Friday, 4 March 2016

BREAKING NEWS: I'm an Imposter!

As I'm coming up to my 5 year knitting anniversary, I've been reflecting a lot on how far I've come since I started back in the spring of 2011. I made a few blogging friends, and I've seen them go from a few followers, to thousands. Having their patterns published in magazines, starting their own (very successful) yarn dyeing businesses, publishing books, and so much more! And it got me thinking, they have come so far in such a short period of time, they've really become experts in their crafts. But, what about me? Sure, since starting this blog I've had a little of success thanks to my wonderful readers, but what about success in my knitting? All my friends are so professional now, you can ask them a question about anything to do with the craft and they can give you pages of tips and advice. Can I do that?

No... I definitely can't. But does that stop people from asking me questions about difficult techniques? Nope! It seems that through my blog posts, podcast episodes and YouTube videos, I've given people the impression that I actually know what I'm talking about.

The truth is, I have no clue what I'm doing most of the time. Sure, I understand the basics of knitting, and I know a few of the more intricate techniques like the back of my hand, but most of the time I have no clue what other knitters are talking about! Especially in patterns, I spend hour researching techniques and pattern slang!

Does that make me an imposter? I'm not sure... But I do know that I can give the wrong impression to people sometimes. I make myself appear more knowledgeable than I actually am, so that my peers don't still view me as that scrawny little 16 year old who knows nothing about the craft. It probably doens't help that I am one of the only knitters in my friend group, so when they ask me a question and I'm able to regurgitate lots of information in reply, they think I'm far cleverer than I actually am - so they hail me as the world's greatest knitter, when in actual fact I'm the complete opposite!

I spend most of my spare time googling knitting references that my peers throw out in their posts, such as famous pattern designers, techniques or just slang. I constantly feel like I have to work twice as hard as everyone else so that I can appear like a half-decent blogger.

But then it hit me. Doesn't every craft blogger go through this phase of their blogging life? You can't dive into a new craft and know everything about it within a few weeks! Most of my peers have been knitting for decades, that's an awful long time to hone your craft. So, why should I compare myself to them? I'm relatively new to the craft & I'm self-taught, so obviously it's going to take me a little longer to catch up to everyone else. And you know what, that knitter whose been crafting for decades had to go through this too. They had to fake their way through until they actually started to understand what they were on about.

What's my point in all of this? I'm not really sure to be honest. But, I do know that we should all remember that no one is going to judge you for not knowing a technique or a famous designer. Don't be scared to ask for help, you'll learn much faster if you can find someone to mentor you. And definitely don't be scared if you make a mistake. Nobody is going to think you're a bad person for mixing brioche and intarsia up, or not knowing who The Yarn Harlot is (but seriously, if you don't know who she is, check out her blog. It'll change your life!). At the end of the day, we're all faking it until we make it. It just might take some longer than others!

Thank you for hearing me out. I'm not sure if I made any sense, but I hope you can see where I'm coming from! And thanks, for sticking with me through the past five years. You've all helped me to become a better knitter, writer and - pardon me while I get soppy - a better person. Here's to another five years together!

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Man Hand's

Instagram has become such a wonderful tool in my life. I can instantly share a picture of something that I am making, and I can get advice from knitters all over the world, helping me to create the best version of my project. Not only can I do that, but I can share pictures of myself and my life, to my friends and family across the world! Even better, though, just by sharing a few pictures, I have been able to make so many new friends around the globe!

One of those friends is Kevin. We became mutual friends on Instagram, and after a little while, he asked me if I wouldn't mind knitting him a pair of mittens in exchange for one of his wonderful paintings. Obviously I said yes!

Now, the funny thing is, I'be never knitted for a bloke before. So, when I logged into Ravelry to find a pattern, I was overwhelmed with the amount of mitten choices I had before me. I already owned a couple of patterns that were unisex, but I wasn't sure what would be deemed too feminine in the eyes of a man (as you can tell, I grew up in a house of all girls, where nothing is too feminine! xD). Fortunately, though, I discovered a pattern called Man Hands by Shireen Nadir. It looked quick, easy, cozy, and more importantly, manly.

