeing a decreased range in person, I opted immediately for the Ultra Violet.
So, what do you get? If you opt for the full pack, you get 12mm needles, the pattern, a yarn needle and 6-8 balls of Crazy Sexy Wool. I must confess, I purchased mine during Cyber week and got 30% off - but usually this would cost around £120. I had my own needles (the Hoooked needles do just fine), so that made it a little better too.
The wool? The Crazy Sexy Wool has the same size specifications as Stitch and Stories chunky merino but seems far hardier and bouncy. Not quite as soft, which is to be expected, but where the softness of the merino means you have to be quite careful with it, the Crazy Sexy Wool runs with the punches and is reassuringly strong. On their website Wool and the Gang say: 'Crazy Sexy Wool come from happy sheep in South America, sourced with consideration as to reduce the impact on the environment. It happens to have amazing qualities - it’s natural, renewable, biodegradable. Plus, it’s also breathable, stretchy, made to last, easy to care for and comes in amazing colours!' I'd say it's pretty accurate - and as ever, having a mindfulness of sustainability and environmental impact, you can knit with a sound mind.
The knit? It claims to be intermediate, but as long as you can knit and purl, increase and decrease - you'll have this one down. There's some rib stitch for the edges (knit 1, purl 1) and a point where you have to put the body and sleeves piece onto a needle together so you can knit the neck across all sections and bring them together, but that really is it. Stocking stitch and a bit go shaping - sew it together - and done!
The feeling? I managed to get this completed within 54 hours - sleeping, socialising and Christmas celebrations included. The rush of seeing it developing and working through the balls of wool was thrilling (maybe I need more socialising?) - and for the size 2 (UK 10-12) I knitted, I was sent 6 balls and only used 5! - So, not only did I finish before I expected, I also had a whole ball to play with afterwards, which was useful, because I found it very hard to stop knitting at the pace I had done whilst attacking the jumper. A jumper detox ball, if you will. I finished this guy at 1am on Boxing Day morning - stuck it on, jumped on the sofa and danced a little on my own next the Christmas tree. Everyone else was already bed. Amazing. I'm already planning the next.
Then, on Boxing Day morning I knitted an amazing little hat in about 2 hours, and tried knitting bobbles for the first time (see next blog post) - but it shortly got lost on a night out with the girls (perhaps less socialising required hahaha).
And as soon as I have the funds, I will share what I can of it with you all by adding it to the stall stock! Until then, the Company of Crafters is always open if you need some assistance and have bought your own kit from their websites!
Thank you Wool and the Gang - you really made my Christmas.
We've now welcomed December and as such, the world is ramping up it's efforts to get festive. Several times this weekend I've noticed groups and couples hauling trees, or bags packed with lights and tinsel and various bits and bobs to get into the spirit - and why wouldn't you? Christmas has a warm nostalgic tingle, most of the time. A rare moment in childhood when the family is together, warmth away from cold and the buzz of fairytale gift givers, twinkly lights bloody everywhere and the chance of snow. I can be a bit of a scrooge during these times, only caving in for mulled wine and a bit of a sing-along, but this year I've been getting right into it trying to think up ideas for workshops - which resulted in this guy, a pom pom wreath.
There's not much to it. You get a base, you make pom poms, you put them on the base. Voila!
For mine - and for the workshops - I've sourced a mix of chunky merino for super big fluffy bits and some organic cotton KPC yarn for constrast. I found it quite hard when googling around to find out how much yarn you'd need, and the conclusion I came to was more than you think! For bigger wreaths, some places were recommending a kilo of yarn, which can be quite an outlay. So the wreaths at the workshops will be 20-23cm in diameter, you can choose between a star, a heart or a traditional ring and you'll be given 300g of yarn (200g merino, 100g cotton) and 3 sizes of pom pom makers.
I'm pretty happy with mine - and no doubt will end up making a few more - and I like the fact you can keep it year after year. It's a great way to burn through that yarn stash, and for those with bolder tastes you can really go to town with colours and embellishment (fairy lights?). And once you've started why stop? You can go big (the arm knitting wool can be used for giant pom poms), you can make baubles and bunting, jewellery, add pom poms to your hats, accessories - everything. Everything can be pom pom-ed, let no one judge, we are all guilty. Grab a mulled wine, and off you go!
We're deep into November and Christmas approaches at speed, as it does every year. The christmas lights are up and twinkling on the main shopping streets and the waves of cinnamon that waft from the mulled wine vendors at Greenwich Market have started to embalm the stall - all small lovely things to compensate for dark cold nights and regular rainy showers.
The theme of November's 'The Company of Crafters' (29th, 7-10pm at Deptford Does Art) is 'Festive Delights', so I've been thinking up and practising some on-theme crafting. Pretty early on, I got fixated with stockings. There's so many things you can craft for christmas - baubles, wreaths, jumpers, gifts - but this seemed like a good place to start. And as ever, the thick sturdy Hoooked Zpagetti comes to the rescue again for a one-evening project and a simple place to start for beginners.
This stocking uses crochet, the pattern was based off of a Hobbycraft blog (here), which uses tiny wool and hooks to make up tiny stockings you can use to build up an advent calendar! As with any of these, once you've got the shape and the jist, you can resize and embellish till your heart is content! Do it in one colour and sew an initial on the front, add pom poms, go stripy - the options are endless.. I'll certainly be churning out a few in the next weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for inspiration.
All you'll need is:-
1) 12mm Crochet Hook
2) Hoooked Zpagetti (I've used Hoooked's Ribbon XL silvery lurex for some shimmer as my contrast colour)
I'll be using US notation here - where:
DC - Double Crochet (wrap the yarn once before entering the stitch)
TC - Triple Crochet (wrap the yarn twice before entering the stitch)
SLST - Slip Stitch
You start at the toe:-
row 1: magic loop, chain 1, work 6 DC into the first chain, SLST into the first stitch to complete the ring (6)
row 2: chain 1, 2 DC into every stitch, SLST into the first stitch to complete the ring (12)
row 3: chain 1, *1DC, 2DC* - increasing in every second stitch, SLST into the first stitch to complete the ring (18)
row 4-6: Chain 1, DC into all stitches, SLST into first to complete the ring (18)
remove hook and replace with a stitch marker (I use a giant safety pin), don't tie off or cut the yarn, we're coming back after the heel.
Now for the heel (switch colours if you like):-
starting 4 stitches on from the stitch marker
row 7:- SLST to join new yarn, for next 11 stitches: DC, HTC, HTC, TC, TC, TC, TC, TC, HTC, HTC, DC SLST
row 8-9:- chain 1 to turn, DC, HTC, HTC, TC, TC, TC, TC, TC, HTC, HTC, DC, SLST
Back to the body:-
row 10:- Chain 1, DC into all stitches, SLST into first to complete the ring (18)
(this will take you around the loop, across the heel section, bringing everything together)
row 11 - 13:- Chain 1, DC into all stitches, SLST into first to complete the ring (18)
row 14:- switch colours and Chain 1, DC into all stitches, SLST into first to complete the ring (18)
row 15:- SLST into all stitches, above the heel SLST, chain 10, SLST to create the loop, chain more for a bigger loop (18)
fasten off! Voila!