How to make a Northern Ireland Quilt

Sometimes when we tell people that we are knitters they conjour a mental image of those doyennes of home craft – Grandma Walton and Ma Ingles. On most occasions we resist this label and try to convince them that we are really quite ‘badass’. However sometimes the notion of a group of friends coming together to make something beautiful for a pal is what we are all about.

A few years ago I disposed of something unpleasant (don’t worry – I didn’t kill him – he’s living in the next county with wife number two). While this was undoubtedly a positive move, after almost twenty years my world felt very new but not particularly brave. At a knitting in public day the whole messy story poured out (I would like to think I looked like Juliet Stevenson in ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ – but I didn’t – there was much more snotter). On that day my knitting friends just held me, and that really helped. A few weeks later at another knitting in public event (where I managed to stay dry eyed) I was handed a bag with a more permanent hug contained in it.

My friends had got together and made me a beautiful patchwork quilt. I was overwhelmed. Squares had literally been sent from all over the world and showcased our whole range of skills.  A lot of time has passed since the creation of that first quilt (along with the original crisis), but the quilt still has a very special place in my home (and heart). It sits on my living room sofa and has ‘hugged’ all my children and many of their friends through their turbulent teenage years.

Over the years other members of our group have faced challenges in their lives and the creation of a quilt has become a tradition. Almost as soon as our friend has shared their story we are ‘making eyes’ across the the table at Nikki to get the WhatsApp group set up.

Our most recent blanket has been made for our pal Pamela. Recently she lost her lovely Daddy after a difficult illness.  The ‘blanket group’ was quickly established and squares poured in. This one was a record breaker – sixteen days from start to finish!

The logistics of a blanket can be fascinating  – squares were delivered in person, by post, via friends and this time there was even a mystery square posted through Nikki’s letterbox (if you made the white square with the pink ruffle rose – please identify yourself Spartacus ).

With squared assembled then comes the sewing up – this was done in three stages, Sharon put a section together at home, a few more were added at the Wednesday meeting and finally a Sunday joining session at a local cafe.

This is where is really did become like a scene from Witness. We laid out all in squares on the floor of our friendly Cafe Nero and then spent quite a while moving the squares around to get a pattern we liked. We did received some bewildered looks from other diners including two very intimidating French ladies who though this was a quaint local Irish custom.

The blanket proceeded smoothly from there with a couple of minor hiccups. A slight miscalculation in finished squares resulted in a rapid ‘hooking’ of a replacement and then there was an award moment when I tried to join the end to the middle (in my defence there were two pink squares!). I was the designated ‘finisher’ (which makes me sound a bit like Edward Woodward in the Equaliser – but really it was just crocheting a border)

A few days later we passed on the blanket and as you can see, Pamela loved it.

While these blankets are a tangible reminder of friendship and fellowship they are more than that. Each square comes with a story – this time, a number of knitters chose to make their squares on Father’s day and reflected not only on Pamela’s Daddy but their own. The colours were from her favourite pallet and the green border gave a ‘meadow feel’ to the whole project.

While I sincerely hope that no one will need a ‘your life is crap right now, but we love you and it will get better, blanket’ any time soon, when the s**t next hits the fan they can be confident a yarn hug is on its way.

 

 

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Mini yarn crawl of London

 

A few months ago I watched Eli of Skeindeer knits ( episode 67 bonus ) when she took us on a mini yarn crawl of London.  As well as visiting three very different yarn shops she shared places to eat and other shops that a crafter might like. It sounded great and  I decided that next time that I was in London I would try it

I happened to be in London on Local yarn shop day and decided to give it a go .  The first problem that I encountered was I was several miles away from where Eli started so I needed a bit of planning  I managed to get a train from Sydenham to Dalston Junction and then took a bus to Clapton High street.  The bus leaves you right across from the shop

Wild and Woolly is small but has lots of very interesting things and the staff are so friendly and welcoming.  The first surprise was meeting Larissa from Travelknitter who had called in to restock the wall with her wonderful Jewell toned yarns

.  Next Susan Crawford and Tess arrived to set up for a book launch and soon beautiful samples nestled in between the shelves .

