And then there was knitting…

22 Apr

I’ve been surrounded by knitting my whole life. My Nana is a particularly prolific knitter. She was actually a professional knitter when my mum was a kid, doing piece work at home, and knitted garments that ended up photographed for the front of Sirdar’s patterns! As a youngster I remember that if Nana was sitting, she was knitting. There was a phase during her 60s when she cut back on the amount of knitting because she got really busy hiking, kayaking, abseiling, and tramping in the Himalayas, but then the youngest of my cousins was born (the first girl since me, 20-something years earlier) and the needles came out again, and I don’t think she’s stopped since. Don’t worry; she hasn’t given up on adventure and still walks at least an hour a day (I’m not entirely sure we’re related).

Mum has also always been a knitter, then a few years ago started getting into it with gusto and since then her stash and her output have both increased exponentially, although I’m not even sure of the physics of that. Seriously, her stash is AMAZING.

But despite being surrounded by knitting my whole life, I did not have any desire to knit. I picked up all of my other crafty instincts from Mum, but not that one. Mum tried to teach me when I was young, but I didn’t enjoy it as a process. I thought a lot of knitted stuff was ugly. It seemed like a slow and tedious process to produce something. And really, as someone who sews, makes jewellery, does cross stitch, does silk ribbon embroidery, and potters around with craft in general, and has a stash for each, I needed another hobby like I needed a house to fall on me. Mum was disappointed as she really wanted to teach me to knit, but I was determined. I Would Not Knit.

Then three things happened.

First, I had a few occasions to wish I had a nice, portable craft that didn’t require complicated machinery, specialist tools, or careful focus.

Second, my interest in vintage inspired looks and the vintage blogs I follow often showed lots of lovely pieces of knitwear that I would actually be seen in.

And third, seemingly en masse, the sewing blogs I follow all started sprouting knitting projects. Beautiful, not ugly, knitting projects.

So December 2011, three days before Christmas, on holiday at Mum’s, I announced “Mum, I have terrible news. I want to learn to knit.” Mum squealed, she hollered, she did cartwheels, she booked a skywriter and fireworks. Gloat much Mum?

Between my announcement and Christmas Day, Mum procured a learn-to-knit kit that made it under the tree with my name on it. And then on Christmas afternoon, we sat there and Mum taught me to knit. I banged a bunch of different stitches together as she taught me different techniques and I ended up with an odd “sampler” of my learning.

My learn-to-knit sampler, a hodge podge of stitches and techniques

My learn-to-knit sampler, a hodge podge of stitches and techniques

Surprisingly to both of us, I picked it up really quickly. My tension was tight, but even. I would make mistakes and ask Mum to fix them and she’d laugh and say “well, yes, that is a mistake for what you’re trying to do – but it’s actually an advanced technique you’ll get to later”. We covered knit, purl, and a variety of standard combinations, cast on and cast off, increases, decreases, and some lace techniques.

The kit included yarn and instructions to make a stocking stitch scarf with a garter border. But after knitting my sampler, Mum decided the scarf was too easy and would bore me, so she dug around in her stash and produced the pattern and yarn for a doll. Mum figured a doll was a chance to practice the basic stitch combos, increases and decreases, casting on and casting off, and seaming, but it didn’t need to fit anyone at the end so tension was less important, and any mistakes I made would be tolerable. And it was something she could produce the materials for from stash that very minute, so I could start straight away!

So here is my Cinderella topsy turvy doll. I don’t have any progress photos as I started her before  my decision to document my work, but I’m really pleased with her.

Cinderella in her rags, complete with apron and little patches, all knitted separately

Cinderella in her rags, complete with apron and little patches, all knitted separately

The bag of Cinderella in her rags. Mum crocheted the apron straps for me.

The back of Cinderella in her rags. Mum crocheted the apron straps for me.

Cinderella in her princess get up. I spent almost as much time embroidering those blasted flowers as I spent knitting the whole thing. But Mum crocheted the tiara for me.

Cinderella in her princess get-up. I spent almost as much time embroidering those blasted flowers as I spent knitting the whole thing. But Mum crocheted the tiara for me.

Cinderella in her princess get up, showing the little pseudo bow from cross the belt at the back.

