Monday, 24 June 2013

Knitting's Online Revolution

When I first started knitting (a whole year ago now!), I was encouraged and inspired by the what seemed like an endless supply of online resources, tutorials and patterns.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Glipho, and of course, a never ending list of blogs that dedicate themselves to knitting, knitters from all backgrounds are embracing these social media platforms and creating a vast online community that is both supportive and fun.

There are countless YouTube channels for knitting, type 'knitting' into the search bar and it currently comes up with about 544,000 results. That's more knitting information than you will find in your local library or bookshop. From beginner's tutorials to the more complex stitches and techniques, YouTube is perfect for sourcing out specific step by step visual guides for knitting. YouTube itself only started in 2005, and since then, more and more knitting channels have emerged. YouTube is fab for knitting, however I often feel the need to couple the visual aids with written instructions!

As a social media platform, I use Facebook on a more personal level, for keeping in touch with friends and seeing what everyone I used to know is doing with their lives. However, I do upload my knitting pictures for my friends to see. My knitting is something I am proud of and happy with, and so share it on Facebook. I admit that I haven't yet made use of the knitting pages and communities on Facebook, although as far as I can tell, they are useful places for sharing what you've created and for seeking out help for projects you may be stuck on!

Twitter is an interesting one. The 140 character limit means that you obviously can't upload entire patterns or detailed knitting analysis. I've personally found that knitters haven't flocked to Twitter (haha) as much as some other social media sites, although I find it fairly useful for sharing my word and my latest blog posts with my *gulp* 37 followers.

Pinterest is the PERFECT website for knitters. One of the babies in the social media world, only launched in 2010, it has been a massive success with those interested in DIY and crafts. There are thousands of boards dedicated to knitting. It is a brilliant place to collect pictures of things you want to try and knit, or things that inspire your knitting. I personally am slowly building up a collection of amazing looking projects that I am never going to get around to making.

Glipho is very new blogging site where users can upload posts from their blogs and post them all conveniently in one place. It makes it easier to find blogs and posts dedicated to the subject you are searching for. I've found that as of yet, Glipho hasn't attracted masses of knitters, although it is still early days and would definitely recommend it!

Blogging is a 21st century phenomenon that allows anyone to have a voice. Knitting blogs are everywhere, embraced by the young and the slightly less young alike. Every day, someone is uploading a new knitting pattern or article, sharing their ideas and patterns. People are coming up some amazing ideas that they are willing to share with the knitting world for free! It's fantastic, and I love being a part of it. Knitting Pattern Central is a really good site that has a massive collection of links to all sorts patterns, which is constantly being added to.

Following on from blogging, Google+ is a fantastic social site, where people who use the blogging program 'blogger' are able to share their posts on their pages. There are a number of knitting communities on Google+, one of the largest being 'The Knitting Lodge'. Everyday people add new patterns and share things that they've made. I've always found the response to be incredibly positive, and love the mix of different people, and the variety of the creations that are shared.

Ravelry is also worth a mention, it has a huge online database of patterns, free and not s to free. If you can't find a pattern you need on Ravelry, it is unlikely you'll find it at all! With over 3 million users (as of March 2013), it's safe to say that is site is a favourite of the online knitting and crochet community.

I think that the internet has done a lot for knitting. It has injected a large dose of enthusiasm into the craft, inspiring those who haven't knitted in years, introducing it to those who may never have come across knitting otherwise, and has provided an ever growing bank of resources for those who are passionate about and truly enjoy this amazing craft. The internet has shown millions that knitting isn't about little old ladies and itchy jumpers, it is fun, creative, expressive and exciting!

Any online aspects of knitting you think I have missed out? Comment below! Also, please post links to your own and others knitting blogs - the online growth of knitting is a big positive and to be encouraged.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Moustache Mug Cozy

Do you ever feel like your tea drinking (or coffee/hot chocolate/boiled blood of your enemies drinking) isn't neither sophisticated nor manly enough?
Of course you do. Thank goodness I have an easy knitted solution, the Moustache Mug Cozy!

The Moustache Mug Cozy is designed to make it appear as though you have splendid upper lip hair whilst you are sipping your beverages!

You will need:
DK wool - I chose to do mine using white for the background and black for the moustache, however, you might fancy having an orange, green or purple moustache! You won't need an entire ball of wool, so this project is a great scrap buster.
4.5mm knitting needles
Darning needle - for sewing up
At least one button - for fastening the back of your cosy.
5mm crochet hook - for picking up stitches for the fastening. (If you don't know how to pick up and knit, or don't have a crochet hook, you can knit the fastening flap separately and sew it on)

This pattern is for a mug that has a circumference approximately 26.5cm and a height of 9cm

Cast on 18 stitches

The cozy is 60 rows long, and is knitted using the stocking stitch (knit one row, purl one row). Below is the knitting chart you will need to follow.

When following a chart, start from the bottom. Knit the odd rows, and purl the even rows!

