Wee Cria is off the needles!  So close to project's end, I'm afraid that you're going to have to wait for a photo.  Unfortunately, this might take longer than planned as I can't find the buttons.  Baby's mother has been most noble about the loss (she chose the buttons along with the yarn and pattern) but clearly there's only one course of action: I have to turn the house upside down to find them.  Or else play psychological button warfare i.e. buy some new buttons so that the new-old ones will immediately present themselves. Yes, you playful emerald-green buttons: As gorgeous and perfectly coloured as you are, you are not irreplaceable and I will finish the garment.  (That ought to have them rolling out of their hiding place quicker than you can say "Hmmmm... don't you have a button box? ".)

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Funnily enough, loss of the buttons has also coincided with a loss of my knitting mojo.  The final eight rows of Wee Cria were only worked yesterday after several days of nothingness.  That said, I have got all excited about "Alda", sock two!  Really, really enjoying the lace work.  I seem to remember it being more complicated and having conversations along the lines of "It's only a four row pattern repeat – and two of those are knit rows – but if I don't knit it when I'm properly awake, then it all goes horribly wrong". Can't really explain it.  Maybe I am getting a little more sleep?  Maybe my little grey cells are making a slow recovery? 
 
But, again, I seem to be working in stops and starts.  To be absolutely honest with you, I'm afraid that I'm going to run out of yarn.  To accommodate my Katherine-sized feet, I'm knitting the largest size and worked an extra couple of rounds on the foot section (if the sock ain't going to fit, it ain't worth knitting) and I've convinced myself that this adaptation is going to exceed the yarn allowance.  I could do something sensible about this predicament (like weigh the completed sock and the remaining yarn) but instead I'm knitting s l o w l y.  Because clearly if I knit s l o w l y the yarn will last for l o n g e r.

I face a similar predicament with "Svala" but this time I know that I don't have enough yarn.  And that's fine, all part of the plan.  There's enough for the front and back to be knitted in the same Cornish clotted cream yarn loveliness and I've several plans B's up my sleeve should they be required for the garment’s own.  I find the uncertainly doesn't really lend itself to knitting quickly – but I should just get on with it.  No, I really want to get on with it.

Reading this, you might think that it's been a relatively successful week, that whilst not uber productive, I've not strayed from the established knitting path.  Well yes, that may be true on the needles, but in my head....  First off, that Rowan have a lot to answer for with a Magazine full of summer goodies.  When Mag 57 first landed on my doormat, I spent hours and hours analysing the designs, mentally listing their individual merits, aligning patterns with stash and imagining myself in a glorious new summer wardrobe.  "Alexus", a cotton tunic dress, made it to top of the knitting list and there it stalled, not having a stashed resource to allow immediate cast on.  But the idea remained.  And then allowed itself to be shelved, along with its magazine, to facilitate the more likely success of The Plan.

And then "The Knitter" arrived, it too full of springtime wonderfullness  - including "Alexus".  Seriously, what is a knitter to do?  Okay, so it won't be the quickest of knits but, since I'm always going to be wearing the dress with leggings, it doesn't have to be ready for the height of the summer, it will be a highlight of my summer-autumn transitional wardrobe.  (See what I did there?  Moth to the proverbial yarn light.)  And when am I going to knit this, you ask? Okay, now it gets a little tricky.  Definitely not until "Svala" and "Alda" are finished.  In fact, perhaps it would be wise to avoid addressing the lack of HK cotton until those are finished?  And then knit some more of "Isis Tailcoat" while I wait for it to arrive, knit "Alexus" in the new yarn and then finish "Isis". All in time for autumn.  Job done.  And quickly now, moving on.....

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of the company of other crafters for tea upstairs in my studio – and one of the wonderful things was the variety of work that they brought with them. One crocheted blanket sections....

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..... another sewed a unicorn (using up some of my near-ancient "Yarn of the Month" collection for its mane – Blue Sky Alpaca!!! – see, I always knew it could come in handy for something) and then there were the knitters.  

