The 30 day knitting challenge in one post because I am lazy

Questions and idea from the hero complex via Helenknitsuk's blog (a Ravelry contact who knits amazing blankets).

What was your first finished project? 
It was a scarf for Rich that I knit with DK yarn on ridiculously thin needles, totally wrong for the yarn weight so it took ages to grow and it was stiff and starchy - too short to boot! Not fun to knit and it didn't make me want to try another project afterwards. It was only a couple of years later when I had to take a lot of time off work with a back injury that I discovered Erika Knight, crochet, and then Ysolda Teague (whose patterns made me want to learn properly).

What is currently on your needles?
A pair of socks (Vestigial by Beata Jezek) and a reverse-engineered cardigan inspired by a vintage one I saw on Susan Crawford's blog here. It's the colourwork one at the end.

Do you have any other WIPs (works in progress)?
I'd love to say no but I've been very cast-on happy this year (I usually prefer to have just one, two at a stretch). I started a version of Ásta Sóllilja in January and it was a total disaster, lots of re-knitting later the fit still wasn't right. I definitley needed to adjust my needle size as it was coming out massive even though I tested my gauge. It got warmer so I moved on to lighter projects and my Ásta Sóllilja is currently stashed away with some moth repellent sachets from Lakeland. I wanted to make a dress version, fitted like Kate's Cold Snap (without the amazing bum shaping although I'm tempted to try it).
I also have a laceweight dress I'm working on, I bought a kit from J&S, it's called Laebrack, was designed by Margaret Stuart, and is really beautiful. My dress version is based on my much loved Betty Mouat Dress and is intended to be a lighter summer version with cap sleeves.

How did you learn how to knit?
My mum taught me when I was about 6. I was given a little knitting kit by Father Christmas, I remember it had red plastic needles and green wool. I can remember knitting in the car & pulling in to our street.

How long did it take from the time your learned how to knit, to finish your first project?
What, from when I first learnt? Ha, probably about 19 years! But from cast on date, probably about 6 months.

What is your favourite piece that you’ve knit?
The Betty Mouat dress, it is perfection.



Your least favourite?
I've had so many it's hard to choose. I remember a hat by Ysolda that didn't work for me, it kept popping off my head because I'd knit it too small! Also the first hat I ever knit (Urchin by Ysolda), I just couldn't understand short rows at all... I bodged it and it did not work at all. I gave up.

What’s your most challenging project?
The Betty Mouat dress or that flippin' Urchin hat!

What fibre or yarn do you love working with?
Wool is a real favourite but I also love alpaca bend yarns, they're so soft! My favourite yarn at at the moment is Shetland Spindrift by Jamieson's of Shetland.

Do you have a favourite pattern or designer?
I've been a fan of Kate Davies for years, she's a fascinating (& funny - ha ha, but not weird funny) woman who writes a brilliant blog. She has such an original way of approaching the whole pattern writing thing, I can wholeheartedly recommend this podcast interview with Kate by the wonderful Jo of Shiny Bees for a fascinating insight into Kate's process.
Her background is in academia, she was a lecturer in (something quite particular and clever) for years until she had a very serious stroke and was unable to work, in fact her whole life changed after that stroke. Her blog then focused on her slow (continuous) recovery, she is so honest and brave (and never self-pitying) and as she began to recover she started to design more patterns (she had designed several popular patterns before her stroke). I learnt an awful lot about strokes through reading Kate's blog. I had no idea of the catastrophic effect a stroke can have and how long they take to recover from, also the permanent effects folk are left with post-stroke.

Do you have a “Knitter Hero” or someone that is just way too awesome for their own good? Do share!
See above. K.D. is the only hero!

Where do you keep your stash? Post pictures!
I keep some of it stacked and quite visible, I'd like to say that this helps me to get it knitted up but I can't say that it does to be honest. The rest is split between a couple of Laura Ashley boxes, an old bread bin and a wicker mending basket. I'd love to have a pretty glass-fronted cabinet like some knitters do but we haven't the space at the moment, also I'd only fill it and in reality, hoarding yarn (while it's very nice) does make me a little unhappy, it's just a bit excessive for me personally. I can't seem to help myself at the moment and am trying to do better :)




Do you have yarn that you love but can’t find a project for?
Yes! I have this wonderful discontinued Rowan yarn, Soft Lux. It has a metal thread running through it and a tiny bit of angora blended in too. Very soft, hopefully the angora came from well treated rabbits too. It is definitely going to be a cardigan one day.

What’s the worst yarn/fibre that you’ve worked with and why?
I'm not super keen on working with 100% acrylic yarn or superwash wool, it can be a little sweaty for my hands. Or should I say, it makes my hands sweaty? Either way... It's great for gift knits though, that way the recipient can bung it in the washing machine - excellent for non-knitters.

