Hagrid Was A Knitter

I have read the Harry Potter series more times than I can count. I’m always at some point in the series as it’s a series I can pick up and return to at any point. There is something so comforting about a familiar book. Ultimately I know Harry will win, but I follow the heroes along, laugh with them and mourn with them.

Case in point, a few days ago, I finished Deathly Hallow and immediately started Philosopher’s Stone.  Even having read PS countless times, and it is arguably the simplest book in the series, I will still notice little details that I may have skimmed past in previous readings, like this one:

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“People stared more than ever on the train.  Hagrid took up two seats and sat knitting what looked like a canary-yellow circus tent.”

Yes, Hagrid was a knitter.  How this detail escaped me before, I’m not sure, but it jumped out at me this time!

This isn’t the only instance of knitting being mentioned through the series.  Mrs Weasley was infamous for knitting the Weasley jumpers, sweaters gifted to the Weasley children, and Harry also, every Christmas, much to Ron’s chagrin.  In Order of the Phoenix, Hermione was using magic to speed up her knitting of hats in an attempt to free the Hogwarts House Elves, and perhaps my favourite mention of knitting in the Harry Potter series was Dumbledore’s proclamation of his love for knitting patterns in Half-Blood Prince.

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My love for this book series has understandably crept into my knitting.  A few years ago, my co-worker commissioned two House scarfs, and I happy obliged.

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Year 1-2, left, and Year 3-4, right

I used the basic pattern structure of the Year 3-4 scarf to improvise my own Hogwarts House Hand Warmers. Yes, I’m Hufflepuff and Proud!

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As well, I’ve long proclaimed my love for Erica Lueder’s Harry Potter inspired patterns on my blog.  Her Hermione Every Day Socks are well known and often top the ‘Hot Right Now’ search on Ravelry, but I highly encourage you to check out her other patterns, most of which were inspired in one way or another by a Harry Potter character.

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Left to right: Hermione’s Every Day Sock; Weasley Rib; Devil Snare Sock

I have another Erica Lueder pattern on my needles right now, and I’m a few rounds plus the toe away from being finished the pair.  I can’t wait to show pictures of the finished socks.  The pattern was tedious to follow, but my goodness the finished fabric is beautiful. Totally worth it.

Also on my needles is the Time Turner Shawl by Elizabeth Saxton.  Saxton describes the lace as being reminiscent of Hermione’s time turner from Prisoner of Azkaban, and when looking for a pattern to truly highlight my stunning Manos yarn, I knew this was the one.

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Are you a Harry Potter fan? Can you add any Harry Potter inspired patterns to this (working) list?

A Few Finished Objects

Last week, I wrote how I had a major case of start-itis – symptoms of which include being unable to stop casting on new projects, despite how many WIPs a person has on the go. This start-itis isn’t showing signs of being cured, having started three new projects last week.  Seriously, I can’t stop finding new patterns and going through my stash to see what I can use.

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The good thing about so many projects on the go is that I was able to finish three objects last week.  The first were these Cableship socks.  I started them in October as a knit-a-long by KnitPurl Hunter.  The first sock was finished early November, but this second one was put into hibernation until after Christmas knitting was complete.  In the week after Christmas, I struggled my way through Judy’s Magic Cast-on and a few weeks later, I was able to wear the newly finished pair of socks.

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Also finished was a slouchy hat for my dad. Fun story -the wool is 100% Peruvian Alpaca, and we ventured to a local Alpaca farm to by the yarn. My goodness, alpacas must be some of the freaking cutest animals around. When we arrived at the farm, we were greeted by a herd (is that right, herd?) of Border Collies who were obviously working dogs, and we also got a peak at their pigs. They had to be the fattest pigs I’ve ever seen in my life. So that’s the story of they yarn for this hat.  Dad received it yesterday. It fits and he’s happy.