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J is perhaps the most dangerous of these – partly because of her willingness (pleasure, even) to experiment with new yarns and designers and partly because she is so very productive.  (That jumper she was knitting last crafternoon? She was wearing it yesterday.)  So J was knitting a Shetland Hap Shawl – and very yummy it was too in its Jamieson and Smith wool worked in swigey, springy garter stitch.  And then, quite literally out of her bag, she pulled some of the latest offerings from Ginger Twist: "Muddy Daffodil".  Not normally one for yellow yarns, Jess’s combination of grey and white with the mellow yellow was just stunning.  It took my breath away.  A was a far better guest - working with some of my own patterns – until she wanted ideas for her next project.  Oh dear…..  More knitting research, lots of wonderful new projects discovered and rediscovered.  A is a such a thoughtful, dedicated knitter so I suspect we won't be seeing any of these until she's finished her current work, which is beautiful (and since I seem to have lost the photos, sorry A, you'll have to take my word for it) – and not just because of your choice of yarn colour!


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Speaking of blue yarn... "Byatt".  Oh my.  It's not even made it onto the list.  Yet there it is, pattern stacked neatly under the chosen skeins of yarn and over the blue linen in which I'm going to make a dress.  An entire outfit, just waiting. And with delusions of wearing it this (Made It) May.  Seriously Katherine: How many hours do you think there are in a day? Or, more importantly, how many hours can you knit in one day? You're lucky if you manage two. Wanna make this happen? Can you increase this to three? Without detriment to your family and sleep (and therefore your family and everyone around you)?  




Hmmm... Let's see what happens, shall we? 


 
 
Dear Friends,

I can't believe that it’s been almost a month since our first Crafternoon Tea!  Like me, I imagine that you've been very busy, hopefully enjoying some of this glorious Spring weather and maybe even spending more time outside?  Perhaps, like me, you've now stumbled upon some of those external jobs that had been forgotten over the winter (out of sight...), and are now trying to get a handle on those while balancing all of our other daily demands.  And still trying to find to knit.

I'm looking forward to hearing about and seeing progress on your projects – knitting or otherwise.  Is the jumper complete? How's progress with the blanket? Though I believe there are now several of those on the needles.  Have the bootie and wrist warmers got matching pairs?  The cardigan a front? Is the shawl still on the needles? And the crochet...?

You probably won't be shocked to hear that I've still yet to complete "Wee Cria" – the baby's cardigan that I was working on when we last met, although I'm almost there. It’' turned out to be a much more satisfying knit that I had first imagined: My first top down, knit-in-one-piece garment.  I suspect that I'm going to feel a bit lost when I cast off and there's no joining to do - maybe I'll have to comfort myself with a hug from Wee Cria's recipient (if she is up to joining us).  If, by any miracle, I have finished this by Sunday, then I'll be back to knitting "Svala", the Icelandic Jumper – and if you see me knitting anything else, you have my permission to challenge me, sternly! 

I'm on a bit of a mission to complete some of my unfinished projects as I've decided that two, maybe three at an absolute push, is an acceptable number to have on the go. Not seven. Two projects: One main, one mindless, that's my aim.  I finished a pair of socks last week, aka the "motorhome socks" - so called as I started them on our trip to Orkney last August (on our first holiday in the motorhome, aka the "Lymer Hymer").  Only nine months to complete (my friend D has a lot more to show for her last nine months – and she's beautiful).  So that leaves:-

  • One lace sock, "Alda", started summer 2013 (for me)
  • One Icelandic Jumper, "Svala", restarted winter 2014 (for Oldest Son)
  • One beaded hair band, started a million years ago when I attended a Debblie Abrahams workshop at McAree Brothers.
  • One cardigan, "Isis Tailcoat", cast on at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival last month.
  • One lace dress, cast on Autumn last year.

Would you like to hear the Plan?  It's somewhat unrealistic and will perhaps give you some insight into how I can delude myself about the knitting time available / how fast I knit / how I'm not going to look at any other yarn or pattern in the meantime (/ the pressure I choose to put myself under / how I set myself up for disappointment).  But here goes.  Since my life is now arranged into termly blocks, I will have finished "Wee Cria", "Svala" and the missing pair from "Alda" by the summer holidays (which start here on 1st July). This will allow me the summer to work on my "Isis Tailcoat" – so that it'll be all ready for the autumn – and then I can resume work on the lace dress.  The 4ply lace dress.  Hmmmm.

