Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Tutorial: Knitting Backwards

Since figuring out how to knit backwards for the Miss Winkle Knitalong, I've been surprised quite how useful this skill has become. Two of my latest projects have been made much easier thanks to this quick and easy way of working back and forth along a row without turning the work. In effect, it's just purling with the right side facing. When it was discussed previously, it seemed some were reticent, thinking it to be difficult, so today's post aims to show you just how simple it is - if you can purl, you can do it!
Knitting Backwards

Knitting Backwards

Knitting Backwards

Knitting Backwards

Knitting Backwards

Knitting Backwards
Although I usually knit 'Continental style', this is one of the rare exceptions (binding off is another) when the English/throwing style works better for me as it gives more control over the tension of the reverse stitches - if you knit both ways, you might like to see whether you get the same result.

There are a few more tutorials coming up which build upon this method of knitting. It's especially useful for any project where only a few stitches need to be worked in reverse, such as on short rows, bobbles, entrelac and so on.

If you haven't already tried it I do hope this will encourage you to give it a go, and if you are already using this method, I'd love to hear what you find it to be most useful for. 
Monday, 15 September 2014

Monster Finger Puppet (and knitting maths) for kids

Thanks to everyone who left a comment on the last post, or emailed about their experiences of teaching kids to knit. I've had a few people ask for the stitch counts etc to make the little Monster I showed you so the details are below in case you'd like to use this with your own children.

Notes: Adults will be casting on for the brand new knitters and when they are ready, we will show them how to bind off. The children are aged 7 to 11 and as part of our school's strategy of demonstrating that maths underpins everything, we will be asking them to work things out and get a better understanding of what they are doing and how it all relates. We use maths language they are already familiar with (estimating, rectangles, increasing and decreasing, measuring, tally, half, etc),
Monster Finger Puppet
Skills required for this project: ability to make a knit stitch.
You will also learn: how to bind off and how to sew up your project.

You will need: 
  • Small amounts of Double Knitting (DK) yarn, in a few colours for the monster and its hair. 
  • 4mm knitting needles 
  • Needle to sew the monster together
  • Buttons or other embellishment for the face
  • Measuring tape 
  • Your finger measurement
  1. Start with 12 stitches - after each row, check that you still have 12 stitches
  2. Knit all stitches on each row until the work is 5mm - 10mm shorter than your finger 
  3. Bind off all stitches, leaving a long tail for sewing  - you have a rectangle! 
  4. Fold your rectangle in half (from side to side), and then sew the top and sides together
  5. Add a face and hair with buttons and yarn, or anything else you like! 
Monster Finger Puppet
For discussion:
- The best way to learn is by spotting mistakes and then fixing them, let's see how many mistakes are made today, and use a tally to work out which are the most common. 
- After five rows, how tall is your knitting? 
- How many rows do you think you'll need until it's big enough? 
- What are the measurements of your finished rectangle? 
- How many rows did you knit to make it that size? 
- If you wanted to have a monster which was 10cms tall, how many rows do you estimate you'd need?
- What do you think you'd need to do to knit a square?

Last year, most children only took a few sessions before they were knitting independently and chatting away as they did so. It was so lovely to see! Of course I can't post photos of the children, but I'll see if anyone wants to have their finished monster photographed instead. 
Saturday, 13 September 2014

Teaching kids to knit

With the first full week of the school term over, we are all a little jaded today. There's a chill in the air too so I'm planning an afternoon of knitting, and it looks like someone else will be joining me, for LITTLE MISS CAN KNIT!! (Sorry for shouting, but I'm rather excited about it!) 
Little Miss is knitting!
Little Miss' first knitting. Only a bit of "Swiss cheese"!
She has tried before and didn't have the dexterity, until this morning - when she suddenly decided she'd like to knit - and it just clicked. Although I knit Continental, I've shown her how to knit "Granny style" (which is how a friend refers to 'throwing' the yarn), as that's how I'll be starting with the children at Knitting Club on Monday, and she's coming with me.

Their first project will be a little finger puppet. With a mix of girls and boys and I wanted a quick project that might be fun for all of them, something they could customise and really make their own. This is what I came up with...
Knitted finger puppet
Knitted Monster Puppet made from scraps of Scheepjes Stone Washed in 'Canada Jade' & 'Moon Stone'
I'm hoping it'll take just a couple of sessions for everyone to make one of these as it's such a simple project, and it won't matter too much about tension or holes.

Having the opportunity to teach other children to knit it a real pleasure but I have to be honest and say there's something extra special about seeing your own child doing it. The joy in her face as she mastered the stitch, and how she ran around the house in delight to show everyone what she had done, is something that I will always remember.

Have you taught any kids to knit? I'd love to hear your experiences too.
Friday, 12 September 2014

FO & Book Review / Giveaway: Faux Taxidermy Knits

I never understood why it is considered lucky to have a rabbit's foot - I mean, it didn't turn out to be a very good omen for the now-dead rabbit, did it? Never-the-less, when I spotted this fun project I had to make one (it was a perfect "FO fix" alongside bigger projects). You see, it reminds me of my childhood - one of my family members did indeed have a real dead rabbit's foot hanging from their keys, which was the cause of as much fascination as revulsion to me then... and now. Yes, I'm much happier with a knitted version - in fact a passing ladybird also loved it!
The foot is a slightly modified* version of one of the 'beginner' patterns in a brand new book by Louise Walker called "Faux Taxidermy Knits" which I was kindly sent by the publisher as part of a book lunch blog hop.

The book: I'll be honest, when I first heard it, the title made me a little dubious about what might be inside - I don't like glass cases full of dead things - but when I spotted Louise's name (which I knew from her blog and animal heads) I suspected it would be fun rather than sinister - thankfully this was correct.

There are fifteen different knitting patterns included in this quirky collection, which covers 'wearables' and various fun accessories for the home. Projects range from the quick and easy rabbit's foot above, to a more advanced Tiger rug which would be perfect for any little adventurer's bedroom! I am especially fond of the Raccoon Hat (beginner), Owl Cosy (intermediate) and Mole Doorstop (beginner) which would make super gifts.

Louise's patterns are very clearly written and easy to follow and her love of animals shines through in the way they are represented - they are all so cute. It's a really nice book and I think there is something for everyone, whether you're an expert knitter looking for something different, or a novice knitter wanting to try something new. It gets a big thumbs up from me, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Louise comes up with next. She is exhibiting at the Knitting & Stitching Show, so hopefully I'll get to catch up with her there in a few weeks time - watch this space!

The giveaway: One lucky reader can get their hands on a copy of the book for free, simply by leaving a comment below, together with your email address or Ravelry user name (so I can get hold of you if you win). A winner will be randomly selected on Saturday 20th September. Entry is open to all readers worldwide. Good luck!

The links: You can find this and other knitting books from the same publisher here, and also on Amazon. Louise Walker has a fabulous blog (with more patterns, many of which are free), a facebook page, and can also be found on TwitterAt the time of writing, the designs are not yet on Ravelry, but you can find the book listed here
*You can find my modified way of attaching the foot to the key fob on my Ravelry project notes
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Welcome to CftC! You'll find lots of knitting, spinning, crochet, books and snippets of family life amongst the archives and you may like to start with my most popular tips & tutorials, or the patterns. You can read more about me on the 'Hello' page and if you like it here, you may also like to visit the CftC pages on Ravelry, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Etsy. I hope you enjoy your visit! Sarah


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