I can vaguely remember my Nanna teaching me how to knit when I was about 11 years old. It obviously didn’t leave a huge impression on me as I can’t remember what I knitted but I am assuming it was probably a garter stitch scarf, full of holes and long enough to wrap around the house a couple of times!! Isn’t that what most people learned to knit?
I didn’t continue to knit throughout my childhood years; it wasn’t until my early 20s that I picked up the needles again and started knitting jumpers (sweaters). Don’t ask me how I graduated from garter stitch scarves to jumpers. I do remember buying a pattern for a jumper and studying it as if the end result was going to be a PhD! I actually knitted quite a few jumpers and even embroidered pictures on them. Remember, back in the late 1970s and early 1980s there was no internet. You couldn’t just find a You Tube video for a certain stitch. None of my friends knitted either so the only way I could figure out something was to try and source a knitting book from my library; and they weren’t in plentiful supply either. It must have been sheer determination that helped me to understand a knitting pattern. I do remember a couple of instances of frogging a sleeve as I’d only decreased on the one side.
Here’s a picture of one of my first partly embroidered jumpers (right hand side). It was knitted in the 1980s and if I remember correctly only the kangaroos were embroidered on. This picture is from the pattern book. Unfortunately, I don’t know what has happened to the jumper 😦
In those days the main yarn available that I can recall was Patons or Twilleys and if you were into acrylic it was Coles ‘Holiday’. Coles supported their Holiday yarn with many pattern books too. I managed to pick one up recently at a Lifeline Book Fest and it brought back fond memories. Back then I can only recall using straight metal knitting needles. Now I have some bamboo needles which I love as they are so light. I’ve also just bought my first set of Addi click needles.
Prior to my son’s birth on 4 July 1987 (yes, he shares a day celebrated in the USA) I knitted him bootees, bonnets and jackets in fine baby yarn.
The little knitted vest in the right hand side picture is the same as the one on the cover of this Paton’s pattern book. You can still pick this book up from Ebay. Good patterns never seem to go out of vogue.
Of course every baby and little boy needs and bonnet and a beanie!
After a little break I knitted him jumpers when he was around 5-9 years old, again embroidering pictures on some of them. I have kept them and here are some photos. I love the Bugs Bunny jumper (knitted with Patons Totem) and was quite proud of my efforts. Unfortunately, living in Queensland there wasn’t much call to wear pure wool jumpers as it doesn’t really get that cold here in our winters. Hence the jumper is in immaculate condition. This jumper would be great in really cold weather as Bugs’ face has been embroidered on; hence there is double yarn thickness in that area.
A not too clear picture of a scanned old photo.
I love the striped jumper; again it was hardly worn.
After that burst of knitting, my interest waned. Until I found this little book called Knitted Mug Hugs in my local library which piqued my interest in 2011. I purchased the book and made a couple of the mug hugs. I subsequently visited The Book Depository and searched on mug hugs books and found the book (Mug Hugs by Alison Howard) which resulted in re-igniting my knitting interest. I have blogged about this previously; if you’re interested in reading my mug hug story it is here. Suffice it to say, I was hooked on knitting and looking for bigger and better things to knit.
I might add that throughout my life I also learned how to crochet. Again, I think my Nanna taught me as I can’t recall anyone else showing me. I also bought a very basic book about crocheting which is dated circa 1977 and I still refer to it to this day when crocheting.
I found these two pieces of flannelette, sewed them together and then crocheted the edges. This makes a great present for any new mum.
Throughout the years, I have made quite a few granny square blankets out of acrylic (haven’t we all?). I also recently found some great pattern books for knitted and crocheted towel tops from Crochet Australia and have made quite a few of them.
After my mug hug craze, I bought a few second hand knitting books at my twice yearly Lifeline Book Fest and started knitting baby garments as these were small and gave almost instant results.
I also started getting interested in using only pure wool so I started visiting Ebay quite a bit and bidding on bundles of wool…..this was the start of my uncontrollable stash obsession which I have also blogged about. You can read about it here.
I’ve got one thing to say about shopping on the internet and that is ‘dangerous’. It is so easy to keep clicking on ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Bid Now’. And the payment process is just a breeze with PayPal isn’t it? Plus the anticipation when I get home each afternoon wondering whether there will be a parcel waiting for me!
In the 1970s most yarn was a solid colour….I don’t remember much in the way of variegated yarn. It wasn’t particularly soft wool either; in fact it could be quite scratchy and hard to wear against the skin. Even with a shirt on the wool fibres would penetrate and annoy me.
I remember visiting my local Spotlight and Lincraft stores about 18 months ago and managing to find some nice yarn, in particular some Moda Vera Noir sock yarn. Sock yarn! I thought….”I could never knit a pair of socks”. Just looking at a sock and studying its structure was confusing to me.
Despite that, I bought about three balls of the sock yarn as it was quite cheap. I had no idea then how much sock yarn can cost per skein.