The reality:  I'm starting a knitting group in school next week and I'll have to knit up a sample for that, so there's an extra project before we've even started.  I'm teaching workshops in both old and new venues, which is always very risky as they tend to sell yarn and patterns, both of which can be very, very tempting.  It also means that I'll be talking to other knitters and they can be very inspirational – which is also very dangerous.  The summer holidays, though long, mean that I actually have even less time that now to do anything productive – although, of course, the longer days meaning that I have more knitting time (and the energy to go with it, ha, ha!).

So, if you do come on Sunday, perhaps you could bring a time machine with you?

Looking forward to seeing you soon,

Katherine x
 
 
Such a glorious day! Bright sunshine giving a gleam to all that its light touches: The increasingly blue sky, the awakening grass and the oh-so-beautiful daffodils and their other bulb-like friends.  It's windy, of course, very windy.  I've just run around Reston and can most definitely vouch for the wind – and its stubborn reluctance to change direction to help push me up the home 'straight'.  Definitely the kind of day that encourages thoughts towards spring knitting. Suddenly, we want to bring the colour and lightness that we’re experiencing outside onto our needles.  No more heavy wool; we want silks, linens and cottons (though we'll probably have to settle for blends of each of these!).  Rest your cable needle a while: We're going to be knitting lace, going for delicate prettiness over elegant texture.
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So what does this mean for me? Quite honestly, it means the usual conflict of trying to finish existing "winter" projects while failing to delay casting-on new spring-like designs.  Currently, top of the priority list is Ysolda's "wee cria", which I'm knitting in the gorgeous "Deeply Wicked... Haylupp" from easyknits – doesn't the colour just sing to you?  This is for D's baby girl who, God willing, will be making her appearance into the world in the next couple of weeks.  And no, I'm not ruining any surprise by sharing the project with you as D chose the yarn and pattern herself. I only hope that the finished work lives up to her expectations.


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We also have "Svala" on the needles.  Not only superseded by the timeline of an unborn child, but the knitting has grown-out of the "fit in my handbag" criteria and so now spends most of its time at home with little progress being made.  But this is only a temporary state – I've come to learn that almost everything in my life is a phase and we'll be back to this in a week or two.


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What else?  Well, I was at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival a couple of weeks ago where I had the honour of teaching a couple of workshops.  It was a truly fantastic event, bringing together those involved in all stages of yarn production, from the animals, the dyeing and spinning, right through to the designs and master-classes.  It would have been rude not to have visited some of these lovely people in the market place and even rudder not to have supported their great efforts by not buying anything.  Which is how we ended up with "wee cria" and easyknits.  And Purl Alpaca Design's "Isis Tailcoat" and the 12 balls of alpaca needed to knit it.  Oh, and the two pairs of KnitPro "Karbonz" so that I could cast-on the work immediately.  (You can imagine Husband's face when he saw the needles – at least neither of them are 4mm!)  I did try to explain the fortune that I'd saved by not buying the completed garment as displayed on the Purl Alpaca stand – even though it was a perfect fit.  How satisfying would it have been to walk away with a completed garment – but the button was in the wrong place.  (Was it five rib sections that it needs to be moved up?)  It was stunning though, and I'm so looking forward to completing my own version.  Clearly, the weather is ideal for wearing it now – but hopefully it'll be ready for the autumn-winter transition at the end of the year. If not sooner.

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In classic celebration of these lighter, brighter days, I will also be knitting a shawl.  D very kindly treated me to Karie Westermann's "Byatt" for which I'll be using some of my precious last skeins of Yarn Pony's Mustang, probably "uniform" and "denim".  Having bought the pattern, it was interesting seeing so many versions of the shawl at the festival – the different colours, the varying number of repeats.  Also lovely to see a pattern designed not only to revel in the skills of the designer and knitter but also the colour qualities of the yarn, with a large garter-stitch section allowing the yarn and its dyer to have a voice of their own (rather like "wee cria").  D is using some "Old Maiden Aunt" and has already made significant progress with her version – perhaps "Svala" will be shunted further down the knitting list as I'd really like to have at least cast on my shawl before D casts hers off.

How about you? Has Spring inspired a new approach to your knitting?
 
 
I really enjoyed reading Stuart Heritage's article on his cheese-making experiences – not least because I have an unexplored cheese kit of my own (a Christmas present from my sister), which may now soon, see the light of the board.  Or, as Stuart so deliciously suggests, the top of a pizza.

