Knitting Camp 17

Not this past weekend but the weekend before that I went to my first ever NSW Knitter’s Guild camp. Camp is held every 2 years. Knitters and crocheters from across the state come together for a weekend of fun and relaxation. It is not what some would think “Granny Camp” as we had members age from 17 – 90 with a lot I would say in their mid 30’s – 40’s.  This year we had a guest knitting artist (yes I would consider her an artist as what she produces is amazing) Norah Gaughan who joined us for the weekend. Norah is a really nice person and I have been told was an amazing speaker.

So what happens at knitting camp? Over the weekend a series of free workshops and talks are held that members can participate in if they wish. If you don’t want to attend any of the organised events you can just sit and knit and enjoy the company of others who all share the same interest as you. Oh and you can always shop.. Who wouldn’t want to shop for yarn supplies. On the first day we had yarn retailers set up shop in a room for the day and members could shop as they pleased throughout the day. I brought a few extra knitting needles that day to continue making WIRES pouches. On the second day Guild members who owned shops or a business set up and sold their items. I may have gone a little crazy that day. After saying no no I don’t buy more special yarn as I never do anything with it I managed to come home with some yarn. The 2 plain blue skeins are called Smurfette, how could you not fall in love with them. For some random reason the magenta yarn also appealed to me and I am not a pink person but it felt so soft (it is silk) Each of these will become some sort of shawl I think.

I attended 2 workshops over the weekend. The first was on continental knitting. Continental knitting is a style where you hold your working yarn with your left hand to make your stitches. You form your stitches in a slightly different way to regular knitting as your working yarn is coming from a different direction. Once you get used to it this style is a faster way to knit. As I crochet holding the yarn in my left hand wasn’t an issue but working it around the needles felt all foreign. It is one of those things the more you practice it the more natural it will feel. I will do a dishcloth or something simple to get myself started on it I think.

The second workshop I did was with Wendy McDougall  a professional photographer who has snapped many great Australian bands as well as Australian identities. I really want to improve my photography skills so that I can take better photos of the items I make so it was an awesome experience to do a workshop with an industry professional. Wendy went through ways to take great shots and gave us heaps of tips. We went outside and practiced what she taught us, it was fun putting theory into practice. Inside she set up some lights and a backdrop and we got to take photos in a professional type photo shoot. You would never think a photography workshop would be at knitting camp but it was perfect for us who want to take photos of our work for Instagram or our blogs or those who just want to capture for their own private memories items they have made. You work so hard in making nice things it is lovely to have photos to remember them by as most of us give away a lot of things we make.

One member Kris Howard gave a talk “Knit One Compute One” . It was a really interesting talk and I do urge you to go and watch it, this is the shorter version but there are longer ones if you google it. She went through the similarities between knitting and computer coding. In my day job I do some code writing and it had never occurred to me that it was like a knitting pattern, every time I write a code a work now I shall have a slight grin on my face and think of knitting. Kris talked about how different people across the world are combing codes into knitting patterns, I really want to do something with a code in it now.

We played games at camp including knitting blind folded which I just had to have a go of because it sounded fun, you can see an Instagram photo here. We were allowed to see our needles to cast on and do the first row then the blindfolds went on and for 3 minutes we knitted. If you are used to not looking at your work all the time but feel the stitches on the needle like a lot of us do it was pretty easy to do, the hard part was working with such large needles I am used to 4mm not 12mm which felt like broom handles in my fingers.

Our sleeping quarters had bunk beds. The last time I slept on bunk beds was over 10 years ago on Contiki, I had forgotten how small they are. We were basically only using the rooms for sleeping so it didn’t matter. I do apologise again to my roommates for my snoring though…

Camp was a lot of fun. I can’t wait for the next one in 2 years time. It was great to have a weekend where you just sat around eating, knitting and crocheting. You have a chance to indulge in yarn porn, that is correct I had a lovely sweet old lady who would be in her 70’s tell me she told her friend there is yarn porn at camp, you look at the yarn, you stroke the yarn and then decide to keep it or not….. I want to be like that lady when I am in my 70’s.



