Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Making things and why I feel a bit of a fraud at some stuff

I have always felt somehow...not very artistic? or very crafty? For two reasons. Because I can't paint. And I can't knit "proper" things ( like cardigans. Or gloves. Or socks.)

My older brother is a talented artist who has made a living from his talent all his adult life. This left me being "the clever one" with him being " the arty one" But my feelings of  inadequacy as an artist ( until recently) will be the subject of another post, another time. Suffice it to say no, I can't paint pictures BUT I CAN craft things, scultpt, make paper, weave, sew, make pots, baskets etc. AND  people pay me to teach them to do so.

But knitting. Ah knitting. Well I do feel a bit useless on that front.

My Mother, my MiL, all my school friends Mums all knitted really well, effortlessly turning out socks, jumpers etc etc. It was a skill I took for granted that I would learn how to do as well, one day, when I was a bit older. Indeed my Mum DID start to teach me how to knit,  when I was 9, so I can now still knit all the stitiches and I can cast on and cast off, increase and decrease. My granny (Mamgu) also taught me, especially crochet ( which I have completely forgotten) and French Knitting ( which I can still do!)

BUT I have no idea how to read a pattern. I was never taught this bit as my mum became ill just as we were about to get on to that bit of my knitting lessons. After she became ill and was no longer around at home to be my Mum, life was too busy and horrible to have time for knitting lessons, so I never really came back to it. Not that there was anyone to teach me. And then I got older, and I still didn't know how. And then I got older still, and I had money to just buy stuff , rather than making it. And, indeed, I had money because I had a good, well paid, time consuming job so I didn't have time to knit anything, even if I HAD known how!

 And then I got even older, and it seemed too late to learn.

But now I have Compostgirl, who is wanting to know how to knit. She is about the age I was, when my Mum taught me. And scary thought, I am about the age my Mum was, when she had her first stroke...

So really, I HAVE had to remind myself of all the stuff I once learned. So I can pass it on to her. But I still don't know how to read a kntting pattern.

So....I guess it is time to find out how to read that pattern, after all. It is never too late, is it?

Any suggestions for good websites?

( and yes I am aware of the subtle and not so subtle interconnections and links to feelings about my Mum and her unwittingly leaving me with unfinished knitting issues, and my need to not replicate the same thing with Compostgirl.)


  1. http://www.bevscountrycottage.com/teach-knit.html

    I am just starting to organise myself some knitting lessons. I also was taught (by my grandmother) but have completely forgotten how to do it. I've just got the itch to learn again.

    A friend sent me the above link, she is using it to teach her 6 year old daughter how to knit and says the website has been a great help.

  2. I too learned bits and pieces from my mother, who died when I was 22, so we have our knitting history in common, sort of. I know what you mean about not wanting to leave things unfinished in your own mothering, as it were; I was never too worried about a family history of breast cancer until I had my daughter, whereupon I suddenly felt all too aware of it.

    I only started to pick up where she and I left off a few years ago, and I've found Ravelry invaluable - lots of people to advise on different patterns, and what various things mean and so on. Definitely worth a go. Another one I found quite good for basic stitches and so on is Knitting Help, which has lots of videos done really slowly; sometimes they helped where I couldn't make head nor tail of written instructions.

    Good luck!

  3. I can crochet (picked up from mother and grandmother)and knit in a round but my worst stich is purling. I'm sure it's practice but when there are young kids around there is no such thing as being able to wait until you get to the end of the row.

    So, I picked up loom knitting. This gives me the look of knitting with the ability to stop in midstream and take care of a screaming child.

    I still pick up needles and try off and on and find I do better with each attempt. Here is a link to a video set from the "Dummies" group.

  4. I learned to crochet while in 4h and have been an avid crochet'er for the last few years. YouTube taught me to knit. Pattern reading isn't all that complicated now, I think. Most patterns define the abbreviations and if I am unsure of what a stitch is or how to do it, YouTube.

    *hugs* It is kind of like riding a bike. =)

  5. I am a new knitter, and I found Ravelry (ravelry.com) to be awesome. Loads of free patterns and a great community over there.

    When there is a technique I dont know how to do, I've found youtube videos to be excellent.

  6. Thank you all for the really helpful and supportive comments. I am off to look at a few of the sites!

    I have shown Compostgirl how to cast on and how to knit tonight, so am keeping ahead at the moment!

    We are both going to watch a few of the useful videos .

  7. I'll reinforce the people referring you to Ravelry. I started knitting a year and a half ago, and Rav has been an invaluable resource, including hooking me up with a great local knitting group where I can learn even more!

    And don't feel bad about not being a good knitter. My parents taught me when I was a kid, and I just couldn't get it. I always felt like such a failure because both of them could do it and I couldn't. I was 43 when I started again, and I started in on socks. Now my parents are jealous of me!


Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.