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..or a rectangle, or an oblong (although I’m never quite sure what the difference is).

Most of our virgin knitting projects begin with a shape along these lines. Cast on, garter stitch, cast off. And no matter if you’re six or sixty, there is a great deal of pride to be had in the first piece of fabric you create.

I am teaching a Learn to Knit workshop at a LYS next month and was asked to come up with a functional first project idea. I started with the square: coasters, mitts, some kind of cosy?

I went with mitts, as I felt something wearable maximises the boast factor of ‘I made this myself’; it also gets the most out of the yardage, as the learners will be given one 50g ball of Debbie Bliss Rialto for the workshop. June may not the best time to be making woollen accessories but these are tiny mitts, and the more seasonal cotton poses too many tension pitfalls for the novice knitter.

What I came up with could hardly be called a pattern, although for the purposes of the workshop it is, with a pattern sheet and everything. For the more nervous student there is a completely garter stitched version



And for the more intrepid, a mitt incorporating……………wait for it…………………the purl stitch.


The workshop is only two hours long, and the brief is that attendees will be picking up sticks for the very first time, so I’m not anticipating FOs in class. I hope there will be just enough time to introduce the basic techniques and get everyone knitting with confidence.

The yarn is a delight. Though a little splitty for newbies, it lovely plump merino-ness is very forgiving and will even out some tension issues. The mitts pictured are unblocked, and not looking too bad. The duck egg blue shade for these samples was provided by the LYS. Personally, its amongst my least favourite colours. Duck egg to me is often dull, uninspiring and overused (in decorating circles at least). But it does have the virtue of being light in colour; whilst students will be able to choose whatever shade they like from the LYS staggering range, I’m hoping they follow suit as it’s so much easier to knit in a paler hue.

It’s also a great colour to match the Birmingham skyline this late spring afternoon; check out this picture from my office window.


Maybe mitts in June is not such a bad idea after all!



…….is a knitting one.

Not being one for resolutions as such, I nevertheless welcomed the dawn of 2014 armed with a list, consisting of goals/aims/targets/objectives (call them what you want). I developed this list with the help of a rather fabulous little book called Your Best Year Yet. Its a very simple guide consisting of just ten questions, and I used it with some success last year. 2013 was definitely a contender for my best year yet, and I’m optimistic 2014 can beat it.

However, even this mercifully short process was probably unnecessary when it came to one of my knitting aims, since I suspect I share it with half of the crafty minxes on the planet; finish those WIPs.

Despite my tendency to start and then abandon so much in life, I am extraordinarily restrained when it comes to knitting projects, so its not like I have 30+ carrier bags lurking under beds in my house (I’ve seen the confessions on Ravelry). I do have a couple of things I am determined to get off the needle in 2014 though.

One of these was my Deco cardigan. Oh yes, note the use of past tense here. This started life as a 99p car boot cashmere blend Ralph Lauren jumper. After several hours of unpicking and unwinding, following the advice of the fabulous Unravellers group, I had about 500g of usable sport weight yarn in an eau de nile colour. Unfortunately, carefully taken photos of this process are unavailable thanks to a stolen mobile phone late last year, but I was fairly impressed with myself

The cardigan itself then took an age to knit. Its an effective pattern, but involves a lot of stocking stitch at a tight gauge, so not exactly riveting. It only needed a little finishing and blocking when it was eventually passed over for something more sparkly and exciting, and went to live in a bag somewhere quiet.

Nothing much happens here New Years Day. Except hangovers and knitting. Having missed my usual partying (Stayed in with the kids which was lovely), I had a clear head and a determined spirit. I finished the cardigan and it looked…meh.

I liked the fabric. I liked the style. I had pre-ordered the clear press studs needed and picked out some lovely vintage buttons/ribbon for it (see above). But I just knew the colour did nothing for me. Though pale, I’m an ‘Autumn’ and pastels in general leave me sallow and little cadaver-like. But that’s what you get when you re-use yarn instead of spending on squishing new skeins in the shop.

So on the 2nd January I decided to dye it. Oh yes, I was on a roll! I wasn’t able to travel far, but my local shop sold Dylon.
Nooooooooooooooooooooooo! Said Google.

You need special dyes for wool! Said Ravelry.

But I knew better, being the impatient person that I am. And convinced, thanks to the optimism of the foolhardy, that the dye would definitely work for me, despite all evidence to contrary.

At first, things seemed fine. The colour is the drum was exactly as I’d hoped, a russety brown with a hint of pink.

And then I took it out.

I couldn’t understand it. I’d washed a gauge swatch in the machine and it had bloomed a little but come out just fine! Whether it was the extra friction caused by the weight of the whole cardigan or the salt I put in with the dye I don’t know, but this felted mess isn’t wearable.

I should have learnt when the same thing happened to my Blackberry Cardigan. See, I love the feel of proper wool over superwash but I’m too flighty to be trusted with it. Luckily, I’m also too little attached to a lot of the physical world to care. I was a bit sad for the wasted money on the dye, but hey what price for a lesson learned?

And I have learnt it now. Honestly.

Plus, where there are losers, somebody is winning. The kitty is very happy with her new super-soft basket liner.