Monthly Archives: March 2017

10 Things I should’ve learnt about knitting by now (and wish I had)


So it turns out I’m a slow learner.  Who knew?! Well probably most of you but it’s news to me (and yes I’m aware that this is an example in itself).

But when it comes to knitting, I’m spectacularly slow, let me tell you all about it…

1. Count your stitches. I thought I’d start with an easy one. It’s pretty obvious too but somehow eludes me. I’m great at casting on the right number but then, somehow, I forget. Or maybe it’s because I darent. I mean, if the stitches are right then it’s a waste of time, if they’re out then…well you’re just going to have to burn it. So it’s just best not to know.

2. This came up in a recent conversation. Remember to change to the larger needle size after you’ve finished to ribbing. You know how patterns often recommend you use a slightly smaller needle for cuffs? I think I’m just so relieved to have finished the endless k1, p1 and skipping at the idea of just knitting, changing my needles is so far from my mind it doesn’t happen until I’m halfway up the body of a sweater and realise it’s looking a little on the teeny size. So now I don’t bother, I use the larger ones throughout, I mean who’s noticing if your cuffs are a little baggy anyway?

3. Be realistic. I know I can cable/knit stranded/create complicated lace shawls. The issue is whether I actually want to enough to finish the project. Remember this? The fair isle blanket? I mean who on earth knits a fair isle blanket? My point exactly.

4. Accept you never ever have the right needles for the project. I have three, yes three, full sets of interchangeable needles as well as a whole heap of fixed end circulars. Do I have the right size? No. My plan? To employ a ‘project manager’ to put the right yarn in the right amount (don’t get me started on that one either) with the correct needle(s) (depending on whether I’m risking life and limb with the cuffs) and notions all in a pretty bag with the pattern so I can just get knitting. Because that’s all I want to do. It’s not much to ask, surely?

5. That stitch marker you love? Yeah, say goodbye. I’ve developed this ‘skill’ of being able to flick the marker right off the end of the needles never to be seen again. I honestly couldn’t tell you how I achieve this, if it wasn’t so annoying it’d be my party trick.

6. Scissors. Who eats them?

7. Never, ever knit anything that will involve sewing at any point. Do I make myself clear? There is something horribly wonderful about how parts of a cardigan can look so neat and professional until they’re sewn together. Then it looks like something a four year old has made, after the cat has chewed on the corners a little and the dogs have dragged it around the lawn. Thank the Lord for knitting in the round. Every day.

8. The prettier a skein, the more disturbingly tangled it will become when you’re balling it up. It’s a law of nature. 

9. Never promise to knit anything for anyone. How to suck the joy from knitting in one easy step: promise you’ll make something for someone. The more they mean to you the worse it will be. When I was writing my dissertation, I exchanged a pair of socks for some transcribing. Despite it saving me hours of work, I honestly had to drag every last stitch from my fingers; I’m good with giving something to someone after it’s finished, in fact that’s one of my favourite things. But the expectation you’ll knit something has a peculiar way of ensuring it will be a chore from hell.

10. I’m not patient. People say ‘I don’t have the patience to knit’. Being impatient is exactly why I knit. I’m perfectly happy to be kept waiting for appointments; two hours is the longest, after a new admin system created chaos for my consultant. However, I had my knitting and was over the moon to have some extra yarn time, as this was back in the days of full time work. Without the knitting I’m just two sticks and some string away from a stabby, discombobulated gorgon. 

Take up knitting they said, it’ll be relaxing they said. Humpf. Happy knitting 😉

Fibre Fests abound!

Like proverbial buses, fibre fests seem to come all at once. Two weekends ago it was Edinburgh Yarn Fest, the one I’d decided not to go to, in the name of energy and penny conservation.

