Friday, March 14, 2014

Reality TV goes wild....

Last year, I came across a new trend in reality TV - slow TV. Norway was televising a knitathon, where several groups of competitors attempted to beat the (Australian-held!) world record for knitting a jumper, from shearing the sheep to a finished garment.

Given that the speedy Aussies managed to complete this feat in 4 hours and 51 minutes, Norwegian knitting aficionados were in for a long evening. Eventually, the jumper was triumphantly handed over, completed, in about five hours - presumably much to the relief of viewers, who must have been starting to run out of drinks and snacks.

Slow TV is an interesting example of the trend to step back from the constant rush of modern life and make a conscious decision to do things which require the investment of time and effort. Norway's other efforts in this area make the knitathon look positively manic - televised train and ship journeys, shown unedited in real time, go for days and a four hour program about firewood was followed up with eight hours of footage of a log fire.

While I don't think our TV stations are quite ready to embrace the concept of 14 day ship voyages shown in real time, Australians certainly haven't been slow to adopt the concept of slow clothing (i.e. handknitted, handcrocheted and hand-sewn).The only question is: how slow is too slow? Many crafters are time-poor, working long hours with long commutes and family responsibilities that take up much of their leisure time. While slow fashion is all very well and good as a philosophy, these people don't want to spend years knitting a 4-ply jumper on teeny, tiny needles - they want a quick project which they can pick up whenever they have a moment. Other knitters are prepared to make the time to knit intricate 2-ply lace patterns because they love their craft so much!

So which type of crafter are you?

Vest in Wendy's Supreme Chunky Cotton -
took approximately eight hours to complete

Time poor:

Try projects in chunky and superchunky yarns, such as Rowan's Big Wool, Naturally Yarns Naturelle Chunky, Wendy's Supreme Chunky Cotton or Misti Alpaca's Tonos Chunky. You can also do some amazing 'lace' knits using big needles/hooks (15mm and larger) and a fine yarn. Try the Kaalund range of patterns for some great examples!

You may want to learn to knit continental style for greater speed; crocheters may want to experiment with tricot/Tunisian crochet and/or broomstick lace for fast, easy projects.

Craft lover:

Foxy Sweater by Marie Wallin (c) Rowan
You will probably love our Rowan Kidsilk Haze! Rowan designer Marie Wallin has designed some absolutely incredible garments in this super-fine mohair yarn. Kaalund Classic Two will work for you as well - except you'll be crafting it on 2.5mm hooks (or needles) instead of broomsticks! Or you might want to do some summer knits in a fine bamboo or cotton yarn - we have the Cleckheaton 100% Bamboo, Atlante Bamboo and some Rowan 4ply Cotton and Cotton Glace to keep you busy!

As far as techniques go - try traditional lace knitting techniques, such as Orenburg lace!

Of course, we've also got 'in between' options for people who fall between the two extremes - but that's a subject for another blog post. Have a happy crafting winter!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Plan ahead!

Today I opened the shop for the first time in 2014. I have to say, starting back at work in the middle of a heatwave is not a brilliant plan - however, it has given me a lot of time for planning other (more important) things, such as what I am going to knit this year!

Most of my subscribers are based in Oz, and therefore don't need to be told that Aussie summers are absolutely vicious. If anyone from overseas is reading this post - please take my word for it, Aussie summers are absolutely vicious. February is basically a series of heatwaves, with temperatures in the high 30s/low 40s (celsius, not farenheit!), tacked together with the odd cool day here and there. To get a better idea of how bad that can be, compare the fatalities from the latest Victorian heat wave to the road toll for the same period... (heat waves vs cars).

Plymouth, from Rowan Magazine 52 (c) Rowan Designs
This is not good knitting weather. However, if you have a good air-conditioner and/or a small project, you don't have to put down your needles altogether. My summer project is a tea cosy for a friend, which I promised her last winter as a birthday gift (ooops!). It is a nice small project, with a bit of colourwork to keep me motivated. That should tide me through the worst of the heat.

Coming into autumn, I need to start knitting a jumper. Again, it's a promised birthday present, and it's roughly six months overdue. In fact, it's for the husband of the friend who was promised the tea cosy... this may become socially awkward if I don't knit reasonably quickly! Luckily, I'm doing a show this autumn, so will have lots of opportunities to knit while waiting at cold bus stops and in drafty dressing rooms. He's going to get either a Plymouth or a Fastnet... As part of my planning day, I am looking through the patterns, trying to work out which will be easiest to knit in transit!

Fastnet, from Rowan Magazine 52 (c) Rowan Designs

At the same time, I'm still working on the Snug Fall Cosy. The Cosy was a learning project - I wanted to practise beading, grafting stitches, and knitting and unravelling fringes. I've finished the waist band and done the graft, which was interesting - I found it fiddlier than I'd expected and wasn't all that confident that I'd stitched the ends of the band together securely. It has held together well though, and I'm looking forward to having another two goes at the technique: the neck band has another end-to-start graft, and the top of the body is grafted onto the neck band as a top-to-side graft. So I should have the technique completely under control by the time I finish the garment! The unravelled fringe looks pretty cool too :)

I'm also working on my Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole. I'm completely confident now working the two tiers of rectangles, but might need to do another couple of projects to get my hands around the base and final tiers of triangles. I have the Tweedy Garterlac Scarf class project to help me master those, so no worries there.

By the time I've moved these through my queue, it will be winter. I'll have to decide whether or not to knit a jumper and hope to get it finished with a few more cold days to go, or to skip straight to knitting a summer top. I've got the yarn to knit a Lead in grey, crimson and jade green - I've also got some Cotton Rope, which I bought several years ago when I needed.... slightly less yarn.... to make a jumper. I won't get a jumper out of it now, but maybe a sleeveless top is feasible. Certainly better than leaving it sitting in the wardrobe!!

Lead, from Rowan Magazine 52 (c) Rowan Designs

Time for me to wind up this planning session and close the shop... Stay safe in the heat, and hopefully, we'll see you for a planning session soon!