Saturday, 30 December 2017

My crochet and knitting year

Blackboard saying 'my crochet and knitting year' and some hand-knit socks in the foreground

We seem to have reached the end of the year surprisingly quickly; December passed in a flash and I'd blinked and Christmas had gone. Naturally at this time of year attention turns to goal setting and plans for the coming year. Before I do that on the blog I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the year just-gone. Rather than gamboling through a list of completed knitting and crochet projects I thought I'd look at the year in a different way - in the hope I can share some of my insights and learning from the year.

Best crafting purchase
Hands-down, my best purchase has been a Hiya Hiya interchangeable (steel) needle set. I was a fan of Hiya Hiya needles before, but I have found the interchangeable set incredibly versatile; they came with six different needles and four cables. The join between the cables and needles is smooth and the cables are well-behaved whilst still being malleable. My only complaint is that it didn't come with a 3mm needle so I think I will have to buy an additional needle at some point next year.

Best craft book
Making Winter book by Emma Mitchell and a skein of yarn
In terms of a coffee table book, I would say my best craft book purchase has been Making Winter by Emma Mitchell. I know a lot of people have received this beautiful book as a gift this Christmas and I am planning a review of it in January. For a practical book that I have learnt and will continue to learn lots from, I would say A Year Of Techniques - I talk about the pattern writing in it further down this blog -  but it is really very good for a knitter looking to develop their skills.

Most enjoyable yarn to work with
Up until 24th December my answer would have been the Stein Fine Wool from Little Grey Sheep that I used to knit mittens with in the Summer. But on Christmas Eve I cast-on a pair of mitts using Hampshire DK yarn, again from Little Grey Sheep and it is just a dream to work with.
Close up of mitts knit with Hampshire DK

Over the year my yarn preference has moved away from super soft merino yarn to yarn with more character and depth. The Hampshire DK yarn is woollen spun from the fleeces of Hampshire sheep mixed with Little Grey Sheep's own Stein Fine Wool. It is beautifully dyed in tonal colours with characteristics of the original fleeces peeping through.

Most valuable technique learnt
I finally mastered Kitchener stitch - I stopped trying to do it left-handed! It has dramatically improved the quality and finish of my knitted socks. I talked about my learning experience in this post: Sock knitting with magic loop

Best written pattern
There are three in contention but the clearest, most concise and best formatted pattern was the Ruschia Hat by Woolly Wormhead in the book A Year of Techniques by Jen and Jim Anauld-Culliford. 

A photograph of the Ruschia hat by Woolly Wormhead and the Year of Techniques book open on a table

I find, particularly with crochet patterns that too many words are used unnecessarily making patterns busy and distracting. In my crochet designing I am committed to developing a clear concise style.

The project that I learnt the most from
In nearly all cases I want to learn something new in my projects. My biggest learning curve project in 2017 was my Westbourne Sweater designed by Isabell Kraemer. I was a little bit excited about finishing it as you can read here: Festival of Finishing and my first knitted sweater.

Most worn project
Early in the year I finished my Missed Kingfisher shawl designed by Joanne Scrace.

Close-up of the Missed Kingfisher crochet shawl
I have talked before about the wear-ability of a two skein shawl - they really are the best. I used John Arbon 4ply Knit by Numbers for this make and it made a beautifully soft, drapey shawl. I have worn and washed the shawl a lot and the yarn has worn well.

Most relaxing make
I don't tend to make projects again, I struggle with sock syndrome but towards the end of the year I found myself needing a simple, therapeutic project and cast-on my second Hitchhiker shawl designed by Martina Behm.
Close up of Hitchhiker shawl

I love long rows of squishy garter stitch and I find the finished asymmetric shape of the Hitchhiker really easy to wear. This time around I choose a really special skein of yarn - a lambswool, silk blend dyed by Natasha from Hill View Moments. I had just 4g left when I cast-off making it a great project to use a special skein too.

The one project I hadn't expected to make at the start of the year
A knitted puffin! I always swore that I would never knit a toy - crocheting a toy is bad enough - but before Christmas my little one asked for a knitted toy and I couldn't refuse as he hadn't specifically asked for anything for either Christmas or Birthday. Despite a lot of trepidation I enjoyed making this project so much. It was such a good way of practicing new skills. I followed the Sue Statford pattern using the tapestry yarn she suggested. Unlike normal, I took my time stuffing the toy and it really yielded benefits in terms of the finished object. The puffin is about to be gifted so I will share photos on Instagram when it has been.

The best bit...
Almost certainly, my highlight has been curating the Back to School Sweater CAL blog hop with Tamara and then hosting the accompanying CAL. It was so rewarding to see so many makers develop their crochet garment making skills and confidence. You can still access all of the resources here.

Thank you
I just wanted to end this last blog post of the year with a big thank you for every comment and like - both on here and on social media. I really appreciate each and everyone one. I'll be back next week with my thoughts and plans for the coming year x


  1. What a fantastic year Helen!! Wishing you another brilliant year of crafting in 2018 xx

  2. What a wonderful summary Helen! What a great idea to reflect on the year's achievements rather than just rushing on with plans for the new. I must write one too once the kids get back to school! The Back to School Sweater CAL was certainly the highlight of my crafting year too! Thank you so much for inviting me to co-host it with you!

    1. Thanks Tamara! No pressure but I look forward to reading your review of 2017 - you've tackled so many new techniques and made some amazing projects. Let's hope 2018 brings lots of yarn fun for us both xx