Learning to knit and "mancrafts"

by Liz Beavis

Since my first knitting attempts last winter, I've been determined to learn more.  I do have a history of giving up on things that I am not able to master immediately, so it takes a concerted effort for me to keep picking up the needles and having a go.  I keep having to remind myself that the ladies who are knitting the lovely items that I admire in blog-land ( here and here and here and here) probably didn't just pick up needles and learn how to do clever lace stitches overnight (if you did, please don't burst my bubble, its the only thing keeping me going)!  I seem to be improving just enough to keep motivated, and my ultimate goal is to learn how to knit a vest.  


the completed cowl


So far I have made the headband/ear warmer last winter and this year I have made a cowl "in the round", although it ended up twisted, apparently this can be done intentionally to make a "mobius cowl", and I'm glad I learnt that it could happen on something that didn't matter too much either way!  I don't think a beanie will work if I twist it.  I love knitting in the round because you just keep going around and around and don't have to remember where you're up to :)


Since I finished the cowl, I watched lots of youtube videos and worked out ribbing (turns out I was purling wrong, never realised that it mattered which way you wound the wool around, important details!) and I've finished another cowl/short neck warmer thingy with buttons this time.  Slowly I'm gaining all the skills I need for a vest - I've also bought a couple of vest pattern books from op shops, so I am trying to learn each of the techniques that will be required.  And the local market has a haberdashery stall with lots of wool and needles, so I've stocked up on practice wool and various necessary tools.  However, I only just realised the wool comes in different plys or weights, so much to learn before I'm ready for that vest!!!

changing colour!

And I figured out ribbing!!
I've been trying to find a mentor at work, but none of the ladies will admit to being a knitting genius.  One lady asked why I was bothering because it would be cheaper to just buy a scarf.  I don't even know how to answer these questions, they totally put me off because I can't believe that someone can't see the value in learning a new skill, that can be used to produce unique and local clothing, to occupy me while I'm just watching TV anyway, and may even be a survival tool in the event that we can no longer buy cheap clothing made in China (also its not cheaper when I buy the wool from the market and op shops!).

And this is another finished cowl with buttons :)
This what I'm aiming for....

And then to challenge myself even further, Linda from the Greenhaven Goodlife kindly sent me some wool and needles to make socks as part of her one year anniversary giveaway following on from Linda's own sock knitting successes.  For some reason she said it wasn't that difficult!!!!  

It took me three goes just to get started on the double-pointed needles, but I think I've got it now, it might end up being a very long sock as I keep going around and around before I get up the courage to start the heel.  Fortunately I've found some more brilliant tutorials on youtube which have really helped as I find the patterns really hard to decipher!  I'm starting to feel quite confident with my knitting, so its been worth persevering, actually its starting to become a little addictive....

When I brought out the knitting needles, Pete decided it was time for some "mancraft" of his own.  We had bought some new rope for tying things onto the back of the ute (when owning a ute, a collection of ropes and straps is essential and ours were wearing out).  Instead of buying synthetic rope, we bought a 100m roll of sisal rope (this stuff is fascinating, read more here, it wasn't much cheaper to buy 20m, so we just bought a big roll).  

As sisal is a natural fibre rather than synthetic, you can't just burn the ends to stop it from fraying, you have to whip the ends old-style.  Pete found instructions on this site useful, and has made several ropes of different lengths and with nice loops at one end. These rope ends should last better than the synthetic ropes, that always seem to start to fray eventually.  Also when the rope is worn out we can just put it in the compost, as it is a natural fibre.  So while I've been knitting, Pete has been sitting by the fire whipping ropes, next he'll start whittling clothes pegs or something, got to love those mancrafts!

Farmer Pete's rope

Finished end

What craft are you working on at the moment?

See below Amazon Affiliate links for a few knitting books that I find useful including the one I mentioned above.  If you buy through these links I get a small commission at no extra cost for you.  If you're reading this on email or blog reader, you will need to visit my blog to see all the links.

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