Once I had settled on the pattern I had to decide which yarn I wanted to use. I ploughed through my stash, but I couldn't find any Worsted yarn that fitted the bill. So, I had to do a bit of yarn shopping - which is always a chore! ;)

I had recently discovered a new website (to me, anyway...) through Facebook called Love Knitting. Now, I am a Deramores girl, but I do find that they can be quite expensive sometimes (especially their P&P - yikes!), and also their range isn't always as broad as I would like. So, when I found out that Love Knitting was cheaper overall, as well as having an extensive catalogue of yarns, I had to check it out - and boy was that a mistake. Thirty minutes later I had about 5 yarns sitting in my basket waiting to be delivered to my front door. For the actual project, I ended up choosing Wendy Aran with Wool in 475 French Navy, it looked like a nice budget yarn in the manliest colour I could find - dark blue!

The following morning, my squishy parcel arrived. One lovely thing about Love Knitting is that they put your yarn into white draw-string bags, which keeps them clean and looking lovely. I've been keeping the little bags to use as project bags when I'm out and about. But I digress - we were talking about Kevin's mittens, weren't we?

I cast them on the same day, and boy did they work up fast! It used a waffle stitch for the mitten, which I hadn't used for years! It was nice to revisit this stitch, I'd forgotten how easy it was! The pattern itself was incredibly simple, although at first I did think it was going to be too small, but as soon as I tried on, I realised how stretchy it was! My little hands were lost in all that material!

Two days after cast on, I was finished! (I would have been finished sooner but you know me, I get distracted so easily!) I popped them in the post, and Kevin was chuffed with them - yay! I will definitely be keeping this pattern, I can see it becoming very useful in the future (since seeing my Instagram about these mitts, I've had a few requests from my male friends for knitted goodies...). I'll also be keeping an eye on Shireen Nadir's patterns in the future, as Man Hands was such an easy pattern to follow!

While we're on the subject of Instragram, you can find me over there as @roaritscharly, I'd love to get to know you all better - so please leave a little comment on one of my pictures to let me know that you read my blog, and I'll give you a follow! :)

Thanks for indulging me today, I'll be back tomorrow too! Why? I hear you mumble. Well, I am trying to get back into blogging by blogging everyday during March! I'll also be releasing two podcast episodes during the month, as well as churning out a few YouTube videos (if I can find my camera charger, that is!) - so if there's anything you'd like to see in particular (ex. Bringing back the Ravelry tutorial series, or "This Week in Knitting" series), please let me know in the comments below! :D 

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The Unicorn & the Tabby Cat

A couple of months ago, my nieces came over to spend the day with me. We played lots of games, ate crisps & binged watched My Little Pony - it was all jolly good fun. As the day began to draw to a close, Daisy and I were tucked up in my bed watching Barbie videos on my iPad. She whispered to me,

"What are you knitting Aunty Lolly?",
"I'm knitting Aunty KitKat a pair of gauntlets."
"Ohhh...", she hushed. "Will you make me something?"
"Of course I will, Pea. What would you like?"
"Ummmmmm....", she mumbled. You could see her brain working away, trying to figure out the perfect thing to ask for. "I would like.... A unicorn!!!"
"A unicorn!" I laughed. 
"Yes. I want a white & purple unicorn."
"Okay!" I giggled. At this moment, Tilly wandered in, she'd obviously overheard the conversation on her way up to my room.
"Aunty Lolly, I would like you to make me a, um, cat!" A pink cat!"
"Pink? Okay.... I'm not sure if I have pink but I'll try my best."
"And I would like it to, um, look like a, ur, cartoon. Like a cartoon cat, but pink!"

Once they had settled on what they wanted, I set to work trying to find patterns for these unique requests. A couple of clicks later, & I had bought Pegacorn by Phoeny (who is an avid toy designer, I highly suggest you check her out, I've already added a few of them to my queue!). After a dig through my stash, I found Wendy Peter Pan Double Knit in 3003 (purple) & 3000 (white) - perfect! I had noticed on the cover page of the pattern, that a Raveler by the name of Loopylooloo, had made a white & purple unicorn called Margaret that was exactly what Daisy wanted! So I decided to copy hers (sorry Louise, I hope you don't mind!). 

The pattern itself is incredibly quick and simple! The next day I had a really big Marvel marathon, and by the end of it I had knitted a unicorn! :D The tricky part was stuffing & sewing it all. Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while will know that I suck at sewing (I am so bad at sewing, that when I did Textiles at school, I would end up sewing myself to the sewing machine EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. It was so embarrassing!), but I am trying really hard to get better.

Once I got into the swing of it, I really started to enjoy myself! Until it came to the horn - and then I just wanted to throw it all in the bin! I ended up sewing the horn in the wrong place (it's in the middle of his head, rather than on his forehead), and I couldn't unpick it. I took a few deep breaths, sewed on the hair (which I didn't sew enough off - doh! So now it's a balding unicorn!) and put it on a high shelf so I couldn't see it. 