After 60 rows, cast off.

Use your crochet hook to pick up 6 stitches from the middle of your last row (the end nearest the moustache)

Row 1: Knit

Row 2: Purl

Row 3: K2 Kfb K3     count 7 stitches

Row 4: Purl

Row 5: K3 YO K1 K2tog K1       (This will create a small button hole and leave you with 7 stitches)

Row 6: Purl

Cast off

Making up
On the opposite end to your fastening flap, sew on an average sized button.

To finish, fold the cozy so that the short edges meet. Sew the tops and the bottoms together, making sure that the hole in between is big enough for the mug handle.

Put on your mug and ta da! You have ready to show off to your friends with your impressive new facial hair.

I apologise that this is the second moustache themed pattern in two weeks, my next pattern will be entirely moustache free, I promise!

Monday, 10 June 2013

Orestes the Octopus

You know when you are in a situation, where only a knitted octopus with a moustache could help? No? Well, me neither, but you NEVER know. And in any case, a knitted octopus with a moustache can make a lovely child's toy, or an intelligent looking friend for when you are feeling lonely.

My pattern for Orestes the Octopus is fairly quick and simple, although knitting eight legs can get a little tiresome!

You will need:
A small amount of blue dk wool
A small amount of black dk wool
4.5 mm knitting needles
Toy stuffing
Darning needle (for sewing up)

Kfb - Increase by 1 by knitting into the front and the back of the stitch
K2tog - Decrease by knitting 2 stitches together
P2tog - Decrease by purling 2 stitches together
M1 - Increase by picking up a stitch from the previous row



To knit the body, follow the instructions below, when you get to row 7, you will have to refer to the knitting chart above!

With blue, cast on 22 stitches

Row 1: Knit

Row 2: Purl

Row 3: Kfb into each stitch in row    count 44 stitches

Row 4: Purl

Rows 5 - 24: [Repeat rows 1 and 2] 10 times

Row 25: [K2tog] across row     count 22 stitches

Row 26: Purl

Row 27: [K2tog] across row     count 11 stitches

Cut your yarn, leaving a long end. Thread your yarn onto a darning needle, thread through the remaining stitches on your needle and pull tight (drawstring finish). Sew up the seam at the back of the body, but do not sew up the bottom of the body.

Stuff your octopus' body, and then sew up the bottom.

Make 8

With blue, cast on 6 stitches.

Row 1: Knit across

Row 2: Purl across

Repeat rows 1 and 2 till leg is desired length.

Thread your yarn onto a darning needle, thread through the remaining stitches on your needle and pull tight (drawstring finish). Sew up the sides of the leg.

Once you have 8 legs, sew them into place on your Octopus!

Monday, 3 June 2013

'I want to start knitting!'

Great! You should. Knitting is hugely rewarding, both mentally and materially! When someone tells me they want to start knitting, they always have a few questions. Here I've tried to answer a lot of the questions that aspiring knitters have.

I'm not very creative, will I be any good?
Yes! Knitting is definitely creative, but is also logical and in some ways, mathematical. It's all about following instructions and patterns step by step. Someone who may think they are the least creative person in the world, may find they can knit something beautiful.

What will I need?
All you need to start knitting is a pair of needles and some wool. It's that simple. Once you get better, you may need different size needles, different thicknesses of wool, darning needles, circulars, double pointed needles, cable needles etc. but for beginners who just want to knit themselves a scarf to learn the basics, you only need to arm yourselves with those two sticks and that ball of yarn.

How do I learn?
I personally think that the best way for people to learn to knit is to be taught by someone who knows how. If you have questions or you make a mistake, there is someone on hand to help. However, not everyone knows a knitter, fortunately there are a number of brilliant beginners knitting books available. I would recommend using Aneeta Patel's 'Knitty Gritty - Knitting for the Absolute Beginner' it's full of easy to understand instructions and pictures to help you along. Alternatively, there are a massive selection of youtube videos you can choose from.

What does this thing do??!

There are so many stitches! Which one do I learn?!
Every knitter starts off learning the knit stitch (also called garter stitch). You'll probably use it in most knitting projects you'll do in the future. Once you've mastered the knit stitch, the next step is to learn the purl stitch.

What should be the first thing I knit?
Whilst you are first learning to knit, you'll inevitably drop and gain stitches all over the place, making for a very holey piece of knitting. I would suggest you just start knitting a patch to get the hang of it. Once you aren't making too many holes and feel more comfortable with what you are doing, the usual beginners project is a simple scarf, which when you have finished, you'll wear with pride!

I made a hole! What did I do? Can I fix it?
All beginners make holes. This will be because you dropped a stitch on the previous row, meaning you didn't knit it! Count how many stitches you have on the end of your needle at the end of each row, you may find you have less than you started with, or in some cases more! This is nothing to worry about when you are learning, but when you start knitting more complicated projects, you may find you have to undo a lot of your stitches to fix the problem!

Anything I missed out? Let me know!