Tag Archives: Knitting

Sibling birthday gifts

12 Aug

Just some quick finished objects today which I created for my sister for her birthday.

Some mitre corner napkins with a little bag:

IMG_2082I made this with an Amy Butler quilting weight cotton I bought in John Lewis as  a remnant on a previous London visit.  This fabric was seriously lovely to work with!

I used this tutorial for the mitred corners

I printed the template on to tracing paper and have used it many times.  By the way, I found this tutorial using tipnut – a fantastic place for online tutorials.   I know Helen wanted some napkins as I mentioned I’d made some for my Step-Mother and she said she’d like some too.  She’s also admired the fabric when I bought it so I hope she likes it.

I also gave my first substantial knitting success away!  I finished knitting the Oaklet Shawl over Easter.  I had purchased the wool at the Craft for Crafters event back in January and found the pattern on Ravelry by doing a search of what others knitters had completed with this yarn.  Here is my finished project on Ravelry for this make.

To say this project pushed my knitting to the absolute limit is an understatement,  SKPO – I mean that is seriously confusing!  I also think I have mastered the Yarn Over.  I really enjoyed knitting this and although it doesn’t hold up to close inspection, it is without a doubt the best thing I have knitted.  I made this while cruising down the Canal Du Midi on a family holiday so there was plenty of time for relaxed knitting.  Both my sister Helen and my niece Clementine were eyeing up the shawl which so unutterably flattering to me!  As it was Helen’s birthday next I thought i’d block it and give it to her:


Over to you:

  • Have you got a favourite napkin pattern for gifts?
  • Do you use Ravelry to find projects for yarn you’ve fallen in love with?
  • Does it make a project more special when you know it is for someone you love?

Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!


Review: Big Book of Knitting by DK

4 Aug

For my birthday my cousin Andrew and his wife Sadhbh (she is a gorgeous Irish lady hence the funny name – it is pronounced “Sive”) very generously bought me a £20 Waterstones book voucher. Thanks you two! I decided to invest it in a really good knitting book. Mr Frog took me in to the shop and I spent a few hours in the attached coffee shop browsing to find the perfect book – what a wonderful afternoon! – and I settled on this one:

Big Book of Knitting £25 (on offer for £20 when I bought it)

big book

Now you may have heard of the publisher ‘DK’ – they produce all kinds of non-fiction books from travel guides to history books. I feel the risk with brand publishers like this is that you get a trusted format, arguably at the expense of quality information – these people aren’t knitting or even craft specialists – they have simply commissioned people write under their brand for the purposes of knitting and you are at the mercy of their choice. Why is this relevant? Well in the shop I grabbed a few DK published knitting books from the shelves…

The Knitting Book – £16

knitting book

A little Course in knitting – £9.99

a little course in knitting

Now this is VERY important – the content of these three books is pretty much identical. Yep, the projects, techniques, tutorial photos are exactly the same. With each ‘level’ of book you get all the projects and explanations from the previous one, plus extra content. However if you own any of the previous books then do not buy this one as you already own about a third of the book. As this is not explained anywhere I think this is a little naughty of the publishers – someone could, in good faith, buy all these books to discover they have, in effect, only been written once. Each book has some unique content, but not a lot. If I hadn’t gone in to the shop to spend my voucher in person I would never have discovered this.

This review pertains to the book I own – The Big Book of Knitting which is the ‘Mummy’ book – i.e. it has nearly all the projects of the other two put together and then some.



