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The honeymoon is over

20 Feb

All wound up

The borrowed ball winder and I fell in love over aran weight wool and had our first fight over 4 ply silk. Who knew the two experiences could be so different? 85g of Tall Yarns’ beautiful pure silk, one skein that wanted to be a ball when it grew up. It kept getting knotted, slipping off the winder and generally being a not-much-fun experience. I had to give myself a timeout and have a coffee. Then I came back and made it into two 40-something gram balls and peace was restored. We made up by going back to where we fell in love – 100% wool. This time kettle dyed Manos del Uruguay in lovely blues and greens. I returned the ball winder to its owner and we were both sad to part.

then . . .

Hours of happy yarn winding wasn’t the only thing I didn’t rate when I started knitting again. For those of you that don’t know, I knat as a teenager but gave it up in my early 20’s, coming back to it just as I turned 40. When I bought yarn before, I went into the ‘Wool Shop’ where my mum worked, chose a colour and she sent me home with a couple of balls, stashing the others in the back room for later. The pattern was usually bought at the same time, on glossy paper, produced by the yarn manufacturer so we bought the recommended yarn. My choice of patterns was limited to what the Wool Shop stocked and it never occured to me to look anywhere else.

Manos yarn before winding

Manos yarn before winding

. . . and now

So now, 20 years later, the process couldn’t be more different. For a start, I now live more than 200 miles from my mum, she doesn’t work in a wool shop, and my choice is huge. The result is that I spend lots of time that I would previously have spent knitting, looking for patterns, looking at what other people made with the patterns, looking at what yarns other people used with the patterns and what they thought of the patterns. I don’t buy the pattern and the yarn together now, in fact a lot of the patterns I use are free. I don’t have them printed on glossy paper – I sometimes print them at home or just work from the computer for simple patterns. Now I buy yarn with no idea of what I will do with it. So there’s hours of reading about yarn, looking at other people’s yarn, feeling other people’s yarn, hearing what other people think of their yarn, touching yarn in shops/exhibitions, thinking about it, looking what people have knat with it, looking at what they thought of what they knat with it. Then there’s swatching and changing needle size and washing the swatch.

Tall yarns silk

Tall yarns silk

At first all this ‘not knitting’ was very frustrating but now I realise that I enjoy that part as much as I do the knitting. If I had a shed, then this would be time spent out there, sharpening my tools, arranging my resources, and just being around my hobby.

To mis-quote a terrible song: “Are we human, or are we knitter?”

Tags: ball winder winding buying patterns


Ball winders and belts

10 Feb

I spent a puzzling afternoon with a new friend once when I had just started knitting again after a 20-year gap. She was using a ball winder and a swift to make lovely balls out of a skein/hank of yarn. What puzzled me was that she didn’t just wind a ball and leave it at that, she wound it into a ball, then wound it again into another ball and finally into a third ball which she kept. I couldn’t understand why she would spend good knitting time fiddling around with balls. Well, this week I found out why.

Wendy trad aran

I borrowed a ball winder from a lovely friend with the intention of making balls from some skeins I had recently bought and from a HUGE ball of wool she gave me herself. So, I wound a ball and enjoyed it. But it was a bit loose. So I wound it again from the first ball and it was better. But it still wasn’t right. So I held the yarn going in between my fingers to give it some tension and the ball was fantastic. I was hooked. From then on, I spent the rest of the evening playing with a 500g ball of wool, making perfect little 50g balls with it. The feeling of satisfaction was enormous. I particularly like the moment when you pull the ball off the winder and the yarn rushes in to fill the gap it left. Super!

Wendy trad aran

All wound up!

So I finished the belt pattern and it’s published. In case you weren’t reading my last entry, it’s a free pattern for a Tunisian crochet belt that you can do without buying any special equipment. All you need is a 6mm crochet hook that can hold 6 stitches at once, some aran yarn and something fancy to edge it with. Then you can go mad and decorate it as much as you like. So, Linda will add in the link here because I’m rubbish at that… She will probably put in a photo….  or 2…..  as well.

Opus 1901

Opus 1901

Linda has been very busy recently and has published lots of new stuff. I’ll tell you more about that next week, or Linda will herself. Or she might have another rant, which is all good.

