Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Different Stitches


imagesI have a very good friend, T,  who is a super-duper knitter. Personally I don’t quite comprehend her passion for knitting penguins and camper vans etc. but horses for courses.The garments she has knitted for herself are exquisite – all fancy stitches and lacy and cables and the like. And she’s fast!

Me, I have an issue with knitting….impatience probably ranks high….DSCN2589

it just take soooo long for me to knit anything. I can sew a skirt in 1.5hrs but to knit a cardigan takes me months. Added to that I don’t understand the fit – the tension, and casting off and on for shape and I always lose track of the number of stitches and whether I should purling or stocking stitching. To combat these failings I usually knit with the biggest needles I can find and the chunkiest yarn I can buy. This is fine but somewhat limiting in my knitting repertoire. I can do two stitches and the more of the same stitches in a pattern the better.

T and I had a day out recently to the quirkiest wool barn (literally) in the depths of the Northern Irish countryside: one of those places that is off a country road that is off another country road and then down a long driveway – if you didn’t know it was there you’d never find it. A Brigadoone of a place, run by a couple of women of a certain age who are extremely friendly, extremely knowledgeable and are the best sales people I’ve ever met! Yes, they made me give them a tonne of cash in exchange for a book and some wool. The yarns they stock are the best on the market – cashmere, mohair, silk, lambs’ wool – not a thread of poly in sight! It’s called the Glen Gallery, and while they don’t have a website of their own my new friend Dazy has done a small review.

So anyway, T said I needed to change my attitude to knitting – a different mindset, so to speak – it’s not supposed to be quick, just enjoy every stitch and the actual process of knitting. So I’ve attempted to do just that. Of course having very expensive yarn helped considerably.

Before the summer, I had unravelled a blue RTW cardigan because I liked the colour but not the style and thought (with endless optimism) that I could knit the yarn into something more ‘my style’ – whatever that is…. As usual, the balls of wool sat about for months as I hunted for a plain cardigan pattern. Weirdly, I buy knitting magazines – believing wholeheartedly in the power of osmosis. It hasn’t happened yet!

I have this magazine and liked this pattern – Mad Men inspired cardigan in the workwear section. See only two types of stitches! Perfect.

DSC00531 DSC00532

It soon become obvious, even to me, that I didn’t have enough blue to complete the job so I thought of knitting the yoke bit in a fancy yarn – all design like.

At the Glen Gallery, I bought 5 hanks of Japanese NoroMossa to be exact – and realised that this might just be epiphany I have been waiting for all this time – gorgeous blended yarns of silk and cashmere and wool and a multitude of colours – so that every stitch is unique and different to the last. There’s knobbly bits and smooth bits and fluffy bits too. I shall never knit with anything else from now on – damn you T – this has to be one of the most exclusive and expensive yarns. It comes in old-fashioned hanks too, so I’ve been employing DH and teenage son to sit with their arms out as I wind the hanks into balls. DH is loads better at this job than teenage son, as he had to do it for his mother when he was a lad.


I’ve knitted the cardy up to the armholes in the ripped out blue and then transitioned into the glorious Noro for the top half.


I’ve been researching this thing called ‘blocking’ – laying out of knitted pieces to flatten and shape them and it’s really scary. We all know that you don’t wash wool – it’ll shrink or grow or change shape or do some weird thing. Here’s the method I used – found here and seconded fortuitously this week on Rhonda’s Wednesday showcase.

1. Soak the pieces in cold water until they are saturated. I stopped breathing while doing this thinking all that knitting was going to turn to felt.


2. Gently press the pieces against the basin to remove excess water – do not wring out!


3. Lay the pieces flat on a large bath towel on the floor


4. Roll up the towel firmly to squeeze out more water.


5. On another, dry towel lay the pieces down: measure and pin to shape. Walk away for about 2 days.


This method worked a treat and all my fears were completely unfounded – I now have flat, but still textured, knitting and nearly all the right size.

Just have to pick up the stitches from all the pieces and knit the neckband.


And if you don’t believe how slow at knitting I really am, I found this project in a bag under the sewing table – a kimono style cardigan downloaded 8 years ago! A free pattern from Clementine – a loose fitting wrap cardigan with kimono sleeves.


Might just go back to it, now that I have a more positive attitude towards knitting. Might…….


And I’ve added knitting blogs to my Reader – oh, just more stuff to get in the way of actually doing something.

27 thoughts on “Different Stitches

  1. I’m a big fan of Noro yarns. I have a felted bag that you would love. It’s fast to knit and the Noro felts beautifully. I am so happy that a Wednesday Showcase gal was able to help you out. When I scrolled through and hit the picture of your sweater, I said to myself, “wow, how pretty.” Beautiful piece.

  2. Hi there Ruth,

    Fabulous job and beautiful colours/yarn.

    Yes, I know about blocking……… will laugh, a week of blocking pieces of my tweed in the hope of rescuing it………finally had to give up yesterday, as some pieces wouldn’t stretch enough.
    Painful and expensive lesson for me! Yes, you can laugh……………I have confessed and its time to dust myself off and start all over again. No pre-treating for my next lot of fabric.