The book is broken up as follows:

Projects: clothes-

  • cardigans
  • Sweaters
  • Hats
  • Scarves
  • Gloves
  • Socks

Projects: home and accessories –

  • Blankets
  • Cushions
  • Bags
  • Toys

Basic equipment and techniques:

  • Yarns
  • Equipment
  • Following a pattern
  • Basic techniques
  • Knit and purl stitches
  • Simple increases
  • Simple decreases
  • Twists and cables
  • Lace knitting
  • Knitting in the round
  • Selvedges
  • Beaded knitting
  • Seams and blocking
  • Embroidery on knitting
  • Knitted toys
  • Charted colourwork
  • Stitch patterns

The book is choc full of knitting patterns – over 100 in all – making this great value even if you only use the patterns. They are marked ‘easy’ ‘intermediate’ and ‘hard’ with all techniques to complete them explained in the back. This means you can ‘grow’ in to the book as you gain more skills. They are organised by type of project, rather than level of difficulty. As an utter beginner (at the moment!) I would have appreciated them in order of difficulty, or a cross-index by difficulty. I spend an awful lot of time wading through tantalising projects completely beyond me to find something less impressive marked ‘easy’.

The Projects

‘Taste’ in knitted goods is pretty crucial – many times I have stood cringing at knitting patterns thinking ‘who would wear/want this?!’. However this book really judges the projects well; as a thirty-something there is next to nothing I wouldn’t want to make or gift. The book does recommend specific wools, but most projects use double knit which is really easy to find in any shop. This is such a relief as so often as a beginner I can’t justify spending huge amounts on expensive wool specified in knitting patterns – you don’t learn to drive in a Ferrari!



project page

Projects have a double page spread with a nice title and prosaic explanation, excellent quality colour photo of the item, then a breakdown of essential information about what you need in terms of needles, wool, notions etc. Then the pattern itself. The format is really user friendly both for browsing for a projects and when working on one.


There are drawbacks though. This really is the BIG book of knitting. It is a weighty tome. If you want to knit on the go it simply isn’t practical to tote this enormous volume round with you. However, I simply photocopy the page I am working on then I can slip it in my knitting bag. It also means I can annotate the pattern i.e. highlight the instructions for the size I’m using, or any alterations I may make.

The other thing which could be better is the techniques section. Yes, they cover all the things listed above but not in a spectacular amount of detail:


Most of the techniques have very little actual explanation, some which are really quite complicated only get a sentence. Having said that, the photos are excellent and it may be that I struggle a bit with that learning style. It gives me a basis for my googling at least. Let’s agree to say it isn’t the ‘last word’ in knitting tuition.


I am just so happy with this book! Yes it has certain flaws:

  • some of the content available in other books
  • Techniques section could be more detailed
  • Too big to be portable

But for me it is outweighed by it’s positives:

  • LOADS of patterns I actually want to knit
  • Great layout/format for each project
  • Range of difficulty means this will remain pertinent as my skills increase (here’s hoping!!)

I recommend buying this for yourself or gifting to a knitter at any ability level.

**nobody is paying me for these views – they are entirely my own and I bought the book with the voucher I got for my birthday. There are no affiliate links in this article – if you want to buy it google it!**



Open letter to the Gods of Knitting

19 Feb

gods of knitting


Dear Gods of Knitting,

Why have you forsaken me?  The Gods of Sewing aren’t half as picky.

I know I only began to follow your enlightened path as a cheap, portable craft but this was such a slip; now I am ashamed to have shown you such disrespect.  But since then have I not made amends?  Buying rainbow hued needles, countless stitch counters and miles of marvellous yarn; does this not show my subservience to your might and glory?  Yet still you block me.

The untold hours I have spent learning your intricate ways.  Immeasurable time has been devoted to your sacred text – You Tube – where I’ve rubbed needles with fellow Sisters in Stitches to wallow in your purls of woolly wisdom.  P, K YO, Sl SSK – to the untrained eye merely a terrible round in Scrabble, but to me, your sacred language shines through.  I have revelled in Ravelry, been drawn in by the passion of your disciples, and awed by the thousands of projects tantalisingly marked ‘beginner’.

What do I get in return for this devotion?  Scarves whose edges roll up.  Downright uncomfortable socks.  Mittens with dirty great holes in them.  This inventory of misery doesn’t include The Forgotten Ones which have been dissolved on the altar of common decency.  Oh you bewilder me!   When I know, and can consistently perform, each stitch and technique in a pattern why does it turn out like a rag?  The gentle pluck, pluck, pluck as stitches are ripped away is the soundtrack of my torment.