Even with all the activity Anna made sure I could find what I wanted.  I bought some interesting sock yarn that had nettle fibre instead of nylon to strengthen it  When I finished I headed off in search of a snack  I settled on a coffee shop that specialised in vegetable cakes.  I had some courgette and coconut cake which was surprisingly nice.

The next stop on the crawl was Knit with attitude in Stoke Newington .  As it was already raining I decided to take the bus ,  Anna helpfully  told me which bus to take .  It was a quick journey around to Stoke Newington high street which had a lovely independent book shop and a retro fabric shop straight out of the 1970’s .  There is an art shop at the front and the yarn is at the back  there was several indie dyers but I knew I wanted a skein of Garn Surr which is a yarn dyed by refugee women who have settled in Numedal Norway .  They have learnt to dye yarn alongside learning the Norwegian language , the aim being to give them a skill that will give them an income  .  The rain was even heavier when I left so I didn’t get a chance to visit the fabric shop and instead found the bus that would take me to Loop in Islington.

i met a friend there an we were delighted to find birthday celebrations for the shop meant a 30% discount  I had wanted a sweaters worth of Quince and Co but I was out of luck so got a skein of Eden cottage yarns double knit and some Jawoll sock yarn which I enjoy knitting with  after a catch up in Starbucks it was time to head home  it was a really great day and I’m sure I’ll visit the shops again.  If I had to choose one though I think  it might be Wild and Woolly. IMG_2761IMG_2760.JPG

 

 

Goals-ish Update

In a previous post, I stuck my neck out and announced a number of knitting-related things I wanted to achieve this year. After last year – the Year of Bleh… – I felt like I needed to up my game and satisfy my need to Get Stuff Done.

To recap, I wanted to:

Learn to do stranded colourwork
Learn brioche knitting
Knit something in laceweight yarn
Knit something with an all-over lace pattern (ie, not    just a lacy panel or edge)
Knit something with beads.

If more than one of these goals features in the same project, that’s fine. In fact, that’s the kind of efficiency I like.

So, hovering around Midsummer, where’s my knit at?

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Have the goals been achieved?

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Have I given up and set fire to my entire stash?

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The tension is killing you, I’m sure…! Never fear, dear reader – read on to find out…

 

Learn to do stranded colourwork

This one I got ticked off early, and far faster than I expected. I knit a Bousta Beanie in Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal. Now, those of you who have read my previous posts will know that I don’t like to make things easy for myself. So, naturally, the yarn I selected for this project bore no relation to the yarn recommended, introducing a host of potential gauge disasters – especially in conjunction with colourwork, which itself can do some funny business to tension. To mitigate this, I knit the world’s skimpiest swatch:

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 The number of stitches I case on was meagre for knitting flat, but of course I needed to do this in the round, a fact I did not consider, rendering the swatch miniscule. However, I did not let such trivialities stop play, and proceeded to knit a swatch the size of a thimble. Plenty big enough. If you have an electron microscope. I even blocked it.

Proceeded to knit the beanie, gratified to find this stranding business less easier than I imagined. I was able to work both colours in one hand – my knitting style facilitates this I think. Was not overly impressed with the crown shaping once cast off, as it was sort of pleated-looking, but it fitted. Thank you miniscule swatch. Blocked it over a bowl and it all smoothed out nicely. However, it was at this point I learned that this yarn has absolutely no memory, and the blocking had rendered it about 1.5” too big for my ample bonce. The ribbed edge was stretched out, and was no longer functional. Much sad. I may put some sort of pleat into the brim at some point to try to tighten it up, but suffice to say I won’t be using this yarn for a hat or mitts again, lovely as it does look with the colourwork.