What was your least favourite pattern and why?
I hate anything top-down, I find it fiddly and I don't like the way my stitches look as though they're upside down. I've started a few top-down cardigans and dresses and I always end up unravelling them as the techniques annoy me.  I've also accidentally bought top-down patterns impulsively. I also dislike patterns with massive wodges of text when a small chart would suffice. I've been spoilt by working almost exclusively on Kate Davies patterns!

Have you ever had a knitting related injury?
Yes, luckily only wrist strains from knitting too much - interestingly both times I was knitting with acrylic yarn. Annoying because they stop me knitting and if I'm knitting that hard I strain my wrist then I've probably got a gift deadline! I read on Ravelry about someone's husband sitting on a dpn once, apparently it went right into his bum cheek (ouch!).

Have you ever had a project that you loved become ruined? What’s the story behind it? 
My first perfect cardigan (Mrs Darcy - all the rage at the time of knitting) which was knit in a teddy-bear shade of Rowan's discontinued Soft Lux, it was such a lovely garment. I put it in the washing machine! I didn't understand about felting but I did after that episode. I was absolutely gutted because it was the first thing I'd knit which actually fitted me, it also took ages to knit (Sept 2008 - March 2009!).



Do you knit English or Continental?
I knit a weird Georgie-style English, I don't loop my working yarn over any of my fingers, I have an annoying pick-up/drop way of throwing the yarn. I have thought about learning to knit 'properly' but can never be bothered to do it - I knit fairly slowly but I'm happy as I do it so I don't see the problem.

Do you watch films and/or listen to podcasts while knitting? What are your favourite things to knit to?
I like to knit in bed at the end of the day while I listen to The World Tonight on Radio 4, I also love the Shiny Bees podcast - that's a favourite knitting podcast of mine. I love to knit and watch films and TV programmes too although it has to be simple if we're watching a film because Rich likes to have the lights off.

Do you knit in public? Was anyone offended/incredibly happy/curious that you were doing so?
People are always happy to see me knitting and generally always comment on it. People like to tell me of the things they used to make when they knitted & speculate on what it is I'm making.
I try not to knit in inappropriate places although I'd dearly love to be able to - wedding services and wakes are the best examples. I just like to knit as I sit and chat, I can knit and look at people so I don't see the problem, it's perfectly social unlike people staring at their phone screens (I hate that). And when I say I'd dearly love to be able to knit in these sorts of settings I'm not lying, I have a real compulsion to knit and get annoyed that I've missed out on knitting time. I feel fidgety!

Do you knit gifts for friends and family for the holidays or birthdays?
Occasionally, mainly for my two sisters. I'm not crazy for gift knitting though, I would probably be more keen if I was a faster knitter.

Have you ever stricken someone off your to-knit-for list because they didn’t appreciate/take care of your last knitted gift to them?
No but I really would.

If you had the supplies (and patience) for it, what project would you start today?
I'd love to get cracking on my fair isle dress but I have to finish a couple of other things first and write up colour charts for it (I can't work from symbol charts, they hurt my eyes!). Plus, that will be a fun project for when it turns colder.
 
Have you ever made your own pattern or dyed your own yarn? How did it turn out?
I made my own pattern once, it turned out OK, could have been worse. It was a little shrug and I wore it a few times! I really want to try yarn dyeing, hence my new blog and Instagram.

Do you have a knitting book or a place where you keep patterns, ideas, size measurements? Post a picture of it!
I did buy a special knitting book from True Brit Knits, I really like using it, it reminds me of school stationary, plus it has a little ruler in the back, very useful because my tape measures never seem to be where I left them.


Have you ever been a part, or wanted to be a part of a knit-a-long? What was it? If not, why?
I've done a few on Ravelry, they're a really fun way to stay motivated through the knitting of a pattern. I like the forums on Ravelry... Funnily enough, that's how my Betty Mouat dress came about as there was a Betty Mouat KAL in March last year in the Kate Davies (Love) group.

How do you acquire most of yarn? Online retailers, local yarn shops, swaps, or large chain craft stores? What’s your favourite?
Generally online as its easier, Hedgehog Fibres, Jamieson's of Shetland and Jamieson & Smith are favourites. Having one of those smartphones can be quite lethal in terms of impulse yarn purchases.

Do you do any other crafts besides knitting? What are they, and did learning to knit come before or after learning these other crafts?
No other crafts, unless you count painting but I count that as my job.

Do you have any tips, or things that you’ve learned from knitting?
Just check your numbers. If I was a better knitter I would tell you to swatch but I don't swatch, I can't be bothered, I'd rather chance it & start with a sleeve. I knit by eye a lot of the time these days and can see when something's off and won't fit me. To be fair, I made a lot of mistakes over the years but I don't care, I still prefer not to swatch.

What’s your name on Ravelry? If you don’t have a Ravelry account, why?
It's very original, it's georgievinsun! I absolutely love Ravelry except when perverts sign up and ask me kinky questions about my knitted dresses (has happened a few times, I'm being serious, I find it gross).

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