Tuesday, 11 December 2012

K is for Knitting

As you can probably guess from the name of my blog (Knitographical), I'm a knitter! I feel occasionally like I should be in one of those support groups. "Hi. My name is Jo-ann and I'm a Knitter!" I've dabbled in lots of things: I sew well when I feel like it. (I used to be a dab had at making tutus and other ballet costumes, made my own wedding dress and dressed my children in lovingly hand made outfits till they grew too destructive on their clothes). I crochet competently. I've tried quilting and embroidery and appliqué and been pleased with the results but they failed to capture my heart and soul like knitting has.
Me knitting on the train. My son who took this says it it is deliberately headless as the look of concentration on my face when I knit is never pretty.

It's a rare week when I don't knit something. I'd love to knit every day but the pressures of the day job prevent this at certain times of the year.

Knitting is a hobby with relatively low overheads. All you really need is needles, something vaguely string-like to knit with and a couple of simple tools.

So here's a guide to the knitter's tool of the trade and a sneak peek at the way knitting has slightly invaded my house. I think I have my hobby contained but taking these photos made me realise how it is infiltrating almost every room in my house.

Knitting needles

These come in a great variety of sizes, style and materials. Knitting needles are commonly made of metal (either steel or aluminium), plastic, bamboo or wood. Antique knitting needles were made of bone, ivory and tortoiseshell. In Australia, needles are now metrically sized in mm. However, we used to use the old UK sizing and America used a different labelling system again. Here's a handy needle conversion chart if you're are like me and have a mix of old and new needles. I have been collecting for about 30 years with hand-me down needles from a grandmother, mother, assorted aunties and a cousin. These days I rehabilitate lonely old knitting needles (mainly sets of sock needles and veteran plastic needles especially faux tortoiseshell) from op shops. I'm personally a fan of metal needles. There are straight needles, sets of double pointed needles (dpns) for knitting in the round and circular needles. There are even a few cable needles and crochet hooks here. A common question for the beginning knitter is "How do I chose the right knitting needle?" For a useful guide with pictures start here. So here's the needle collection. I also have some more bamboo ones which were hiding somewhere obscure.
These are the antique plastic ones. My menfolk bought me most of the faux tortoiseshell ones. They know the way to my heart.

Then you need yarn. Yarn  is the generic American term for any spun fibre. It can be acrylic, viscose (high class acrylic), silk, wool, alpaca, mohair, cashmere, cotton, linen, bamboo, hemp, mink, bison or even soy silk, banana fibre or milk protein. Once you have sufficient yarn it breeds into a peculiar beast known as the stash. My stash has been fed by cast-offs from the wider family and I'm currently wrestling with getting it down to manageable proportions. The stash has it own baskets where the most recent additions live for ease of petting. After all wool is made to fondle. Those white balls on the top for example are cashmere and waiting to become a future cable beanie. It's like petting a furry bunny.The larger stash has its own cupboard where it is is confined into nifty plastic containers and colour coded.


You only really need a a few simple tools. Scissors, a tape measure, wool needles for sewing up and some stitch holders (They're the giant safety pin like things). A needle gauge is handy for working out what size the odd needles are.

Any knitter needs inspiration and instructions. So this is the excuse to buy books and magazines and patterns. This is where space can really become an issue. Here's a small selection of my bookshelves. The one below is in my bedroom and is an interesting mix of knitting books, kits and textbooks (mainly maths ones).
This is my magazine shelf in my office. These are very precious Australian Handmade magazines from the late 1980's through to early 2000s, after which it became a crappy magazine with too much quilting and scrapping.
And this is what iscurrently hanging out in the magazine basket on the TV cabinet in the lounge room.
This is what the corner of my lounge looks like, baskets of wool and the Works in Progress (WIPs).
This is the Granny wants a Latte Macchiato granny rug in progress, a bag full of squares and the wool.

And here's the odds and ends basket.
I think I'm having a positive influence on my family though. Here's a quiet Sunday afternoon on my couch.

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