Knitting in the Shropshire Hills

My Secret Knitting Obsession

I was a bit of a swot at school and all of my teachers loved me, with 2 exceptions. I was always hopeless at PE. By age 14 the teachers had given up on me and games lessons were spent “doing cross country”. OK that meant walking round the field chatting with the other PE no hopers.

The other teacher who spoiled my otherwise shiny report card was the domestic science teacher. This may come as some surprise to those of you that know how important food is to me and how much I enjoy cooking.

The problem with cooking classes at school was that,  whilst everyone else was perfecting fairy cakes, I was already cooking quite complicated curries and other dishes at home.

The other thing I really disliked about DS, as we affectionately called domestic science, was that I couldn’t sew or knit for toffee. I made and embroidered a pencil case once but that was it.

Something strange happened when I was 17 and I had a little burst of knitting activity. I knitted my Dad a Doctor Who scarf and knitted myself a mohair cardigan. But then I went to university and that was knitting finished with.

Then much to everyone’s surprise ( not least mine ) earlier this year I suddenly picked up the knitting needles again.

Knitting to lose weight!

I’ve been following the 5:2 fasting diet for nearly 3 years now. Too many leftover croissants and being home all day had seen me put on 3 stone – I can inhale 600 calories just clearing the table after breakfast. Those 3 stone have now all gone I’m pleased to say.

Even though I’ve lost the weight I continue to fast for health benefits and to allow me to enjoy my food for the rest of the week. Knitting really helps me keep busy and stops me thinking of food all day on those days when I’m not eating till the evening.

I also spend far too much time on my mobile phone. Again knitting  distracts me and keeps me away from the technology for a few hours.

Like many new knitters I started with super chunky yarn and quickly knitted scarves and hats. I then progressed onto some fairly basic tea cosies – a B&B can never have too many tea cosies.

There are a couple of things I really love about knitting. Once I’ve knitted something it’s there and stays there for the long term.  I also love all the new skills I learn.

Learning to knit with YouTube

YouTube is a revelation to newbie knitters. If I’m reading a pattern and come across a new term or technique I just head to google and I’ve learned a new skill. Until just recently I’ve been avoiding any patterns that mention “knitting in the round” but last week I’ve learned how to use a circular needle and the magic loop method and have made a hat.

I’ve also discovered a whole community of knitters out there – many of them existing friends. A post on facebook about knitting will generate a whole load of comments and answers to questions.

So here’s a bit of my knitting history

Here are my first attempts at super chunky infinity scarf and gloves. I didn’t really understand about gauge and the difference in UK & US needle sizes.

knitting fingerless mittens and an infinity scarf
First knitting attempts at a scarf and hat

I then moved onto teapots. They’ve evolved over the year from very basic super chunky to using 2 colours to full on novelty squirrel!

3 teapots showing an improvement in skills!
An evolution of teapots

I’ve learned how to use 2 colours. There are quite a few jar cosies sprinkled around the house. This reflects a bit of a frustration with knitting when I really wanted to knit but couldn’t decide what to start next.

The pin cushion was knitted in one afternoon following a bit of a social media backlash following a picture I posted of a teddy bear I was using to store my pins

knitting Jar cover and pin cushion
Jar cover and pin cushion

If you’ve visited Hopton House in the past you’ll have seen the lovely felted tea cosies made by my very talented web designer, Anna Wilde of PerfectArc . Inspired by Anna’s work I’ve had a couple of goes at felting. I’m quite pleased with the results and my next felting project will be my own felted tea cosy.

As soon as we both have a free day, Anna has promised to take me to a fabulous wool shop in Wales this autumn. If you’d told me a year ago that I would be quite so excited about a visit to a wool shop, I really wouldn’t have believed you.

Felted flower and pot cosy knitting in the shropshire hills
Felted flower and another pot cosy

In the spring I started my first attempt at lace. This was one of those “quick projects” that I found in a knitting magazines ( I’ve bought quite a few of those too…. )

Once I worked out what slip one knit one meant – this took a few days with help from my knitting buddies on facebook and the lovely Rita who helps me with the B&B – this turned out to be a great pattern and I made a couple of scarves.

My further attempts at lace weren’t so successful. Most of the patterns I tried required a much higher degree of concentration than I’m able to give.

Pink and green lace
My first attempts at lace

Inspired by my friend, Penny Thompson, who is a talented knitter of bears and dogs ( amongst many other skills! Check out here lovely self catering cottage near Tenbury  ), I bought a book on how to knit dogs.

I’ve been avoiding starting any dog projects because I just don’t like ( and I’m not any good at ) the sewing up. However following on from the success of my squirrel tea cosy I decided to brave a couple of small dogs. These 2 are knitted from the same pattern but using different wools. I have more fur wool in the post – watch this space….

I’ve been contacted by a few people to ask where the dog pattern is from. They’re the Sweetheart pattern from Sue Stratford’s lovely book “Knitted Dogs and Puppies”  which is available here

2 tiny knitted dogs
Meet Carson & Hughes my first knitted dogs

My latest acquired skill is knitting in the round. I did have an aborted attempt at knitting socks on double pointed needles – too fiddly. But there are so many patterns I couldn’t do  because I couldn’t knit in the round, that I decided to give them a go.

YouTube again was my tutor. I’ve learned how to use circular knitting needles and also how to use the magic loop method ( which means you can avoid using DPNS – double pointed needles )

I’ve just finished a cable hat in the round ( oh cabling I forgot to tell you I’ve learned how to do cables ). Here it is with my the first hat I made right at the beginning of my knitting journey.

knitting ribbed and cabled hats
First attempts at ribbed hat and more complicated cabled knitting in the round

My next project is to knit some gloves for my daughter. I have ordered a pattern and some more wool ( also in the post ) and some wrist warmers for me.

Please do leave a comment and let me know if you have any favourite knitting projects you think I should be trying. I look forward to hearing about your knitting triumphs and disasters!

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