Nine Men’s Morris: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 74

Nine Men’s Morris

nine men's morris
Tayler

Hello and welcome to The Ordinary Knitter, the knitting podcast that’s (mostly) about the projects, sponsored by Ecoflap home draughtproofing products including the Petflap draughtproof pet door. Find out more about the Petflap at the petflap.com. The Energy Efficiency Podcast is also available through Apple Podcasts, or at podcast.ecoflap.co.uk.

My name is Heather and I’m @theordknitter on Twitter, @theordinaryknitter on Instagram and @ordinaryknitting on Ravelry. This time: knitting a nine men’s morris board, 5 ply socks, DK jumpers, and plans for Christmas knitting.

Ft patterns:

Nine Men’s Morris board

My daughter’s very interested in the Anglo Saxons so in the summer we went to the Brimingham Museum and Art Gallery to see the Staffordshire Hoard.  As part of the exhibition there’s a Nine Men’s Morris board, and we had fun at a few rounds of that.

I thought a Nine Men’s Morris board and counters would make a good Christmas present for her and then it occurred to me that I could knit one. I looked for a pattern as I thought charting it would be a nightmare, but I couldn’t find a pattern, so I had to chart it!

It was mind-bending, I freely admit, not least because it took quite a while for the penny to drop that the lines and blobs weren’t evenly spaced. Once I’d grasped that it all fell into place.

I’ve knitted enough wee mats and flannels to know that I needed a seed stitch border, so I wrote one of those in all round, and embarked on a test knit. I expected to use Aran so used some that I had already as all I wanted to do was test the mechanics of the pattern, not its beauty. It took me quite a while to finish as I couldn’t do it when my daughter was around, and it got quite involved.

One decision I had to make early was intarsia or colourwork. I started off with colourwork as I had great long stretches of a single colour, as in 60-odd stitches with just one or two of the second colour at the edges, and I could just carry the second colour vertically up the edges. That’s not appropriate for intarsia.

As the pattern gets more involved however there’s an argument for intarsia as the lines and blobs are closer together in the middle but there are longer gaps to the furthermost edge lines, so I ended up combining the two, partly also as I wanted to test the effect. I decided in the end that it’s not a bad approach although my god it gets complicated with all the bobbins and so on sprouting out of the back. It was absolute spaghetti, in fact it was more spaghetti than spaghetti is.

As I say, this was a test knit, and there were learnings. I realised early on that the seed stitch border was too short. As I got to the other end of the piece I extended the border to see how it behaved, and another three rows or so made all the difference. I’d realised as I’d gone along that the piece would look better with a smaller needles. This is particularly because there’s so much colourwork and therefore lots of places where the knitting can get a little bit slack if you aren’t really careful. With a smaller needles that’s less of a risk and less obvious if you do get it a bit loose.

What I need to do now is knit it for real with proper yarn. I’m going to choose a high wool content yarn. At this point I expect to use a cream background with brown lines and blobs. I suppose I really should get on with buying the yarn as I’ve got to get it made by Christmas. I looked in my local yarn shop but couldn’t find anything like what I wanted, so I’m going to go to my usual haunts online. I am so looking forward to that! I do intend to make the pattern available, or at least the chart, when I’ve proven to myself that the tweaks work and have had a chance to polish it up into a socially acceptable pattern. If anyone wants a copy of the rough and not-so-ready version just get in touch.

Music credit:

“Carpe Diem” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Produce bags: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 73

Produce Bags

Welcome to Produce Bags, episode 73 of The Ordinary Knitter, the knitting podcast that’s (mostly) about the projects. Find it on iTunes or acast, or subscribe via the feed link on the right hand bar (https://www.theordinaryknitter.net/feed/podcast).

My name is Heather and I’m @theordknitter on Twitter, @theordinaryknitter on Instagram and @ordinaryknitting on Ravelry. This week: produce bags, exfoliating mitts and the role of knitting in life.

Ft patterns:

Ft cast ons:

Ft techniques:

Produce bags

produce bags
Jackie’s Goodie Bag, sans handle

Lately I’ve been dedicating myself to produce bags. I don’t skip from grocer to baker with my basket over my arm, I go to the supermarket like everyone else, but I do avoid plastic wrapping where feasible. This takes many forms and hasn’t come together overnight, but buying loose fruit and veg is an obvious step.

The problem I have is that I can’t carry six apples at once. I often end up dropping one, so to speak, then at the self-service tills if I have to put them on the bagging scale in two lots the till squawks at me because it thinks I’ve tried to sneak on an item I haven’t paid for.  Produce bags are the answer.

