As I’ve mentioned a few times before, I’m not a particularly good or confident knitter, generally I find crocheting far easier, it seems so much simpler to un-ravel crochet and find my place again with a hook, than when I’m knitting…in the past there have been tears and a feeling of fraughtness, wanting to give up as I just can’t understand what the stitches are trying to do (or what I’ve done wrong)….
Some of my favourite blogs are by knitters, and when it all goes wrong and I’m un-ravelling yet again, I find myself looking at what they are creating, ….I never feel downcast or despondent by seeing some of the marvellous things they are knitting up, instead I feel inspired to try again, even if it’s just knitting a dishcloth.
However, like with all things, to get better involves practice and so I’ve been trying to knit for an hour or so each day. Some years ago I bought a really nice book called “450 Knitting Stitches volume 2” (though it’s called volume 2, it’s the first volume covering a range of different stitches such as texture, cable and lace) and while I think this is a very helpful collection, it mentions stitches which I didn’t have the faintest how to knit. I think volume 1 which explains techniques and stitches is out of print however I was able to pick up second hand the bumper sized “Harmony Guide to Knitting as a Creative Craft” (this is the first three volumes all in one big fat book)……I won’t say there’s been no stopping me but it certainly has helped me understand a bit better what I’m meant to do.
I find it easier to write out the pattern (in the knitting code) in my own hand writing as I seem to understand what the pattern is telling me to do better that way. Lots of little pieces of paper are dotted about around the sofa where I’ve noted where I am in the pattern, what line I’m on…..
So I’ve been practicing, making little samples and swatches of different patterns that take my fancy.
There’s two projects I’m trying to keep in mind, the first one is for a doily or decorative cloth for one of my sisters, I’d made her a dishcloth with the heart pattern in the centre and she’s decided it’s too pretty to be cleaning dishes and pans, and instead has it in her bedroom with a trinket box on top…I’ve told her to please use it and have promised to make her something a bit prettier for a bedroom.
And the second project involves this lovely Artesano wool I bought last year from my local knitting shop and I’d really like to use it to knit a scarf…(okay, ideally I’d like to knit it up into a big shawl but I think that’s a bit beyond me for now so will be happy with a scarf) I can sort of see it in my head, I’m thinking of something with a lacy pattern (though not too complicated as I’d like to wear it this year).
Alongside the wool are some of my Brittnay knitting needles…I love these so much. They look beautiful and just feel so perfectly at home in my hands. A few years ago I got very spoilt with a knitting shop voucher from my boyfriend’s parents and as it was a biggish birthday I really wanted to get something that would last and would be a nice keepsake so I bought a whole load of these knitting needles…I haven’t yet knitted anything to make the needles really proud or to do them justice, but I love holding them, and must admit to sometimes just sitting and imagining myself knitting wonderful things on them…..okay this is a good example of how daft I am..even before I can even knit properly I am worrying about knitting with circular needles, I hate metal needles (they make my fingers go cold very quickly) and the only wooden ones I’ve seen have been all swirly coloured, and even though I love colour,colour.colour, that swirly pattern gives me a headache. I’ve seen them in shops and look at them and sigh…I feel like the king and the marmalade who only wants a little bit of butter for his bread…I only want a plain coloured wooden needle….
This is the first of my samplers/swatches….this is called a “chevron rib” and I’ve knitted it using a linen yarn by Rowan (I bought it some time ago when John Lewis had a sale)….I really liked this pattern but felt it was a bit too loose and lacy for either of the projects. The yarn itself feels lovely and light once it’s knitted, however I found it quite hard to knit, maybe I’m a bit of a tight knitter as my needles kept poking through the yarn and I kept finding myself with more stitches on my needles than the pattern was saying I should have…..so there was a fair bit of un-ravelling and starting again.
At one point when the stitches were all wrong, I made the not to be repeated mistake of leaving it on the sofa while I made a pot of tea only to return to find Bernard had taken it upon himself to correct the mistake by un-ravelling it all. (He’d only beaten me to it so I couldn’t be too cross).
This one is called “eyelet panes” and is pretty close to what I’m thinking of for my scarf, it’s not too lacy and it feels nice and squishy. It’s another Rowan linen yarn and again I found it a bit hard to knit but I think it’s just me. The pattern isn’t too pretty from the back so I’m trying out a few more swatchy testers before I start the scarf.
I like the names of the different stitches (I can’t help but think about the blocks I’m making for “dear ethel”) and was trying at first to look for stitches that had the most appealing names (not the most sensible way to chose a stitch) however I’m finding the ones that involve leaf and seed names (the scarf being for Autumn I wanted the stitches to be Autumny sounding) more than a bit tricksy.
I changed from the linen to an organic wool by Rowan (another John Lewis sale purchase I’d ferreted away in a cupboard for sometime never)….and used a slightly larger needle…this stitch is called “all-over eyelets” and while it’s not what I want for my scarf I ‘m thinking it may be more suitable for my sister’s doily.
I think I’ll have to get the graph paper out and have a bit of a play around as I think it would look nice with a textured border. The pattern itself is nice and flat which is good if it is going to be used to put things on.
Okay, at this point I want to make a little trumpety fanfare….oh if you only knew how many times I’ve un-ravelled this pattern…
I tried it in linen and was nearly pulling my hair out…then switched over to the wool and only one un-ravel later…such happiness.
The pattern is called “eyelet twigs” and I did have to un-knit one piece quite early on as I hadn’t yarn overed or something I was meant to have done (slowly and carefully each stitch taken back, to where I counted more than saw where I’d gone wrong) but then I was able to knit three repeats of the twelve line pattern…..I still want to laugh as I was so pleased I managed this.
At the end of the last row I was fair beaming from ear to ear…..the sample now keeps being placed over my arm where I’m thinking maybe one day a sleeve for a cardigan or perhaps fingerless gloves (they’d be pretty but not practical as I think the wind would whip right in)
There was such a wonderful moment a week or so ago when I was looking at the knitting book and suddenly, I could understand some of what the pattern was telling me to do…the gobbledygook of a few weeks earlier was making sense….and while I still need to keep checking if I’m yarn overing or should I be knitting stitches in the back or front the fog slowly seems to be lifting.
So while I’m still dreaming of the “one day when” and I’m able to show a cardigan or something proper fancy as a work in progress on my needles, these are the places I go to when the needles slip and fall off or aren’t passed over when they’re meant to….places of inspiration all.
Kate Davies…Kate’s blog is always a treat and if you look there at the moment you can read all about the wool she’s had made…the colours are stunning.
Ella Gordon….I was lucky enough to commission a couple of pairs of Ella’s gloves in the Spring…beautifully warm and lovely to look at…she’s also got the most envy inducing collection of Shetland knits.
Felicity Ford (Knitsonik)…if I ever can get my head around fairisle knititng and how certain colour plays work or not then it will all be thanks to this totally amazing lady and her awesome Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook…her Knitsonik blog is always brilliant to read and she also writes at The Domestic Soundscape.
Ysolda Teague…..Ysolda’s patterns are so beautiful, full of interesting details and her shawls…well I just love them all.
Tom of Holland.….Hours can go by so quickly when I’m reading Tom’s blog, lots of beautiful pictures of proper old fashioned darning and wonderful writing about caring for our clothing.