I have a very good friend, T, who is a super-duper knitter. Personally I don’t quite comprehend her passion for knitting penguins and camper vans etc. but horses for courses.The garments she has knitted for herself are exquisite – all fancy stitches and lacy and cables and the like. And she’s fast!
Me, I have an issue with knitting….impatience probably ranks high….
it just take soooo long for me to knit anything. I can sew a skirt in 1.5hrs but to knit a cardigan takes me months. Added to that I don’t understand the fit – the tension, and casting off and on for shape and I always lose track of the number of stitches and whether I should purling or stocking stitching. To combat these failings I usually knit with the biggest needles I can find and the chunkiest yarn I can buy. This is fine but somewhat limiting in my knitting repertoire. I can do two stitches and the more of the same stitches in a pattern the better.
T and I had a day out recently to the quirkiest wool barn (literally) in the depths of the Northern Irish countryside: one of those places that is off a country road that is off another country road and then down a long driveway – if you didn’t know it was there you’d never find it. A Brigadoone of a place, run by a couple of women of a certain age who are extremely friendly, extremely knowledgeable and are the best sales people I’ve ever met! Yes, they made me give them a tonne of cash in exchange for a book and some wool. The yarns they stock are the best on the market – cashmere, mohair, silk, lambs’ wool – not a thread of poly in sight! It’s called the Glen Gallery, and while they don’t have a website of their own my new friend Dazy has done a small review.
So anyway, T said I needed to change my attitude to knitting – a different mindset, so to speak – it’s not supposed to be quick, just enjoy every stitch and the actual process of knitting. So I’ve attempted to do just that. Of course having very expensive yarn helped considerably.
Before the summer, I had unravelled a blue RTW cardigan because I liked the colour but not the style and thought (with endless optimism) that I could knit the yarn into something more ‘my style’ – whatever that is…. As usual, the balls of wool sat about for months as I hunted for a plain cardigan pattern. Weirdly, I buy knitting magazines – believing wholeheartedly in the power of osmosis. It hasn’t happened yet!
I have this magazine and liked this pattern – Mad Men inspired cardigan in the workwear section. See only two types of stitches! Perfect.
It soon become obvious, even to me, that I didn’t have enough blue to complete the job so I thought of knitting the yoke bit in a fancy yarn – all design like.
At the Glen Gallery, I bought 5 hanks of Japanese Noro – Mossa to be exact – and realised that this might just be epiphany I have been waiting for all this time – gorgeous blended yarns of silk and cashmere and wool and a multitude of colours – so that every stitch is unique and different to the last. There’s knobbly bits and smooth bits and fluffy bits too. I shall never knit with anything else from now on – damn you T – this has to be one of the most exclusive and expensive yarns. It comes in old-fashioned hanks too, so I’ve been employing DH and teenage son to sit with their arms out as I wind the hanks into balls. DH is loads better at this job than teenage son, as he had to do it for his mother when he was a lad.
I’ve knitted the cardy up to the armholes in the ripped out blue and then transitioned into the glorious Noro for the top half.
I’ve been researching this thing called ‘blocking’ – laying out of knitted pieces to flatten and shape them and it’s really scary. We all know that you don’t wash wool – it’ll shrink or grow or change shape or do some weird thing. Here’s the method I used – found here and seconded fortuitously this week on Rhonda’s Wednesday showcase.
1. Soak the pieces in cold water until they are saturated. I stopped breathing while doing this thinking all that knitting was going to turn to felt.
2. Gently press the pieces against the basin to remove excess water – do not wring out!
3. Lay the pieces flat on a large bath towel on the floor
4. Roll up the towel firmly to squeeze out more water.
5. On another, dry towel lay the pieces down: measure and pin to shape. Walk away for about 2 days.
This method worked a treat and all my fears were completely unfounded – I now have flat, but still textured, knitting and nearly all the right size.
Just have to pick up the stitches from all the pieces and knit the neckband.
And if you don’t believe how slow at knitting I really am, I found this project in a bag under the sewing table – a kimono style cardigan downloaded 8 years ago! A free pattern from Clementine – a loose fitting wrap cardigan with kimono sleeves.
Might just go back to it, now that I have a more positive attitude towards knitting. Might…….
And I’ve added knitting blogs to my Reader – oh, just more stuff to get in the way of actually doing something.