Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Natter-Knitting Project

As a visual person, Instagram (aka 'IG') is my favourite social app - I love nothing more than scrolling through to see lovely images of yarn, crafts, doodles (on paper and skin), the natural world and Schnauzers. Yes, the things that make up my feed are an accurate reflection of my interests. Through these moments, captured and shared with like-minded people, friendships are formed. This weekend I will be attending a meet-up of some lovely IG crafters. I have met one or two of them in person (very briefly at events) and have been following many for what feels like a long time - seeing glimpses of their homes and families, and of course their crafty endeavours. I'm really looking forward to a day of crafting together, eating cake (hopefully there is some wheat-free cake!) and plenty of real life chatter. What could be nicer? 

Of course this presents me with a certain dilemma, and it's one that seems common among the other attendees too. Which projects are best to take!? Which are best for 'Natter-Knitting'? I'm reading - and loving - The Rosie Project which has inspired me to come up with a few questions to help with my selection - have I missed anything?

The Natter-Knitting Project, Selection Questions
On this basis, I should probably ditch my initial idea of taking hexipuffs - they are small and portable but I'd have to take quite a lot of stuffing and different mini-skeins to fill an entire day of knitting. Also, as there are increases and decreases, I would have to count. Despite looking promising, they are probably not the best project.

I dare not take my enormous arm knitting (the yarn arrived and I'm itching to start), or the cowl design I'm working on. So this really leaves me with just a few sensible options. I should probably cast on a pair of vanilla socks, a simple hat or a cowl - unless you have any better suggestions....? 
Monday, 23 March 2015

Trend Spotting: Knitting without Needles

*This post is in association with Deramores and contains affiliate links*

I am delighted to be one of six bloggers asked to predict a key trend for 2015 as part of the Deramores Blog Competition 2015. Use any of the six trends as a starting point for your own blog post and submit it to Deramores for a chance to win a year's supply of yarn!!! Entry details can be found here and you can see the full list of bloggers and trends here.

My Trend: Knitting without Needles

Since reviewing Laura Strutt's book I've seen arm- and finger- knitting projects popping up all over the place. I'm not sure if they were *always* around and I just hadn't noticed them (like when you get a new car and you keep seeing the same one everywhere) or whether this is something which is just becoming "mainstream" - my non-knitting friends are talking about it too, so this could be the case. 
Arm knitting - screenshot from Anne Weir's class on Creativebug (links on blog)
Screenshot from 'Arm Knit a Throw Blanket' with Anne Weil 
Either way, I predict we will be seeing more of these simple-but-effective knits filtering through to the High Street for the Autumn/Winter season, and onto many craft blogs. You'll certainly be seeing more here as I'm in the process of putting together a finger-knitting necklace tutorial and will start arm knitting a project for the home (inspired by the picture above), just as soon as the yarn arrives. I can't wait! 

What you need to know
If you're planning your own needle-less knitting project, there are some considerations which may not be completely intuitive if you're used to more traditional knitting methods. Here are a few of the things I've been learning:
  • As the number of stitches must be limited to fit on your arms or digits, it is necessary to plan projects/designs accordingly.
  • Arm-knitting is worked back-and-forth so the right side is always facing. This requires some changes to your knitting, for example you need to knit and purl alternate rows to make garter stitch. A remedial 'half-twist' is also necessary to prevent twisted stitches in the finished object. 
  • To put your work down, you will need to place the stitches onto a holder (eg a broom handle, or a gift-wrap roll in the case of arm knits). For this reason, it's probably not something to try while your kids are painting or the dog has muddy paws. Having a holder to hand also means you don't have to finish the project in one sitting. 
  • You still need to swatch! Choosing the right yarn and keeping the stitches tight is the key to having your arm-knitting look like lovely knitted fabric, and not like a net, but knitting too tight might cut off your circulation so it's a good idea to practice before starting a huge project.
  • Finger knitting works in exactly the same way as using a lucet, you simply use fingers instead of the lucet prongs, but remember you're not limited to just two fingers. Find my lucet tutorial here.
  • Although these projects are quick to finish, they can eat yarn at an alarming rate. I'll talk more about suitable yarns in future posts but think it's worth mentioning these techniques are also a good use for DIY Yarn. Find my tutorial on making yarn from a sheet here - the same method can be used to upcycle soft fabrics such as t-shirts. 
Recommended resources
While these methods are relatively straight-forward it's worth taking the time to do a little research and practice before you begin. I've put together a shortlist of some of the resources I've been using, and which I would recommend for quality of instruction and presentation (there are lots of videos on YouTube, but the quality varies considerably so you'll need to hunt around). 
Trend spotting: Knitting without needles
Book: Arm and Finger knitting by Laura Strutt. If you read my full and honest review you'll know I didn't love all of the arm-knit patterns but the instructions and photos are a really great introduction to these methods. As well as the arm knitting patterns there are some fun and practical finger-knit projects too - I really like those.

Expert blogger: Anne Weil of Flax and Twine has a great 4-part tutorial for an arm-knit cowl on her blog (see below for a link to her online class which is where I discovered Anne). You can find the instalments, and download the PDF, here.

Online classes: Great video classes for finger knitting with Amelia Strader and arm knitting with Anne Weil can be found on Creativebug. These classes go into full detail and include trouble-shooting and lots of tips, working right the way through the project with you. If you are not a Creativebug subscriber, you can get an unlimited free trial for 14 days - see my review of the service for more information. 

So there you have it. I hope this post has given you food for thought and I look forward to reading your #DeramoresTrends posts! I'll post an update on my arm-knit project later this week. 
Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Knitted Circle Tutorial


Knitted Circle tutorial

It will come as no surprise to regular readers that I've been playing around with stripes and circles. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, check the last few posts.) As I don't see many knitted circles around, I wanted to share this technique, as it's a lot of fun and very easy to do. 

For the tutorial I'm using 3mm needles and Scheepjes Invicta Colour (sock) yarn. I cast on 21 stitches using the long tail method, before knitting three rows in garter stitch. All of these elements can be changed to adjust the size of the circle. Mine has a diameter of 30mm without any blocking.
Knitted Circle tutorial
Knitted Circle tutorial
Knitted Circle tutorial
Knitted Circle tutorial
I'll leave you to guess what I'm doing with them! 
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Crafts from the Cwtch is part of the Deramores, Craftsy, Etsy, Creativebug and Amazon Affiliate programmes and works with a few carefully selected sponsors. Where posts or projects are sponsored, the opinions will always be entirely my own. You can find out more about affiliate links and blog sponsorship here.
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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