Friday, April 2, 2010

Knitting - the perfect antidote to the Irish winter

After years of abstinence, I have taken up knitting again in the past few years - I already posted on an earlier project here. I knit primarily in the winter, which as any of you familiar with Ireland know is a grim affair that calls for endless reserves of creativity and diversionary tactics, some good and some not so good, depending on your perspective.

Examples of the latter abound - vegging out on the couch watching late night trash TV, overeating every kind of calorific comfort food, and risking rickets from lack of the Sunshine Vitamin D, and osteoporosis from lack of any meaningful weight-bearing exercise - a walk around the block with the dog or to the shops for the paper at the weekends is as good as that gets.

The former - reading all those books you didn't get to bring on your summer beach holiday in the sun thanks to the punitive Ryanair restrictions on luggage and the second mortgage you'd need if you decided to bring a few blockbusters that took you into excess baggage territory. And blogging - it seems to be more a winter activity, sitting in front of the computer of an evening, whereas if it's daylight till 11pm there's an imperative to be out and doing, or agonise about wasting the daylight. Baking comes into winter activities as well, as it seems to go with the comfort eating the bad weather induces.

As usual I went off on a tangent there - but it does come back to knitting in a roundabout way. I find it relaxing and enjoyable and I can multi-task nicely - knitting goes well with reading and watching TV so I can incorporate a number of the above-listed activities -even the eating fits in!

I've been having a ball knitting little baby clothes for Sofia - a matinée jacket with a bonnet or two, and another bonnet in progress right now - and I've made a few hats for myself, along with a few scarves and the furry waistcoat I showed in my last knitting post. The more intricate patterns of the baby clothes are a nice challenge and it's very satisfying to get the desired results.

You can see some photos of them being modelled by Sofia and myself. One of the caps (the blue random-dyed cotton one) was a new style, knitted on 4 double-pointed needles from the crown to the brim, in a sock-like circle. I was pleased it worked out and it's very cosy, down to even looking like a tea-cosy!

I've been having fun this past week showing our old friend Tandy how to knit - she is a whiz at crochet but knitting was new territory for her, so we spent the evenings she was here when we weren't otherwise occupied clacking away at the knitting.

I showed her the rudiments of casting on and off, which she practiced to perfection, both the thumb and two needle methods, and then she did samplers of garter stitch and of stocking stitch. I have this book which seems to have American knitting terminology and I've had to do some mental adjustments - Casting off is Binding off in this book, and Stocking stitch is Stockinette stitch. Everything is well illustrated so I should be able to cope.

I have some knitter followers - should that be Knitters on Twitter? - and I love their blogposts on their craft, but they are so advanced I feel quite inadequate - then I remember all the fancy stuff I did over 20 years ago when the kids were small - Aran jumpers with their intricate textured patterns - Moss stitch, Blackberry stitch, Cable stitches of every variation - and themed jumpers (sweaters) with cartoon characters - Dennis the Menace of Beano fame and Desperate Dan of Dandy fame -beloved of me in my childhood and a generation later their appeal to our boys was no less diminished.


Rudee said...

I'm hoping my comment didn't get lost. It did an odd thing when I posted. Suffice it to say, I think the matinee jacket looks fairly intricate!! Now go knit her an Aran piece to keep forever.

Stephanie V said...

It's lovely that Sofia has a knitting Gran. She looks so sweet in her wee jacket. Baby clothes are a great way to get back to knitting. And they can be pretty darn sophisticated and complex so don't sell yourself short.
I would love to have seen those Aran sweaters. Cables are my first love.

Jeannette StG said...

The baby jacket is adorable! And you look very comfortable with that hat! Knitting is something oe never forgets -and grand children is a good reason to take it up again:)
Happy Easter, Catherine!

Musings of a Mother said...

I loved knitting as a child, you've just reminded me how enjoyable it ca be, I'll have to get myself some needles again. Baby Sofia is just gorgeous x

Peggy said...

Hi Catherine,all of your knits look beautiful!I had also given up knitting for years until the grandchildren came along.It is very satisfying to cast on a piece and finish it a couple of hours later which you can with baby clothes.The hats are bang in fashion too!

Babaloo said...

I am in awe! Everything looks great! I could just about knit a scarf but that's about it.
Hope you're having a nice Easter weekend!

Mise said...

The knitted hats are lovely, much nicer than the ubiquitous jersey beanies in the shops.

Gill - That British Woman said...

thanks for popping by, and commenting. I wish I could knit, just not talented enough for that!!

A belated birthday to your son from me, we had thought our son would be born on the 3rd, but he dragged it out to the 4th!!

Happy Easter to you and your family,

Gill in Canada

Winifred said...

