Category Archives: knitting

Delightful dominoes

We had a knitting workshop, inspired by the beautiful jacket one of our members was wearing last year. Domino knitting – like this:

It’s a great way for using all the odds and bobs of yarn we all have lying around, and is particularly effective with variegated yarns, like these being used by one of our members who had never previously tried domino knitting:

Some of us already had experience with dominoes:

and brought along inspiring examples. Here are a few more photographs from the day, some featuring handspun as well as commercial yarns. Wondering what to do with all those small quantities of precious handspun? Now we know!

And thanks to Lynne, who led the workshop, and to everyone who brought in such lovely work to inspire us.

 

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Being free

The September meeting was a workshop with Bee Weir, and was very well attended: freeform knitting and crochet.

Bee’s own work is inspirational, and after some minutes spent fondling and examining and ooohing and aaahing (and buying things), we soon settled down. We’d been asked to bring along a selection of miscellaneous yarns and needles and hooks:

tools

and soon started work on our ‘scrumbles’. These are small pieces of freeform work which will eventually be pieced together to make something: a garment, perhaps, or a bag, or a cushion. They should be no bigger, apparently, than your hand, and we were all working away very quickly.

We started with a small square, then picked up stitches on one edge in another yarn and knitted a ribbed rectangle. Then, in another yarn, came a crochet triangle or, for those of us who don’t crochet, one in knitting. And then stitches were picked up for another – and so on.

working away

Bee gave us two vital tips: first, and especially if you anticipate making a garment, stay within one colour scheme, mixing and matching textures; second, ‘go as mad as you like’ within a manufacturer’s single range, as the colours generally tone. Yes, you are ‘going mad’, but you are doing so in an intelligent way: it’s not just grabbing anything and incorporating it. Scary!

Bee also pointed out that repeating a couple of the yarn choices with different textures can give a piece a balanced look – and recommended making lots of scrumbles and then piecing them together rather than one at a time.

Here is an assortment of some of our scrumbles at the end of the day:

scrumble central

many with embellishments for added interest (or as a useful covering for anything we weren’t quite happy about).

And here’s a gallery of the work we produced on the day, plus a detail of one of Bee’s bags (the last one, with the curl). Just click on an image for a slideshow:

Huge thanks to Bee for a fabulous day – so enjoyable!

Workshops work

Our April meeting involved a show and tell, where members brought in some of the things they had either done in the workshops over the previous year, or which they had gone on to create after being in the workshops.

Many people had a go at weaving a beret (it was something a member had been seen doing at the dyeing picnic, and she was inundated with requests to demonstrate, resulting in a workshop). Here’s one, in pinks:

beret

The focus on weaving – a bit unusual for us, but it shouldn’t be – had continued with one of our regular ‘spin and weave’ sessions deliberately focusing on it instead of spinning (well, as well as spinning, of course – details in the previous post). There was lots of inspirational work, and among which was some purple saori-style weaving… well, here it is, off the loom and made into a jacket, incorporating felted panels as well:

wow

There was more weaving, too, of a more classic style:

IMG_4892

Let’s have a closer look:

IMG_4893 IMG_4894

as well as knitting:

IMG_4895 IMG_4898

and felting, reminding us that the next workshop is on felted landscapes. The felting workshops are always very popular, and there’s a list of what to bring along on the Events and Meetings page (click on the menu at the top). So here’s some inspiration:

gorgeous!

That’s 19 May, in case you were wondering how long you had to decide which landscape you were going to immortalise in wool!

 

The wisdom of knitters

Our February meeting, sneaking in at the end of the month, was a knitting one – an ‘open forum’, led by one of our members who is a sensational knitter:

knitted lace

It was full of tips and hints and suggestions. And reminders: like when you are working with handspun, don’t just knit a tension square (we all do, don’t we?) but wash and block it too.

  • For a neater buttonhole, one where you have to cast off stitches on one row and then cast them back on when you come back, use the ‘backward loop‘ cast on. It makes a neater finish. It’s also useful where you have to cast on stitches elsewhere in the body of whatever you’re knitting, too.
  • Are you running out of yarn, want to avoid joining more in the middle of a piece and wonder if you’ve got enough to get to the end of a row? Spread your knitting out, gently put the yarn round the whole thing twice, without pulling. If it reaches, you’ve likely got enough.

socks

  • How about socks? knitting them from the cuff down? Cast on with a larger size needle; it gives a bit of extra stretch on a cuff which could easily be too tight.
  • Also, try casting on one stitch more than the pattern says, and when you come to that point on the next row, k2tog. It gives a smoother edge, or you can knit the tail in with the first stitch of the next round. Both of these help you avoid the ‘little step’ effect.

