Tag Archives: tips

Winding Wool

[Some years ago, I started another craft blog, which quickly died a death. Today on Twitter, the incomparable Kate (of Rebel Raising and I Blame the Mother, among other valiant and inspiring endeavours) suggested that I repost this entry, which I’m delighted to do. It’s from spring 2008 – hence the amazingly grainy photos, taken with my last camera but one – and rereading it reminds me how pleased I was with the baby tanktop I made from this wool. I must write up the pattern.]

Believe it or not, although I’ve been knitting on and off for maybe 27 years, I’ve just finished my very first project knitted from a skein – specifically, a skein of delicious Shepherd Worsted from Lorna’s Laces, in the “Watercolor” colourway. I wound the wool ten days ago, while watching the second half of Casino Royale (see under: four-month-old baby with unpredictable evening sleep pattern; films that can if necessary be watched in eighteen-minute segments preferred).

Winding the wool took me back. I did it my grandmother’s way (she knitted constantly, and was my steady source of random ends of yarn for many years – though she, and I, always called it “wool”). She showed me her winding method when I was around eleven, and I went through a phase of winding my own balls from the ends she gave me – and sometimes even from new-bought balls. They were so much nicer, with their pineappley tufts and firm thumb-holes, and so satisfying to make.
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9 Crafting Tips from my 9-Year-Old Self

Léan and Órla in the Alps, 1984

This past little while, I’ve been thinking a lot about myself as a child, doing my crafts (that’s me there on the left, in 1984). It all seemed so much simpler then, as I rummaged through my great-aunt’s bags of remnants or my grandmother’s yarn ends to find what I wanted. I didn’t always know where I was going, but I was having such a good time getting there that I didn’t care.

My nine-year-old self would have been very pleased, I think, if she’d known how passionate I’d still be about these crafts at thirty-four. But it feels as though my approach is quite different now. I’ve been wondering what advice she’d give me – what have I forgotten in the intervening quarter-century?
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Six Tips for Designing Knitting Patterns

Balls of Debbie Bliss wool and notes page for Down in the Woods

I’m on a serious design jag at the moment – finishing Down in the Woods and starting the purple thing in the past week. I’ve been knitting my own designs for (good lord) twenty years now, and I was asking myself this evening, have I learned anything useful? One or two things. Here – have a handful.

1. Swatch, swatch, swatch

Swatch. You may (like me) be a bit adolescent about swatching for other people’s designs (oh, Muuuuum, do I haaaaave to?), but trust me, swatching is your friend. Swatch for gauge, certainly, but also:

  • Try out stitch and colour ideas.
  • Check whether the transitions you’re planning will work in practice.
  • Decide how you’ll cast on and off.
  • See what sort of fabric your chosen needles produce – you may want to shift up or down a size.

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