In this new series I’m going to be sharing some top tips, tricks, tutorials and techniques for crafting – I’ll be concentrating on knitting, sewing and crocheting, but will also dig out some other crafty things for you from time to time from around the web. Drop us a line and let us know what you’d like to see!
The first tip I’m going to share with you caused much hilarity on my snowboarding holiday last week. I opened my wallet to pay for a round of drinks, and some eagle-eyed boy at the table spotted my colour card. Many jokes followed about my middle-aged knitting obsession, how I had to carry yarn with me wherever I went (they’re used to me getting my needles out in the cinema or on the plane, this is not news to them). But in truth I haven’t got yarn in my wallet because I can’t be away from it for too long or I start to get twitchy – or at least that’s not the only reason.
The real reason I’ve got yarn in my wallet is because I am currently creating an heirloom granny square blanket. Now, I’m not a great planner – I’m too impatient. I have an idea and, if I can, I jump straight in and then think about how best to do it later. This is how I create most of my patterns, too – just start knitting with a vague idea of the finished object, and work it out as you go along. So, when I saw a blanket in an issue of Mollie Makes that I fell in love with, I ran out and bought four balls of yarn in the kind of colour palette I wanted and got stuck in, churning out randomly patterned granny squares.
The more astute among you will notice that four balls of yarn (50g each, at that) will not make much of an heirloom blanket. Unless you’re making it for the cat basket, which I definitely was not. This heirloom blanket is destined for my cherry wood sleigh bed in my chalet in the French alps (start with the blanket and the rest will follow, that’s my theory). It’s for my kids to snuggle under in the back of our car as we drive down through France. It’s for pulling over our knees as we drink vin chaud in front of an open fire after a hard day on the slopes. 200g of yarn just ain’t going to hack it.
Already I need more yarn. But how do I know, when I’m out an about, what will go with the four colours I’ve already chosen? Sure, I can take a picture, but we all know colours on digital pictures are highly unreliable. What if I invest in 8 balls of something divine, get it home, and it clashes horribly?
The answer, my friends, is super simple. Take a small piece of cardboard and punch holes down either side. Snip off a little bit of each yarn and loop and tie them through the holes. Next to each sample, write the yarn manufacturer, name and colour. Then pop it in your wallet, so you’ll always have it with you when the urge to purchase more yarn becomes too much. That way, when you’re out and about, if you stumble across an unexpected yarn shop, you can whip out your colour card and check if there’s anything that might work with your palette.
Once I had explained all this, my friends realised I wasn’t as mad as they’d all thought and praised me unreservedly for my forward thinking and organisational skills, then asked for my advice on how better to organise their own lives.
Well, OK, no they didn’t. But they did make a kind of half-interested ‘oh’ sound, tease me about being middle-aged, pause a little, and then asked why I was still at the table and not buying the beers yet. But they’ll be laughing out of the other side of their faces when they’re cwtched up on my French settee with a hot chocolate, snuggled under a beautifully matched, vintage palette heirloom blanket. I’m sure of it.