Cubic needles – easier for arthritic hands?

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Here are my cubic needles in my Autumn Leaves stole. If you look closely you can see that they are square!

A little while ago my friend Maya mentioned that she’d heard  really good things about cubic needles being useful for knitters with arthritis in their hands. I’m always on the hunt for anything that will help me to be able to knit more and for longer so I was super keen to give them a go. Apparently the shape is more ergonomic and according to the makers reduces “hand fatigue”.

As my birthday was coming up I decided to see if any of my family members might treat me to a set of cubic needles. I guess I could have tried out a fixed needle first to see how I go on  but I’ve been wanting an interchangeable set for quite a few years now and it seemed like a good opportunity.  Luckily my Mum and Dad were happy to help me out.

I got the interchangeable Knit Pro Symfonie Rose set from Knit with attitude. They are a lovely dark wood and the packing is lovely. It all fits neatly into one little case with all of the needles and cables tucked away – a far cry from my tangle of individual circular needles! I sometimes feel like my knitting and knitting paraphernalia takes over much of the front room so it’s nice to have at least one thing that packs away nicely!

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It’s not quite as yellow as this in real life

I’ve started using them on my Autumn Leaves Stole. I’ve been a bit naughty and switched over needles part way through the project. It might give me some gauge based issues later on but I didn’t care as I was really excited to use them.

It was a bit weird knitting with square needles to start with. It took a few rows to get into the rhythm (and get used to the risk of being jabbed by a corner). Now that I’m used to them I’m really enjoying working with them. The wood is lovely to the use and the stole is looking great. Wood is so much nicer than metal!

It’s hard to tell at this early stage if they are helping my hands or not. I’m inclined to feel that they are but that could be wishful thinking on my part! I’ve certainly been able to have several evenings in a row knitting with them and not gone to bed with painful joints so it’s looking very promising!

My only problem with them is the sizes; for some reason they only start at a 4mm. Given that the needles I use most often are 2.75mm and 3.25mm that is a bit annoying. The 2.75mm in particular causes me problems with my hands so I would have been super keen to see if a cubic version would have helped. I tried to order them but they don’t actually make them….. I guess that I am fairly unusual in having a preference for 4ply over DK and aran and they just don’t have the demand for the smaller needles so they don’t make them. My problem with the heavier weigh wools is that they are much bulkier and less flattering plus they tend to lack drape. I really want to use my new needles though so I will be searching out decent DK and aran patterns to find something I actually like!

Pomme de pin cardigan with massive buttons!

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I had my eye on the Pomme de pin Cardigan by Amy Christoffers for quite a while.  I made a Larch Cardigan by the same designer a little while ago and I love it and wear it all the time.

I used Du Store Alpakka Mirasol which I got from Knit with attitude. I seem to have got really into knitting with beige and brown at the moment. It’s a bit boring but I really like this shade of brown……The wool was lovely to knit with; really soft and snuggly.

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Here is it with the sleeves tacked in

Once I got going on the lace pattern it was pretty easy to remember (both straight and in the round). I did get a bit confused when I got to the decreases though. It took me a few goes to figure out what I needed to do and I got very annoyed when I had to keep undoing rows because I’d been randomly adding in stitches……I might have just been being a bit thick though.

I was a little bit slap-dash when I was sewing on the sleeves and collar. I did tack them in first but I still ended up bodging things a little when it came to the final sewing up. It’s turned out just fine though! I love the way that knitted fabric is so forgiving when it comes to seaming!

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I really need a haircut…..

I loved the dad style buttons used in the original pattern. I have a real soft spot for this kind of button.  I searched about on the internet for ages but I just couldn’t find any big enough for this pattern. In the end I went for wooden buttons. As you can see they are HUGE! I was a bit worried when they first arrived  but once I’d sewn them on I was fully convinced! I do rather like big buttons so this cardigan makes me very happy.

awesome button

I have been wearing this non-stop since I finished it (even though it’s far too warm to wear it)!

My boyfriend took the photos while we were out picking blackberries. To start with it looked like our fellow fruit loving Londoners had beaten us to all of the good blackberries but then we found some secret bramble bushes and managed a really good haul.

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Our blackberry haul

Then my awesome boyfriend made them into a super tasty pie for us!

Relax by Ririko (and some strawberries)

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I am looking very happy because I have a hand full of strawberries from our strawberry patch

I would like to personally take the credit for the heatwave we are currently having in the UK. The moment I finished my Relax jumper by Ririko it got too hot to wear it. Given the poor effort at a summer we had been having I’m very pleased to see some sunshine but I’m still a little sad that I can’t wear my lovely new top!