I also managed to locate a few yarn shops in Brisbane that had some good websites with facilities to subscribe to their newsletters which I did.
So I kept knitting my baby garments until one day a newsletter popped in my in box advertising sock knitting classes at Threads and More at Sherwood (the shop has since moved to Indooroopilly). I instantly recalled the three balls of sock yarn that I bought previously and thought “Go on….why not register” so I emailed the shop and registered for three x two hour lessons over three consecutive Saturday afternoons.
Knitting with five dpns was initially quite a challenge and I thought to myself “there’s no way I’m going to be able to knit socks with these needles and watch any TV”. I find knitting and watching TV very relaxing. After my first lesson I’d progressed past the cuff and onto the leg. Homework was to finish the leg. I rushed home, took photos and uploaded the photos and a quick story on my Facebook page as I was so excited with my efforts; maybe this was the start of my ‘blogging’ desire.
I thoroughly enjoyed my second lesson and couldn’t wait to get to my third lesson. By that time, I’d already started the second sock as I had a spare set of dpns at home (bamboo ones bought on Ebay from China – I love them!). I was so proud of my first pair of socks I could literally burst. Here they are.
What these sock knitting lessons did was to instil and create such an obsessive passion for knitting and yarn that has taken control of me and simply will not let go.
I also discovered Ravelry….OMG what a fantastic website for knitters and crocheters. So many yarns in their database, so many free patterns for everything imaginable, so many groups you can join, so many other knitters whose projects you can follow. Ravelry has more than three million members and it’s free to join. I also learned about KALs (Knit-A-Longs). Have just joined one with Augustbird.
I also started trawling the internet and learned so much about yarn. I fell in love with hand painted variegated yarn and couldn’t believe there was so much sock yarn out there. But more importantly I discovered some fantastic online yarn suppliers in Australia.
Not only the yarn suppliers that have a shop front that provide gorgeous yarns sourced from around the world and provide excellent service….like Yarn Glorious Yarn, Yay for Yarn, K2TOG but I also found suppliers who dyed their own yarn in exquisite colours…both solid colours and variegated colours. I discovered beautiful soft, stretchy sock yarns that feel luxurious against the skin. I found suppliers who respond incredibly quickly to their customers’ needs and requests. Suppliers who don’t have the big store names but provide knitters with yarns that the big stores just do not (and probably won’t ever) provide.
My three favourite hand-dyed yarn suppliers are Skein, Dyed By Hand Yarns and Augustbird. I have no affiliation with any of these suppliers. I am just so impressed with their products, their service and their obvious passion in producing such luscious and beautiful hand-dyed yarns. Whenever I receive a package of yarn in the mail (and believe me this happens an awful lot; my local parcel delivery man waves to me every morning as I walk to work!), I stroke the yarn; I smell it and inhale its beautiful aroma and absorb its journey from the sheep (or alpaca) on the land, to the shearer, to the spinner, to the dyer and eventually to me. It is such an incredibly tactile experience. If you know of any other quality hand dyed yarn suppliers in Australia, please let me know.
Since my first pair of socks in August 2012, I have completed 25 pairs and in between socks, I have knitted a couple of blankets and shawls. I also have a couple of UFOs (unfinished objects….a vest is one of them). I have a plethora of knitting patterns sourced from Ravelry plus a library full of knitting books sourced from the Lifeline Book Fest and The Book Depository. A lot of them are recommendations I’ve gleaned from other knitters’ blogs. I have enough yarn to open my own store and I am now getting more adventurous with my socks by mixing and matching patterns with what I like. I now understand the structure of the sock. But believe me I still have a lot to learn….how to knit socks on a circular needle toe-up; how to knit two socks at a time on two circular needles toe-up. How to knit Cat Bordhi’s tomato heel. I also want to learn about how to knit a moebius…I have a pattern and the yarn and needles but just need to find the time to sit down and watch Cat Bordhi’s You Tube video instructions on how to cast on a meobius.
Which brings me to blogs. I’m always so excited when I finish a project and just want to show everyone so I thought why not blog about it. I am no seasoned writer but I believe when you write about something you’re passionate about the words just flow and there is no such thing as writer’s block. If anything, I can tend to ramble as I am no doubt doing in this blog! So that’s how MelsNattyKnits was born. The name came to me pretty quickly and I thought it sounded quite catchy.
The only problem I have now is finding the time to work full time, knit my garments and blog about them.
So thank you to all you wonderful knitters and crafty people who have elected to follow my blog. I do so appreciate it and it gives me so much encouragement to keep writing my posts. I hope you enjoy reading them and I would love you to leave comments. I get a thrill every time I visit my statistics page and see that I have another follower J
And thank you to all the lovely online yarn stores who have showcased such wonderful yarns (and had some great sales) and helped to deplete my bank balance J
And finally, thank you to the dedicated artisans who hand dye their beautiful yarns so that I can knit such beautiful and treasured garments.
Until next time…..keep knitting, crocheting, spinning and doing whatever craft makes you happy.