Monthly Archives: September 2013

Breaking the rules

We recently took the True Colours personality test. I’m orange. Really orange. That apparently means I like spontaneity and hate planning. Yep that would be about right, and I don’t much like rules. However, I do have rules of my own when it comes to knitting.

One reason I think my rules are important is that I find that the things you knit are only as beautiful as the yarn you start out with, so I try to start out with yarn I really love. It often comes with a matching price tag, which is ok because I plan my projects pretty carefully and don’t let myself get distracted by lots of projects at once. I feel like this makes good sense, especially when it comes to a project like Luciole. I’ve just got to the last chart which is essentially the tricky bit. The rows are around 200 stitches long and the lace pattern now goes all the way across, rather than being mostly confined to the edging. I’m really enjoying this project and I’m feeling good about the end result; I think it will be a beautiful shawl and also a piece that I will have really enjoyed making. However, it is going to take a bit of sticking to. Each row takes around about 20 minutes now, and a reasonable amount of concentration. This isn’t the kind of knitting I can do whilst chatting, or with the kids playing around me. This is clearly part of having chosen a project that would a challenge, which I was keen to take on and it doesn’t detract from the pleasure of making the shawl. It does mean however, that if I’m going somewhere where knitting would be a good sideline, or when I have the odd five minutes, or when the kids want to be with me but don’t need me to play with them I haven’t got anything to work on. Unless I break the rules.

Of course, I do have that other project that I was planning on doing before Luciole. That would be a good portable project, good for play times. Only trouble is, I still haven’t finished spinning all the yarn. I’ve done nearly four out of five colours but that’s not five out of five and I need all five ready before I start because of how the striping is going to work. This week hasn’t turned out to be much of a spinning week (or much of a knitting week either – free nights have been early to bed nights) so it’s not going to be ready by the end of this week.

There is another issue too, pushing me into breaking the rules. Last July we went to Canada and visited a really cool yarn shop. I bought a whole big heap of fisherman’s yarn to make a jumper for Ben. I made him a jumper when I first started knitting. It was based on an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern which at that stage was quite challenging. He’s worn it quite a bit but it does look like an early attempt at a hand knit and he’s been asking for a while for it to be updated. This week the weather has turned pretty chilly and, looking through Ben’s jumpers he really could do with something new. I’ve had in mind for a while a basic plan for his jumper, with a textured stitch pattern over the body with some cabling up the sides. I think maybe he would be happy with plain but that would be a bit boring and I’d like to do a bit more designing of my own. Also I just bought a new stitch dictionary which has lots of things that have given me lots of ideas. Even a cable pattern that turns into a tree which would be quite the right kind of thing for Ben. I’ve started swatching, which when you’re using a swatch to try out design features is actually a lot of fun. Also it’s portable and it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes so it just fills the gap in my knitting requirements at the moment. And Ben is looking quite cold.

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So maybe it’s not such a good thing to be a bit orange in the personality test. I have some knitting rules for myself which make good sense but sometimes it makes better sense to break the rules.

Knitting together

This week I went on a knitting course! Two and a half hours to sit and knit in a nice place with nice cake and learn something new with other people who like to do that too. Very lucky me! The course was held at Stitch Solihull which opened about a month after we moved here. I was very excited when I heard it was opening and I was right to be! Not only is it a five minute drive from my house, they stock a whole range of really beautiful yarns, fibre, books, notions, and a heap of nice stuff for other crafty hobbies too. They’ve gone for a niche market; posh, fancy or special yarns, often hand dyed and including yarns and fibres they dye themselves. Just my kind of place.

They have recently started running a wide range of courses and the one I attended was Fair Isle (or technically colour work). I reckon you can learn most crafting techniques through YouTube, but it’s so much more fun learning and knitting with other people, and I think you learn more quickly too. Certainly I was surprised by what we managed to achieve in just a couple of hours, and somehow it didn’t seem nearly as tricky as I was expecting. I mean, it was tricky, but the other knitter on the course (there were two of us) knitted at almost exactly the same speed as me so it seemed like I was making good progress.

Here’s what I made:

Interesting to see how different my tension is with the colour bit. I’ll definitely need more practice before I can knit a cardigan but that’s ok, I have plenty more projects to complete first and I don’t want to break the rules.

I found it surprisingly compelling doing colour work. I guess I felt like I’m beginning to get the hang of it and I want to capitalise on that. Also watching the patterns appear is exciting. A lot like knitting lace but in a different sort of way.

The course was excellent value. £25 for 2.5 hours, with delicious cake and lots of drinks along the way. And a big treat at the end which was very unexpected; we had each selected three colours to knit with, all new balls and with new sets of knitpro needles, and at the end of the course we got to keep the lot! It was like a little present at the end!

Last week we spent the week in Cornwall staying with my aunt. She’s a big knitter, unlike most of my family despite all my persistent evangelising. Most evenings we sat down and got out our knitting together. It was really great! I haven’t much been able to fit in knit and natter groups, but it was really nice to knit with someone else, time to talk together, time to knit together. The course was the same sort of experience. Sometimes it’s just nice to knit with other people.