Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Feel The Fear & Knit It Anyway

Is there anything knitting-wise that scares you? Proper, huge spider in the bathroom-like tribulation? Knitting is a craft that even if you spend your whole life perfecting it there will always be something new to learn. Whether it's a different type of cast-on, stitches or cable and lace, new pattern introduces different challenges.

Usually, with the help of the pattern's written instructions and video tutorials on the internet, techniques that are new to you are relatively easy to pick up, even if it does involve pulling your knitting out and having another go a few times before you get the knack. But is there something you put off because you find it really, really hard and it's much simpler to knit yet another stocking stitch jumper?

Bressay image courtesy of Marie Wallin
Sound familiar? I'll share my fear with you. It's Fair Isle/intarsia colour work. I've had a go a few times with not great results. With intarsia I never seem to twist the different coloured yarns properly to avoid a hole, plus I get the various bobbins all mixed up. With Fair Isle I find it difficult following the charts - particularly if they're not in colour, and end up pulling the yarns too tight or not tight enough.

Still I pore longingly at jumper patterns with Fair Isle yokes. They look stunning and the sort of knitwear that I'd treasure for life and would never go out of style. So it's time to put aside the easy stuff that passes the EastEnders test (can I knit it easily in front of the TV without losing the drama plot or my place in the pattern?) and bite the bullet.

My chosen design is Marie Wallin's Bressay jumper from her Shetland collection that I blogged about last year. It's gorgeous and the yarn from Jamieson's of Shetland cost me just under £60. I wouldn't be able to buy a proper wool jumper made in the UK on the high street for that.

On the right you'll see what it's supposed to look like. The jumper is knitted from the bottom up and, with 2ply wool on a 3.25mm circular needle, is time-consuming. Soon however I'll be up to the colour work part and that's when the fun will begin!

Fellow knitters on Marie Wallin's Ravelry forum have been very encouraging with advice and support. I'm determined that I'll finish Bressay in time for Christmas and not let it languish on my needles because it's too much like hard work.

Mind you, when it's finished I've no excuse to face my next fear, which is steeking. Cutting my knitting? Nooo!!

Do you have a knitting fear? What are you most proud of knitting? Let us know in the comments below or share a picture on our Facebook page.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Is Making Things A Rival To Ravelry?

Making Things, billed as a new contender to Ravelry, launched on October 30th promising a 'clunk-free' alternative to pattern downloads. For a monthly fee, currently $11.99 (approximately £9.25), subscribers have unlimited access to a pattern library from independent designers and digital tools such as row highlighters to help the knitting process.

Vatsland jumper image courtesy
of Ella Gordon Designs
To gain full access to the website you need to subscribe, making it difficult to decide whether it's worth it or not. Unlike Netflix, which the site compares its subscription service to, there is no free trial on offer.

Scrolling down Making Things' patterns library I found some Ella Gordon sweaters I'd certainly be interested in knitting. The photographs of all the patterns are certainly high quality.

Users can search for a pattern if they already know what it's called, or alternatively can type in a designer's name. I tried a few well-known names such as Marie Wallin, Kate Davies and Karie Westermann, but it seems they aren't currently taking part. The search term 'fair isle' only produced one result, a hat from Vogue Knitting.

It's clearly early days for Making Things who are hoping to attract many more designers to their business.

So if the hook is unlimited pattern access, video tutorials (at the moment covering basic stitches such as knit two together and yarn over purlwise) and pattern support for subscribers, what's in it for the designers? Making Things says that their service has been developed with the input of over 500 knitters, crotcheters and designers. receive. Half the subscription fee goes to the website with the other half to designers, but it's not clear how Making Things will differentiate between a pattern users have browsed and ones they've knitted up.

Is it worth subscribing?

In my opinion, if you enjoy browsing designs, are looking for new patterns to knit and are happy reading patterns on a screen (patterns aren't downloadable) then it's worth a go for a month.

At the moment. however, I've decided I won't subscribe. This is for three reasons:

  1. I have lots of patterns I've already paid for that I want to knit.
  2. Making Things is new and as yet can't compare with the choice on Ravelry.
  3. I prefer printed patterns I can scribble on rather than reading a pattern on a screen.

It's certainly worth keeping an eye on Making Things though to see how it develops.

What's your opinion on Making Things? Have your say in the comments box below or on A Woolly Yarn's Facebook page.

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