 

Learn brioche knitting

Feeling emboldened by my colourwork success, next up was brioche. This was part of Exploration Station by Stephen West. Just one wee strip of brioche, so not too scary. I did have to cast this on twice, but that wasn’t the brioche’s fault – that was my fault for picking a thoroughly vile combination of colours. They all looked great separately, but together…yech. Exploration Station has 4 colours, but what I didn’t properly grasp the first time is that you really need a set of three colours, plus a contrast colour – not 4 ‘equal’ colours. You can have that tip for free, I’m nice like that.

I did need to practice the 2-colour brioche on a swatch before committing to the shawl – there’s a bit of a learning curve, but once it clicks in your head, it’s really not too bad. Another tip – there are two different ways to knit brioche. I discovered this when I consulted The Principles of Knitting, only to realise what was being described bore no relation to what was related in the pattern. Eventually uncovered that the two methods are in completely different sections in this book, which is…less than logical. The Principles of Knitting is a great resource, but this isn’t the first time I’ve come across one of these little foibles, so just bear that in mind.

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Knit something in laceweight yarn
Knit something with an all-over lace pattern (ie, not            just a lacy panel or edge)
Knit something with beads.

Ah, now here’s where we really fly – not just one, not two… but THREE in one here! Calendula by Susanna IC ticked these three off nicely. After a bit of a panic shortly after casting on (as always), that it would be rly rly smol, I cracked on anyway, figuring that the cat could wear it if nothing else. Deceptively easy pattern, and beading is also nothing to be terrified of – the only issue I had was the tiny crochet hook tending to split the yarn when trying to slide the bead on, but I found I got better at angling it just right as I went on.

It did seem quite small upon casting off, but an aggressive blocking pulled it up to an acceptable size. Because I am a tube, I forgot to take before and after pics, despite expressly reminding myself all the way through to do so.

 

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So, there we are. Mission accomplished, and just in time for Woollinn too – which is just as well, because I think I caught cast-on-itis there…

 

 

a break

Due to illness and family bereavement, there will be no blog this week.

We’ll be back soon though:)

Sweater Shenanigans : part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I shared the first part of the Fable of the Green Cabled Cardigan – you can find it here.  The story continues…

 

So I had decided to reverse-engineer a moderately complex cardigan pattern, with minimal skill or experience in doing so.  I cast all notions of this  ‘relaxing knitting’ thing I hear people talk about, I set about engineering this cardigan. The main bit of the body was pretty straightforward – no waist shaping or anything required, so it was just a rectangle. The armpits were where things would get interesting. Because, naturally, I decided to knit this thing bottom up, part in-the-round, and part flat (once I split front and back for the armholes).

 

I had at my disposal Amy Herzog’s Knit Wear Love, which is basically a book of pick & mix stitch counts to help you knit sweaters that are exactly what you want. It is a great book. It does not, however, accommodate idiot knitters who attempt to knit things part seamless and part flat, with no previous design experience. Because that would simply be encouraging lunacy.

 

Much arithmetic ensued. And swearing. I drew schematics and annotated them. I cast on three-hundred-and-something stitches. Aran weight yarn, on 2.25mm needles. Not because I am a spectacularly loose knitter, but because I had decided I liked the look of really tight garter stitch for the hem (and no way was I knitting the folded hem that I had already ripped out twice. Though in hindsight, I’m not sure my genius plan was actually any less arduous).

 

I had a minor flap after about 6 inches of the body was knit. It just…looked small. Fortunately a quick try-on on Mr RR proved it was fine. So things proceeded with minimal event for the rest of the body, until it was time to split for the armholes. Based on my gauge, I was able to select a sleeve from the aforementioned book, so I just had to apply those stitch counts to my knitting. Well, apart from the fact that all the sweaters in the book are knit flat and seamed, and I was in the round at this point. More schematics ensued, and the solution was found without too much difficulty. Of course, because I was now knitting flat, I had an interesting assortment of needles and cords through the various sections between the armholes. Knitting needles are sharp. The terror of getting out of step with the cable patterning in one of these sections now became my primary concern. Because, as the Blueberry Waffle sock can attest, I cannot reliably count to 2. In spite of this, the rest of the body progressed fairly smoothly, other than the increasing weight making it into a sofa workout at the end of every row.