However, the title of his "Homemade Life" got me pondering.... "Homemade" is something that I too often aspire to produce: Baking, jam, other food... but not hand knitting.  I like my knitting to look handmade, not homemade.  Same for my sewing.  I'd like to be able to surprise you with the fact that the well-made, well-fitting garment / bag that you've just complimented me on is a product of my own hands – as opposed for you to be able to guess from the hanging threads, mis-matched seams or any other poorly disguised clues that would point to its origin.

I find it an interesting distinction.  My baking is, most definitely, home made. "Rustic", is more accurate.  Happiest making gingerbread or fruit loaves – used to love Madeira cake but its inexplicable fall from the "pretty-much-guaranteed-to-always-work" tin has made me fearful of trying again.  Cakes with very little or no icing, cakes I often serve straight from their greaseproof paper: These are my friends. There's a different kind of happiness when baking the predictable chocolate cake with my boys: Two layers of sponge with two layers of a simple chocolate icing – and two beaters licked to shining "cleanliness".  It’s not elegant but it's tasty – and who can be disappointed with a wedge of freshly-baked, delicious cake?

Ditto my jam. Spend hours and hours growing, collecting and preparing the fruit – but lose interest at the final hurdle: Presentation.  Of course the jars are clean and sterile but, once sealed, they're lucky to be labelled let alone decorated.  Again, I assume that the tastes and flavours will speak for themselves (although that's not always the case!). Why this lack of interest in the packaging?  When I could so easily crochet a cover, cut out some pretty paper or even just neatly write the date and contents on a label.

With my knitting, however, it has to be the entire package: Thoughtfully chosen, beautiful yarn and a diverting pattern lovingly knitted and then carefully put together.  Why?  Because I'm aware that so much can be lost with a badly-constructed garment?  Because my standards as a knitter have risen?  Because I'm a professional knitter? Because I'm a Knitter? 

Which, by the same argument, means that I'm not a Baker – or indeed any other kind of Domestic Goddess.  My home is mostly clean and mostly tidy, but you don't have to look too far to find the imperfections.  My garden is, erm, a work in progress: Occasional elements of "ta-da" – depending on the season and energy exerted.  My cooking, while under seasoned (thought I'd get that in there before anyone else did!) is usually edible – and the list goes on.

Oddly enough, these rough edges no longer cause me the distress that they used to.  There's no doubt that having a young family has forced some of this (clearly a freshly vacuumed carpet is for emptying the entire contents of the Lego box) – but I find that there is a certain amount of satisfaction in being able to complete a task, and complete it well.  Not all my tasks, clearly, maybe only one or two.  And I guess it speaks volumes that of these few, my knitting is one.

 
 
If, like me, you feel like there are never enough opportunities to knit with friends, then join us between 2pm – 4pm on the last Sunday of every month (during term time) for "Crafternoon Tea with Katherine". For £3 you’ll get a cuppa, cake (or another sweet treat) and the pleasure of my company and that of other crafters in my studio / workshop at Deanfoot, Grantshouse TD11 3RR.

The first of these Crafternoon Tea's will be on Sunday 29th March – a perfect way to recover from the shock of the start of British Summer Time!

Our afternoons are completely informal, as in there'll be no workshop-style teaching but obviously I'll be on hand to assist – where I can! – with any of your knitting queries.  This also means that you don't have to book – just turn up as and when you're able to – but it's always nice to know that you're coming (and is helpful in terms of the baking schedule!).

I look forward to welcoming you to Deanfoot! Katherine x

 
 
Dear Jo,

As I sit enjoying the warmth of the fire and a cup of tea, I hope that, twenty-five miles away, you are sitting enjoying the warmth of your friends and a cuppa on this, the last ever Woolly Wednesday (WW).  I am so sorry that I'm not with you to share in this momentous evening – Husband's work-related absence from home is annoying on many levels, though this is perhaps the most significant "miss".

We may not be in the same room but, nonetheless, I thought that I would share this time with you to say "thank you".  It is no understatement to say that meeting you, our subsequent professional collaborations and, most especially, the WWs have changed my life, and for the better.  For so much the better.