This jumper is a Japanese pattern from a designer who I haven’t tried before. I love loose boxy jumper with fitted sleeves so the pattern looked like it would be right up my street. This one also has a bit of a bat-wing. I started a love affair with bat-wing jumpers in the 80s and frankly I still think they are awesome. The pattern was really easy to follow and the jumper was super simple to make. Lots of mindless stocking stitch which gave me a good opportunity to turn off my brain.

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I used Du Store Alpakka Fin which I got from Knit with Attitude in Stoke Newington. It cost a little more than the wool I usually use but it was definitely worth it. It’s a silk and alpaca mix and was lovely to knit with, the colour is really vivid without being garish (they have lots of great shades in this one) and the drape of the finished jumper is just what I wanted. I’m thinking about making another Boxy our of it.

The wool is a 4 ply and I used 3.25mm needles which gave a really nice open weave. I made the sleeves a little longer than the pattern suggested as I prefer long sleeves, I’m a but suspicious of jumpers with cropped sleeves. Cropped sleeves look good but I get cold arms and wrists and I hate being cold!

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Check out how well our strawberries are doing!

I’m really pleased with the way it has turned out. Although if I made it again I would change a few things:

  • I’d knit it in the round. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before. I could have saved myself loads of time seaming.
  • I’d take out the little pattern with the holes up the side. I’m not sure that it looks great.
  • I’d make it a little bit smaller and possibly a bit shorter.
  • I’d make the neck a bit wider.

I think this jumper will get a lot of wear!

Toasty warm hands

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Last year I made myself a new pair of hand warmers and then promptly left them at a friend’s house. I couldn’t be doing with making a replacement pair straight away so I went back to a tatty old pair and kept them for the rest of the winter. They have now started to unravel rather a lot and are making me look a bit like Fagin so I finally gave in and started making a new pair.

I treated myself to some lovely Mirasol Tuhn which is a blend of baby llama, merino and angora. It’s super soft and I love the rich red. It came from my lovely friend Maya’s wool shop Knit with Attitude. Maya has just moved into a new shop on Stoke Newington High Street and it’s lovely! If you live in North London you should go along and check it out!

I was feeling a bit lazy so I made up the pattern. It’s a really simple cable with increases for the thumb. I thought I’d be really careful in writing down what I did for the first hand warmer ….. however when I went back to my notes to make the second it turned out that I’d just scribbled down some random numbers which didn’t make much sense…. I tried to guess what I’d done which more or less worked except for the thumb. I’m not entirely sure how I managed it but the second thumb is considerably bigger than the first. Really I should have gone back and re-done it but I was so keen to get them finished and have toasty warm hands that I decided to just ignore it! I don’t think anyone will notice when I have them on!

Faith, hope and blocking

I have been very excited about my current project Snowbird by Heidi Kirrmaier. I got the idea from a knitting friend.  I turned up for some Christmas drinks and dancing in possibly the thinnest cardigan I own. Given that I really feel the cold and am often sporting multiple layers and a double cardigan in the winter this was an odd mistake on my part especially as London was covered in a fine layer of snow at the time.  I can only put it down to being very excited about the new dress I was wearing that night. When I had shivered my way through Bloomsbury to meet my friends I found them all very sensibly attired and layered up. A friend had her snowbird with her and let me borrow it to get myself warmed up. I was so taken by the comfy slochyness that I had to make one for myself.

I found some amazing fairly traded wool from a friend’s shop (Knit with attitude in case you’re interested). It’s beautiful alpaca in a rather lovely maroon colour. I was very proud of myself for not buying my usual green felted tweed and excited about my lovely new cardigan. I’ve really enjoyed the pattern and the is great to work with. Somehow I’ve managed not to make any massive mistakes (that I’ve noticed) and other than a slight issue with the sleeve (when I seemed to forget how to count for some reason) I haven’t had to re-knit anything.

So far so good. However, because of the size of circular needles I’m using even though it’s top down I’m unable to try it on properly and see how it will fit. The stocking stitch panels on the border have also curled in slightly making it impossible to tell if it will come out with the baggy fit I was aiming for or not. I’m also suspicious that the wool is a 4 ply even though it is allegedly a double-knit. Luckily my knitting is very loose and normally comes out bigger than it’s supposed to be however I can’t help but worry that after a good few weeks knitting I might end up with an overly snug and slightly unflattering cardigan. Despite this I am determined to finish my Snowbird in the hope that the magic of blocking will solve all my problems. I’ll finish the pockets and the bottom stocking stitch section, sew up the collar and with a little luck post blocking I’ll have the snuggly warm cardigan I’ve been looking forward to. Luckily for me I am sure that the joys of the British ‘summer’ will give me plenty of opportunities to wear it!