Hello Catherine, thanks for visiting me via Rudee, well not literally!

Like you I've taken to the needles again after quite a long time. Working full time has a detrimental effect on hobbies doesn't it.

Long time since we visited Waterford but we thoroughly enjoyed it. Your winter sounds as bad as ours and you don't feel so guilty sitting knitting in winter. As you say a great deterrent to the grey and murky days and you can multi task too to reduce the guilt!

Catherine said...

Thanks everyone for your kind comments - truly inspiring me to keep on knitting! I'll try to respond to you all.

RUDEE - I wish I had your skill level - spinning and weaving is something I could only aspire to even though when we lived in Lao I loved watching the locals weaving away, every household had a loom and the work was amazing. Thankfully I have some lovely pieces,including silk "sin", the trad wraparound skirts with intricate woven borders. I might just knit an Aran for Sofia - but they can be very scratchy if they're the real thing, you know, oily sheepswool with bits of hedge in the wool is what I grew up with! I love the socks over your way.
All the best, Catherine

Catherine said...

STEPHANIE V - I might have a go at the Aran sometime - I'm getting slowly back to intricate patterns and I used to love cable. Maybe Im growing into being a granny with all this knitting - but that's just pandering to the stereotype of knitters being oldie grannies - lots of young knitters out there too!
Thanks for your faithful feedback!

Catherine said...

JEANNETTE - yes knitting is a bit like the old bike riding - you never forget it, and I am enjoying it. That blue hat is very comfy and it was knitted in a circle with 4 needles, something I didn't know I could accomplish so I was chuffed. I am getting hooked and I did enjoy teaching my friend Tandy knitting basics last week, she's still at it back home now!

Catherine said...

LASTOFTHEMOJITOS - yes Sofia is gorgeous isn't she? And you're one of the young generation who like knitting - I'm delighted that it's enjoying such a resurgence so good luck with getting those knitting needles going again

Catherine said...

PEGGY - the speed of the knitting is a big draw, I am at another bonnet now with a diamondy pattern. photo will no doubt follow! Yes the hats are practical in this awful weather as well as being funky, that's the kind of comment I've been getting with them. It's a bit dispiriting to see hats in Penneys for a Euro or two but there's a lot of satisfaction in making your own - a bit like growing your own!

Catherine said...

BABALOO - don't be intimidated by the intricacies, if you have ever knitted you could easily do these things, specially the hats, the white one is dead easy and even the blue one too, once I got used to knitting in the round with 4 needles. When I took it up a few years ago (after doing loads of stuff when the kids were small) I began with scarves. Good luck!

Catherine said...

MISE - thanks for joining my band of followers - I look forward to reading your posts too. Yes the beanie type hats are pretty ubiquitous and cheap as chips but they don't give quite the same buzz as the home-grown variety! Hope you had a nice Easter.

Catherine said...

GILL - thanks for visiting and hope you enjoyed Easter as well as your son's birthday - hope Canada is having some kind of a spring, we thought we were and even had a BBQ a couple of weeks ago and now it's back to winter weather - lashing rain for Easter Monday even though yesterday was nice and windy and dry till the evening. Look forward to reading more of your blog.

Catherine said...

WINIFRED - nice to have links via other blog followers and Rudee puts the bar very high with her knitting! Yes work intrudes a lot on life in general and I would love to have more time to give to my hobbies, maybe I should cut down on my blogging - but that's a hobby too!Nice that you visited Waterford, it's lovely when the sun shines! Have a look at my older posts and there are some nice local posts with photos. Thanks for calling by and commenting. I look forward to visiting your blog now.

Rudee said...

Spinning was just a natural extension of my knitting. Don't tell anyone, but I really only spin for the community it provides me with other women. Anywhere from 6 to 12 of us meet up on Saturday mornings to spin. The youngest amongst them are less than 30. It's wonderful! As for the weaving...well...I need the stand for the loom. Otherwise, spending any amount of time doing this kills my back. I won't give up though!

Ann said...

Loved the matinee coat. I used to make those. Like yourself, my knitting skills have laid dormant since the children have grown up, but I too am getting back into it. So hopefully the more intricate knitting I used to do will come back to me. I will be home on May 25. When is Immrama this year? Will have to get that on my social diary! Says she with a little smile!

Catherine said...

Hi Ann, thanks for that - the coat is lovely and I have a couple of bonnets made too, like above and another one with a diamondy pattern. I pimped it up with ribbons and flowers -photo soon. Great that you'll be home soon, Immrama is on 10-13 june,

Jan started blogging about it over here

Deise Design (Immrama website developers)and himself are moderating it. no doubt see you when you are here then - certainly at Immrama.You'll miss the launch end April/early May. All the best, Catherine.