Yes, WW ticked the obvious boxes: I knitted, ate cake, drank tea and chatted with a lovely group of people.  I have been inspired, so very inspired, to try new designers, embrace new ideas and knit with new yarn. However, the real gift of WW has been the friends I've made, and I very much count you among them.  It was beyond my wildest dreams to think that I would be so fortunate as to find such a wealth of true, honest, loyal, stand-beside-you-and-be-counted friends, but there you go: It happened.  And once all the cake has been eaten, the tea drunk, the knitting completed (hah!), we will remain.

Please do not take the closure of the shop as a reflection on you, because it isn't: It's a wider reflection on us, your customers, and probably has a lot to do with our departure from the physical shopping to the virtual – a habit that has now forced your business along a similar path.  You have always shown tireless energy and insight in your ventures (shall we talk again of the success story of your crafty kits?) and, perhaps after a wee rest to re-group, I suspect you’ll be up and at it again.

Sometimes we don't help ourselves, being the fickle lot of crafters that we are.  Not me, obviously, it's knitting all the way with me – can just about bring myself to brandish a crochet hook from time to time (...though I do like a whirl on my sewing machine...) – but often as not, you'll find a crafter who has all the makings for needle-felting, beading, vintage furniture painting and more - in addition to her love of yarn.  And though you catered for us all, we failed to meet your expectations.  And for that, I am very sorry. You supported local crafters by providing them with precious shop-space to sell their own creations; you supported teachers such as myself by inviting us in to do workshops; you support local and national crafting events while wearing a number of hats, including that of owner and manager of your wonderful shop.  It is true to say that the loss of The Handmade Store is too big for any number of beads to fill.

But we have not lost you.  I will not be alone in taking comfort from the fact that it is only the shop that's going: Jo, the entrepreneur, the astute business woman is continuing her crafty work and, on whichever path she chooses, will triumph.

And so I wish you goodnight, and in words far better than mine:

"You never know what's around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you've climbed a mountain."
― Tom Hiddleston

Jo, take this moment to look behind you, for went the clouds lift, and the people disperse, only then will you see to what great heights you have reached xx

 
 
A long time ago, maybe three years ago, my mother-in-law gifted me some Cornish yarn to knit Oldest Son a traditional Cornish Gansey.  She had provided enough yarn to knit the size for 3 – 4 year olds but, upon reflection, I opted to buy another skein so that I could knit the larger size.  No, this wasn't just a ploy to delay the knitting; I was trying to be practical: An energetic, bike-riding, scootering, exuberant five year old would be more likely to get wear out of a thick jumper, warm enough to be worn without a coat, than a three year old. A three-year old without an older brother already doing these activities, maybe.

Whenever it was last year that I broke my toe, I started knitting said jumper and then, after completing the back, I stopped.  I can't remember why.  There need not be any major reason as this pattern of behaviour isn't so unusual for me (if I ever let you into my unfinished project cupboard...) but I suspect that it might have had something to do with not really liking it.  Yet feeling that I should.  Or at least feeling that I should knit it regardless of liking it or not.  I guess that's what happens when someone you love gives you yarn to knit for another person that you both love and then she dies before said project is started – let alone completed – so there was no opportunity for further discussion.  Clearly my issue is with the untimely death and nothing whatsoever to do with my untimely knitting.
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And so the jumper sat, untouched for several more months.  Then Oldest Son turned from four to five and overnight, he was immediately loosing out on potential jumper-wearing days because I hadn't finished knitting the thing!  Yet still I didn't pick up the needles.

This Christmas, however, it accompanied us as my third holiday knitting project.  It travelled from here to Manchester, to Lapland, to mid-Wales, back to Cornwall and then home and how much did I knit?  Not a single stitch.  If I tell you that Holiday Project Number One was completed en route to Manchester and Holiday Project Number Two en route from Cornwall to home then you can correctly surmise that pretty much the only knitting I did was in the car.  In fact, it was just as I was pulling out Holiday Project Number Three that Husband announced that it was my turn to drive.  (Honestly, these men.  Since when does West Cornwall to East Berwickshire require two drivers?!)