Cinderella in her princess get up, showing the little pseudo bow from crossing the belt at the back.

If you’re asking why there are two dolls when I said I made only one, this is a topsy turvy doll, two dolls in one! You just have to pull her skirt up to reveal the other end, and the other doll.

See! Under her skirt is the other end of the doll

See! Under her skirt is the other end of the doll

So you don't have to try and rotate your head...

So you don’t have to try and rotate your head…

After I finished my doll, over the course of 2012 I knitted a pair of slippers for a friend, of which I am so proud they’ll get their own post, three pairs of booties (of which I only got photos of two) and a baby hat.

Learning blackberry stitch on booties. I gave these to a very dear friend for her firstborn.

Learning blackberry stitch on booties. I gave these to a very dear friend for her firstborn.

The blackberry booties from the side

The blackberry booties from the side. These were knitted traditional bootie style, top down and then picking up stitches to join the sides

The third pair of booties I knitted and gave away. These are knitted flat, using short rows for the shaping on the bridge of the foot. This was actually an adult pattern  for 12ply yarn, but I used 4ply and little needles and ta-da! Booties!

The third pair of booties I knitted and gave away. These are knitted flat, using short rows for the shaping on the bridge of the foot. This was actually an adult pattern for 12ply yarn, but I used 4ply and little needles and ta-da! Booties!

The pixie hat I knitted for a colleague. Want to know what it is modelled on?

The pixie hat I knitted for a colleague. Want to know what it is modelled on?

Me of course!

Me of course! It’s not meant to roll like that on the edges, my ladder effect lace inset was too tight for the rest of the hat, but I’m sure it looks fine on the bub.

The pixie hat came from this 1966 Woman's Weekly

The pixie hat came from this 1966 Woman’s Weekly. What the hell is that cover model wearing on her head! Best part – the article describes it as “alluring.” If you want the pattern, just let me know…

The layette the pixie hat was part of.

The layette the pixie hat was part of. You’ll note the ladder effect lace inset doesn’t pull in the way it does on mine. This section is much tighter than the rest and there is a huge increase and decrease on either side of this section, but it obviously wasn’t enough to cope with me!

Yep, I’ve well and truly got the knitting bug now. At least I don’t have any other new hobbies!

Although, after Mum taught me knit, she looked at me and said “next is crochet.” At this point I am still resisting, because crochet is often ugly (in my opinion) and I definitely don’t need yet another hobby! But there are some nice things cropping up… and I loooove amigurumi… ARGH!

25 Responses to “And then there was knitting…”

  1. leafprobably April 22, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    Bahaha! Omg your making my worlds longest scarf (sadly time-wise rather than length-wise) look so bad! Im going to have to go google myself some new stitches!

    • missjoiedevivre April 22, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

      It’s all just knit and purl! Bring TWLS over next craft day and I’ll show you some basics! And your scarf is totally cool.

  2. Holly April 23, 2013 at 12:04 am #

    Have you been introduced to Ravelry yet? Knitting is a fantastic portable craft.

    • missjoiedevivre April 23, 2013 at 9:01 am #

      Oh yes, I love Ravelry! My first (and thus far only) garment for me was free from Ravelry, and the adult slippers I knitted, then repeated for booties, and the booties I don’t have photographed were all Ravelry too! I should really include the links shouldn’t I.

  3. Gjeometry April 23, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    Ridiculously adorable!! Both my mom and my grandma (before she passed) are avid knitters. I had knit everything growing up, sweaters, dresses, tops, cardigans, teddy bears. So much wool!! Lol. I linked to your site on my Equinox Celebration Winner blogpost (I hope that’s ok), as I quoted your fun New Zealand seasonal factoid and asked if anybody knew why. No information yet, lol.

    • missjoiedevivre April 23, 2013 at 9:02 am #

      It’s totally OK, thanks so much!

      Yep, I had lots of knitting as a child too, particularly slippers and fingerless gloves, of which I got a new pair from Nana every year well into my teens.

