Have you ever knit or crocheted something with the power to actually scare you?
I think this may have been featured in an episode of the X-Files once; the melty wool face episode that gave you nightmares for 6 months and burned the image of the hideous creature into your retinas. It doesn't much help when the camera pans out, either.
Last year, not long after I had moved home, I was privileged to be visited by a friend who I had known for a long time, but never met. As well as my online knitting friends I have a group of online geeky friends, and there are a fair few that span the divide. Wullie is not a knitter, but he bought along a couple of wonderful gifts, courtesy of his mum. One was a slim paper knitting pamphlet of patterns and general knitting tips and guidelines, and the other was this glorious publication:
A week ago, Rachael (ChasingTheYarn on Ravelry) asked if I would share more about my book here on the site. I guess I'm still a little bit shy about it, whilst at the same time feeling very proud of it, inside.
So, what's it all about, Mimi?¹
Well, it's 172 pages packed full of information, facts and trivia about knitting. Firstly, it's full of interesting knitterly knowledge, from the basics which list seven different materials that knitting needles are made from and the origins, construction and uses of nearly thirty different types of yarn and fibre, through to the history and applications of knitting through the ages.
The description on Amazon reads:
From making stripes to making shapes, from tension swatches to avoiding tension headaches, from creating fringes to dealing with frogging, you'll find all the handy, easy-to-follow advice you need in The Knitting Pocket Bible to ease your woolly worries. There's also valuable advice on what items to make for friends and family, tips on what to do if you drop stitches or it all goes wrong and a handy guide to deciphering knitting patterns. Wondering how to set up a knitting group? Not sure which wools and colours to use? Find tips on all the rules and regulations or running a knitting group, make sure you've got all the right knitting needles and knitting equipment you need to make your knitting project go as smoothly as possible. Knitting doesn't even need to be woolly - find out all the alternative types of yarn to knit with, from eco-friendly hemp to baby soft bamboo. Small and durable, and perfectly designed to be dipped into again and again (just like your wool stash!), The Knitting Pocket Bible is sure to be a trusty companion in your knitting bag whatever your knitting project. This beautiful hardback edition has both dust-cover and gold embossing on the spine making it the perfect gift. Every Pocket Bible is lovingly crafted to give you a unique mix of useful references, handy tips and fascinating trivia that will enlighten and entertain you at every page.I didn't write that pun-tastic description. You can tell that because I would definitely have said 'pulling shapes'. I also didn't write the author description, but it makes me smile:
Mimi joined the knitting community a couple of years ago but is already an expert knitter making anything from giant monkeys to pirate themed mittens from only wool and needles. Most importantly she knows that receiving and giving knitted socks is worlds away from store bought ones, even if they are Armani.Expert knitter. Blush. Still, monkeys and pirates, someone did their homework.
Sections of the book focus on equipment (including yarn) used by knitters, detailing the essential knitter's tool set but also the more frivolous knitterly gadgets. It also discusses how to go about obtaining yarn, from the normal purchasing sources down to spinning your own. There are guides to the basics of knitting, fantastic when you need a memory jog to remind you how to carry out a particular stitch. There are sections on putting garments together, how best to join seams side to side, top to bottom, side to back... whatever you need. There is information on adapting patterns, choosing the right yarn, choosing the right pattern and deciding what to knit for which person. There are sections on embellishments, blocking, how to read charts and interpret patterns and also five patterns which each introduce new skills to the knitter.
My favourite bits of the book are perhaps the handy tips and bits of trivia scattered throughout the pages. They are the kind of little snippets that when leafing through the book make you want to turn to anyone who will listen and say 'did you know this? ' These fun little facts range from the size of the biggest ever ball of yarn to the origins of the belief that sheep grew on trees. Now, I know that last one makes you want to read more, yes?
The Knitting Pocket Bible is available in hardback format from Amazon and all other good book retailers, and is also available in Kindle format and via iBooks on iTunes for those readers who are digitally enabled. You can download a preview chapter to your device or read an extract of the book online, via Amazon. And don't forget to enter the draw to win a copy before the end of the month.
¹(I'd hope that at least 30% of the people who read that sung it, in their heads, in the voice of Cilla Black).
I hit the road with Mr Awesome for two days last week, whilst he visited various towns in various counties for work. They were long days with a lot of driving, and I travelled with him to keep him company during the long spans of time in the car. Whilst he visited various places for 20-60 minutes at a time, I stayed in the car with my audiobook with the thought of some wonderful distraction-free time to get some knitting done, and an excellent opportunity to get some extra knitting done on the three single socks of shame.
You can read all about Techknitter's Kitchener Stitch Alternative on her wonderful blog.
The fingerless mitts were intended to be a perfect 'first project', an actual real and usable thing to make after the first squares of knitting have been experimented with, and a first piece of knitting to show off. They are constructed mostly in rib (for ease of fit) but also feature a motif of two diamonds in moss stitch for added interest.
