Epic Fail Cocktail

 

imageThe dictionary definition of an epic fail is the neglect or omission of expected or required action in grand scale. Sometimes “grand scale” means your gnome hat becomes big enough to fit a giant. However, it does not always follow that mistakes such as these are necessarily failures. I will use an expanded use of the title of a book by Naoki Higashida: “Frog seven times, crochet or knit up eight.” What this means is sometimes it is necessary that the skills required to create that special project needs to be forged in the fires of failure. By trying and failing, we eventually achieve the success beyond our wildest dreams.

fail lurch

We all have to start somewhere. It is very rare that someone takes to knitting on the first try. Even under the watchful eye of a knitting Yoda, it is often difficult to find our groove and move into the effortless knit-and-purl of meditative legend early on. Even when we finally get the gist of the garter stitch and slink off to our well-lit knitting sanctuary to knit along with either a knitting how-to book or You Tube, we still eventually skip along the path of disaster. Some of the common mistakes  we experience are dropping stitches, tension inconsistencies, forgetting where you were in the pattern, misinterpreting the pattern, going rogue on the pattern, forgetting where you are in the row follow you as you level up in your knitting. I discovered that the “bosses” we need to fight to keep levelling up become more and more about battling our own hubris. We get more clever and decide to mess about with the math so we can use a different yarn, bigger needles or smaller needles and then we realise we got the math wrong. Yes! Fails are not solely exclusive to newbies. Recently, Our Fearless Leader Sara committed an “whoopsie” where she skilfully knitted some gorgeous cabled mittens for her TWO LEFT HANDS. Yes. She knitted two lefts.

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I was amazed at the examples I found on epic fails on the internet! It seems there are as many examples of mistakes as there are knitters and crocheters on this magnificent planet. It also made me feel better to know I am not alone. When I first started knitting, I came by a book with instructions on how to make a knitted patchwork knitted throw blanket. I set about making it as per the instructions but ran out of the right yarn so I decided to raid my modest (at the time) Yarniverse. I was a rookie. I had not been knitting a year and my squares came out more— how shall I say it?— Abstract. The blanket is more of an oblong super-shawl. It is rich in colour and it is warm. It’s perfect for snuggling in with my son and a book on cold winter nights and it is perfect comfort for when I am feeling down and under the weather on sick days. This imperfect, oblong blanket/ super shawl serves as a reminder that nothing in life is a mistake.

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Most of my jumpers have sleeves that are far too long and most of the hats I’ve made are either far too slouchy or become beanies. The yoga warmer with one sleeve a totally different colour to the rest of the garment was because I ran out of yarn and had to order more but the dye lot was slightly off (mail-order. Don’t get me started.) However, my talent is the way I wear the garments as if I meant them to look that way. I basically use all the confidence of a model on a catwalk and summon my inner Coco Chanel and call it my own haute couture. Why not? If the big fashion houses can get away with it during fashion week, why can’t I?

 

Resident Designer Jen related a conversation in the shop this week.  A Mum was speaking to her daughter who is our latest novice in the world of knitting.
Mum: You’ve done 2 left sides for that cardi!

Daughter: I know, but it all still fits together so it’ll be OK.

Mum: The sleeve will still fit, as it’s a straight line.

Daughter: I can’t see what your problem is, I’m not taking it out!
So now she has a cardi which only really fits well when her right arm is stretched across her body.

fail manBut even Resident Designer Jen is not exempt from knitting kafuffles. This is from her email to me:

“I bought a fabulous book – SystemHATic, by Rico Design – and instantly wanted to make something from it. I have been meaning to try brioche for some time, and had some Rico bonbon yarn in my stash, so the brioche beanie pattern was just too good an opportunity to miss…
I must admit, I struggled at first. A lot. I was fine with row 1, and then it all went wrong for me on row 2. I checked out YouTube and blogs, knew that I should be able to do it but couldn’t. And then, after 2 or 3 hours of this pain, I realised: I had been trying to knit the hat in the round, when the pattern was actually written for 2 needles, worked flat and then seamed. Which would totally explain why it wasn’t working.
Reminder to self: READ the pattern, then READ it again. Doh!”

Bless her heart!

I think the best kind of example of knitting mistakes are the ones you make when a few bottles of prosecco come out and there are a few of us around the table talking about something completely unrelated to knitting. The epic failures that come out of these sessions are legendary. But if you want to know more about these, you will need to leave me a message in the comments. Alternatively, you can come in and visit us at Yankee Yarns. We’d love to hear about your knitting misadventures!

fail drunk

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Tea & Company

craft tea

Overheard at a tea house:

Lady One: “Hey! Sorry I am late traffic.”

