I got a knitting machine

Instructions: Take title of this post and sing repeatedly to the tune of ‘Silver Machine‘ by Hawkwind.

Seriously though. the industrial revolution has just arrived at the CraftShack (two hundred years late, but better than never, and in any case they never had much in the way of Internet services back in the 1790s πŸ™‚ ) Yes, Shana has acquired a Knitmaster knitting machine. It will be tested and put through its paces hopefully later this week. Should I consider my role as a part-time dilettante knitter under threat? I don’t know. I doubt though whether the Knitmaster will ever manage to be such a grumbler as I (I think I’ve dropped a stitch about five rows back, can you help? or Oh no, I’ve miscounted this row of eight, or Can you help me to untangle this yarn barf?) No, I reckon the Knitmaster has its work cut out if it wants to be even half as good as a real human knitter πŸ™‚

Enough from me though. I’ll let Shana report further when there’s something to report.


Attention all braiders. You don’t exist!

Knit if you want. Crochet if you must. But don’t talk to me about braiding. Because I found out recently that there is actually no such thing as a braider!

The shock came when we were watching Countdown on Friday 10 November. For those who have never seen it (ie, about two hundred thousand Americans for a start πŸ™‚ ) contestants have to get the longest word possible from a selection of nine letters. Winners stand to take home the grand prize of…a teapot.

Anyway, one hapless anagrammer suggested the word ‘braider’ and was promptly informed by the venerable Susie Dent of the Oxford English Dictionary (an excuse for a lexicon if ever there was one πŸ™‚ ) that ‘braider’ was not a valid word.

So if you are (or think you are a) a braider, sorry but your time is up. Prepare to live the rest of your days in an existential quandary.

Or alternatively, take up knitting instead. You know you want to.

The fine art of knitting

Knitting. It’s not just a skill: it’s an art. But what happens if you are one of those multi-creative types who just can’t make up their mind whether to craft a beautiful sweater or churn out a few watercolours?

As you may have guessed, I have the perfect solution.

With a smattering of primary colours on standby (or in my case a few tubes of dried-up gouache) and your favourite plastic palette, you can safely grab a ball of artistic chunky acrylic and a couple of art brushes and start knitting away, safe in the knowledge that you can frog your boring yarn project whenever the call of the post-Impressionists reaches your artistic ear.

I did a few rows of what I have dubbed ‘artist’s two-by-two rib’ before I realised I was destined to be the next Monet. Being a typical artistic rebel I used two different brush sizes: number five and number three. Is that radical or what! πŸ™‚

Waffle Scarf

Not sure if she was inspired by my incessant verbal waffling. (Unlikely πŸ™‚Β  )Β  Or by my enjoyment of toasted waffles for breakfast. But whatever the reason, Shana recently treated me to not one, not two, but three whole 50g balls of Sirdar ‘Husky’ Super Chunky waffle yarn. Shana thought the white flecks were little pieces of marshmallow, but perhaps she was feeling hungry when she looked at the yarn. Like the starving character played by Charlie Chaplin in silent classic ‘The Gold Rush’ when he ate his own boots, sometimes almost anything can look like food. But if I find Shana eating my most recent project, I shall take immediate umbrage. Marshmallows indeed!

Anyway, as it was proper man-sized yarn I could hardly knit little pieces of chunky lace patterns, could I? So I did what any super chunky yarn is meant for: I knitted a scarf. I did it (in proper fisherman’s rib stitch, no less) using a pair of 150mm wooden needles. Did I say 150mm? Well that must be either a typo or a telegraph pole. Figure that out for yourself (consider it a bonus Craftshack puzzle, why not?).

For stats obsessives, I just measured the scarf and it is easily eight feet long. And if Shana helps me put it on and stands of one end of it,Β  she can probably get it quite tight too. That should keep me warm when the Arctic blasts arrive πŸ™‚

Twas the wreath before Christmas


Not long ago I wrote about how I had made my parents a scarf each for Christmas. Well, that wasn’t all, because I also collaborated with Shana to make them a Christmas wreath too. No point reinventing the wheel though (or in this case, the wreath) so Shana found an excellent set of instructions in a book called ‘Twas the Knits Before Christmas by Fiona Goble (Ivy Press, 2011). The link, by the way, is just a straightforward link. In other words, we earn nada, zip, and doodly-squat if you click on it, so boo-hoo for us but buy the book anyway ‘cos it’s good.

Anyway, I knitted all the various shades of green for the base colours on this ten-inch masterpiece. And Shana did the bird and the flowers and petals that adorn it. Finally, I hopped onto my trusty lucet and magicked up a goodly length of hanging cord so Ma and Pa can dhow it off to all and sundry, or just sit and wonder at it themselves.

Aren’t they the lucky ones? πŸ™‚

I’m knitting backwards for Christmas

A bit of poetic licence with the title, I must confess. Personally, I prefer to follow the forwards arrow of time. It’s actually Shana who has been knitting backwards. (If she wants to explain the details, I’ll leave it up to her πŸ™‚ Β )

Basically, this backwards knitting is a way to selectively undo a passage of knitting when you’ve made a little mistake or simply gotten carried away and knitted too much. It’s a less destructive method than just grabbing the end of the yarn and pulling like a terrier chasing after a string of sausages at the butcher’s.

Anyway, Shana was helping me out a little while ago when I was knitting a scarf each for my Ma and Pa. These scarves will become one of their Christmas presents this year. They are unlikely to see this post as they are not connected to the Internet, so for the rest of the world here’s what they look like. (The scarves, that is. Not my parents.)

The one above is mother’s scarf. And the one below is my Dad’s. If they want to swap scarves, that’s up to them, but pink really is not Pop’s colour.

They are both acrylic (the scarves, that is… πŸ™‚ ) and were knitted by me (with some weaving in of ends completed by Shana) using King Cole Big Value chunky yarn. I used 6mm bamboo needles to make Dad’s scarf, and (horror of horrors!) 6mm plastic needles to make Mum’s. Β With all this acrylic and plastic around, I can see I’m likely to get turfed out of the knitting circle pretty soon πŸ™‚

Back to Shana’s prowess at backwards knitting, though. ‘If you were to video record Β me doing this and then ran the footage the other way, I would look as if I were knitting forwards,’ said Shana.

‘That’s nothing,’ I said. ‘If you were to record me knitting forwards and then played the tape, it would look like a still photograph, such is my lack of speed.’

Suddenly, Shana had a serious moment. As some of our readers know, she is allergic to acrylic yarn and if she handles it too much she can develop blisters on the Β hands and will feel very unwell for a long time afterwards. ‘Do you know what to do if I go into anaphylactic shock?’ she said.

‘Not sure,’ I replied. ‘Does it involve having to throw a bucket of water over you, by any chance?’

‘Just you try it!’ said Shana, meaning the opposite.

‘Oh all right then,’ I said, starting to take the question less lightly. ‘I suppose II’d have to cook my own supper. Buttered bread crusts again, then 😦 Β .’

I can’t understand it though. Why can’t Shana be allergic to something normal. Like bee stings, for instance? Instead of my precious chunky acrylic?