I’ve been knitting for a long time, most of my life, in fact, and have tried a lot of knitterly things over the years. Originally because I didn’t know they were supposed to be “difficult” and because, like recipes, I reckoned I could read and therefore would be able to follow a pattern… mostly it worked out pretty well. Meanwhile, knitting has become something of a sophisticated science in many ways and with the advent of the internet, it’s become a worldwide phenomenon that I much appreciate. I am fascinated by the history of knitting in different places, the traditions, the commonalities and differences, the styles, the fact that (contrary to what most Swiss women will tell you!) there is no right or wrong, just a wide variety of ways of doing the same thing. And the yarns – the wools and silks and all the rest of the wide array of fibre people have knit with all over the world! A treasure trove. Recent stash enhancement – British wool and Swiss silk/merino…
To my delight, about 10 years ago and shopping for a birthday gift, I discovered a book of short essays, often very funny, by a knitter calling herself the Yarn Harlot and intriguingly, the blurb on the back of the book said she had a blog of the same name. Ever since, I’ve been hooked and laughed and cried with (Canadian) Steph as she has become something of a Queen of the modern knitting community all the while bringing up three daughters and living an increasingly crazy life on the knitting road as she promotes her books, raises money for charity by cycling across Canada and knitting and she is practically the godmother of knitting retreats all over North America. A pattern she chooses to knit is bound for fame and fortune as hundreds of knitters clamour to follow suit. While many other beautiful and entertaining knitting blogs have emerged, many have also died away, so I’m delighted that this one is still going strong. I don’t have a blog roll as such here, but some others I enjoy are
- Dancing with Wool (Lene Alve in Finland)
- Knitting Bliss (Julie Crawford in Canada)
- Yarnsmithery (my friend Elaine Morris in England)
Ysolda Teague’s Saudade hat kit in Jamieson & Smith’s 2-ply jumper weight – love it! (courtesy of my friend Helen at Runquiltknitwrite blog – shout out!)
Let me give an honourable mention to Kate Davies and her blog, a knit designer (with her own line of wool) I love but whose essays on knitting history are a rich and fascinating mine of information – she’s a northern English girl with an interesting personal story and living in western Scotland, with a focus on Scottish places like Islay or Shetland which are mirrored in her work. Her husband Tom takes really amazing photographs of those landscapes. Stunning. Zygopetalum orchid in my mother-in-law’s conservatory and in a cachepot she made when my brother-in-law was a child
For a while, I fell into audio podcasts, which was a whole new genre at the time. Many hopped onto this bandwagon – but sadly, many fell off it again or simply quit. There are 100 episodes of Alana Dakos’ Nevernotknitting podcast you can listen to, a Californian who has become a noteworthy designer of botanically inspired knits over the course of her podcasting years but has now stopped recording. I spent many a comfortable hour knitting or in the bath listening to Brenda Dayne’s Cast On, a quirky and knitterly chat each time she popped up, but who again, now rarely if ever records. She’s an American living in South Wales… (I think these episodes can still be found on iTunes) Travel Cardigan by Nancy Eiseman in the luscious and adorable West Yorkshire Spinners Blue-faced Leicester DK – I wore this for the first time today and the buttons alone gave me pleasure in the sunshine!
And then just recently, I was made aware of a new kid on the block, knitting podcasts on YouTube. Why these aren’t just called knit vlogs I have no idea, but no, they are known as knitting podcasts. So far I have discovered several (and bingewatched…) and love them all – they are all gentle and chatty, sometimes a little repetitive (just like when you’re talking to a friend and have forgotten that you already mentioned such-and-such last week…) and all have their funny and amusing moments. Most entertaining (much better than telly!) Oh, and so far, they all drink tea – yay!!
Let me count the ways…
- Firstly, I found The Gentle Knitter, Nicole from Canada. A keen nature-lover who works in a museum, she has a soft and pleasant manner when chatting enthusiastically about her knitting and yarns – I love that she can pronounce the French names properly!
- Then Melody at Mandarine’s popped up on my screen. Melody is French and living in Latvia after a stint in China – she has grown from a beginner knitter to experienced and working as a knitwear designer in a very short time and has a lovely aesthetic that has evolved slightly in the course of her work but which has always had a distinctive style, also very connected to nature and ecology. As I’m interested in the Baltic tradition and have a connection with France, these videos claim my attention every time. So relaxing.
- Last but not at all least, I then discovered Eli at Skeindeer knits. This charming and bubbly Norwegian doing a PhD in London is a pleasure to follow. I love how she sometimes rambles and rants but find I generally agree with her! Her speciality is colourwork, in which she shines, and it’s to her credit that she has begun publishing her patterns – hurray. As a huge Scandi fan, I have always admired the traditional designs and have tried my hand at one or two. With Eli’s encouragement, I will be doing more – in fact, I’ve just finished a Fair Isle hat knitted in Shetland wool that I thoroughly enjoyed knitting and my Norwegian wools (a souvenir from my trip last year) are just waiting for a Norway-inspired moment which will not be too long coming! I also love her Schnauzer dogs back in Norway and the episodes she made while she was there…
Drops dog sweater made in Drops Baby Merino – looks impressive, wasn’t that hard!
All of these lovely ladies have Instagram accounts you can follow (and probably Twitter, too, but I don’t do that!) so I’d encourage any knitters out there to give them all a try, just as good (if not better) than a boxed set next time you settle down for a cosy hour with the needles (or hook, crocheters…!). No links because WordPress just kills me sometimes and you all know how to google :). And just because I enjoyed the first one, I made a different one for my friend’s pup, again a Drops pattern and mostly Drops Baby Merino… suitable for Valentine’s week!