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