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Learning to knit and "mancrafts"

Since my first knitting attempts last winter, I've been determined to learn more.  I do have a history of giving up on things that I am not able to master immediately, so it takes a concerted effort for me to keep picking up the needles and having a go.  I keep having to remind myself that the ladies who are knitting the lovely items that I admire in blog-land ( here and here and here and here) probably didn't just pick up needles and learn how to do clever lace stitches overnight (if you did, please don't burst my bubble, its the only thing keeping me going)!  I seem to be improving just enough to keep motivated, and my ultimate goal is to learn how to knit a vest.  
the completed cowl
So far I have made the headband/ear warmer last winter and this year I have made a cowl "in the round", although it ended up twisted, apparently this can be done intentionally to make a "mobius cowl", and I'm glad I learnt that it could happen on something that didn't matter too much either way!  I don't think a beanie will work if I twist it.  I love knitting in the round because you just keep going around and around and don't have to remember where you're up to :)

Since I finished the cowl, I watched lots of youtube videos and worked out ribbing (turns out I was purling wrong, never realised that it mattered which way you wound the wool around, important details!) and I've finished another cowl/short neck warmer thingy with buttons this time.  Slowly I'm gaining all the skills I need for a vest - I've also bought a couple of vest pattern books from op shops, so I am trying to learn each of the techniques that will be required.  And the local market has a haberdashery stall with lots of wool and needles, so I've stocked up on practice wool and various necessary tools.  However, I only just realised the wool comes in different plys or weights, so much to learn before I'm ready for that vest!!!

changing colour!

And I figured out ribbing!!
I've been trying to find a mentor at work, but none of the ladies will admit to being a knitting genius.  One lady asked why I was bothering because it would be cheaper to just buy a scarf.  I don't even know how to answer these questions, they totally put me off because I can't believe that someone can't see the value in learning a new skill, that can be used to produce unique and local clothing, to occupy me while I'm just watching TV anyway, and may even be a survival tool in the event that we can no longer buy cheap clothing made in China (also its not cheaper when I buy the wool from the market and op shops!).

And this is another finished cowl with buttons :)

This what I'm aiming for....

And then to challenge myself even further, Linda from the Greenhaven Goodlife kindly sent me some wool and needles to make socks as part of her one year anniversary giveaway following on from Linda's own sock knitting successes.  For some reason she said it wasn't that difficult!!!!  It took me three goes just to get started on the double-pointed needles, but I think I've got it now, it might end up being a very long sock as I keep going around and around before I get up the courage to start the heel.  Fortunately I've found some more brilliant tutorials on youtube which have really helped as I find the patterns really hard to decipher!  I'm starting to feel quite confident with my knitting, so its been worth persevering, actually its starting to become a little addictive....

When I brought out the knitting needles, Pete decided it was time for some "mancraft" of his own :)  We had bought some new rope for tying things onto the back of the ute (when owning a ute, a collection of ropes and straps is essential and ours were wearing out).  Instead of buying synthetic rope, we bought a 100m roll of sisal rope (this stuff is fascinating, read more here, it wasn't much cheaper to buy 20m, so we just bought a big roll).  As sisal is a natural fibre rather than synthetic, you can't just burn the ends to stop it from fraying, you have to whip the ends old-style.  Pete found instructions on this site useful, and has made several ropes of different lengths and with nice loops at one end. These rope ends should last better than the synthetic ropes, that always seem to start to fray eventually.  Also when the rope is worn out we can just put it in the compost, as it is a natural fibre.  So while I've been knitting, Pete has been sitting by the fire whipping ropes, next he'll start whittling clothes pegs or something, got to love those mancrafts!

Farmer Pete's rope

Finished end

What craft are you working on at the moment?


  1. I know nothing about knitting other than non-machine made just seems to look better. Maybe it is slightly irregular, kind of like a painting compared to a photo. Anyway it looks good so keep on making your own knitted items.

  2. ooh. I love the rawness of the mobius cowl. While I agree they are not the best for beanies, the same pattern, made smaller is PERFECT for a headband/ear warmer. YOu just put the twist to the back when you stick it on your head. I have a couple that I use interchangeably as neck warmers and ear warmers. They seem to stay on my head better than beanies.......