Further patterns in the book go on to introduce knitters to the skills of knitting in the round, picking up stitches, cabling, lace and short-rows, all in uncomplicated, easily achieved projects. I've been asked by a commenter in a previous post to talk a bit more about the book and what kind of information is in it, who it is for, etc, which I promise I will do at the beginning of next week.
Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool DK
I haven't really picked these up since we returned from our Christmas trip, mostly because I had cast them on as a side project to keep me occupied whilst we chatted with family and in between board games and introducing the grandparents to The Princess Bride. I'll get back to them eventually, but I think the order of action sees me completing the Magic Rainbow Socks first.
Yarn: Eskimimi Knits Semi-Solids.
This is the first time I have spun fibre with any silk content in, and every now and again come across a miniscule bobble that is almost like a 'knot' of silk. I wondered whether to pick these out or leave them in, but eventually decided upon the latter, occasionally making the very tiniest little 'slubs' that you might imagine.
The silk is a wonderful addition and a lovely little treat. Tussah or 'wild' silk is particularly interesting as unlike with Bombyx silk moths, which are killed (either by boiling or piercing with a needle) to allow the cocoon to be unravelled in one long strand, Tussah silk is made from cocoons which have already been abandoned by the emerged moth, so the staple length of the fibre is far shorter and the moths are left to go on and produce more silk worms who in turn produce more silk for me to spin.
We needed someone dedicated and trustworthy, as well as diligent - someone who would ensure to check that the right games and DVDs went back in the right cases and that knew enough of the books' contents to give handy pointers on where one might find an interesting short-repeat lace pattern, or an Estonian shawl.
Librarian Monkey knows all these things and more.
He has one problem in that he has no 'bum' to speak of, so he doesn't sit up very convincingly. In fact, he sometimes looks drunk on the job.
I'm also assured that he has an assistant on the way, one 'Ginger Monk', who is apparently very good at alphabetising any selection of disc-based media that you may place in front of him. I'm hoping that Washing-Up Monk follows shortly afterwards.
Librarian Monkey comes from a long-line of similar monkeys produced from the pattern Jerry, The Musical Monkey, by Rebecca Danger. His blueprint came to me as a gift many moons ago from Andi, of Untangling Knots. Currently, he has over 500 brothers and sisters inhabiting Ravelry.
PS: If you read this blog via RSS feed then some people may have noticed that I am putting up some of my old posts from the archive stored on the Wayback Machine. This may take a while as there is no way to download the posts so I have to hand-copy and paste in the text and then re-add in all the pictures one by one, but some people may see these archived posts in their feed as new items, depending on the service they use. Hopefully they will find some interest in the archived articles as I have been doing. Librarian Monkey approves of the archiving of all past reading materials.
I think I needed a cheery knit and the bright yellows of this slightly stripe Schoppel-Wolle Admiral Ombré in Banana Joe was exactly what the knit nurse ordered to bring a little sunshine into life.
After the first sock I managed to lose the paper pattern that I printed out from my digital copy of the magazine, so the first sock has been waiting for me to get computer access again so that I can check on how to start its partner, and I just may have cast on three whole new sock patterns since then. Naughty. Still, I'm going to look at it this way: I have three sock projects on the go at the moment - one is a plain sockinette sock, another is a cabled sock and this is lace, which makes them three entirely different types of knitting and therefore justifiably happy partners in the WIP pile, and when I finish them I'm going to have three pretty amazing pairs of socks.
A fresh blanket of snow decided this morning to lay upon the patchy duvet of flakes laid down last Saturday, so the world outside today is bright, and cold, perfect for layering up on hand-knits and cosy wintry accessories.
Giant socks call for giant sock blockers, and because I think paying £20+ for plastic sock-forms is not for me I decided to call up my crafty side and make my own.
How could this be? Well, in my rush (complacency, maybe?) I had managed to cast one sock on with eight fewer stitches than the first. Operation 'knit a giant sock in four days' then commenced. I am not going to pretend that it wasn't stressful knitting, but I am very pleased with the result, and, importantly, the recipient seemed pleased with them.
Since I lost my first blog, my posts about the whys and hows of short row heels and toes have been among the most requested on the boards and via PMs on Ravlery, so I decided to re-upload a few posts from the archives that people found useful or interesting, starting with posts like the photography tutorials and DIY sock blocker making how-tos, published under the original publishing date so that they do not interrupt the actual timeline of posts with old content. Because it relates to this first FO, the first of these posts from the archives are now up.
Short rows for socks, part I: Why and when.
Short rows for socks, part 2: How.
And this is one of the greatest yarns I have ever had the pleasure to knit with, a Yarn Yard Magic Carpet.
I decided to knit the socks toe-up, to ensure being able to use absolutely every single centimetre of this glorious rainbow-hued yarn, and to keep the colour progression smooth I inserted short-row heels and matching toes in a contrasting undyed yarn (also saving a little extra yarn for added sock length!
Oh, er... Hi.