I cannot gauge how these short rows of text will be received. Will it be yarn over?  Am I to be cast off?  As for requests, I make one: pick up my lowly knitting spirits.  Let me no longer be laced with disappointment, but allow me to wrap, and turn, in glorious knitted projects.  Please, let me slip knot in to the crooked hook of crochet…

Yours faithfully

Hanny Bobbins


Beauty + thrift = knitting win

3 Feb

As a teacher of 11 – 18 year olds I spend a lot of time trying to teach young people to be less trusting of the media and to question ‘who is telling [you] this and why?’ And ‘what’s in it for them?’. But in reality, as a self taught crafter, I throw myself on the mercy of the internet and, really, do you ever genuinely know the provenance of the information? Just because a blog has a million followers doesn’t mean it is credible; collective stupidity is still stupidity. This is a noble idea, if only I were able to carry it out. I still end up thinking I need every type of sewing related merchandise vaguely mentioned on the internet. It’s part of the self-inflicted emotional blackmail so many of us endure, as blogged about by Sarai at Colleterie and Tasia at Sewaholic. If I buy all this stuff will it really make me happy? Or my creations so much better? I often long for a Common Sense Crafting Guru to turn to so they could say “nobody buys xxx, you use [insert cheap household item here]” to cut through all this rubbish.

I began knitting in August just as my husband had placed a spending embargo on crafting so I wasn’t allowed to buy any accessories, he had a point, fabric tourism was out of control. I confidently reassured him that knitting was a refreshingly simple craft and I wouldn’t need hundreds of notions and expensive machines. I resisted everything bar basic needles and wool but an awful lot of the online knitting tutorials referred to ‘stitch markers’. I googled this and found lots of these utilitarian little plastic things:


Now my inner cynic spotted this straight away – did women in Medieval England sit around knitting with plastic stitch markers? No.

For visual learners:


A little research told me you could make stitch markers out of little tied circles of different coloured yarn. Ha – thrift – love it! So I was happy with my little yarn circles, perhaps a little smug, until I found an online video where the teacher used something like THIS:


I mean how beautiful are these things!? It is like jewellery for knitting! How did I miss these gorgeous babies!? Clearly ‘he had a point’ was history as I secretly sidled to my nearest knitting shop (on my way home from work so Mr Frog didn’t catch me). I searched the shop but couldn’t find anything resembling even the plastic things. I enquired of the elderly Knitmeister Extraordinaire serving behind the counter. She looked at me rather sternly and said ‘no, they’re a waste of money. I don’t sell them. Just tie wool in little circles’. Hmm, well, it turns out I didn’t want a Common Sense Crafting Guru giving me advice after all. I actually want to fritter my money away on beautiful, yet pointless, pretty things instead. My search of the internet was fruitful yet unsatisfying; products were either more expensive to post than buy or were the price of actual jewellery. I made peace with the realisation I was not destined to have my knitting adorned with beauty. *sniff*

Then, quite unexpectedly, I was reading my sewing blogs – knitting ones scare me (apart from Roobeedoo who does a bit of both) and this tutorial came up:

I mean, surely this is fate!? I even have a few jewellery making bits lying around from when I got married so could make these from what I already have – beauty and thrift: take a bow!


They are far from perfect – my wire work needs some, well, work – but they are considerably prettier than their predecessors. They were also really fun to make as they were satisfying and quick. The tutorial looked a bit basic but it did exactly what it said on the tin and resulted in passable charms. Another bonus is this technique allows me to liberate some of the beautiful beads I’ve had lying around for years. Utter win! Thank you Portia!

Tell me what you think:
Are you often seduced in to buying from blogs and websites you visit only for information?
Have you ever resisted buying and then found a better solution either cheap or free?
Or do you consider capitulating to creative whimsies on the internet as much fun as making the finished item?

Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you