Tuesday, 29 March 2011

KnitCroBlo Week - Day 2

Today’s posting topic is all about skills. What new skills have I learned this year? It ties quite neatly in with last year’s topic of “what new skills do you want to learn this year”, so I expect a lot of today’s posts will include a look back to last year’s post, and seeing if people actually learned the skills they wanted to.

For me though, this post will neatly tie into another of last year’s topics: Why did you start? Because this time last year, I had no idea I’d even be interested in crochet. Let alone obsessed with it.

I have learned so many new skills this year. But I have also rediscovered old ones. My Gran taught me to knit when I was little (more on that, later on in the week), but I didn’t have much of an interest. A terrible, ten stitch wide garter stitch scarf was the best I managed. I soon abandoned it for other pursuits.

It would be a long time before I picked up the needles again! Back in 2006, I suddenly had the urge to knit Jamie a scarf. I had in my possession a wonderful red-and-white striped scarf that Gran had knitted for Dad, many years previously, to wear to the rugby (red and white being the Welsh team colours, of course). It's a whopping 75" long, 8" wide, with alternating 2" stripes.

I had bought myself a fleece scarf branded with my rugby club’s logo, but Jamie didn’t have one for his team. Rather than buy one from the Ospreys’ shop, I thought “I know, I’ll knit him one, like Gran knit one for Dad”. I rushed out to the shop (in this case Jacksons, the wonderfully old-fashioned department store in town that has a craft section, including a huge yarn selection. Think Are You Being Served but less camp) and bought knitting needles and yarn. Black and white yarn. I have no idea what yarn it is; I suspect it is acrylic of some kind.

Armed with my purchase and printed instructions on how to knit and purl from the internet, I set about re-learning how to cast on, and do basic knit stitches. I also did a brief tutorial in colour changing, as the team’s strip that year was black with white stripes. The end result was this rather ugly scarf:

Which, while warm, is too wide and too short to be really useful. It’s quite stiff fabric, and it feels a bit like a neck brace when you wear it! However, during the process of making it I found myself bitten with the knitting bug.

A second scarf, from a fun scarf knitting kit, proved to be my undoing. Stupid novelty yarn! This was a disaster. I started out by casting on too many stitches, and stubbornly refusing to start over. I dropped stitches everywhere. Eventually I abandoned it and went back to painting miniatures and cross-stitch to get my creative fix.

See, I did finish it eventually
 Fast-forward a couple of years. As part of a Christmas gift, Jamie’s parents gave me two scarf-knitting kits. I started working on them; Fontana stalled massively. Marbella was lots of fun, although I needed the assistance of my knitting friend Em to cast on the crazy novelty yarn. For my birthday last year, though, I was gifted a pattern for a bag (future MiL knows I like bags, you see) as the pre-made version she had intended to get me was sold before she could buy it. So she figured if she got me the pattern, I could make my own!

Having never crocheted before, I ran straight to my knitting friends and cried for help. Luckily, Tams does crochet, so she showed me the basics, and encouraged me to give it a go. “It’s easier than knitting!” she said. And she was right.

I used exactly the yarn and hook specified. I got horrendously confused, because I’d learned crochet stitches from the Stitch ‘n’ Bitch Happy Hooker book (US terms) and the pattern was from Simply Knitting (UK terms). My first square came out huge because I’d used US trebles instead of UK trebles! After a short while peering at the pattern photos, I soon figured out what the problem was, and quickly rattled out 24 blocks.

I was hooked. And I’ve gone from strength to strength through the year, constantly looking for new projects to challenge me.

As you can see, I’ve accomplished quite a lot! There’s still plenty to learn though, so this next year will be about trying new patterns, branching out into more complicated amigurumis, and trying my hand at knitting beautiful lace shawls.

Don’t forget, this post is part of KnitCroBlo Week, search in Google for “2KCBWDAY2” to find out what other new skills have been learned this year!


  1. Wow, you have done amazing stuff in just a year, I'm very impressed!

  2. Your FOs look great. Fun fur can be a pain for knitting although I found it is ok for crochet (you can poke the hook in anywhere and it will be hidden by the fluff). I have been caught out by the UK/US crochet terms too

  3. I love that bag & those cushions :)

  4. I am incredibly pleased with the cushions and how they turned out. They make such a difference, turning an old ugly sofa into a thing of beauty!

  5. While I find crochet is easier, that's a function of me and not the craft. As your wonderful FOs attest, it's actually a pretty darned difficult and intricate craft - and really difficult in which to design!

    Love your foll0w-the-magic-arrow pic! And dive into those lovely lace shawls - you'll be so glad you did.

  6. Love your map of progression!!

  7. I love your diagram - you really have come a long way.

    I've always wondered - a lot of people decide to take up crochet/knitting, buy supplies from a chain store, start a project and then never finish and forget all about it. But for others (like me), it becomes almost a part of them, something they need to do, something they can't imagine not doing. I wonder what the difference is in people, some can just take it or leave it, whilst others 'get it bad' right from the start.

    If you've come so far this year, can you imagine how far you're going to go next year? The possibilities ...

  8. You sure have accomplished a lot! Kudos to you. Love your diagram. BTW, I don't think the black scarf is ugly. I like how you added the white stripes into it.

  9. I love the black and white scarf, elegant.

  10. Glad you like the pic, I had fun putting it together. I'm looking forward to the lace, although I need to finish up a few WIPs before I start on anything new...

  11. Glad you like it, I loved making it!

  12. I think my progress this year looks far more impressive in that diagram than it seems to me! I get like this with most new exciting projects, but often my interest wanes after a period of time (maybe a year or so), so it is interesting that I haven't yet lost interest in crochet/knitting. I think the massive online community helps keep me going!

  13. I was insanely pleased with the stripes when I made it!

    Sadly, it's seen more service as a cat blanket than a scarf! If I did it again I'd do a much better job, I think.


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