I made one before, in February last year, but because it’s just the one and as I have about twenty shopping bags in the car boot I never have it to hand. I decided to make a few more, to use up aran odds and ends. It helps that gauge is (in my opinion) utterly unimportant for these projects, so you can use up what you have and tweak the pattern. I should make the distinction here between shopping bags and produce bags. I’m not making a bag to take round town to fill with purchases. These are just for holding loose fruit and veg together for containment purposes in your trolley and going through the till. Ideally they’re sufficiently light that you won’t be charged extra for your produce or upset the all-seeing bagging scale. The main distinction is in size and attachment of a handle.

Jackie’s Goodie Bag

My favourite pattern is Jackie’s Goodie Bag. The finished article is designed to have a handle but as that’s added at the end it’s easy to leave it out. This bag has a simple yarnover element for extra stretch and a seed stitch band at the top. It’s designed to be knitted top down, but! I used the supposedly foolproof method of knitting the seed stitch band rows flat then joining to knit in the round – the idea being it’s much easier to spot and prevent any twisting as you join, I still twisted the bloody thing so I made a change of tack. I decided instead to cast on with Judy’s magic cast-on, designed for sock toes. This gives you a seamless base to the bag. In progress it looks like a mitten, but as soon as you have produce in the bag it will flatten out. So I’ve done that, casting-on with half the required number of stitches and working alternate increase and knit rounds, exactly like a sock toe increase. I got up to the normal required number of cast on stitches and began the pattern at that point.

produce bags
The Purl Soho evening shrug

I made a small one a week or two ago, managing to join without twisting, using 5 ply and small needles – 3.5mm, something like that. It will be ideal for 10 or so mushrooms. That used up a bit more of the lake of lilac 5ply I bought in Aldi ages ago. I’m currently doing another in 10 ply, the lovely Lily Sugar’n Cream Twists that I bought to make a hat and sleep sack for my cousin’s baby last summer. There won’t be enough of it, so when it runs out I’ll move on to the Sirdar Cotton Rich Aran I bought to make Purl Soho’s Evening Shrug three years ago. The colours will go well together and are cheerful reddish shades and orange. This is the one I’ve started bottom up.

Tia Stanfield’s Reusable Produce Bag

I know Jackie’s Goodie Bag is a reliable pattern, but I thought I should try something else too, so I found Tia Stanfield’s Reusable Produce Bag. This has far more yarnover action and a longer repeat than Jackie’s Goodie bag – not one I can keep in my head this time – and it does up with a ribbon, which is probably straying slightly into twee territory for me and I’ll likely not actually do that.

It’s a pick-up and knit construction, with picking-up around a section you’ve knitted flat. I don’t usually rate my skills and pick-up-and-knit but this was a good practice project as it’s not going to bother the onions if the bag base is slightly lumpy. From the picking up you naturally knit in the round. I found I had extra stitches once or twice, probably because I was adding in a YO at the start or end of a round without noticing, and I dropped stiches here and there too and as I picked them up would have been skewing the stitch count. In the end this pattern is a little too involved for me, but it was interesting to try it. This isn’t to give a negative review in the slightest, it just doesn’t suit my style as well as Jackie’s Goodie Bag.

Music credit:

“Carpe Diem” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Floats: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 72

Floats
The finished Fair Isle article

Welcome to Floats, episode 72 of The Ordinary Knitter, the knitting podcast that’s (mostly) about the projects. Find it on iTunes or acast, or subscribe via the feed link on the right hand bar (https://www.theordinaryknitter.net/feed/podcast).

My name is Heather and I’m @theordknitter on Twitter, @theordinaryknitter on Instagram and @ordinaryknitting on Ravelry. This week: keeping your floats in their place, teeny tiny hats, and the joy of four ply.

Ft patterns:

Ft cast ons

Ft techniques

  • K2tog tbl (knit 2 together through the back loop)

Floats

Floats
A fairly terrible picture of Fair Isle on the right side, floats on the wrong side

Floats are the little stretches of yarn that sit loose on the wrong side of a piece of Fair Isle knitting. To prevent great dangly stretches of yarn flopping about on the wrong side, the unused yarn is anchored every so often to keep it under control. You can have vertical floats, when a yarn completely unused for at least a couple of rows is tethered but taken up the work until needed, and horizontal floats, when yarn not needed for a section is kept tidy until needed. There are no hard and fast rules, but it’s common to anchor a float every five stitches or so if a yarn isn’t needed for a longish section of a round. If it isn’t needed at all it can just be taken upwards.