  4. kaitui_kiwi April 23, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    Amigurumi is what makes me want to learn crochet but your Cinderella doll makes me want to learn knitting now too, so baaadly! Oh my, so cute, I want to cuddle it, I would be so proud no wonder you jumped right into the next project, your Mum was very wise to gauge your skill and giving you a better challenge than the scarf. Can you bring Cinderella to next meet, I want to looky more closely!

    • missjoiedevivre April 23, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      Yes, I’ll bring her so you can have a looky and a snuggle 🙂

      She was really straightforward knitting and a great practice project as tension is irrelevant, you don’t need to swatch, you can use whatever type of yarn you can get, and the edges are all seamed and hidden away! I probably still have the pattern somewhere if you want to try it! I am inordinately pleased with her, and so pleased Mum suggested it – I was a bit weirded out at the time, but it worked out so well!

  5. Sandra April 24, 2013 at 4:44 am #

    I love the topsy turvy doll. I try and knit but only manage the basics. I would love to make a cardi but I’m not sure I have the stamina and I always have to tight tension as well. Your projects look awesome – well done.

    • missjoiedevivre April 24, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

      Thanks! The doll was surprisingly easy, really simple techniques. Tight tension is manageable, take the time to do a tension swatch first and get the right needles. But I can’t help with stamina – it certainly is time consuming! But so fun 🙂

  6. MrsC (Maryanne) April 24, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    I think the lady on the mag cover looks like her head has been squirted all over with whipped cream. xoxo

    • missjoiedevivre April 25, 2013 at 8:23 am #

      I was getting worried where you were going with that for a moment!

  7. Shello April 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    Oh please. Your mum has had that “learn to knit” kit in her closet for years, eagerly awaiting the day you’d admit that you wanted to learn.

  8. Jo April 26, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    Your posts are always entertaining! And your first projects are leagues ahead of mine. I learned by myself from books and internet and it was sooo much harder than having a cool mum like yours! Haha! 🙂 Love your dolls 🙂

    I agree, most crochet is ugly, but it’s worth learning for cute amigurumi! Oh and what do you think of this? Ugly you reckon? I think it’s pretty cute:
    http://zilredloh.com/2012/05/25/crochet-pattern-freebie-the-beau-catcher/
    (though who knows if it’d look as good in real life)

    • missjoiedevivre April 29, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

      Aww, thanks! 🙂

      You may have taught yourself you but you’ve done a great job, your knitting is exquisite! The Beau Catcher is actuallly pretty cute, especially considering it’s crochet, but I’m not sure I could pull it off – but you totally could!

      Amigurumi and I will eventually have to bond I think, i just love the concept so much. But not just yet, time is already spread thin…

  9. sewexhausted April 27, 2013 at 2:37 am #

    Super Cute Dolly!!! My granny knits- She taught me when I was 12 or so but I never finished anything. I have been thinking about knitting for a while though and may venture out and give it try. I do love some of the knitted “stuff” and see so many cute sweaters and scarves people have made… ~Laurie

    • missjoiedevivre April 29, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

      Thanks!

      I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it once I gave it a try, and you never know until you give it a go! Good luck 🙂

  10. Calico Stretch April 27, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    Oh my you are seriously addicted now right? Great first projects – my daughter has a topsy doll and loves it to bits – they’re a clever little thing. I’m dead impressed.

    I also agree on the crochet in terms of ‘too many hobbies syndrome’ as I have ever decreasing time to sew …. I do however knit very very occasionally and only things for the kids as they’re relatively quick :).

    Do keep your sampler as it is a historical document now. I wish I had kept my first square, which I made when I was about 8.

    • missjoiedevivre April 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

      Yep, getting quite addicted quite fast! I’m impressed you made a square when you were 8, if you ever teach your daighter to knit you’ll know to keep hers.

      Ahh, hobbies and time, the greatest conundrum. And then somehow we try to read and write blogs as well? Why??? 🙂

  11. macstabby April 29, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    Quick, get on ravelry so I can follow you there too, and cyber-stalk you from another continent!

    • missjoiedevivre April 29, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

      I’m on Ravelry! As mdmejoiedevivre. I’m not very active on there though!

  12. Judy anstey July 26, 2014 at 9:25 pm #

    Love your adult booties would love the pattern so I can knit some for my 86 year old aunt….is there any chance

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