Lady Two: “That’s ok. I brought my knitting and I got a cuppa.”

Lady One: “Oh my days! What are you knitting now? Tea towels?”

Lady Two: “No, no, this one is for charity. It’s for preemie babies!”

Lady One:“Are you sure it’s just not another excuse to knit???”

Me over on the next table: The penny drops.

I am one of those kinds of knitters who will accept any opportunity to knit. Why not use my talents to give back to the community? Why not hone my skills with each project?

All kidding aside, there are so many benefits to donating your knitting and crochet work to charity. In addition to helping others in need, it also gives knitters and crocheters the chance to get more involved in the community by discovering new volunteer opportunities. In addition, there is the opportunity to learn a new skill, increase your skill base or teach others the skill. There are patterns that challenge all skill levels. Mastering the skill gives me such a feeling of satisfaction. However, knowing that I am making something precious for others makes the experience richer.  It brings me an amazing feeling of self-worth, helps me relax and practice mindfulness and gives me joy. What’s not to love?

Here are some guidelines to knitting or crocheting for charity:

  • Follow the pattern. The pattern is there for a reason. They have been tried and tested.
  • Make sure the garments are big enough (unless you are knitting for premature babies.
  • Don’t use a free pattern to sell your stuff. These are intended for charity
  • Ask your local yarn store for help either with the pattern, finding a suitable/affordable yarn or with the pattern instructions. Yankee Yarns is the nerve centre of all things yarn. Any of the Knitteristas that come into the shop to knit can help out.
  • There are many charities out there that rely on the generosity of knitters to help them raise funds and awareness of issues. Check the details of the charity and make sure it is a reputable one. You can click on the UK Handknitting website to help you with this.

knitter vintage

The vintage poem appeared in an Australian newspaper in 1918 for the war effort. And if you think about it, there were knitters from the US, Canada and the UK all clicking away to ensure “our boys” had warm things to wear on the front. It looks like we are still doing this only now it is in remembrance of all who fought and fell in the wars. We have had a load of knitted and crocheted poppies come through the door. It is impressive and heart-warming to see all these ladies come through the door to drop off their donations at Yankee Yarns. There are Plenty of Poppies!!!   Wouldn’t it be great if we could see 150,000 Poppies??? We are working on it!!!

poppies

Read the post from the Mansfield District Council Facebook page below:

poppiness

Ready, Steady… KNIT!!!!

“I just want to finish work today so I can go home and speed-knit!” said Sam Wibberley as she came out of the staff kitchen with her first cup of tea of the morning. She is expecting the arrival of her cousin this weekend with her brand new baby in tow. Well, newish baby.

Sam started knitting a floppy teddy bear for the new-born four months ago. For one reason or another, meeting the new arrival had been postponed and for the last week she has been “speed-knitting”. I loved hearing how Sam was already looking forward to going home to get more progress on the floppy teddy bear (95% complete at this point) and it was only 8am on a Thursday morning.

This is a common phenomenon. Even I have two projects on the go right now for people who just had new arrivals. One became a new dad of a three-year-old boy. He and his wife adopted the wee man and I excavated my pattern book from the many pattern tomes in my Yarniverse and decided on a lovely cable jumper for him to wear through the winter. So far I have the back done and am now moving on to the front so still, only 25% done and it is middle October… tick tock.

road knittingThen I have another more immediate speed-knit I felt compelled to do for another work for someone who just became a new dad. This was a surprise birth that not even HE knew about! One day, He and his girlfriend were just a couple, and then BOOM! Parenthood. To quote his manager when he called in to let her know he could not come into work that day because he was at the hospital with his girlfriend in labour, “WTF?” Anyway, he and his girlfriend wheeled the wee lassie in to show her off in their quickly bought pram. All I could think (after I got all broody and dreamy about what a pretty baby girl she was) was, “She needs a bonnet!!!!!” So here I am flicking yarn like a maniac whenever I have my hands free as I listen to Grime or heavy metal music.

lullabyeIt’s all about the babies, isn’t it? So is it any wonder, Yankee Yarns is promoting knitting hospital hats for King’s Mill ICU babies. The hospital has adopted a new safety initiative to help keep the babies warm in the first crucial hours after birth. A traffic light system of red, yellow and green hats on these babies will help staff and parents understand the changing temperature of the babies, ensuring they are kept at the right temperature and being aware of any signs of developing an infection.

Our Fearless Leader Sara wrote a pattern to go with the Stylecraft Lullaby DK yarn we have at Yankee Yarns so you can knit up these little hats for the babies.