Keeping floats neat and properly tensioned can be tricky, but develops well with practice. The two biggest banana skins are pulling too tightly, and anchoring in the same place on each round. Pulling floats too tightly is tempting when you’re inexperienced with it, but it wrecks the overall look of a piece so it to be avoided. Keeping the piece at a natural tension – the magic Goldilocks zone of not too tight and not too loose  – is what you’re looking to achieve. Floppy floats create a poor effect too, as the stitches you make with that yarn when you need it again will be at a tension all at odds with the rest of the piece.

Anchoring floats in the same place every time gives rise to a visible streak of colour on the right side. Combating this is simple, just make sure floats are anchored in different points each time. As I explain in the pod, if I’m anchoring vertically because a colour isn’t needed for a few rows, I choose a stitch within a five or six stitch section and choose a different one each time. It isn’t necessary IMHO to anchor an unused yarn on every round anyway, so it usually all works out okay. The only way to master floats is practice, but if I can do it it can’t be that hard!

Music credit:

“Carpe Diem” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Cast Ons: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 71

cast ons
Lace Beret by Sara Kay Hartmann, modelled by my spare head

Welcome to Cast Ons, episode 71 of The Ordinary Knitter, the knitting podcast that’s (mostly) about the projects. Find it on iTunes or acast, or subscribe via the feed link on the right hand bar (https://www.theordinaryknitter.net/feed/podcast).

My name is Heather and I’m @theordknitter on Twitter, @theordinaryknitter on Instagram and @ordinaryknitting on Ravelry. This week: losing needles and choosing a cast on.

Ft patterns:

Ft cast ons

Cast Ons

cast ons
That ropy cast on

No project starts without some sort of cast on, and I’ve come to the conclusion that choosing the right one is a cross between a dark art and an arcane science.

I could kiss the designers who have identified the best cast on for their project, even if it means spending half an hour with YouTube on  half speed, watching someone demonstrate the cast on and always missing that thing she does with her thumb. The bigger the project the more this matters, as for instance a beautifully made cardigan can be spoilt by a badly-cast on edge that makes the item hang awkwardly or with a wibble when it should sit straight.

I’m going to re-start the Chemo Cap now that I’ve got laddering happening too, and I’m hoping for quite astounding results with a different cast on. In a project the size of this hat it’s no more than a minor nuisance to re-do it, but it has taught me to think about it before I cast on. If nothing else, using the right cast on for this hat would have made the lace pattern much easier. The backwards loop cast on that I used is a bit of a pain to knit into as you start the pattern, and worse to do fiddly things with like SSK and so on.

Researching cast ons is a simple matter of googling, asking your resident knitting oracle, or looking in a book such as The Knitter’s Knowledge. Some are nice and clear: if you’re casting on and going into a cable pattern, use the cable cast on. If you need a lovely stretchy cast on for a cuff, use Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Cast On. You get the idea. In theory there’s a cast on for every occasion, and if there isn’t, I’m sure someone will develop one soon.

Chemo caps: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 70

Chemo Caps
Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk

Welcome to Chemo caps, episode 70 of The Ordinary Knitter, the knitting podcast that’s (mostly) about the projects. Find it on iTunes or acast, or subscribe via the feed link on the right hand bar (https://www.theordinaryknitter.net/feed/podcast).

My name is Heather and I’m @theordknitter on Twitter, @theordinaryknitter on Instagram and @ordinaryknitting on Ravelry. This week: podfade – what, me?,  not being allowed to get on with a nordic jumper, finishing projects, socks and more socks, and knitting hats.

Ft patterns:

Chemo Caps

chemno caps
Cherry and Natural in Rico Creative Cotton, and DROPS Cotton Light in Khaki

Cancer is shit, but there’s no need for your head to be cold. A friend of mine will be needing hats, so I’ve been on a research bender finding suitable styles and yarns, and complexion-friendly colours. Perhaps because I’m bolshy and bloody-minded in the face of convention, I didn’t want to knit just chemo caps, so I found a variety of hats and appropriate yarns. I’ll talk about each of these in more detail as I come to them, but in a nutshell I’ve identified a lacy beret, a slouchy beany, a cuffed beanie, and a chemo cap. If all goes to plan there will be three chemo caps and three other hats. I don’t want to wear the same type of thing every day, and there’s no reason why a cancer-sufferer should have to wear only chemo caps, hence my determination to include variety.