    I admire the knitting - I can crochet but the whole two needles thing feels beyond me!

  3. I am a crocheter rather than a knitter. I have tried to crochet some socks this year for myself but they are too small to go over my foot so I am thinking if I ever finish them one of the kids will get them. I live at Bell so I was wondering which markets you are referring too?

  4. You are doing so well with your knitting. Keep persevering - it will become easier the more experience you have and soon you will be whipping out beanies and mittens and scarves without a second thought. Please share the pattern/instructions for the cowl with buttons. I love it. I'm finding all sorts of charts on yarn ply etc to send you plus the sock instructions. Will email when they are on their way.

  5. The knitting looks great Liz, I think you're doing fabulously especially to be knitting in the round, and it all looks so neat. Great job!

  6. You are so clever... and gorgeous!

  7. thanks for the encouragement and tips everyone! I'm going to try crochet next winter....

    Maria - the Nanango Markets - first Saturday of the months, by far the biggest markets in the South Burnett, bit haberdashery stall :)

  8. I love both your cowls/scarves! I taught myself to knit a few years back and am amazed how much I have picked up. Have you ever come across and ravelry? Knittinghelp has really good videos that I've learned a lot of techniques from. And ravelry is great for inspiration! I always check out pattern reviews on there first before I spend time making something that I will turn out badly.

  9. Great knitting Liz, I have just been learning but all I have managed so far are dish cloths

  10. Arriving to you via the Barn Hop...all the way from an organic homestead in Hungary! I just have to say, keep at the knitting, you can create such beautiful things with your own hands. Something to be really proud of. Australia has some beautiful wool! Thanks to your husband as well for using sisal rope, you are the second person to make my day :)
    Kind regards, Cheryl

  11. KEEP.IT.UP.
    You are becoming a wonderful knitter!

  12. Your doing awesome! I'm better at crocheting, but I'd love to be able to knit more than just a scarf. It requires a lot of patient to teach yourself so great job!!

    Stopping by from the Barn Hop
    Missy @

  13. I literally laughed out loud when I read that your colleague at work asked why you didn't just BUY a scarf. I'm not sure if she'd older but I find that type of comment so typical of the older generation :) It seems that people who grew up in a time that you had to make your own things actually prefer the option of buying it nowadays. And the reverse is true for us 'youngsters'.

    I'm really impressed by your progress and especially so by the photo of your ribbing! I have a half-finished scarf in my bedside cupboard but I've only really learned to knit and purl.

    Good luck with your continued knitting journey and I look forward to seeing a vest someday soon :)

    PS - Farmer Pete's rope is fabulous too! I wonder if he's going to try to learn how to grow sisal himself one day - it looks like something that could grow in your climate.

  14. Hello, Farmer Liz!

    I would just love it if you would contribute this on the 'EOA' Wednesday link-up at I know the ladies would like it! I am getting ready to make some little first time booties. Thanks!

  15. This is great! I wish I could learn to knit, We'd love it if you'd share this at our Home is Where the Heart is!
    and any other posts you'd like to share that have to do with homesteading and homemaking!

  16. Thanks Liz, I assumed it would be the Nanango markets, I have been but not for a couple of years. I am hoping to get there in the next month or so.

  17. I missed this post. Just noticed it in your side bar. I have so much to say about it.

    I laughed and laughed at the image of you and Farmer Pete with your knitting and rope whipping! I can just picture it and it's cute!

    You remind me so much of myself. Sheer determination! But hey, it works. Your knitting is getting good. And I had terrible trouble getting the sock thing but I just kept at it.

    As for the lady at work, I can't believe it was only once that you got that comment. While I was knitting my socks I would take them everywhere. The only time I get to knit is while I'm waiting (for the kids at school, at the doctors, etc.) I can't count the number of times people told me I should just buy socks coz they're so CHEAP!!

    Last but not least, some bad news. One of those sock patterns seemed to have a mistake at the heel stage. Sorry! I will email you soon to try to explain but I struggled with it myself so it will be the blind leading the blind. Remind me if I forget to do it.


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