“Yes ma’am,” said Sara when I asked her if this was her own design. “I made the whole thing up. Like my lavish lifestyle!” LOL.

hat2

Stylecraft Lullaby DK knitting yarn is the perfect yarn for babies, especially the brand new ones because it’s super soft! This truly is a speed-knit because it takes a 4mm needle to knit up these gorgeous little hats, and the colours are absolutely beautiful. The yarn is functional, too. It’s a blend of acrylic and nylon so it can be machine washed and tumble dried on a low setting. It feels lovely when you knit it up, too.

Have a look at our FREE pattern in aran .   There is one in double knitting, too! Come and get your yarn! Have a coffee with us! Alternatively, you can knit up the traffic light hats and send them to us at 185 Westfield Lane, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, NG19 6EH UK. We will make sure they get to Kingsmill Hospital!

hat1

 

Curiouser & Curiouser

 

alice needles
https://nz.pinterest.com/pin/187532771962487761/?lp=true caption

 

The quote from Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat, “We are all mad here”, applies to every single knitter and crocheter I know. I realised this when I was in the shop one afternoon and we were all going about our conversations as we worked our projects. Designer Jen made some cups of coffee and placed them in front of us. She was talking about a pattern she was tweaking as she poured some milk in her coffee (and maybe sugar, I really wasn’t noticing) when all of a sudden, she took her knitting needle and stirred her coffee…

mad alice

She stirred her coffee…

She stirred her coffee with her knitting needle…

No one said anything. We just continued on and carried on with our delightful afternoon.

The thing is, I was not so surprised at the fact that she actually stirred her coffee with the needle as I was that I used needles and hooks for unconventional uses as well. I thought I was just the mad one. It turns out, EVERYONE IS MAD!

“A tool is a tool. You can find innumerable uses for any tool,” said a man who was using a butter knife as an impromptu flat head screwdriver.

“The way humans make and use tools is perhaps what sets our species apart more than anything else,” said Charles Q Choi in his contribution to Live Science website about human evolution.

impossible alice

As a full-blown knitting and crochet hobbyist, I tend to buy and collect beautiful tools for my craft. However, I started with very inexpensive and basic needles and hooks when I first started on my journey. The first 4mm needles I owned were hand-me-downs, bent and felt so cold and slippery. I bought some lovely Knit Pro Symfonie wood needles and those old needles became a letter opener, to name only one of the many uses.

I became intrigued. The awareness that other people use their needles and hooks for other purposes is so odd, I began to compile a list. Here they are in no particular order:

  1. Letter opener (as mentioned before)
  2. Coffee/tea stirrer (as mentioned before)
  3. Fire poker
  4. Back Scratcher
  5. Crochet hook for getting the hair our out the drain after a shower
  6. Hairpin (straight needles and Dpns are great for this!)
  7. Plant pot trellis/stake
  8. Outdoor trellis (takes a few but great for training vines)
  9. Cake tester when baking
  10. Cat and dog scratcher
  11. Pom Pom maker
  12. BBQ skewer
  13. Spool Pin
  14. Dpns used in tabletop wargaming (true fact)
  15. Jewellery! Makes a great bracelet!
  16. Chopsticks
  17. Rubbish spear for picking up stuff after BBQs in the garden
  18. A ruler to draw straight lines
  19. Hook to check if spaghetti is done
  20. Hammer them into the shed to hang stuff from them (metal needles, obs…)
  21. Grabber of things high up on a ledge or under the sofa, fridge, bookcase, crack in the pavement…
  22. “Furgle” things off a high shelf (their word. Not mine.)
  23. Eating utensil when out camping and lost the camping flatware
  24. Flip on switches (try not to use steel needles or hooks. Electrocution is not fun for most people and can result in your terminus…)
  25. 15 mm needles make good vampire stakes (this might have been said in jest but this person gave me a reason to believe this might just be true… but I digress…)
  26. Reaching deep and narrow vessels
  27. Outdoor wind chime
  28. Music baton (a music teacher told me this one)
  29. Presentation pointer (a project manager told me this one)
  30. Weed tweaker-upper (needles and hooks!)
  31. Spider Tamer (making it go outside… no spiders were hurt in the demonstration of this example)
  32. Scraper
  33. Impromptu Pick Up Sticks game for when the nieces come over and you have no toys for them to play with…
  34. Herb Garden/ Allotment Plant Label Holder

Leave your particular uses for needles and hooks in the comments below! Remember, we are all mad here!

mad here
Courtesy Pinterest https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/466084659/were-all-mad-here-alice-in-wonderland