Then it was time to start on the cartoon cat! I couldn't find a pattern that was the spitting image off what Tilly wanted, but I did manage to find an anime cat pattern which looked pretty close! And that came in the form of Amineko Cat Pattern by Chiwaluv Amigurumi Critters. It was originally a crocheted pattern, but it was so popular that she ended up designing the knitted version - yay! I'm realising though, that if I want to make the best toys for my girls, I need to learn how to crochet! The patterns are so much cuter. once I had the pattern I had to find the yarn. After pretty much emptying my stash, I realised I, a) didn't have enough pink yarn to make a cat, b) couldn't buy anymore because my stash was at bursting point. So, I had to improvise. I remembered that a few months before (maybe even a year? I'm not sure...), I had randomly bought a skein of Robin Double Knit Print in 197, and it has sat in my stash for so long, because I couldn't find a pattern that would be perfect for the yarn. Until now! :D

The pattern itself was so simple, which made it a perfect TV knit. Now, the problem is, I get incredibly bored with stockinette. I'm okay for about half an hour, but I start to get really, really bored. So, I ended up setting it down a lot & working on something else, like Brenna's Disney Blanket or my Beekeeper's Quilt. So it wasn't until five days later that I actually finished all the knitting of this little kitty cat & had sewn it all together!

I'm really relatively pleased with how they turned out, & the girls are chuffed to bits with them! Which is all I could ask for! :D

All in all, I really enjoyed these projects and would highly recommend the patterns if you have some little ones in your life! ^-^

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Little Mitts for Little Hands

A few months ago my sister, Sara, asked me if I could make some red mittens for her eldest, Tilly. Obviously I said yes, and obviously I had to whip up a red pair for her youngest, Daisy, too!

I decided to start with Daisy's mittens, as they would only take me a couple of hours. I decided to use the pattern Easy Kids Hand Warmers by Samantha Goodin. They are only tiny, but I thought they'd be relatively easy for Daisy to put on herself when she gets ready to go to school. I knew that Daisy would want sparkly red mittens just like her big sister, but unfortunately I didn't have enough Galaxy DK for her mittens, so I decided to use Stylecraft Special DK in Red and Wendy Peter Pan DK in 3000 (white). Now she has sparkly Where's Wally mittens!

They were such a quick & easy knit, and I highly recommend them if you need a quick knit. Because they're so quick to make, it doesn't really matter if you lose a mitten, as you can make another one in about an hour! Yay! The best part of this project was that Daisy loved them! She put them on straight away and said: "Aunty Lolly (that's my cute little nickname), I love them. I never wanna take 'em off! I'm even going to wear them in bed!". She's just too cute!! :D 

If you would like to checkout my notes for this project, Click here!

I remembered I had a small amount of King Cole Galaxy in Red, so once I had found that in my stash (that was a job and a half, but that's another post for another day!), I headed over to Ravelry to try and find a suitable pattern. It took me about half an hour of searching, but I finally found the perfect pattern - Lina Mitts by Amber Bertram. "Lina" is a lovely little cabled mitt encased in twisted rib, which means it'll stretch to fit those growing hands!

The great thing about this pattern is that it fits ages 2-10, which means Tilly will get at a couple of years use out of them before she has to pass them down to her little sister. The pattern was written really well, and the mittens knitted up in no time at all! I started them late in the evening of the 16th of December, and by the morning of the 18th, I had two little sparkly mittens! 

I always enjoy using Galaxy yarn, it is so soft to work with (although I urge you to use bamboo needles when you knit with it, I found my stitches always slipped off when using metal needles, as the yarn is so soft), and it's always fun to watch how the sparkles are going to look against the different stitches. All in all, I really enjoyed this project, and I will definitely be using Lina as my go-to kiddie mitten pattern (I say "kiddie", but my hands actually fit into these mittens. When I say I have child-size hands, I actually mean it! I'm going to be making myself a pair of these for walking the dog!). If you would like to see my project notes for this pattern, please click this cute little link!

Tilly absolutely loved her mittens, yay! Unfortunately I didn't get chance to snap a pic of her wearing them, as she was playing Minecraft at the time (I have a sneaky suspicion that she's going to be an incredibly popular gaming YouTuber when she's older....), but I hear that both her & Daisy have been wearing them when they're out on their adventures! :)

Thanks for reading, I'll be back tomorrow to talk about the toys I knitted for them both! Have a lovely day x

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