However, the excitement was building via social media and I was beginning to feel very deprived so at the last minute we decided to throw the pacing out of the window and have a wee visit. Like last year, it was amazing; as much yarn as you could possibly want as well as a few (though not nearly as many as Woolfest) other quirky yarn related stalls. One of the best things is seeing everyone’s gorgeous hand knitted creations, it made me want to cast on even more projects. A Yarn Fest is the perfect place to show off that cardi that normally looks a bit crazy cat lady or wear the Westknits shawl in eye blinding neons. I took no photos, I’m afraid I was far too busy exploring everything.

I had two days of pretty frenetic activity, with lots of walking and dealing with bright lights and loud noise as well as falling off the keto diet wagon spectacularly. I thought I’d got away with it as there wasn’t a crash immediately afterwards but by the following Thursday I was pretty zonked. 

This weekend just gone was the Dornoch Fibre Fest, a slightly smaller wool event just down the road from us. The fibre fest team do an amazing job of organising it and Dornoch gets wonderfully yarn bombed in the process.


We went along to the opening talk, by Debbie Zawinski, a spinner, knitter and walker who travelled around Scotland in search of local fleece to spin and knit socks. It was fascinating to hear about her adventures and she has written a book if you’d like to know more.

I also managed a couple of hours visiting on the Sunday, the festival is getting larger and larger each year with lots of local yarny types with lovely stalls. Finally I had a happy chat with Helen from Ripplescrafts, who must be exhausted as she had also been selling at Edinburgh. I was amazed she actually had any yarn left!

I’d love to describe more details but I’m pretty fatigued today so I’ll leave you with some photos.

Woo hoo

Well hey, I was going to write this post after I finished these socks (Fyberspates ‘Vivacious’ and a pattern called ‘Nutkin’, free on Ravelry


but well, you know me by now. 

And this just happened


‘This’ being the Marled Magic MKAL, a mystery knit along hosted by Westknits.

It’s so much fun, I’ve not been this excited by a project for, ooooh, at least a week. No seriously, it’s fun.

I’d originally decided against it as, from the teasers, it appears to involve large amounts of seed stitch. Meh. 

But I’ve recently been trying to address my weird purl technique; I don’t think anyone purls the same way and it’s just plain weird. I’m a continental knitter, so I hold my yarn in the left hand and I could never get the hang of using it to purl, it just doesn’t work for me so I developed this weird thing that I can’t even describe. 

Then I came across a method a while back, had a go and dismissed it as too much faffing, as it involves more movement than my adapted way. I saw a video by chance on Instagram showing the Method (as it is now known here) and it seemed the best way to manage purl where seed stitch or other patterns where you’re swapping between knit and purl stitches. Here’s the YouTube link if you’re interested, hang on, let me find it…

Link!

Anyway, the MKAL, it’s been designed so you can use up odds and ends of sock yarn as well as incorporating texture if you wish. I decided, after seeing some lovely photos by others, including Skein Queen, to use a strand of mohair with a strand of sock yarn which makes it it gorgeously floofy. Although it’s very early days, I’m really pleased with the result.


I have some news other than knitting too. If you are a regular reader then you’ll know I have ME/CFS and the last twelve months have been especially tough.

I’ve been aware of Dr Myhill’s work for a long time, since diagnosis really, but dismissed it, plus following her protocol (paleo or ketogenic diet, lots of supplements, pacing, sleep management) seemed like too much. As someone who’s life has been significantly restricted I didn’t want to restrict it further.

Desperation is a good motivator for change though and I’ve been slowly incorporating her suggestions over the last few weeks. I’m now fully keto, diet-wise, and am taking so many different supplements, most of which I have never heard of before – l carnitine, ubiquinol to name a few. While I am cautiously optimistic, I am overjoyed to have experienced progress. My energy has improved, I don’t take two hours before I can even communicate in the mornings and although I’m still all too capable of forgetting important things, my brain fog has begun to disperse. Like I said, I’m cautious; I’ve experienced improvements before, like when I did the Lightning Process training but I can’t help but feel over the moon about it. Whoot!

I strongly recommend her book about treating ME; she doesn’t promote anything not backed up by research nor anything other than an improvement in symptoms but being able to cook a little and be able to sit comfortably is such joy.