Knitted WIRES Pouches

I have been knitting the outer pouches for WIRES for a number of years. The outer pouches need to be made from 100% wool so that the animals once placed in cloth pouch linings can still breathe inside this outer pouch. A rescue career only goes through about one of these outer pouches a day per animal as opposed to the 5-6 they go through of the inner pouch linings.

I could never find set a knitting pattern only guidelines on finished size and needle size so over the years I have been knitting these various ways. I started by knitting 2 squares and seaming them along the 2 sides and bottom to make up the pouch until I realised if I knitted one big rectangle and folded it in half I wouldn’t have to do a bottom seam only side seams. Over the years the way I do my seams has changed I have tried whip stitch, blanket stitch, backstitch and in recent times I have been crocheting my seams together with a chain stitch. I have a tendency to knit my rectangles and once the piece is off my needles place it in a bag waiting to be seamed. I only remember to the seams when I’m due to send of some of the cloth linings off and scramble to see if any of the outer bags are complete. I thought there has to be a better way.

Over the last couple of months I have been doing a lot of knitting and searching out knitting patterns when I started thinking about the way the pouches are constructed and wondered if they can be done on circular needles. I did a quick google search and it turns out yes someone has now put instructions on how to do them on circular needles!

I had some cable needles in my stash but unfortunately they were too big (I didn’t know about the magic loop method) Once I cast on my stitches I couldn’t easily join them in the round as my cable was too long and my needles kept getting in the way. I went to Morris and Sons to see if they had smaller cables. They suggested I try a 40cm Knit Pro one with smaller length needles

The needles are so tiny only measuring just over 6cm from the cable connection point. The shop assistant warned some knitter’s don’t like using them as they are so very short. This is when she mentioned the magic loop method and demonstrated it for me. I decided to try the small needles and cable and turn to magic loop using my existing cables if it didn’t work.

Once you cast on your stitches it looks like it won’t fit around to make the loop easily but remembering knitting stretches and these are tiny needle it works. There looks like there is a small little gap when you join your loop but they that closes up once you get into your second round.

When I knitted my pouches previously I knitted over my tail end in the second row so it was one less end to weave in at the finish. You can do the same thing with this method. Even though your working on a small cable and shorter needles it isn’t fiddly. I like the feel of it in my hands. Every so often you need to slide the work around the cable when you feel like your starting to pull the stitches, that is easy to do and you get in the habit of regularly doing it even before it starts to pull.

The reason I decided to try circular needles was so I only had one seam to do at the end which was the bottom seam to close the pouch off. The amazing shop assistant suggested I could do a 3 needle bind off which avoid having to do a bottom seam. I couldn’t believe it I could actually make a pouch in one hit with no additional seams at the end!

Comparing the 2 methods of making the pouches the circular needles are defiantly the method I am using now. I must admit previously I was probably making my pouches a little large as I wasn’t sure how much they would come in once my seams were done. With straight needles I occasionally loose stitches or gain stitches the rectangles are not always straight therefore once seamed sometimes looks misshapen.

With no side seams or bottom seam they are much lighter and less bulkier. The top of my pouch has curled a little and just reading the instructions now it says to purl so many rows at the start I’m guess that would so stop the curl. To be honest I am probably not going to do that. One of the reasons why I love knitting pouches is that you can go on auto pilot and you only have to measure once you know it is coming to the length you need. The curl is only small and doesn’t really make that much of impact.

Pouches on circular needles is a life changer for me. I am actually doing more knitting of them now as I can pick up the needles and do a few stitches any time I have free. I don’t have to worry about finishing at row or turning my work. One thing I did find was it was easier to cast on my stitches using the cable as one needle and using the 3rd needle as a second needle to cast on. The way I see it is that I’m going to be casting off one pouch and casting on another immediately so that 3rd needle is out anyway. I still have a few rectangles that need to be seamed up but all future pouches will be made this way. I may even invest in a second set of these smaller needles so that I will always have a pouch at a stage where I can just knit and not have to worry how long until I need to cast off, this is particularly important if I am taking my knitting out to a café or events with me.






