On my needles

Once again, there has been a quiet period here on the blog, but that certainly does not mean that nothing has been happening behind the scenes! Since Milly’s birthday at the beginning of the month, we have another round of sickness, this time including me. I have been ‘lucky’ over the last couple of years in that I’ve been able to avoid colds, flu etc while I was suffering from the herniated disc issues. Good job, too, as the slightest cough or sneeze combined with that is less than appealing. My back has actually, finally, been improving, much to my great delight. Unfortunately, the coughing brought on by this cold has messed things up a bit. Tomorrow will be better!

DH’s new job has turned out to be more of a stop-gap than a career and he has been headhunted by another company which has been able to offer much better prospects both for job satisfaction, career progression and also for family. He starts in just over a week and is totally over the moon about it. It is also a local job, so no return to the 6 hour daily commute of the old days! Hurrah! We are so excited about all that it means for the family, as the last two years have been, like for many people, an exercise in caution. It will be nice to relax a little and maybe indulge in a few things. We are not deprived by any stretch of the imagination, but we also don’t spend on a whim or buy things on credit. It is hard to justify luxuries when your income is not assured. Now we can consider some of the purchases we have put off – a new stove, a chair I can be comfortable in, model rail paraphenalia, radio restoration supplies. I have to admit that I have continued to buy fabric, feeling that is more a necessity than a luxury!

You may know that my personal goal for this year was to learn to knit. Mum taught me the basics when I was a child and I have dabbled from time to time, but have always been put off by what appeared to be the foreign language of knitting patterns. Ironic, really, when my university degree was the study of foreign languages…. Anyway, I set my mind to the task and am, I must admit, hooked. I have spent a lot of time thinking about yarn, needles, patterns, supplies and bags and have a list of future projects in my notebook. I have taken a methodical, organized approach to my goal and have a basket for my yarn stash and patterns and a notebook where I have recorded the needles and yarn which both mum and I have. Very handy when we are in the store contemplating a new project. I also have a larger notebook where I make notes about each project I undertake, the yarn and needles I use and my verdict on the pattern and outcome. I have been relatively diligent about doing swatches for each pattern and have included these in the book, too. This hobby has motivated me to design a needle roll and a knitting project bag. I have completed the prototypes for both and they are being tested at the moment.

Handmade knitting bag, designed by Fiona Ballard, Pip 'n' Milly Creations

Knitting bag prototype

Rear of handmade knitting bag, showing zippered pocket

Rear view of knitting bag

Interior shot of knitting bag, showing multiple divided pockets and clear vinyl pockets

Interior shot of knitting bag

The bag measures 15.5″ across the bottom, 11″ high, 6″ deep. The front pocket is large enough for magazines, patterns etc and the front has 2 magnetic catches, depending on how full the bag is. There is a zippered pocket on the rear of the bag and the interior has multiple divided pockets on one side and clear vinyl pockets on the other. I’ll be using it in conjunction with the needle roll and the bag will carry all the general tools and gadgets, plus whatever I need for the specific project I am working on. It also has a key clip and enough space for my personal stuff, in case I don’t want to carry a handbag. So far, so good, but I’m working on a version with a divider, as I’m already finding I have more than one project on the go at a time.

These are the things I have been knitting since I started a few weeks ago. We are still in February, so I guess I’ve actually accomplished quite a bit!

1 – Scarf – predominantly seed/moss stitch. I have made scarves in the past, but this is the first time I have actually tried to do something other than straightforward knit or purl. I used it as a large swatch and may well unravel and knit it again now that I have more confidence. I do like this stitch a lot.

Seed stitch scarf in turquoise yarn

Seed stitch scarf

2 – Chunky scarf

Mum inspired me to try cables, after she picked up her needles after a gap of 26 years and immediately started making some lovely cabled handwarmers for me. I did a practice swatch, then moved on to my first ever pattern. Not sure why I decided to start with one that incorporated aran-style chevrons, seed stitch and bobbles, but the picture was very appealing and at least there was no shaping involved. This was from the Debbie Bliss book, The Knitter’s Year, and is a complicated pattern for a beginner, so I was inordinately pleased with myself for conquering it.

Cable scarf with seed stitch, bobble in grey

Grey cable scarf

3 – Tea cozy

My Nan used to make tea cozies like this, so I was nostalgically delighted to see this pattern in the Debbie Bliss book. I knitted it in my favourite colours of dark, dark pink and purple (Berry and Grape from the Red Heart Soft range by Coats).

Traditional English tea cozy in dark pink and purple

Traditional English tea cozy

4 – Mittens

I suffer from poor circulation in my extremities (hands, feet, nose) and have had to resort to wearing multiple layers this winter. I think my herniated disc and subsequent lack of exercise have exacerbated the issue. Hopefully it will improve in time, but for now, I need layers! I picked up this pattern from Mad About Ewe, here in Nanaimo.

Basic mittens, turqoise

Knitted mittens

These were knitted in the round on double pointed needles, so yay for tackling another knitting technique!

5 – On my needles right now – 2nd Chunky Scarf

I’m doing the chunky scarf again, this time on larger needles and using the Softee Chunky yarn from Bernat that I used for the mittens. I’ll no doubt be making myself a beret soon, too!

cable scarf 2, larger needles, turquoise yarn

cable scarf 2

I’m also working on a pair of baby bootees, but I’m stumped by the next section of the pattern, so I’ll have to go away and find some help.

Happy knitting!


~ by Pip 'n' Milly Creations on February 26, 2011.

2 Responses to “On my needles”

  1. You really are a fast learner! I love knitting but taught myself to crochet last year and now prefer that in some ways.

    My granny used to knit tea cosies just like yours!! I’ve never made one, but I like making scarves and hats as presents. Keep meaning to try socks, but haven’t got round to it yet!

    Keep it up! You’ll be knitting sweaters in no time!!

    • Hi Fiona

      Thanks! I am single-minded when I want to learn something! It is good to have the mental challenge of learning a new skill, but it does mean I rather neglect other aspects of our lives, like vacuuming and meal planning! We’ve also been sick for the last week, so it has been the perfect opportunity to sit down and focus. As for crochet, I was about as good at that as I was at knitting before this – I used to do lines or circles, but never got beyond that. Perhaps that will be next year’s challenge! I’ve always wanted to make a modern Granny Squares blanket like my Grandma used to make. Perhaps I’ll start collecting my favourite colours now!

      I really do want to knit myself a cardigan, but am pacing myself. The tea cozy is superb. The colours are very ‘me’ and it is a nice reminder of what Nan used to make. Way, way better than the fabric tea cozy I made. As for sock knitting, Mum is working on that now and I hope she sticks to it, as I am likely to be the beneficiary at some point!

      Hope all is well with you and that the long winter isn’t getting you down. We finally have snow, but the rain really does put a downer on the spirits after awhile.


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