And then we had a mattress stitch refresher. Our forum leader advised using the half-stitch method; it certainly gives a smoother finish (on both sides – if you follow the link, it’s the second of the two examples). Needle in, up two, then across: someone said that ‘ladder stitch’ would be a better name.

matress stitch

There were so many new ideas, reminders of techniques we had once used but had fallen out of the habit of doing, interesting tips and tricks. Then we were asked when we started knitting, and how. Almost everybody, except one, had learned to knit as a child or a teenager (that was another one only); five to eight was the general age bracket. Four people were even taught at school. One of our longest-serving members knitted socks during the war for sailors, and recalled going to collect the yarn. She remembered it very clearly: the wool they had to use made her hands sore. And her grandmother had knitted for a living.

It seems appropriate to be publishing this post on International Women’s Day, especially in the light of the reminder that so many British women in the past knitted for a livelihood, not for pleasure. We are lucky. And lucky to have had such a lovely day, talking about it.

patchwork

Spinning and knitting and rug making and…

Our June meeting was one of our ‘not a workshop’ sessions, when we gather to do whatever we want and chat and ask advice and just plain get together with other woolly people. Even though these meetings are not officially workshops, they often turn into mini workshops, and you learn all sorts of things.

punis Like how to blend and make punis for spinning without an expensive blending board, but with a wooden knitting needle and an old tea towel instead (two different people, here, using two different sizes of knitting needle).

Then you can see roving transformed into knitting,

and the results of a workshop – our ‘perfect your crochet’ workshop resulted in this lovely detail on a handspun top:

crochet detail

The sheer variety of things people bring is interesting in itself. Here is some needle felting (a work in progress, a celtic mandala) and a rug (finished).

There are often several knitters, and again the variety is fascinating. Here’s some ribbing in progress, part of a lace shawl in handspun shetland wool, and some domino knitting:

and, of course, there are always spinners:

sheepThe sheep belonged to the spinner and was a Shetland called Didymus. Why Didymus, she’s not sure… what a lovely colour.

Next month sees our dyeing picnic – see the events page for what to bring along – and note that the August and September meetings have swapped subject. Our talented tutors for the September workshop had to move to August.

Bags of – well, bags

This month’s meeting was a show and tell, with a theme of bags. We’ve had some great show and tells in the past – on, for instance, rugs and shawls – and there are always things to find out, whether that’s a new technique or an inspiring way of using colour.

Members brought along a wide range of bags, woven, knitted, crocheted, felted, embellished:

felted bagand quite a few (like this one) had handles made on an inkle loom – fascinating to see, after our workshop last month.

This bag was knitted – and the straps woven – using wool from our annual dyeing picnics (the bright blue was a Kemtex dye; the others are all natural dyes).

knitted bag 1

One of the things about the dyeing picnics is that you end up with a relatively small amount of a whole load of samples. Using them in domino knitting is a great solution.

Two people brought bags which had been knitted and then felted in the washing machine:
bag lotThe bag at the back is another one using bits from the dyeing days, supplemented with some home dyeing; it has faded a lot, as many natural dyes tend to do. The striped one to the right is an iPad case, knitted in Noro Kureyon and felted repeatedly until it reached the right size. The one at the front was embroidered before felting, and shows another strap treatment: knitted and also washing-machine felted. These need lining, as they can stretch.

Another illustrated one advantage of bags: they can easily be created from a garment that just didn’t:

bag 3This bag is the perfect size for carrying a pattern book and knitting!

One thing that came out clearly as we looked at the range of bags was the use of lining. Some people hadn’t lined their bags, but most had. Lining a knitted bag can be a rather improvised experience, as there has to be enough flexibility in the lining to allow for the elasticity of the knitting – and that’s true even of some of the bags which had been felted in the machine.

Buttons gave some of the bags a real zing. Here are three examples to finish with. The first, knitted in a commercial super-chunky, shows how button choice can really emphasise a great yarn choice:

zap

Next, a beautiful button echoing the delicate colours of one of the washing-machine felted bags:

delicateThis came from one of our members who is moving away – best wishes! – but will happily be near another Welsh Guild. She goes to the States a lot, and the wool (handspun) was dyed with Kool-Aid.

Now for a small bag, with a little seashell button:

bag and buttonA really varied and interesting selection – thanks to all members who brought their bags along for us to look at (and – of course – examine closely). Inspiring!

Nadolig Llawen, Happy Christmas!

We’ve had  another great year in the Llyn Guild, with some inspiring workshops and very useful spinning and weaving days, which are great for ironing out difficulties and sorting problems as well as learning to spin and perfecting technique. But for the meanwhile, until our first meeting of 2015 on Thursday 15 January,

NADOLIG LLAWEN! 
HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

spinners and sheep

These little figures, about 5cm high, are part of a traditional Provençal creche and are a bit incidental to us here in Wales, but only a bit. These creches not only have the usual Christmas figures – the kings, the shepherds, the Holy Family – but also include all the characters and workers of a nineteenth-century village in the deep Provençal countryside. There are postmen and musicians, blacksmiths and lavender sellers, fishermen and farmers. And there are – of course – spinners and knitters and sheep. Hooray!