Double Knitting – First Attempt

Double knitting is something I had never tried before, last weekend one of the very talented knitters in my Knitters Guild group ran a workshop on it so I had the chance to learn how to do it.

In double knitting you are knitting a double thickness of fabric. The way that you switch your yarns and stitches results in only the purl stitches (smooth looking stitches) showing on the outside of your work. It sounds complicated to get your head around and you cast on with 2 strands of yarn but treat them as one stitch which adds to the confusion. After the first few rows it starts to make sense. You can use this technique to make each side of the fabric a different colour the entire piece or  you can twist your yarn colours around to form patterns within the piece. The result in a negative image of the pattern on the reverse side of the piece. In our workshop we worked off a chart to create a picture of a house. I only got the first half dozen or so rows done but I can see the picture starting to develop.

Prior to the workshop I had seen items done with the negative image in reverse and I really liked it but I had no idea what it was called or how to do it. I really like double knitting now that I have learnt how to do it. To be honest I am not going to finish the house, I used scrap yarn and will take it off my needles and return it to my scrap yarn bag. I do want to try this technique on a dishcloth or maybe get some 8 or 12 ply wool and make a hot pad trivet with it for the kitchen. It is very slow technique to work up in that you have to keep changing the yarn colours between your fingers and switching between knit and purl stitches. You have to really concrete on what you are doing so you don’t make a mistake in your pattern which means no auto knitting. I guess depending on the thickness of the yarn you use and how long you want to spend doing it you could make clothing other than scarves with the technique. I don’t think I would even have the attention span to do a scarf in it, a trivet I can handle.


Valiant Cowl

I have recently discovered Noro Tokonatsu yarn, it is a mixture of silk, cotton and viscose. It was love at first touch as it is so soft. I had no idea what I would make so I brought 3 balls of light blue colour which is Shade 7 from Morris and Sons.

I went on Ravelry to have a look for patterns. If you haven’t heard of Ravelry and you like to knit or crochet I urge you to go check it out. Ravelry is like a combination of Pinterest and Pattern Review but for yarn based projects. You can find lots of patterns and links for any yarn project you can think of. I did a search of Tokonatsu and found this wonderful little pattern by Doris & Wilfred designs that just happened to be made in the shade colour I had.

This is a really great pattern to make. I have never followed a 8 row repeat of a pattern before which is how this cowl is made but it was really easy to do. This pattern only uses stocking stitch (one row knit, one row purl) To make the elongated pattern you wrap the yarn around the needle one row then drop all the stitches the next row. I have never done anything like this before but it was very simple.

To make it easier for myself I actually wrote out the instructions for each row so at a quick glance I could see what I needed to do. I was using a clicker to keep track of my rows but I also kept a written tally. I added an extra 2½ pattern repeats to what the pattern says to do. When I finished the in total 9 pattern repeats the pattern said to knit it just wasn’t long enough for me so I added the extra on. Confession I did have a minor brain snap on my about 5th or 6th last row and dropped the loops doing the wrong stitch but you don’t even notice it. I’d put the cowl down and forgot to click and tally down my row so when I picked it up again my row count didn’t match what I needed to do. To join the ends to make it circular  I did a single crochet stitch seam.


This pattern only uses a single 50g ball of yarn. Even with the extra rows I added I still only just used the one. When I brought the yarn the staff from Morris and Sons said I could return any yarn I didn’t use so I’m going to take the remain 2 balls back and swap it for other colours.



Knit Like A Viking Workshop

Viking knitting was a concept I had never heard of but when the Knitter’s Guild NSW advertised they were doing a workshop on it saying you would knit with wire and make a bracelet I thought it sounded interesting so I decided to do the workshop.

