From little squares…

TunCroAlthough it may not look like much this square represents a few hours spent in the company of a group of amazing women that I’m privileged to call my friends. Wendy, Lucy H, Lucy W, Katie, Clare, myself and Louby (when she can make it) get together once a month for our ‘Stitch & Bitch’ sessions.

Now despite not being a great fan of the phrase stitch & bitch which to me conjures up negative images one alternative, Knit & Natter, is definitely far too tame for who we are and what we do. These women are my ‘bee-at-ches’ who were there for me when Sam & I we were at our lowest point just before my brain op in 2016. Together we form an incredible support network within which we talk about pretty much anything and everything accompanied by fantastic food oh yes…. and a bit of crafting. Some of us are accomplished knitters, some prefer to sew and sometimes if there’s been too much alcohol consumed we forget about being creative and just talk, talk, talk.

Last night my inspirational friend Jenny joined us for the first time and being an accomplished crochet designer (her work is regularly featured in Inside Crochet magazine) she introduced me to the basics of Tunisian crochet. It’s one of those techniques that’s been on ‘The List’ for a number of years now (along with top down knitting, a fair isle design etc etc) but with one thing and another I just hadn’t got round to it. So having ferreted through my loft I found a Tunisian crochet hook that I kept after closing my Edinburgh yarn shop all those years ago and a ball of DK yarn from my all too large stash. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the basic stitch really isn’t that taxing to learn even for my constantly furred up brain and I love both the feel and look of the fabric. It’s an intriguing mix of knit and crochet and it has a lovely firm feel that would be ideal for bags so no doubt I’ll experiment along those lines if ever I get the chance. What each chain, loop and stitch in this tiny square really does represent though is a precious few hours of catching up, problems shared and raucous laughter washed down with a few glasses of wine or in my case lychee juice and decaf tea. (Not in the same glass obviously).

So thanks to my bee-at-ches for another amazing night, Jenny – welcome to the group and  above all Katie thanks for the outstanding bowls of superfood salad that given our ages no doubt made us all flatulent for the rest of the evening. (Even so Wendy & I polished itoff when everyone else had the good grace to stop eating). Looking forward as ever to next month.

You can find out more about Jenny Reid’s work by following her on instagram where she’s millieroseuk or you can find her designs on Ravelry here

J x

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Last time of asking

KM178coverIt’s a dreary and wet Saturday morning and the March issue of Knitting Magazine has just hit my doorstep. Great you may think, a perfect excuse to hunker down with a(nother) cuppa and linger over the designs, articles and reviews held within the covers. But this issue  is a little different for me as it marks the end of an era ….my last Ask Jeanette column.

I was very privileged to have been asked by Knitting’s previous editor to take over the column from Jean Moss and I can’t believe that was something like 10 years ago. Within that time I also took on other features including the yarn reviews and truly enjoyed all the drooling, petting, swatching and writing about yarn for ‘work’. It’s truly been one of the best jobs in the world. But, as you’ll know if you read this blog regularly life has taken a few unexpected turns in the last couple of years with the diagnosis of my brain tumours. Although mercifully they were both successfully removed in 2016 the surgery has left me quite a different person and no doubt along with getting older, has left me with a number of difficulties. This may sound odd but I no longer feel ‘present’ in much of what I do so on a good day I’ll write something – much of it back to front or spelt incorrectly (thank god for autocorrect) – but without a great deal of focus or concentration which means constant reading and re-reading in order to try and get it to penetrate my brain. Even then I may come back to it 24 hours later and it feels like reading someone else’s work. Alternatively on a bad day there are the migraines which I’d hoped to have seen the back of after the craniotomy.  Fellow migraine sufferers will know how debilitating these can be and despite being caffeine free for over 5 years and trying to avoid cheese (boo!) & red wine (boo hoo!), getting lots of rest and drinking lots of water they still rear their ugly heads.