Super chunky: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 69

super chunky
Yarn for a Glasgow Warrior

Welcome to Super Chunky, episode 69 of The Ordinary Knitter, the knitting podcast that’s (mostly) about the projects. Find it on iTunes or acast, or subscribe via the feed link on the right hand bar (https://www.theordinaryknitter.net/feed/podcast).

My name is Heather and I’m @theordknitter on Twitter, @theordinaryknitter on Instagram and @ordinaryknitting on Ravelry. This week: socks, cowls, brioche knitting, yarn shopping and stash, plus a first in the village show but was it for the beret?

Ft patterns:

super chunky
Shiny tidy stash cupboard – super chunky bottom right

Super chunky

Super chunky, known also as super bulky, is one of the thickest yarns you’re likely to use on any ordinary project. Substantially heavier than aran, it tens to be used for warm swathing items such as hats and scarves. It’s definitely designed for warmth! It’s knitted up with big needles, 9mm or 10mm,  which can come as quite a shock after the usual 4-6mm you’d use for DK or Aran.

One of the joys of super chunky, speaking as a project knitter, is that it knits up really fast. I’ve made super chunky projects before – this Quick Cabled Cowl in Patons Fab Big Colour being one of my favourites, I wear it every year – but other than that I knit with it rarely. I admit to being driven entirely by colour scheme than yarn weight in this instance, but we all have our weaknesses!

I’ll be knitting another cowl, probably Herringbone Cowl by Wollen Berlin if I can get the hang of creating the herringbone effect they way they write it. So far I’ve found the stitches are coming out almost too tight to manipulate, so I just pulled it all out last night. The alternative is creating a simple ribbed cowl which is a good fall back, but I’m getting a bit ribbed out just now with socks on the go too and fancied a change.

Music credit:

“Carpe Diem” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Berets: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 68

berets
Himself models the Slip Stitch Beret

Welcome to Berets, episode 68 of The Ordinary Knitter, the knitting podcast that’s (mostly) about the projects. Find it on iTunes or acast, or subscribe via the feed link on the right hand bar (https://www.theordinaryknitter.net/feed/podcast).

My name is Heather and I’m @theordknitter on Twitter, @theordinaryknitter on Instagram and @ordinaryknitting on Ravelry. This week: the Slip Stitch Beret, progress on those towels, socks, and crochet.

Ft patterns:

Berets

berets
Flying the thistle

We’re off to the first Doddie Weir Cup match in November, Wales v Scotland at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. We’re very dedicated Scotland rugby fans and I’d like to wear something that demonstrates that, without buying a ton of merch.

I have the cowl I made last year, but I want a hat so I’ve landed on the Slip Stitch Beret. You can hear all about it in the pod, but I thoroughly recommend this pattern. My only caveat is the sizing, which comes up pretty big round the head. I’ve made two and much prefer the second, and will definitely make more, but I’m going to experiment with sizing. I’ll make a small, with the extra repeat to give it the flop in the crown, and if that’s too small I’ll do an M/L but reduce the number of cast on stitches and increase with great care for the main part.

I had wondered about using the basic stitch count for the hat and putting in my own design, and I’m umming and ahhing about that just now. The flop in the hat might obscure the thistle, but I do have the space to create it. I’ll have to experiment, and will then have the pleasure of identifying appropriate non-acrylic yarns.

Music credit:

“Carpe Diem” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Scrubbies: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 67

Scrubbies

scrubbies
Owlie Sleep Sack with Flat Knit Baby Hat

Welcome to Scrubbies, episode 67 of The Ordinary Knitter, the knitting podcast that’s (mostly) about the projects. Find it on iTunes or acast, or subscribe via the feed link on the right hand bar (https://www.theordinaryknitter.net/feed/podcast).

My name is Heather and I’m @theordknitter on Twitter, @theordinaryknitter on Instagram and @ordinaryknitting on Ravelry. This week: picking up, dropping and ripping out odds and ends, washing up scrubby success, experimenting with a slouchy hat, and making some rather intimate items. I consider it a minor victory to be here again less than a month after last time, even if I haven’t achieved all that much in the meantime. Before I get going, I should warn you that I’ll be talking about making my own sanitary towels. If that’s straying into too much information territory for you then I suggest you skip this episode and I look forward to having your company next time.

Ft patterns:

Scrubbies

scrubbies
Scrubby about to go into action!