But at least the jumper had made it out of the cupboard, and to the top of the "Most Likely to be Knitted" list.  And there, in the honest light of a winter's day, I admitted that I really didn't think that it was going to work in the way that we hoped and, as such, it was going to be a waste.  In case you think that this is some fluffy get-out clause, here are my very practical reasons:

(1)   I don't think the colour will suit Oldest Son.  If you think that I have pale skin; he is my delicate English rose-boy.  And a creamy off-white does nothing for him except highlight the bags under his eyes.

(2)   Have I mentioned that Oldest Son is a boy?  A five year old boy?  Who eats like a five year old, plays like a boy.  In a white jumper?!  Err, no.  Three mins outside and his cuffs will be filthy.  And then there's snack time where, even if we stick to bland treats (warm milk and raisins, for example), he's still likely to be wearing some of it.

(3)   I don't like the open neckline.  For a jumper that could, in all other respects, function like a coat, the neckline will let in the cold air.  Even if Oldest Son claims not to feel the cold, I will be cold looking at him.  (I'm still trying to defrost after spending an evening with him and his bare feet.  Me: Socks, slippers and umpteen layers.  Him: No socks, no slippers and apparently fine.)

And then I was reminded of "Svala", a pattern that I have long since coveted.  Loved enough to put my entire family, including my parents, into a car and drive them for miles in the vein hope that we could purchase both yarn and pattern.  But it wasn't to be.  (Thankfully, we were able to partake of some rather delicious tea and cake so it wasn't a completely wasted trip.)

So I frogged it. 

This time I didn't need the able assistance of a friend to do it for me (thanks again J!) and, in fact, I probably needed to do it myself.  To experience first hand the sensation of undoing all of that work, the promise – to myself, my mother-in-law, my son.  And while it was easy to return the yarn is back in a usable state, I'm not sure it'll be quite as easy for my conscience.

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Jumper number two is under-way.  Jumper number two accompanies me pretty much everywhere.  It's not the smallest of mobile knitting projects (given that it's a jumper and I'm knitting in double (which means I've got two balls of yarn to transport)) but it is one of the easiest: I'm knitting stocking-stitch in the round.  So, yes, I can talk, drink tea, eat cake, keep an eye on the boys and knit at the same time.  Its near-constant presence is also providing me with some comfort: I like the fact that it's nearly always to hand, I love the fact that I'm knitting it.  I love knitting it, in fact.  

So maybe this time Oldest Son stands a chance of receiving his completed jumper.  And his grandmother’s wish will finally be fulfilled.

But in the meantime, thank you for the knitting. 
 
 
May I begin by taking this opportunity to wish you all a very, very, Happy New Year.

No doubt, you'll have started 2015 with one or two (or maybe more) resolutions, some of which may be yarn-related, some may not. Needless to say, I also have mine. Top of the list is to work on correcting my posture which, and this is an official, medical description, is "awful".  I cannot argue. This diagnosis might have been slightly easier to hear had the therapist not voiced almost the exact same phrases that my mother has been using for most of my life, but it does not shake the truth: My posture is awful and, if I don't do something now, it might seriously affect my quality of life in the future. Now these words, these will make me sit bolt upright.

The ensuing lecture on the perils of modern living wasn't, I have to admit the most enthralling: Yes, we're all using computers more, sitting badly at desks and keyboards more, slumping across our sofas while reading / typing on our phones and tablets more, driving our cars more and, as a consequence, turning back into Neanderthals, but it seems that this particular primitive is exacerbating the problem by knitting more while sitting badly, often in the car (though not driving, obviously). Being the coward that I sometimes am, I didn't mention this significant "other" in my life for fear that he recommended some limiting measures, such as 'not knitting as much'.  Onset of these most recent symptoms has been preceded by running (albeit slowly) and whilst he hadn't told me to quit this (quite the opposite, in fact), he wasn't to be trusted to make a similar prognosis regarding the sedentary practice of needle holding.

Given that I'm a 21st century gal, I had hoped that he could fix my postural problem with a few appropriate re-adjustments of the spine or similar but apparently the trouble is beyond that kind of instant repair.  Apparently I'm looking at years to correct the issues.  So what does this mean?

Well, apart from expecting to see this resolution at the top of next year's list, I have been more mindful of the way that I stand and sit and although this usually ends up with me not knowing how to do either "properly", I hope that my awareness will help me find the right path to, err, backfulness.

