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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thumb Flick Knitting

I'm a tri-lingual knitter! I can knit English (right hand holds the working yarn), German (left hand holds working yarn) and now Portuguese (yarn worn around neck and stitches are made with a flick of the left thumb).

Granny T taught me English style knitting as a child. She wanted me to knit a million little squares to sew into a doll blanket. I never got past one blue square and one pink square. It was so hard (Do I go right to left or vice versa? How come I have more/less stitches than last time? My needles fell out - again!) yet so boring (Let's undo that row, dear, you made some mistakes....) that my knitting hobby lasted only as long as my grandmother's visit. 

I picked it up again when I was 20. I started a scarf for my then boyfriend but the knitting curse befell me. Before I was finished, he was my boyfriend no more. The next two gentlemen in the boyfriend lineup thought they should get it, or better yet, have one made especially for them. The thought of having to knit 3 fine wool scarves was enough to make me throw away my needles. 

<Cue the sound of a ticking clock> Thirty-five years went by. I found out I was going to be a grandmother.... In my joy, I decided to knit a baby blanket. My friend, B.A.D. (I get such a kick out of her initials - irony at its best), showed me how to knit English style and then for fun, she taught me to knit in the German/Continental style. 

I loved the Continental style. Even though my stitch tension wasn't as even as when I knitted English style, making the knit stitch was fast and easy. The purl stitch, however, was a different story. It was awkward and slow. I gravitated to things featuring the garter stitch or knit in the round.

Two years later, realizing I had to get over my stumbling block, I decided to make a sweater requiring the purl stitch. 

With the oodles of practice, I did get faster, and "picking" the stitch was less awkward. But my stitch tension fluctuated like the temperature on a maritime spring day.

I'm a huge fan of Sally Melville's how-to series, The Knitting Experience.  In her second book, The Purl Stitch, she outlines how to purl with the yarn around the neck, taught to her as Portuguese knitting. Intriguing. 

I ran across another reference to knitting with the yarn around the neck in Maggie Righetti's book, Knitting in Plain English, only she called it Arabic knitting. (Like all styles of knitting, naming it from a geographic location is awkward because more than one nation uses it.) 

Thoroughly intrigued and more than a little frustrated with my purl stitch, I googled "Portuguese style knitting".

Isn't the internet a marvelous thing! From several YouTube videos, I was able to get the gist of it. The working yarn goes around the neck, and stitches are made with the left thumb. I tried it. It was love at first flick. 

Helpful as they were, the YouTube videos weren't quite enough; I need more information. Then I realized one presenter, Andrea Wong, had made some commercial dvds on Portuguese style knitting. Fortunately, the local public library owned them, so I swooped in and picked them up. 

Wow! Oh wow! Thumb flicking knitting is fab-u-lous!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

And the Winner is....

Final episode of The Great British Sewing Bee. What fabulous challenges! And the winner is....

Find out here:
Episode 4 - The Finals

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Episode 3

Did you enjoy the first two episodes of The Great British Sewing Bee? The third one is up. Here's the link:

As with the first two, I loved this episode. What the contestants did is amazing. There was one thing that disappointed - I think they helped one person too much. She's a sweetie and I can see why everyone wants her to do well, but it did smack of favoritism. Perhaps everyone got that kind of attention but if so, it sure doesn't show in the editing.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sewing Shows

As you've probably guessed, I love all things sewing. This extends past the sewing room and permeates just about every aspect of my life, including television/YouTube watching.

I enjoy Project Runway. Notice I didn't say I love PR.  American tv seems to think conflict=interest to the point of artificially "enhancing" conflict if the real stuff is absent. The "personal conflict" in PR is my least favorite part of the show and I wish the producers would remove every scrap of it. It's boring and takes away from the real conflict - taming the chosen pieces of fabric and forcing them to conform to the designers' visions. 

Anyone who sews knows the struggle of bringing your vision to life. Although fabric is supposed to be inanimate, it often seems to have a mind of its own. And the fight for dominance between a commercial sewing pattern and an actual body is not for the faint of heart.

I was thrilled to catch the rumblings of a new sewing show, The Great British Sewing Bee, on some sewing blogs and hastened to find the links. 

Hurray! something new that isn't a clone of PR, like the short-lived Project Runway Canada. 

While PR's focus is to find the best designer, the Sewing Bee's aim is to find the best home sewer. (Personally, I find sewing and designing go hand in hand, so the distinction isn't as black and white as it sounds. But that's a topic for another day.) I especially like that the contestants sew 3 garments/challenges before the judges decide who to eliminate. It seems fairer that way. One horrible garment isn't going to knock you out.

If I've piqued your interest, you can follow these links to the YouTube posts for episodes 1 and 2.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Happy viewing!

              -  Lady T