I’m distressed to have quite so much to say about washing-up scrubbies, but I find feeble washing-up accoutrements very frustrating. I thought I’d bought a nice big bottle of washing up liquid the other day rather than two smaller ones, reducing our plastic consumption a little and saving a few p, but when I used it I realised I’d instead picked up a crappy value washing-up liquid that needs twice as much to bring up a lather. I’m looking for affordable bulk washing-upliquid that doesn’t charge a fortune for shipping but that’s proving quite the challenge.

My brief was to find a scrubby that had the oomph to get things clean and that lathered well. Stephanie Lindner’s Spongy Dish Cloth does all that, especially knitted with the cotton & acrylic yarn I bought in such volume from Aldi and used to make the unworn Hertz. These knit up in no time, and with the Judy’s Magic Cast On tweak are an absolute doddle to make. You can turn them out and give them to friends as a little gift and they weigh nothing so would be easy to send as an ‘I was thinking of you’ gift for those people you want to smile at from a long way away.

Music credit:

“Carpe Diem” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Brick: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 66

brick
The skirt you can make in a hour, one year on

Brick

Welcome to Brick, episode 66 of The Ordinary Knitter, the knitting podcast that’s (mostly) about the projects. Find it on iTunes or acast, or subscribe via the feed link on the right hand bar (https://www.theordinaryknitter.net/feed/podcast).

My name is Heather and I’m @theordknitter on Twitter, @theordinaryknitter on Instagram and @ordinaryknitting on Ravelry. This week: Brick is finished, hurray! Modifying old projects, and the last bit of baby knitting for the time being. My silence has been entirely due to not having much to say about my progress on Brick, which has been glacially slow. I’m delighted to be on the other side of it and back to interesting smaller projects.

Ft patterns:

  • Brick
  • Purl Soho Evening Shrug

Brick

Brick
Mind the Gap: unexpected caverns in the oxter area

Well where do I start? Never has a simple jumper been so deceptively difficult to make.  There were several stumbling blocks for me, between the sizing not being quite right for my daughter, the picking up needed and the scope for getting it wrong on the bind off, never mind whether or not it’s a TRUE raglan (pet peeve alert).

Ultimately the jumper is made, the picking up gaps largely neutralized, and the bind offs more or less smooth. I’m not thrilled with the end result but it is what it is and I’m sure she’ll get some use from it, even if it’s as a nightshirt. She’s a cold being on the whole, her heat regulation being quite badly affected by her coeliac disease, so she piles on the layers in the winter and this will at least help with that. The day she dons it to go off to college you will be able to knock me down with a feather, and that’s no mean feat!

Music credit:

“Carpe Diem” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

 

Anniversary: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 65

Anniversary

Anniversary
This bauble went into my mother-in-law’s coffin with her, not something I envisaged when I made it.

Welcome to Anniversary, episode 65 of The Ordinary Knitter, the knitting podcast that’s (mostly) about the projects. Find it on iTunes or acast, or subscribe via the feed link on the right hand bar (https://www.theordinaryknitter.net/feed/podcast).

My name is Heather and I’m @theordknitter on Twitter, @theordinaryknitter on Instagram and @ordinaryknitting on Ravelry. This week: a funeral bauble, progress on Brick and a unicorn called Sundae. By the way it’s the pod’s two year anniversary! Long service medals due to anyone who’s been with it from the beginning. Apologies for talking at a million miles an hour today.

Ft patterns

Ft videos

Ft Ravelry pages

Anniversary

anniversary
The offending cardigan, which my mum now wears.

I recorded my first pod on 4th April 2016. In fact I recorded the first three as I had so much to say. The pod started as although I have a few friends who knit I had lots of knitting chat in me, unanswered questions, philosophical conundrums and a million patterns in mind to knit, and I needed an outlet!

The catalyst in the end was making a cardigan that didn’t fit me. I wanted to discuss why this had happened and look at the lessons for the future, and a pod seemed the ideal solution. I’d had it in mind for a while so decided to act on it.

Over the last two years I’ve knitted loads of different project, learnt a huge amount about knitting (and podcasting!) and really enjoyed the pod. Originally I expected to pod once a week and more or less stuck to that, but in the last little while I’ve podded when I feel I have enough to say. When I have lots of small projects passing through my hands there’s lots to talk about, but when I’m working on a large project such as a jumper there’s not much to talk about, even for me.

Over two years my listener numbers have grown steadily, to my delight – no-one wants to feel that they’re shouting into the abyss – and continue to surprise me. Here’s to the next two years.

Music credit:

“Carpe Diem” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/