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Finally, on Friday, I bought yarn and cast on a Pussyhat.  Have you heard of this? If not, I HIGHLY recommend heading over to their website and reading more about this movement. In a nutshell, there will be a women’s march on Washington on January 21, and marchers are encouraged to wear these knit hats, the name taken as both a play on on the word pussycat and as reference to how the US President-Elect brags about sexually assaulting women. As stated on their Ravelry page:

The PussyHat Project aims to:

  1. Provide the people of the Women’s March on Washington D.C. a means to make a unique collective visual statement which will help activists be better heard.
  2. Provide people who cannot physically be on the National Mall a way to represent them- selves and support women’s rights.

A Facebook friend of my sister’s asked for a hat to be made, and I happily obliged.  It knit up VERY quickly; I cast on Friday evening and by Sunday I had it finished and ready for my sister to give to the recipient.

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Please visit their website and read more about this initiative.

 

The 2017 Knit List

Happy New Year!! How is it possible that it’s 2017 already? My goodness! This year is going to be a busy one as my work is celebrating an anniversary, and as many of you know, I’m Canadian, and it’s a big year for us here, being the 150th anniversary of Confederation.  It’s hard to think about the year and not associate it with this milestone.  I’m sure 2017 will bring many good memories and celebrations.

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Now that Christmas knitting is complete, my thoughts can turn selfish again and I can start thinking of what I’ve been itching to make. I’ve bought all the needed yarn and purchased the pattern, so I think the first selfish thing I’ll make is Madewell cardigan by Joji Locatelli.  Call me crazy for wanting to make a cardi with fingering weight yarn, but I’ve been in love with this design since I first found it on Ravelry.  The whimsical elbow patches just add to the love of this pattern, and the hard part will be deciding what colours to make them with!

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Madewell by Joji Locatelli; image © Joji Locatelli

I’ve also purchased the materials I need to complete KnitPurl Hunter’s Scoreboard Scarf. This project is planned in my head, I know for what team and what season I’ll be making, but in case this is read by its intended recipient, I won’t say much more than that for now…

In 2016, I completed 6 pairs of socks.  Socks are such an ideal project for carrying around and picking up whenever I have a spare moment.  I’m not going to set a goal for myself for how many pairs I’ll make this year, as I don’t want any self-inflicted pressure on my knitting habits, but I’m sure I’ll crank out a few pairs, and I’m sure one of which will be designed by Erica Lueder.  I’m surprised that I haven’t written yet about how much I love her patterns, their designs and the thought that she puts into them. I’ve knit three and a half pairs of her socks, and I’m sure I’ll be adding to the collection.

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Erica Lueder socks, L-R: Hermione’s Every Day Sock, Weasley Rib, and Devil’s Snare

Also kicking around my Ravelry queue for some time is another historic pattern, Godey’s Woolen Chemisette from 1857. I’d love to knit this pattern and write a corresponding blog post on the history of this article of clothing.  There’s no time deadline for when this chemisette needs to be complete, but it’s been a while since I’ve muddled my way through a historic pattern, and I’d like to make at least one next year.

So between socks, fingering weight cardigans, and a pattern from the 1850s, I’ll have enough to keep me busy in the early part of 2017.

What’s on your knit list for this year?

When Centre Pull Goes Bad…

It REALLY goes bad…


This is the current state of a ball of sock yarn.  I’ll likely turn the heel before I get this mess sorted out!

Every knitter has a preference, centre pull or outer pull; I tend to prefer centre, that is until the above happens…

The yarn is Opal Classic, and once the mess is sorted out, the pattern I’ll follow is Harvest Festival Socks.  They will eventually become a Christmas present, here’s hoping I can knit them fast enough!

The Most Common Question I Get Knitting with 9″ Circulars

I love my 9″ circular sock needles. I bought them over six months ago and haven’t looked back since.Because they aren’t a common tool for knitting, people tend to be curious about them and ask me questions. Commonly, people ask how on earth I knit with such tiny needles (you get used to them), and even more common, how do I knit the heel flap and turn the heel? To best answer this question, I took pictures as I knit my latest sock project

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Here is my sock, leg completed, ready to start the heel.

