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a quick word on labour saving

30 Apr
Opus 800

Opus 800

It’s been so long since I posted and I don’t have a lot to say today, but something amusing occurred to me just now.

So far this morning, I have had my bread maker on, making dough for rolls, my washing machine on and my dishwasher. I was enjoying the thought of all the work that has been done in my house today with minimum input from me. Then I realised what I do with the spare time I have because of these labour-saving devices: I sit and knit something that I could easily buy ready-made. Some jobs are too good to give to machines!

Happy knitting 🙂

Depression and knitting

27 Feb
Opus 301 beaded cuff bracelet

Opus 301

I suffered from postnatal depression (PND) after the birth of my first child. Then I had antenatal depression (AND) with my second and PND again. The third was easier and I stopped there. Now you know the background, what has it to do with knitting?

Depression

I was just trying to show Linda that I can do fancy headings as well!

Depression is so misunderstood. People ask “what are you depressed about?”, but it’s just not like that. When you’re angry or unhappy or excited, there’s some reason for it, but with depression, there isn’t a reason. I have blogged about depression lots on my other blog – so I won’t go on too much about it. What I wanted to say was that I don’t think I would have suffered as badly if I had been knitting at the time.

I started knitting as a teenager and was very keen. I stopped knitting regularly when I went to University at age 18 and only knitted a couple more things before giving up entirely. For 20 years!! Just before my 40th birthday, I picked up the sticks again and very quickly became an avid knitter. I met Linda, helped her design the toe-up version of some socks and the rest is still being written.

a day in the life of a knitter..

A day as a knitter (or sewer or painter or any other person who has a creative hobby) is so different to a day without knitting for me. When I was looking after my wonderful first daughter, I spent hours doing stuff with and for her: I played with her, I fed her, I took her to baby groups, I read her books, I washed her clothes, I changed her nappy…. and on and on. I spent most of the day this way and with the time I had left, I slept. But there was no part of my day that was for me. Not even 5 minutes, because I didn’t have anything I could do for 5 minutes. Although I loved my time with her, there was nothing that was driven by me.

Opus 600 sock with ruffle

Opus 600

And now? When I go to bed at night, I think about all the projects I have in progress – what the next steps are, when I might do them. And I think about all the projects that are still in the planning stage – what pattern I might use, what fabric or yarn. The I think about all the materials I have that I can use – fabric, yarn, threads, beads, ribbon. And then I can think about all the materials I haven’t bought but could in the future – the projects I can do at some other time. And when I get up in the morning, I spend some part of each day doing some of that. Sometimes it’s 2 hours in the afternoon sitting down and knitting, sometimes it’s 10 minutes sitting with the girls as they watch TV before making their dinner. But it’s always there and it’s just for me.

so what’s the link?

If I had had something I could look forward to that was just for me, would I have been so depressed? It’s a difficult one to answer but I feel that I wouldn’t have. I think part of my PND and AND was a feeling of being lost in this new role which left no room for me. And there was no ‘me’ left anyway – my study and work had stopped, so what was left?

Anyway, I went to a workshop last week on ‘surface stitching‘ and came away with 2 exciting new freeform embroidery projects. I spent some time over the weekend knitting, but also plenty embroidering and I loved it. My youngest was inspired to start a little sampler herself, although I doubt it will get finished. It doesn’t matter – it will give us something to do together while she is enjoying it.

and on to patterns

Why not have a look at our sock patterns? They are what started Opus and Linda has some wonderful designs to show you. How about Opus 100, our first pattern. It’s a simple lace pattern that you can do with some boring coloured yarn, because you get to do a bright toe, heel and top edge. They’re really pretty and ideal for those who need to be seen to be wearing smart socks but can then know hidden under your shoe is a bit of decadence. A bit like wearing lacy underwear under a plain suit 🙂

Opus 100

Opus 100

OK, that’s enough from me.  Happy knitting all.

Interruption #4, by Linda

23 Feb
2101 close-up

Untitled 2101 close-up

 What question . . . ?

Oh no, not that question again. You can’t cover it with an elegant lie, as with, “Mummy, how did that baby get into your tummy?” or “How much have you bloody spent/drunk/shot your mouth off this time?”. This is because you’re a Nartist and they’ve asked you what is art, and of course there is no answer.

