Monthly Archives: March 2017

Colourwork and Sock Fun

I did some gorgeous mittens in my first year back at knitting called Fiddlehead Mittens By Adrian Bazilia.  I had so much fun doing stranded knitting that I was sure I’d be churning out sweaters and more of those great mittens for the rest of my life.  However, like a kid in a candy store I was attracted by all the other pretty things and I’ve done very little colourwork since then.  Lately, I’ve picked it up again and it’s delighting me as much as ever.  I was reinfected with the bug thanks to a Celtic Cast On podcast I watched awhile back.  In it, Kelly was wearing a gorgeous sweater called Sundottir and I thought, I have to make that!

Second sleeve of my Sundottir with added colourwork detail not in the pattern.

Shortly thereafter, I happened to be scrolling through my Instagram feed (as one does) and a beautiful new yarn caught my eye, put out by Barrett Wool Co..  It was a pale pink Aran weight wool and I thought it would make a lovely colourwork sweater if I could find a nice grey yarn to contrast it.  On impulse I ordered five skeins of it and then had trouble finding a sweater pattern for which that was enough yardage, until I remembered the Sundottir!  The reason I didn’t first think of it was because I was really hankering after a cardigan and the Sundottir is a pullover.  Whatever, I’m still going to make it and it’s going to be fab.  Anyway, if I have the courage, I could always steek it!

Which brings me to my second colourwork project, also inspired by Kelly from the Celtic Cast On, the absolutely charming and well-named  Merriment cardigan. It’s sized for a baby or child, and it requires steeking, so I can learn that skill on a little sweater and then see whether I’d like to try it again for my own sweater.  For those of you not familiar with steeking, it’s the technique of knitting a sweater in the round (on a circular needle) and then cutting it down the center front to make it into a cardigan.  For obvious reasons, lots of people are nervous about the idea of cutting their knitting, and I’m no exception! However, I love the idea of avoiding all the purling that a stockinette stitch cardigan knitted flat requires, so I’m determined to give it a try.  Luckily, a friend of mine just had a baby, so I even have a recipient for the sweater.  Yay!  (This friend, Annie, has a knitting podcast with her husband, Alex,  called, “Knittingitup” and if you haven’t tried it, you should check it out, it’s sweet!)

My first “S.O.S” sock. Love the yarn, but not crazy about the heel.

On the sock front,  I’m halfway through making a pair for myself using the “Smooth Operator Socks” pattern by Susan B. Anderson.  I really wanted to try this pattern with its afterthought heel and cuff-down construction after listening to Tracie from the “Grocery Girls” podcast rave about it.  However, I’ve pretty much decided I prefer toe-up socks and will go back to that method once I’m done with this pair.  There is much to be said for toe-up socks, if you enjoy Judy’s Magic Cast-on (which I do), and you like knowing you’ll have enough yarn to finish the project (always nice!) Plus, I am not a huge fan of the afterthought heel.  It certainly is faster, once you get the hang of it, but I much prefer the look of a heel flap and I really enjoy knitting them, so back I go next time!  It’s okay, I love trying new things and until you try them, you never know, right?

Close-up of the Afterthought Heel. Notice the bump? Planning to do a better job on the second sock!

 

Process knitting vs product knitting

Here I am modelling my Vertices Unite Shawl

I’m finished my Vertices Unite Shawl!  So I guess I can get back to writing about knitting instead of actually knitting. I can’t express how much fun it was to knit this project and how much it satisfied something deep within me to let my heart choose the colours one after the other and see where they led. From “cast-on” to “bind-off”, I grew as a knitter. Does it sound overly dramatic to say that perhaps I learned something about myself? The biggest lesson I learned is to trust myself, at least when it comes to choosing colours. I loved the first section of the shawl but it was so bright I got scared and chose to stripe green and grey (two different shades of grey) for the second section. If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t choose those colours, but neither do I regret choosing them. They are a part of my shawl and they will always remind me to go with my gut, especially for a project like this; a fun, zany, devil-may-care romp. Why be practical? Why “tone it down” with grey? That’s what my head said to do, but I should have let my heart overrule my head. Anyway, as the project went on I got more and more excited about choosing the colours. I got a bit of advice on one colour from Naomi at my LYS, Espace Tricot (www.espacetricot.com) but the rest just spoke to me and I answered. Super fun! I highly recommend this shawl to anyone who wants a bit of fun in their knitting life. I’m leery of shawls in general because I hate really long rows of 300 stitches or more—just the idea gives me tendinitis. This pattern is constructed in such a way that there are never more than 223 stitches on your needles and that’s really only for a short period.  Also, who doesn’t love short rows??  And there are lots of them in this pattern.