The workshop was run by Angharad Rixon, she is textile historian who has taught both in Australia and overseas. She was a fantastic teacher so if you ever get the chance to do a workshop with her I urge you too. She is very patient and helpful. The workshop was broken into 2 parts – the morning she taught us 2 basic stitches and in the afternoon we made our real piece.


To me viking knitting is more like a weaving than knitting. You don’t use knitting needles to make up your piece instead you use a piece of dowl that you attach anchor wire to and weave you work through on that. It is almost like a loom.  The stitches we were taught was single knit and double knit.


In the single knit you worked your piece up by placing your wire through the stitches on the row above to create your links. We started with 4 links and worked our way down the dowl. Just like regular knitting you can accidently skip stitches which is what I did as well as many of the others in the class. If you skip a stitch you then go down to 3 links. We all seemed to have the same problem and that was getting our work messed up when we came to working over where we joined the wire. You work with a piece of wire about the length of your arm so you have to add in new pieces numerous times to make your item. Once we got our piece to 10cm long we removed it from the dowl and did the magic. The magic is that you pull your piece through a series of holes in a piece of wood starting at 10mm and going down in size. Each hole you go through stretches out your work and evens out the links. Once you have run it through the holes your final piece all comes together and it looks neater even if you haven’t done such a neat job in creating it. After we performed the magic we measured our piece again and noted down how long it now was and what size equipment we used (dowl size, wire gauge, how many links we started with) This was like our test swatch.


The double knit is a little bit more tricky. You work the wire on the stitch 2 rows above. The work is more dense as there is less gaps as you are working over the rows. We again made a 10cm test swatch and again many of us skipped a stitch. Just like regular knitting tension plays a bit part. I’m a tight knitter and crocheter and turns out I’m a tight viking knitter too. You need to relax and leave your work fairly loose so that you can see easily see the stitches and work into the rows. I skipped a stitch making the double and Angharad actually had frog it back (yes you can frog in viking knitting) to start me off again. After that I got the hang of it and didn’t get so confused working over my joins. I think I just needed to relax and once I did it became easier. You are meant to do your stitches in a single smooth movement each time. It places less stress on the wire if you can keep your movement fluid like and not handle the wire too much. Once I got into that rhythm I was fine.


In the afternoon we worked on our bracelets. We used a silver or copper wire which was a thinner wire than our test pieces. To get us back into the rhythm we all started on some of the coloured wire we worked with in the morning than changed to the thinner wire after that. We were supposed to make the bracelets in double knit but could do single knit if we wanted. I chose the single knit as I wanted to get the hang of it and actually finish a piece in the time frame we had. On the bracelet I had no trouble with my joins, I started with 5 links and finished with 5 links so I never skipped a stitch. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. We were supposed to cut the colour wire off once we finished but I opted to leave mine on as my bracelet was long enough with it on and I wanted to see how we finish the actual piece. Blue and silver I’m happy to have a bracelet like that. When I left the workshop the only thing I needed to do on my bracelet was stitch the bracelet together and glue over the cover. Sewing the end closed with wire was an interesting concept, it took me a few minutes to get used to my wire thread but then I got the feel of it and was able to thread it through easier. I squeezed the area narrow until the cover fitted over it then applied E6000 glue to it.

The workshop was fantastic. I really enjoyed it. It was fun to work with wire. I’d love to do viking knitting again. It is technique I would use. I already have ideas running through my head. I need to make a wood magic board to run my pieces through and I already have ideas on how I’m going to make it.


Knit One Below Dishcloth

I have a gift I want to make this year but it involved a stitch I’d never tried before Knit One Below (K1B) I can only do basic knit and purl so I had to learn this new stitch. Thanks to Pinterest and YouTube I found this clip which explains it. Once it is explained it is actually very easy. Instead of placing your working needle (the needle the stitch is going onto) into the stitch as you normally would do, you place your working needle into the stitch below and knit the stitch dropping both stitches as it passes onto the working needle. Watch the clip it explains it a lot better than I do 🙂 After a couple of minutes of practice I got the hang of it.