I am more conscious of my posture while I knit.  I usually knit sitting down (although it wouldn’t be so unusual to find me knitting, standing in front of the cooker while waiting for the kettle to boil) and adopting the correct posture when sitting against a chair back is easier than when standing surrounded by air. I have never been one of those knitters to secure a needle under one armpit, so I guess I've saved myself a twist or two (though, no doubt, child birth has removed any potential brownie points so let's not compare).  I tend to knit with circular needles, even when knitting a flat piece of fabric, and so by trying to raise my hands off my lap while knitting, I hope to stop my head constantly looking down quite so far (which has created a "near-permanently bent neck, which makes my head look detached from my body".  All in all, I think I'm taking these analyses quite well.)  What this new position is doing to my wrists and arms, I really don't know, but it doesn't ache and, perhaps more importantly, I'm aware that my shoulders are less rounded.

I have enrolled in a Pilates class (first one next week) in an attempt to re-educate my muscles so I might, at last, re-learn how to stand up straight.  Going to this class is a bigger deal that you might first think because, unlike the daytime versions I attend, this is an evening class, and not just any evening, but Wednesday evening.  This means that I'm going to have to leave my fortnightly knitting group early.  Yes, I'm that committed to Project Back.  Don't worry though, I plan to get around this inconvenience by going to the knitting group earlier so overall it'll balance out, but that doesn't stop it having an impact on our family life and the increasing number of night-times that I'm out knitting, by which I mean working :-)  But who knows, maybe I'll be brave enough to ask the Pilates instructor the best way to hold my needles – coming straight from Woolly Wednesday, I'll have them to hand.

I also plan to go back to the aforementioned Voice of Doom for further re-adjustments and some good ol' fashioned plain speaking.

And in the meantime?  I knit, obviously (and I look forward to sharing a few fruits of my needles in the next day or two). I type on my laptop (I'm Old Skool! How else do you suppose I did this). Read / send messages on my phone and tablet, drive my car and basically carry on with my 21st Century life. I've also been running and, perhaps you should sit down for this, have remained pain free.  The road to (near) complete back recovery may be a long one, but with my needles and yarn to accompany me, it'll also be an enjoyable, satisfying and who knows?  Maybe even a productive one too. 

 
 
I've started knitting Sarah Hatton's stunning "Harwood", part of Rowan Studio Issue 2. As you can see, this is a long-line, beautifully cabled jacket.  I am, of course, knitting it in blue.

Now, this is a completely new style of project for me in that it's longer (in length!) and straighter than anything that I've knitted before, but I have the yarn and like the look of it so thought that I'd give it a go – although it may be that this perhaps isn't the cleverest of ideas.

For those who know me, you know that my body shape is pear.  You also know that I'm quite tall.  In her book "Knit to Fit", the brilliant Sharon Brant actually cites this jacket as a good example for someone who is petite (oh dear) and "is a great design for athletic shapes" (oh dear, oh dear).  Perhaps I should stop knitting now?  (It's a serious question.)  However, the reason behind purchasing this book was because Sharon shows you how to adapt patterns to make them fit properly and so I have just referred to it for advice on adding some shaping around the waist.  Which is a possibility.  So, so far: Option One is to scrap the project; Option Two is to add some waist shaping.

In her description of 'Garments that suit Pear Shapes', Sharon recommends "shaped, short sweaters and cardigans" (i.e. most of what I've been knitting for myself, which is kinda reassuring), so an Option Three could be to shorten the jacket as well as to shape it.  However, she then goes onto say that "belted cardigans are good, as are patterned garments" – is this not "Harwood"?  Any shorter and the jacket wouldn't need a belt, right?  So Option Four is to knit as stated in the pattern, without any alterations.

What do you think?  My needles are poised as I wait for your answer.....

 
 
You know me: I'm not a one project girl. A small part of this is due to trying to balance my work knitting with that that I knit for pleasure, but the largest part of this is my moth-like tendencies to new yarn, new patterns and the glorious new cast on. For this reason, it is only recently that I've been able to justify casting on a new garment project for me. Yes, I have two pairs of socks on the needles, one headband and a scarf but since these are only small projects, they will be completed in only a few knitting sessions.*  A larger project – of the type on which I used to thrive – now that requires real commitment in these days of very limited knitting-for-me-time, and so there was no small amount of pressure to ensure that I correctly chose The One.