The knitting enjoyment factor (KEF, from now on!) of this shawl was a 10/10, which brings me to an interesting concept I heard about on Instagram the other day.  Someone posted, “Are you a product knitter or a process knitter?”, in reference to a photo she posted about a project she was in the middle of.  I was intrigued by this notion that knitters might be one or the other.  In the four years since I restarted knitting, I’ve come to understand that time being a commodity in dwindling supply, I HAVE to enjoy the process as much as I expect to enjoy the product.  I’m ecstatic when I simply fall in love with a project and have no doubts about whether I’ll love making it and love wearing it. Sometimes, it’s not so clear, but I’m really going to avoid knitting things that don’t promise some fun.

This idea of loving the process makes gift knitting  a complicated notion.  When knitting for others do you pick a project you love with the colours you love and let the chips fall where they may? Then the item might just sit in a drawer for the rest of its life.  Complicated!  The fact is, I don’t love ALL knitting.  Sometimes, it’s been a chore and I don’t ever want it to be that.  After all, I do it for fun! It’s a very time consuming activity which can be tranquil, relaxing, stimulating and enjoyable…or just a slog.  It all depends on what I choose to knit.

Happy International Women’s Day to all you wonderfully creative women out there! Thank you for doing what you do.

Click the link below to listen to one of my musical idols, Abbie Conant, an extraordinary  trombonist and activist on behalf of women’s rights.  She also happens to have what I consider the ideal trombone sound.  Enjoy!

https://youtu.be/TV2sEOm3mBo

Sick bed delirium

Labyrinth on Gambier Island, BC. (In case you needed a bit of green in your life!)

So, I’ve been sick with the flu and its aftermath for two weeks. The only upside to this is that I’ve been able to sit on the couch and knit while watching knitting podcasts and Star Trek TNG, guilt-free. Therefore, I made great progress on my Vertices Unite shawl and finished a pair of Simple House Slippers during that time. Plus, I’ve started another pair of socks for the #sockbash2017 hosted by the Grocery Girls. Since I almost always have a pair of socks on the needles, this is no hardship.

When I was still quite sick and my cough was keeping me up during the night, I started writing a new blog post in my head, but naturally the next day I couldn’t remember the substance of the post, nor did I have the energy to put the words on the page, even if I had remembered them.
I have a tendency to write amazing prose in those circs, but somehow, once I’m actually typing, the words don’t flow quite as well. However, I’m still going to take a stab at remembering what I composed during my delirium last week.

I’m pretty sure I was thinking about designing knitwear and what kind of person does that sort of thing. Could I ever design knitwear? Are people divided between those who invent patterns, and those that will be forever following patterns designed by others? It reminds me of the way musicians are often divided between those who can play by ear, and/or improvise, and those (like me) who are dependant on written music. There are many who can do both, but I believe more are in one camp or the other.

When it comes to designing knits, I think I could eventually design a pattern, but I would need a lot more experience and expertise than I have now. When it comes to music, I have plenty of experience and expertise in reproducing music, but I still don’t have the inspiration or desire to write or improvise music. I’m hoping it’ll be different in the knitting world. Even now, I’m capable of “designing” a sock pattern, but it’s really a matter of using the toe from one pattern, the heel from another and choosing a lace pattern for the leg, also made up by someone else! That really isn’t my own design and I would never have the gall to charge money for such a thing. It’s more a kind of improvisation, since I’m using tools I’ve picked up from others, but combining them in a new way, much like jazz, I suppose. It gives me the hope that one day I may have the experience to create something I can claim as my own.

Talking about inventing something new, I’m fascinated by patterns that become incredibly popular for one reason or another. Take the one that has taken Ravelry by storm recently called the “Find Your Fade” shawl. This is a wonderful design, (starting with the name!) not so much because the actual design is so new or different, but because of how it inspires knitters to be creative.  It intrigues people to choose the colours that speak to them, and make their own very different versions of this shawl. Of course it’s intriguing to me and I have every intention of making one, one of these days. However, The Vertices Unite is allowing me the very same creativity in choosing colours that speak to me, some of which don’t really seem all that connected on the face of it. It’s been a wonderful experience making this shawl, and, now that I see the end in sight, I’m eager, but a little sorry to think of it being finished.

Next time I’ll show the end result of my work on my VU obsession!