Knit One Below Stitch Dishcloth

I decided to test out the pattern I’ll be using and make a dishcloth from it. It was easy enough to do and I like the texture of it. I can’t just knit something unless it is going to be used so dishcloths are great to practice new stitches and patterns on. If the stitch isn’t perfect it doesn’t matter as the cloth will still clean your dishes regardless and really you can’t have too many dishcloths.


2016 Plans

In 2016 I have a lot of crafty plans


As in previous years I’m going to continue making all my gifts so I have lots of sewing and knitting planned. I have put some thought into this and have decided to do things a little differently than in previous years. I’m going to keep Christmas gifts very simple. If possible I’m going to make the same gift for every child in the family. At Christmas kids are getting so many gifts from Santa, their parents, family, friends that it can be very overwhelming for them, I think one or maybe two simpler gifts is better. By making the same gift for all the kids I can also do batch sewing a bit more and organise my sewing time better. For their birthdays I’ll focus on the individual child more and do things to their interest or personality. I can make them more complicated gifts. I’ve written my list of whom I’m making for both Christmas and birthdays. I’ve noted down what I’d like to make each person. There are a few gaps on my list but for the majority of gifts I know what I need and to make and by when.

Polar Fleece

I’m going to continue working through my fabric stash where possible. Some of the gifts on my 2016 lists needed special fabric or large quantities and I was lucky to get most of the fabric required discounted in the post Christmas sales. Now it is on hand I can start to make Christmas gifts throughout the year. For the rest of my gifts I should have the fabric already within my stash or I can adapt fabric in my stash to suit so Sew My Stash 2015 has turned into Sew My Stash 2016.

Craft Gadgets

In 2015 I didn’t get to my craft gadgets but this year that will change. I’m going to spend the necessary time trying to work them out. I think mostly it will be a matter of watching as many Youtube clips so I can pick up pointers then getting out the machine / gadget reading all instructions and having a play. I tend to freak out if I don’t understand how to operate or use an item. I have to stop, take a breath and realise you can’t just master something without first practicing. This year they will not beat me.

Sunny CAL

In March I will be starting Sunny CAL 2016 where I will start the Sunny Log Cabin blanket by Lucy from Attic 24. This is going to be a big challenge for me as I have never attempted any crochet project like this. I’m not how long this will take me but I’m going to do it (even if I’m still blogging about each week leading up to Christmas) If you would like to join me in making this I’d love to have your company.

I’m going to openly be a little more indulgent this year and internally plan on making myself some items. I did do a little selfish sewing in 2015 with bags and skirts but they happened on almost a whim. This year I wish to make myself among other things a sewing machine cover for my MC11000, a top and a tiny essentials tote.

Day 1


One of my biggest plans is to get more organised. I’m not talking about just writing a list I mean sorting out my sewing spaces and being able to find things without having to move stacks of stuff from my ironing board just to use it. I’m known to misplace my rotary cutter 2 minutes after using it. Anything I’m unable to use, not going to use or don’t need I’m going to get rid of. In my life “outside” craft I’m doing a lot of decluttering and sorting out so I’m bringing that into my “craft life” too. It’s all within the same space within my house so it makes sense. I also want to stocktake what items and patterns I have so I don’t purchase the same one twice.

Alpaca Yarn

I need to stop buying things on a whim particularly yarn. I’m guilty of seeing something, feeling it thinking wow that would look so nice as… Truth is I’m unlikely to knit it or in the case of craft items use it. By now I realistically know what types of craft I do and what products I use. Unless I know the particular project I’m going to use an item for and the timeframe that it will be made in I’m not going to buy it. This includes magazines and books.

These aren’t New Years Resolutions as I’m a big believer of why waiting until Jan 1 to start a new way of thinking or behaviour. The truth is over the Christmas period I’ve already started to tidy some of my craft areas due to some recent storage I’ve gotten, these are just my main plans for 2016.

Has anyone else made craft plans for 2016? I would love to hear what they are.