 

On to the sleeves. The sleeves that needed to be constructed in such a way as to allow the cable panel on the outside of the arm to continue up and over the top of the shoulder. This meant modification to the top of the sleeve cap (and a corresponding alteration to the shoulder on the body to accommodate this weird sleeve). I worked out that the sleeve cap essentially needed to have a kind of tab sticking out from it, with the patterned bit on it. The patterned panel needed to not be too wide, or it would bugger up the decreases giving the sleeve cap shape. More measuring of gauge and drawing of schematics. More casting on of aran weight onto 2.25mm needles. Mr RR wanted a cuff he could fold over, so double the usual length. Of course. Clearly, my hands had not yet suffered enough.

By this stage, I confess I felt reasonably confident. Smug, almost. I had worked out most of the footery bits. This glow was swiftly dashed after I’d knit about 8 inches of sleeve and it looked to be about the size that would fit a bare twig. I knew my gauge (I had measured the swatch into dust by this point), and I knew how wide said sleeve should be, based on the number of stitches. I measured it – it did seem narrow… Mr RR was beckoned for a try-on. It actually seemed… ok. Panic averted. Despite my cockiness at my knitterly achievements thus far, I made the rookie mistake of being intimidated by ‘stocking stitch roll’, which made the sleeve look about 3 inches skinnier than it should, and really quite hard to adequately flatten out to measure accurately, even when it looks pretty flat. Pins are your friend in this scenario. Lots of them. Or just trust your gauge that you have measured and calculated stich counts from eleventy-million times by now.

 

Fortunately, the sleeve-panic was the last of the major issues. Sleeves were finished and crocheted in (I have an irrational loathing of mattress stitch). A zip way added, and promptly came undone because I sewed it in by hand and my hand-sewing has all the structural integrity of wet leaves. I machined it in, which was decidedly more satisfactory.

It has barely left Mr RR’s back since it was finished. It will need to be prised off him at some point for washing. It looks great on him, and he loves it. He loves it more than any commercial knit, and it fits better too. And that’s why we do it. It’s why we swatch and math and fiddle with the pattern until it’s to our liking, and gain a new vocabulary of swearing in the process. It’s not about relaxing, really – it’s the ‘I can fix that’ part of our brain that just can’t leave something be, because it thinks it can come up with something better.

And sometimes, it does.

Flash that stash!

As the world and its wife are painfully aware, I am the keeper of a rather large stash.
At this point I’m unsure if I own the stash, or if the stash owns me. It’s a bit like a noose around my neck, so last week I locked the hounds out in the garden, took a deep breath and spread out the living room stash.
Now bear in mind that this is just a small portion of the stash.

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A bit overwhelming  isn’t it. I think there’s enough yarn there to last me the rest of the year. BUT! (Yes, a big but is required) there are plans for the majority of it!
In amongst that pile are a few WIPs as well – 2 pairs of socks, a cowl and wrap. One of the wips was finished last week and I love it.

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This is Mindful and was knitted in 1 ball of James C Brett’s Northern Lights and was quite a quick knit. It’s lovely and squishy too!
So what future lovelies have we in the pile? Answer is quite a few!
We’ve a cushion kit from Deramores , a hat kit from Deramores (link), Citron in the Stylecraft Senses and Hundred Acre Wood in some lovely Rosie’s Moments

So with ALL this choice in front of me, what project did I pick to start next? I’ll give you a clue, the yarn isn’t in the above picture – only I could vow to knit only from the living room stash and then merrily pull 2 skeins from the main stash. Typical really.
I started the Summer Shawl in some merino silk DK I had dyed and its now 99% finished – just waiting on my “willing “ volunteer to do the scalloped edge for me, crochet hooks and I don’t really mix.

