location, location, location

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Let’s say this loud and clear once and for all: I’m a public knitter and I love it! Knitting can be a pretty solitary activity, which I don’t mind, but I also love to be surrounded by other people when I knit, whether they are with me or just around me.  The only thing I don’t like, and this goes for all my activities including knitting, is doing things in short snippets of time. I don’t like taking out my needles if I have to put them away in 10 minutes, and the same goes for a book, a jog, or a telephone conversation.

Here’s the list of all the places where I’ve knit so far:

  • a fjord (definitely the most exotic location)
  • a mountain (after climbing, I kept motivating myself – another 20 minutes, then a knitting break ;)
  • cars (I thought I’d get motion sickness, but I was fine)
  • trains (ideal for long train-rides)
  • cafes (especially open-air ones)
  • park benches (obviously)
  • the grass (one of my favourites)
  • the beach (sand and wool are not the best combination)
  • the floor (you’d be surprized how often)
  • my bed (but not lying down)
  • armchairs (difficult with straight needles)
  • hotels (I don’t like hotels, I get terribly lonely in them, knitting helps)
  • a museum (one girl stopped watching the movie on the artist and stared at me for 20 minutes straight)
  • pubs (a totally British thing – luv it!)
  • a library (there is one library at my school where people go to sleep. I go to knit)
  • a yarn shop (skeins are always trying to sneakily jump into your lap and make you take them home with you)
  • a bookshop (probably the most magical bookshop I’ve ever been to)
  • at my desk (when I’m trying to figure out a technique from an online tutorial)

Interestingly, there aren’t many photos of me knitting, and in those that do exist – I’m usually frowning. I think that’s just my concentrated face… :) But, instead of that, you get a smile today (I’ve been waiting for an excuse to show off my new hairstyle ;)

Hugs all round! :)


a new skill

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I’m guessing that today many people are going to be writing about steekingentrelac and spinning. I, however, have a much simpler skill whose lack looms over my head like a dark cloud. It’s not so much a skill, actually, as knowledge. Knowledge of yarn.

Where I started knitting, in Croatia, there aren’t that many yarns on offer. There is one yarn factory which mainly does wool-synthetic blends in various ratios, and the range of weights is pretty limited (I never saw real bulky yarn nor lace-weight). So, when I started, being ignorant of the different weights and compositions of yarn, life was pretty simple. I chose yarn primarily on the basis of colour. It did not even occur to me that you couldn’t make any project with any type of yarn! I would use the needle size recommended in the pattern, but I didn’t worry about the yarn weight… This resulted in some interesting outcomes, such as this hat below. I was making it for myself, but while I was working on it in public, a lady came up to me and asked me politely if it was for a baby!!! Erm, I managed to get it onto my head eventually, and wore it for quite some time, but in hindsight I think I know what she meant!

And then I started noticing the swatch instructions in patterns. The indications of what yarn to use. The world of weights and fibers opened up to me. And I was completely lost. I found some good guides, like the one on Ravelry, or this one, but I can’t carry them around when I go to yarn shops and whenever I am choosing yarn I am always terrified that the shop assistants are going to realize that I don’t have a clue! Now, why, tell me why, aren’t yarns organized by weight in yarn shops?! I still don’t get it!

Then came the types of yarns by composition. Ok, I’m not so ignorant to not know what silk, cotton and wool are, but then there is also tweed, mohair, malabrigo, alpaca and heavens knows what else! Well, heavens may know, but I don’t. So when buying yarn, I try to wing it as much as I can and figure out what is what.

I am utterly annoyed by the fact that different companies have different names for the same yarn weights, and that some do not mark them at all! I pray that the shop assistants think that I am just unable to decide for colour while I am furtively trying to figure out if the yarn is even approximately the right weight for what I need! What I usually do is check on Ravelry before I head out shopping, but once I reach the shop (especially the lovely local yarn shops here in London), I am faced with a bunch of unfamiliar and bewildering (while gorgeous and irresistible) yarns! I recently considered applying for a part-time job at a yarn shop, but one of their requirements was that you were “a good knitter”. That scared me off – not because of my stitching capabilities (I am pretty confident with those), but because I was scared they would expect me to know a good deal about yarns and that I would have to retreat in shame… On the other hand, working there, if they had accepted me, would have been a great crash course in yarns. Otherwise, I’m afraid, it’ll take me years, probably even decades. You don’t really know a yarn until you’ve worked with it, and there are so many to discover.

So, that’s my big secret. I love yarn. I am eternally grateful for the huge variety and choice I have here in London. I could spent hours in the yarn shops. But I am still clueless about it. :(

Do you have any good tips? How did you get your yarn knowledge? Am I really going to have to be patient and only able to say I know yarn when I’m like that grandma from the beginning of the story, or is there a shortcut?