Part of the motivation for The One is my diminishing wardrobe of knitwear.  It's like I woke up one morning and suddenly realised that I didn't have enough jumper-type garments for every day wear.  If memory serves me correctly, this happened last autumn too – but since this season quickly passes into winter (especially for a cold soul such as myself) – the panic was short-lived.  This year, however, it seems that I could no longer ignore the problem and clearly hand-knitting new transitional garments was deemed the most sensible way forward.

On one level, this solution does hold certain merit.  After all, I do have quite a lot of yarn and several patterns to choose from.  I also have the skills necessary to knit the things I want to – it's just the small question of time.  (Apparently the success of most projects is in the details.... Ahem.)

Now normally, I would go straight to my beloved Rowan for both pattern and yarn.  Not only am I guaranteed to find something that I'll love but the finished garment will also serve as work-wear so it's win win.  This time though, I thought that I'd try something different: A whole new designer and some non-Rowan yarn.  (Don't underestimate what a Big Deal this is for me. It's like going off Cadbury's chocolate.) As is often the way with these things, I stumbled across a lovely pattern in Ysolda Teague’s new book "The Rhinebeck Sweater" and it's Ysolda's own "Pumpkin Ale" that I took a fancy too (if you too are interested, note errata for this pattern). The jacket doesn't look like much from the front but one glimpse of the back and you're in for a real treat: Beautiful cables, flattering shaping – it really is stunning. On a previous visit to Kathy's Knits, I'd picked up some of Rennie's Carnation Supersoft 4ply. Okay, I'll be honest: I bought her out of it.  The colour is an exact match for a treasured (but now worn out) jumper gifted to me by one of my brothers but since I didn't have a pattern, I took all that she had – wouldn't want to run out!  Since this wasn't the yarn suggested by Ysolda, I carefully knitted up several swatches until I found the correct needle size using two strands together to achieve the required tension.  And then the knitting could begin.
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And it's been going on for quite a while.  But this is all to be expected given the small amount of actual knitting time – and whilst it would be nice if I had an occasional visit from the knitting fairy, I'm okay with the slow speed of progress.



Fast forward a few months to last weekend when I was chatting knitting with my aunt.  Like my mother, my aunt knits a lot but and it's great that we have this in common.  It's always interesting seeing what others are knitting and browsing through their knitting books.  My aunt is knitting a jumper for one of my cousins from Debbie Bliss's "Land Girls", more cables but after that the similarities to "Pumpkin Ale" quickly end, and whilst pretty and wholly appropriate for its recipient, the jumper is not for me.  Another design from this book caught my eye: Think Red Riding Hood for grown-ups.  A lovely hooded (red) cabled jacket, perhaps mid thigh length.  It's very appealing.  However, further study revealed that it has no way of fastening: No buttons (although it has straight edges so it might not be too difficult to add a band), but probably best suited to a belt fastening – only I'm not.  And then I took my aunt to show her my project, my cabled jacket with – wait for it – no way to fasten the front.  And it's shaped so adding a button band would be impossible, belts are a no-no – but then so are edges that just flap around, letting in the cold and making me cross my arms in desperation to keep in the heat.  Was I knitting this to "wear around the house"?  What, as some glorified bed jacket?  No, I don't think so!  I'm not putting in all those hours of toil for a woollen garment that I can't wear out because I'll be cold.

And now, on reflection, it seems that I won't be putting in any further hours at all.  I have reached the conclusion that this garment isn't for me.  Yes, it's very nice but it's not Katherine.  So there remains only one course of action: Frog the work.

And then find an alternative The One.  And I think that I've found it: "Cullin" by Mary Henderson (again, note the errata).  And I think that I have some suitable yarn: Rowan's felted tweed chunky  Not quite the break from tradition that I was aiming for but for me, but perhaps this is a start.


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I am left wondering how I would feel after knitting much more – or even all – of Pumpkin Ale.  Would I be quite so willing to discard it?  How often would I wear it if complete?  I think my maybe my hesitant knitting has saved me from a big disappointment.  And given me time to concentrate on my socks.  Win win.




* Provided each knitting session is several days in length, undisturbed and fuelled by endless tea and cake = totally improbable ever to happen.