Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Wednesday's Workbox

That's a picture of a sweet sewing box that Little Bear gave to me one birthday. It is covered with pink felt and felt applique shapes and buttons. I love it so much, that rather than keep it hidden in a cupboard, I have it in our bedroom, and use it as a jewellery box instead! But I thought it made such a pretty picture that I'd use it as the theme for my Workbox posts. (All the photographs that you see on our blog, are taken on our netbook computer, not with a camera. Papa Bear does wish for us to have a camera and we do not have photographs of ourselves, but he does not mind the webcam photos that I've taken for the blog. However I'm afraid that this means the quality of our pictures isn't very clear, but I hope you can still enjoy them a little!).
This week's workbox is all about my very favourite craft pass time - knitting!
I LOVE to knit.
My great aunt taught me how to knit when I was 5 years old, and I don't think I have ever stopped! I can still remember the very first thing that I knitted, aged 5 - a scarf for my Granda Bear, though I think it had so many holes that he probably didn't wear it very often! Since then I have knitted a great many garments, and also enjoyed teaching Little Bear and several of her friends how to knit too. Little Bear (like Papa Bear - I call them my "southpaws") is left handed, so you can imagine what a challenge that was, for right handed Mama Bear!
I think I enjoy knitting so much because not only is it wonderfully absorbing and rewarding, and very relaxing therefore, but also, very portable. It means that you always have something enjoyable and useful to occupy you, that you can take with you to work on anywhere you wish. I often find myself knitting whilse I am sitting in the doctor's or dentist's waiting room, or when taking a break during a long journey. And, dear fellow wives, it has also been a real marriage saver!
Well, Papa Bear, like many husbands, does enjoy watching his sport on TV. I know that this can often be a cause of contention in marriages, so much so that Stormie Omartian even makes mention of it in "The Power of a Praying Wife". She advises that couples reach a compromise, whereby the wife shares in the husband's enjoyment of his sport viewing, if the husband will agree to share in the enjoyment of one of her pass times. But I have found a way to go one step further and REALLY enjoy, not just for compromise but for its own sake, watching sport with Papa Bear! Not only have I discovered that, like many things, once you start to learn a little more about something, your interest, and consequently your passion and hunger to know more, for that subject, begins to grow quite naturally, and you start to develop a real liking for something that previously you may have thought could never capture your attention. So it has been, for me, with football. I never saw a match in my life, before I became Papa Bear's wife! Now I can honestly say I truely enjoy watching it as much as he does! But best of all, I have discovered that it is perfectly possible, to watch football (only on TV, I wouldn't go so far as to offend anyone by doing this at an actual match) whilse also knitting! Papa Bear doesn't mind at all if I sit beside him and work on my latest woolly project, while he enjoys (or despairs!) watching his team on TV. It works wonderfully well for us and means we can both share in a passtime that beforehand, I never thought I could possibly enjoy!
If you've never tried knitting, I agree it can look rather daunting. All those strange loops and threads and manouveres. However, it is not nearly as frightening as it looks, once you get started. I am prayerfully hoping that somehow, one day, I shall be able to take some step by step photographs for you, to show the basics of knitting, but having said that, in truth I would suggest asking someone you know who can knit, to show you how, rather than attempting to use a book or video with which to instruct yourself. You are bound to have questions as you go along, and it is much easier to see how to correct your mistakes (there will be many to begin with) if someone is sitting right beside you. It won't take long, and you can practise with a book or video once you have got the basics. There are a few little hints that will make things easier though.
First off, be patient and persistent! Accept that you will make many mistakes. I still do - but it is all part of the learning experience! Nothing you ever do will be a waste of time. Just keep at it, and soon you will be knitting quite smoothly and proficiently!
If like me you are quite petite, it makes life much easier, if you use shorter needles (knitting pins). They are much more nifty to handle than the long ones, which reach past my elbows!
Start off by using a good thick wool - it will knit up faster and therefore make you feel you are actually getting somewhere, and it is easier to see what you are doing if the stitches are bigger. Use thicker needles too - English size 4 or 5, I would suggest, to start off with.
Don't be too ambitious, like poor Amy and Anna Duggar, when they decided to try knitting bootees for baby Josie, on an episode of "19 Kids And Counting". Bootees are very definitely not for beginners! Start with something really simple which requires no shaping or alternation of stitches, like a pot holder or patchwork square in garter stitch (every row knit). If you use lots of differently coloured scraps of wool, you'll soon have enough squares to sew together to make a blanket! This is a great way to experiment with different stitches too once you are a bit more confident, and if you make a mistake it isn't a disaster, as you are only working on one square at a time.
Another idea is to start, as I did (once I was past the scarf stage!) with baby garments. They are quickly knitted up because they're so tiny, and you won't need to spend much on wool to be able to produce a lovely finished garment. If you make a mistake, you won't feel you've wasted much (wool or time) either!
A great place to buy wool, needles and patterns, is your local charity or thrift shop! This is where I get almost all my patterns from, and is a wonderful place to pick up for a few pennies, some adorable old fashion patterns. I have several dating from the 1940's and 50's for the sweetest baby layettes. I love those old patterns! A word of advice if you are going to use older patterns though - the wool in days gone by tended to be much thicker, per ply weight, than it is today (especially with our newer, synthetic yarns). So where a pattern suggests 3 ply, I would tend to opt instead for 4 ply (English measurements). Modern 3 ply is my preferred knitting yarn, and goes MILES! You can get 2 baby cardigans out of 100g of 3 ply wool!
Well that's all for today's workbox. Next week I will show you the cardigan I am currently working on, and offer a few more knitting hints for beginners.