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And while that’s going on, I’m working away on my Color Affection which I hope to finish this year at some point!

How big is your stash? Are you willing to photograph it in all its glory?

 

 

Knitting and Protest, part 1

In January 2017, the ‘pussyhat‘ project took the world by storm.

This isn’t the first time knitting has been used for protesting (anyone heard of yarn bombing?), but it’s perhaps the first time it really grabbed the spotlight. (See also here.)

Unfortunately, the pussyhat, while it was a fantastic idea in theory, turned out to be problematic in practice. But I’m not going to debate that particular issue here right now. (If you’re interested, there is now the hopefully more inclusive rise of the Blue Wave pattern. Unfortunately it’s not as simple to make as the original pussyhat, but it’s beautiful!)

Anyway, here in this part of the world (specifically Ireland), women are facing a very important vote. A vote that, if successful, will launch Ireland into the 21st century alongside the legalisation of gay marriage – the first country to do so by popular vote, by the way. The Eighth Amendment was voted into the Irish Constitution in 1983, and says: ‘The state acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.’ On 25 May, Ireland will vote in favour or against REPEALING the Eighth Amendment. Which is important on so many levels. It allows women autonomy over their own bodies, for one. It stops the dangerous decisions that medical professionals are forced to make for their very sick, pregnant patients for whom carrying a foetus to term would be dangerous. It also stops the discrimination against women who, for WHATEVER reason they may have for not choosing to be pregnant anymore, are required to travel overseas for an abortion. That alone carries huge financial, emotional and physical costs.

Anyway. I’m getting sidetracked. Read more about the Repealing the Eighth Amendment here.

So since knitting is all the rage these days when it comes to making political statements, I decided I wanted to hop on board. A few have already had this idea, check out some of the cool Repeal the Eighth patterns on Ravelry here: Michelle Gregory’s simple and effective Repeal Hat; Laura Walsh’s Tog4Yes Hat; and Laura Walsh’s other design, the Repealthe8th hat. And soon, hopefully, there’ll be a design of my own coming out soon (free of course!)! Testing has already commenced, let the needles get clacking in protest! 😀

Happy crafting!

UPDATE: Here are the charts with basic pattern instructions included. It assumes you have a basic knowledge of knitting and colourwork. I hope you find it useful!

Goin’ home!

…well, sorta. I didn’t. Someone else did.

Meet Douglas:

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No, not the backpack. The Highland Coo with the snazzy Tartan Bowtie.

Now, you’ve already heard about EYF from a human perspective a few entries back via our lovely Jo. So I won’t bother you with that and recount my trip. But I will, mainly in pictures, attempt to related to you how Douglas enjoyed his trip home. He hadn’t been in ages, and he had a special someone to meet. We’ll get to that later.

But first, the journey. We took the ferry, and were surprised to find that Highland Cattle, contrary to what one might expect, do not get sea sick.

His homeland greeted Douglas with appropriate weather.

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*sigh*

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Why do bus journeys take so gosh-darn-ding-dong long?

Seriously, though, four hours on a bus. That’s no environment for cattle. But, at long last, we did arrive in Edinburgh…

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…and had a pretty nice view, as it turned out.

Still looked nicer from outside, though…

Now, a few shops were to be visited, new friends were made, addictions to fudge revived… it was eventful.

Consequently, refreshment had to be taken, and what better place then where the magic began?

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Unfortunately, it was at this point that we learned Douglas can’t seem to hold his liquor. Or his butterbeer.

Douglas went to bed early that night. He had to be wide awake the next morning, for after…

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…soo many knitters…

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…and some idols…(Stephen West, for the uneducated)…

… it was finally time. Remember the special someone mentioned previously? Here she is:

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No, not the one holding him. That’s me. Not the other woman, either. That’s the lovely Kerry Lord (Creator of Edward’s Menagerie, TOFT. Douglas’ “Mom”, of sorts.) No, the fluffy Highland Coo next to him. His long-distance girlfriend, Morag. Now the snazzy bow tie makes, sense, right?