Unfortunately all this this has meant that trying to meet deadlines has become increasingly more difficult along with trying to juggle looking after my elderly parents day to day. I felt that something had to and has to change. So I took the difficult decision to bring to an end most of my work for Knitting Magazine. You’ll find my final column on page 44 but you won’t be getting rid of me entirely as I’ll still be responsible for the A to Z of Techniques along with the occasional design. As for who will replace me I’m very happy to say that the reigns will be very ably taken over by the wonderful, and hugely talented Sarah Hazell who I was fortunate to meet only last year at Ally Pally and will hopefully see a bit more this coming year.

Thank you for letting me into your favourite knitting magazine. It’s been an absolute pleasure to write for you. I hope you’ve enjoyed picking my brains over the last 10 years…it’s just time to put less stress on what’s left of them.

J x

 

The longest week

So we’ve reached June 21st and thousands have spent the night at Stonehenge to mark the Summer Solstice. Time is a weird thing don’t you think? Perhaps it’s my age. On the one hand this year is flying by, I mean we’re almost through the month of June already, and yet on the other hand there aren’t enough hours in the day to tick off every item on my ‘to do’ list.  I think a lot of it has to do with working for a magazine where you’re always working months in advance.

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A huge amount of planning goes into each issue of Knitting and in order to keep all the contributors in check we all receive deadline dates for our work from Deputy Ed Katy. Normally these are beautifully paced to fit in with our other work commitments so  I can be working on an Ask Jeanette one week, followed by a Yarn Review the week after. This week however I find myself working on one Ask Jeanette, two Yarn Reviews and a Gallery Garment techniques which goes some way to explaining the chaos on my desk that you can see in the photo above. We’re currently working on the Autumn / September issues and whilst it’s normally quite perverse to be knitting swatches of heavy Winter yarns in the middle of June the current UK ‘Summer’ we’re having means it’s actually been quite nice to wrap myself up in a blankie (that was blankie not snuggie, things aren’t THAT bad) and knit to keep warm. It’s also ironic that whilst doing all this work for a magazine called Knitting aside from reviewing yarns I haven’t had a chance to pick up my needles to knit for pleasure this week. Not to worry, there’s always next week.

In the mean time can I ask you to knit a few rows for me? Before you do read this piece  by Franklin Habit in the latest issue of Twist Collective. Called Process This it’ll make you wonder  which camp you fall into –  ‘Process Knitter’ or ‘Product Knitter’. Have a wee think about the project you’re holding in your hands and it’ll tell you….

J x

DIY charting

In my Ask Jeanette pages in June’s issue of Knitting magazine I was asked by a reader for help in finding a company or a clever piece of software that could help her to translate  a picture into a chart that she could use for intarsia knitting. As knitters, some of us love working with graphs whilst for others the mere  sight of graph paper brings them out in hives. I love working with graphs and my personal design process nearly always begins with ideas drawn in pencil on hard copy graph paper. A bit old school I know but it works for me. Once I’ve swatched the design a few times and I’m happy with it, I then translate it into the brilliant Intwined to create the digital graphs and the written instructions.

If you’re looking to create your own charts for knitting and you’d like a little help there are several options available on the net and I’ve put links to some of them on the Ask Jeanette page of the blog here. Some are free to use, some you’ll have to pay for  and they vary in terms of how simple they are to use. As I haven’t worked with any of them I’m not recommending one more than the other but I think exploring them further and then reporting back would make an interesting blog post in the future. Let me know if you think that would be helpful.

Oops, the sequel!

Huge apologies to readers of ‘Knitting’ magazine who may have been trying in vain to find the new ‘Ask Jeanette’ tab promised in the March issue. The scheduled publication went slightly awry but it’s here now. I thought it would be a good thing to add to the blog as it’ll be handy for giving additional information that won’t fit into the magazine.

Ask Jeanette, Knitting issue 77

Last year I was asked to become the new host of the letters page in ‘Knitting’ magazine, taking over from Jean Moss, the previous host and as well as being flatterd, frankly I dreaded having to fill such large shoes. I’ve been doing it for a while now and hopefully have helped to solve the knitting dilemmas of the magazine’s readers half as well as Jean. In this month’s issue I was asked about methods for knitting i-cords and though there are a few knitting mills on the market you may prefer to do it ‘old school’ with a pair of dpns, here’s how . . .(you’ll have to excuse the quality of the video, I’m no Ridley Scott)