Happy knitting/hooking 🙂

tags: ball winder swift wendy traditional aran yarn free tunisian crochet pattern belt winding cake

Reduce, Reuse, Knit

30 Jan

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” …

I often wonder if we will ever get to a stage with our planet that we have to reuse everything rather than making new things. In the last few years, we have become so skilled at this that I think we would probably manage it OK. So, work on your reusing skills with Linda’s latest pattern.

She has dyed and cut up several old t-shirts and made them into something new – a beautiful and unique cushion cover. I think the best thing about this type of project is that no two covers will be the same – the raw materials will vary in fabric and colour, the edge bits will come at different places, and you put a bit of your own personality into each one. And then you choose to embellish your cover as much or as little as you like. And the best thing is – the pattern is free. You just need to download it, find some old t-shirts and get going.

Opus 2100 Cushion Cover

Recycled t-shirts

You can browse our free catalogue or just go straight to Opus 2100.

I promised you a pattern for Tunisian Crochet that didn’t need any extra equipment. Well, the pattern is written and we just need to get some outdoor photos taken and the pattern will be available to download. This one will be free as well. Here’s a sneak preview of a couple of samples:

Opus 1901

Opus 1901

Happy knitting all 🙂

Opus 1901

Opus 1901

Tags: belt cushion free opus knitting opusknitting pattern patterns tunisian crochet recycled teeshirt tee-shirt t-shirt yarn ribbon embroidery

Publishing patterns

8 Jul

CableMabel is getting better slowly but not up to much knitting yet 😦

The big news for me is that I have finished the first 2 patterns of my own and published them.

The first is Opus 301 – this is a variation on CableMabel’s Opus 300 beaded glove. I wanted to use the beautiful motif she had designed for the wrist but to make it like the Indian jewellery that goes over the back of the hand and finishes in a ring on the middle finger. My first attempt was good but I wasn’t happy with the way the edge sat on the wrist or the shape or the way the decreases looked, so I took the brave step or reknitting it. Brave because of the number of beads involved. But by this time my beading technique was pretty good. I also took the opportunity to show off a bit and added a second bead colour into the design. The second knit corresponded with a quiet week at home so was done in no time. Now the pattern is available on Ravelry for £3 as of this week. No buyers yet but it’s so exciting just to see it there 🙂

The second pattern is Opus 600 – this is a creation entirely of my own. CableMabel bought me some Sirdar Salsa as a holiday present and it made me think of Ra Ra skirts in the 1980s, which was my era. I’ve seen ruffles on socks but I wanted to do something outrageous. I was also inspired by Wimbledon to think of socks to wear with trainers or tennis shoes. So these socks are very short with 3 huge ruffles sitting right on the ankle bone. Because they are so short, they are ideal for summer and they can be knitted with 50g of 4-ply, so you can get 2 pairs for the usual 100g. It took me a while to work out how to get the ruffle in the right place – when you knit it, the ruffle comes out on the inside of the sock. When you purl it, the ruffle looks great but better from the top than the bottom. As I normally design and knit toe-up socks this wasn’t ideal. So I decided to knit this one top-down to make the ruffle edge look great. They knit up really quickly as once the ruffle is done, it’s stockinet all the way, except for the lovely fisherman’s rib heel, which is quick and easy and looks great. This pattern is on Ravelry for £3 as well. Lots of people have Favourited it so looking forward to some buyers soon.

Building work is taking over here so there will be a slower pace from Darley for a while. I am playing with an idea using Sari ribbon and another outrageous idea for socks with beads. Not for everyday wear, for sure, but stunning and fun to knit.

The first 4 patterns we published, that were mostly CableMabel’s work, are proving very popular. Opus 100, 200, 300 and 400 are attracting a lot of attention. They are all £3 to buy except 400 which is free.

Catch me on Ravelry and let me know what you think of the new patterns.

Opus 400

15 Jun

Welcome to Opus Knitting Patterns.  Our first pattern Opus 400 is about to be published for free.

Short summer socks designed in feather and fan stitch for self-striping yarn with stripes of up to approx 6-10 rows. There is a hidden row of eyelet holes under the rolled top edge, so you can thread through a ribbon or plied yarn if required, and tie it at the front or side. (More details here)

Opus 400 sock in orange and turquoise

Opus 400 sock in orange and turquoise Online Sierra-Effekt sock yarn

Download the pattern FREE from here:
download now

© Linda OCarroll and Mel Browne