I use the circular needle to hold the instep stitches, and use DPNs to work the heel.

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Working the flap with the DPNs and the circular is behind with the instep stitches
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Another view, just after the heel has been turned. You can see, I’m ready to start picking up the gusset stitches.
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So I transfer instep to DPN, and then transfer heel to circular which means I’m ready to start work on the gusset and foot!

Perhaps people think there’s some magic I’m able to ONLY knit the socks on the circular. That is not the trick. The trick is being prepared and having enough tools to get the job done!

And in case you’re wondering about the stunning yarn, it’s madelinetosh Tosh Sock, Robin’s Egg colourway, and the pattern is Devil’s Snare Sock by Erica Lueder.

The Earl Kitchener and His Stitch

If you’re a sock knitter, or at least have made a pair or two, you may be familiar with the Kitchener Stitch, a common form of grafting, creating a seamless toe.  To a novice knitter, the Kitchener stitch may appear to be challenging, but once you get the hang of it, the Kitchener stitch is fairly straight forward.  I actually like doing the Kitchener stitch – call me strange, but I find it relaxing and somewhat gratifying. Knit, purl, purl, knit, repeating over and over until the sock is complete.

I had honestly never given any thought to the name, but really, why would I have?  That’s the technique, and it creates a lovely finish to my sock.  But a few weeks ago, I followed a link from the Knitty Blog to a YouTube video, the Secret History of Knitting, where they discuss knitting and World War I.  Well, wasn’t my mind blown when the connection was made – it’s the Kitchener stitch after Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener. *insert sound effect of mind being blown*

Who is the Earl Kitchener?

Born in 1850 in Ireland, Horatio Herbert Kitchener would go on to become a high ranking official in the British army, seeing action in the Franco-Prussian War, the Mahdist War, the Second Boer War, and the First World War.  His image has become a piece of propaganda history as his face was immortalized on the “Your Country Needs You” poster.

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He died in 1916 when the HMS Hampshire, a ship he was sailing on, was sunk by a German mine off the Orkneys (near the Northern Isles of Scotland).

Aspects around Kitchener’s involvement with his ‘stitch’ remain uncertain.  Some claim that Kitchener himself helped to design a sock pattern that included a new seamless method of grafting the toe, however, others say that Kitchener’s actual involvement is rooted more in lore than fact.  Indeed, knitting historian Richard Rutt claims that this grafting technique (known commonly as Kitchener Stitch) was invented around 1880.  Later, in 1918, Vogue magazine published a sock pattern with a grafted toe and called it the Kitchener sock, crediting Lord Kitchener for being a war effort champion, but Vogue did not claim he was the pattern ‘designer.’

I do have to ponder, why would a senior officer in the British army invent a knitting stitch?  One would think he would have more to occupy his time with, what with the largest conflict to date raging on. Kitchener was a strong advocate for the Red Cross and the homefront initiatives, including knitting, and he was concerned that having a seam at the toe could contribute to or worsen soldiers’ foot issues.

Whether he actually invented the stitch or not, sock knitters everywhere are grateful for the stitch that bears his name, the perfect way to finish off your sock.


*Did You Know: Kitchener, Ontario was named in honour of Earl Kitchener.  He died at a time when anti-German sentiments were at a peak in the then-named City of Berlin.  To try to dispel these sentiments, the city was renamed in honour of the popular and recently fallen Field Marshal.


Thanks to Knitty for sharing this video and getting me thinking about the Kitchener Stitch – the article that sparked this thinking is HERE.

There was a fantastic discussion on Ravelry outlining basic info on Kitchener, his comparison to Uncle Sam, and, of course, the ‘Stitch’ and that can be read HERE.

The BBC has a short yet succinct bio of Horatio Herbert Kitchener where can be read HERE.

Finally, other bloggers have looked into Kitchener and his namesake stitch, and you could read about it HERE and HERE (to share only a few of the many sites out there).