    Knitting is theraputic and relaxing, so I am pleased that you are into it now.

    Enjoy oh talented one.

    • Oh Marysia, is the tweed a goner? Maybe you can build the twisted checks into the design – cut on the bias or something so that they don’t have to line up. What a shame.

  3. That shot of the pieces in the sink…took my breath away! So scary to submerge all your work and hope for the best. What a beautiful result and I am looking forward to the final project. I had a knitted sweater project I started in 1988, took it when I moved to the UK in 1994, and left it with the nuns for their charity shop when I left in 2002…it is anyone’s guess if it got finished…anyone seen a purple mohair top recently? ha ha

    • Yep, you win the gold star for the longest knitting project ever – and gone missing in action too. Purple mohair no less! As you can see my unfinished knitting is also purple – probably the last time it was THE fashion colour!

  4. Beautiful! I just love the colors! My knitting mojo comes and goes. Trying to finish a sweater I started two or three years ago. Decided yesterday the sleeves needed to be shaped more, so pulled out 14″ from cuff. One of these days…………

  5. I love the colours you have used. Buy some gingham fabric, you can block on the straight lines of the fabric and I only ever spritz my knits with a water bottle.

    • Good idea about the gingham. The towel I used to dry the pieces on has stripes so I used those as guides. I’d read about spritzing but I haven’t got a bottle sprayer and as usual was too impatient to wait. When the pieces are soaked they are very pliable and as I never knit two pieces the same, one front is always longer than the other – same for sleeves, I could easily manipulate them to be nearly symmetrical.

  6. Looks fab! As always! I do that osmosis thing too, thinking that if I read about and study about, then sometime about will happen. But sadly it only happens once in a while.

    Knitting, huh? Maybe I will have to dive in myself.

    In the meantime, your cardi looks very beautiful and quite lux.

  7. I do not have the patience for knitting. [Sigh] I did try once…. But I do enjoy seeing what others knit. Your sweater is beautiful! I love those colors!!

  8. Looks great! There is nothing like a yarn shop to extract large sums of money from you. Except perhaps a fabric shop…..

  9. Lovely cardigan! I made *one* pullover when I was in school, many years ago. It took me about six months; fine three-ply wool, and small needles (12-14?) My first and likely last knitting, though I do have one skein of beautiful Donegal tweed yarn I couldn’t resist in the thrift store. Not a sensible purchase.

  10. I laughed out loud at the Brigadoone description. Knitting is my first textile love, and it’s definitely a process-not-product mentality. This summer, I finished a project that was 4 years in the making – from handspinning (on a spindle) the 3-ply yarn to knitting a lace shawl.

    You should check out for lots of knitting inspiration! Lots of styles and all skill levels welcome.

    I actually wash all of my yarn before knitting, just as I would wash uncut fabric before sewing. I’ve been burned before by sweaters that grew and grew and grew after they hit water. I have a lot less fear during blocking now.

    • Really, going into the wilds of the countryside to The Glen Gallery is like going back in time! I can understand your 4 year project considering you spun your own yarn – impressive! Thanks June.

  11. I used to want to knit. Notice I said used to. Menopause took care of any need I once had for clothing that retains heat.

    I got a set of knitting needles for Christmas one year, enrolled in a knitting class, went to every class religiously. I can now form stitches on needles. That is all I can do. I cannot maintain any degree of tension, when I knit a scarf, it looks like I am trying to knit rick rack, though of course no where that even, I have come to the conclusion I can only knit simple things badly. My hat (sewn, not knit) is off to you.

    • I had to ask DH the other night if the house was warm – I think I’m getting to the stage where I can’t tell the difference between my personal temperature and the room’s ambient temp! Use your unique method of knitting to create an artistic item – believe me I’ve seen worse out there – and they are charging for it!

  12. Ruth, two words: knitting machine. A whole world has now opened before me. I love the process of sewing, but not the process of knitting — too dull, unless it’s full of pattern, and then it takes too long. Machine knitting I can get behind 100%.

  13. Today with Revenues of annually it is a cashgenerating machine. Plus, there’s tension in New York ahead of the 9/11 anniversary. From the a well versed nonetheless sophisticated aroma that the includes it might be weakened of your job, on the day, or in simpler terms simply that shall gently chill utilising pals. Came with the two ah, how long across, run using your little friend Luo yell, an arrival is two, since his men and women are in close proximity, they don’t are aware of the newly created traps naturally there isn’t any use, lying at the Lee legacy trap pressure is twice previously.

  14. Hi Ruth,
    would you mind disclosing the details of that knitting magazine (i.e. issue date etc) – I love the cover cardigan. I used to knit heaps before work and children peskily intervened, but nowadays I favour those streamlined little cardigans that take fine wool (thus taking millions of stitches). But it is really meditative and much more portable than sewing, so I’m thinking of picking it up again. Love the blog by the way!

  15. Pingback: Teal’s Not in the Rainbow… | corecouture

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