Oh, that question . . .

Unless of course you look it up in Wikipedia, hoping for some nice, comfy, sweeping statements, such as (I paraphrase:) art used to be merely skill and craftsmanship in the West until the 19th century, and now it’s supposed to make you think and feel. Oh, and there’s no mention of knitting and crochet on that page; is that because if you can’t get a baby or elephant or chimpanzee to do it so you can flog it as abstract art, then it’s a craft, therefore it’s not art by 21st century definition?

. . . so who gets to be the artist then?

Talking of craft, this question of “are we artists?” is often discussed by knitters. One of the suggested answers is that if you knit or crochet to a pattern, you’re doing craft; if you have designed the pattern then you get to be The Artist. And the problem with that is the naming game again, because names of trades carry implications of hierarchy: a company director is better than an executive because he earns more; an artist is nobler than his studio craftsmen because he or she is the one who puts the soul into the art – or so the Romantics might have you believe. So take a bow, then, Jeff Koons, Rolf Harris and that chimp who did the spatter paintings.

So why don’t we just say it’s all art, and that the epiphany – or the lucky break that makes you realise stuff – is the best bit. So if you’ve just bought some new blue yarn and you’re mucking about and experimenting with it, and your toddler grabs it and chucks it on the stash pile, right next to a green that should never match it, and the two colours make beautiful love, then that’s art – well it would be if you got off your backside and made a scarf with those two yarns together.

Opus 800

Mel's beautiful Opus 800

Happy crafting, my artist friend.

BUSY LADY

11 Jan

Happy New Year to you all. Half of Opus Knitting Patterns has been very busy since I last wrote. There are several new patterns and the launch of our ‘untitled’ artwork series. Check out the artwork catalogue for some truly awesome designs.

Untitled 801

Untitled 801

As well as socks, we now have patterns for a cardigan, hat, scarves and a kindle case. There have been some new additions to the Opus 301 beaded cuff as well – 2 new options to make it even more exciting.

Opus 301 wristlet option

Opus 301 wristlet option

Several of the patterns are free so have a look and see what you fancy 🙂

BRANCHING OUT

22 Sep
Opus 800

Opus 800

CableMabel has suddenly decided to produce a hat pattern and done it – the things that woman can do when she gets her mind focused! So Opus 1400 has been published – it’s a simply beanie hat knitted in chunky yarn and beautifully modelled by the designer. Have a look  on Ravelry or on our Catalogue on this website.

I have put my Opus 600 ruffle sock to be test knitted and that has started. It’s really exciting to see my design being knitted by someone else. So far, it’s in Germany and the US – tomorrow the world!

I finished Opus 800, diamond socks and Linda has almost finished hers as well. Mine are pink with blue features and Linda has gone for a Christmassy theme with red and silver. Not sure whether to publish that before or after getting it test knitted – will make a decision this week about that.

Knitting for Xmas is starting to invade my time which is fantastic. I love the thinking, the planning, the trying, the swatching, the buying, the knitting, the giving. From early autumn onwards, I am building up to it slowly 🙂 Roll on December!

BACK FROM THE BEACH

10 Sep
Opus 600 socks in Wharfedale woolworks merino bamboo and Sirdar Salsa!

Opus 600 socks in Wharfedale woolworks merino bamboo and Sirdar Salsa!

It’s been a while since I posted and lots has happened. My building work has finished and the children are back at school so it’s all systems go. CableMabel is on the mend and making up for lost time. We have published our first hat, Opus 1200, and have started to make sales on the others.

We have started using some test knitters and there are several working on Opus 200 as we speak. The feedback has been great and very useful, and it’s wonderful to see our socks in someone else’s choice of yarn. I will be putting Opus 600 out to test soon so if you’re interested, find us on Ravelry and get onto the test knitters group.

My new design, Opus 800 socks, are finished and the pattern is with CableMabel to write the top-down version. As a sneak preview, it uses Sirdar Reflection to give a fluffy glitzy pattern on the leg. The top-down version will be quite Christmassy so they will make a great present.

Experiments with dyeing are afoot and I will update you on that as and when any success is achieved!

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.