The day was as exhausting as the previous one, and ended with Douglas falling asleep on my purchases.

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What is this “self-control” that you speak of?

Day number three, I went to visit the Whisky Experience, and Douglas insisted on joining me. I experience a pronounced feeling of dread, but was persuaded.

I should have known better.

Found his namesake, and the world’s largest collection of unopened bottles of Scotch. So far, so good.

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Uh-oh…

 

Boy, had I been wrong to hope he’d learned from the butterbeer-incident.

The rest of the trip, Douglas spent in a hungover haze, looking for wizards and remedies, and encountering the random wild vampire. it was weird.

Sweater Shenanigans : Part 1

 

 

This whole ‘pattern’ thing that’s so pervasive in knitting and crochet…I don’t really get it. I like to live dangerously. Or stupidly. It wavers.

There are so many great patterns out there, written by talented designers who plough hours into doing the mental gymnastics, so we knitters/crocheters can just sit down and relax and create. Pick your pattern, roll around in your stash and select the yarn, maybe knit a gauge swatch and off you go.

Or not, if you’re me.

Because I am apparently pathologically incapable of Just Following The Bloody Pattern. Instead, I tweak and fiddle at best, and make the thing up from scratch at the more extreme end. The latter is especially true for garments.

Now, I should point out that this is not merely a symptom of my giant ego, utter hubris egging me on to make ‘improvements’ to the carefully designed pattern. No, sometimes there is actually a method to this madness (and it really does lead to madness, or at least creative swearing, on occasion). See, I am an odd shape. I am essentially a human cut-and-shut. No part of my anatomy is in proportion to any other part, no matter what metric or schema is used. This means that no off-the-rack clothes, or pattern for said clothes, will ever fit me in anything other than a very…approximate…way. And that’s the beauty of learning to knit, right? You can make stuff exactly how you want it! Rainbows and crystals emit joyously from the needles, as the knitter creates perfectly fitting garments, all with a benign smile, because knitting is also therapeutic and relaxing, right?

Er, not in my house.

My approach to knitting is less fluffy-bunnies and zen-like composure, and more Wall Street trading floor with added stimulants.

Sometimes it all starts out so normally, too. Let’s take the Green Cabled Cardigan (GCC) that I knit for my beloved spouse (henceforth know as Mr RustyRenault) last year. Now, it should also be noted here that I do not, as a rule, knit for other people. If you’re looking for one of those Nice Knitters, you’ve come knocking at the wrong door. I make the odd exception, usually for Mr RR. He knows better than to actually ask for something – he waits, silently, until I have decided to bestow something upon him. Then he may select an item (in the knowledge that I am capricious and reserve the right to veto as I see fit) and yarn (he is very good at picking yarn, and can smell Good Yarn hiding amidst a sea of squeaky acrylic – this is partly why I deign to knit for him in the first place).

The GCC started inauspiciously enough. I had seen a pattern in a magazine, by a fairly well-known designer. Mr RR concurred that he liked this pattern (or was too intimidated to say otherwise), and so yarn was purchased, and feely squares (one in stocking stitch, one in the cable pattern) were knit, washed and blocked. Behold and glory be! My gauge sufficiently matched pattern gauge and so I cast on the appropriate size, without the need for tedious arithmetic to resize, or reswatch.
I cast on 200-and-something stitches for the bottom hem. I knitted. And knitted some more. It looked a bit small, but you never can really tell for a good few rows. I finished the (folded – so twice as much knitting as for a normal hem) hem and proceeded to the main cable pattern. It still seemed slightly…parsimonious in fit…but I put my faith in the designer and their pattern-writing skills.
After another couple of rows, doubt had reached epic proportions. Out came the tape measure and I measured. And, you guessed it – too small. By about 2.5 inches. I rechecked gauge. I rechecked the number of stitches. I rechecked everything that could possibly be rechecked.

And then I checked the pattern.

I melted a number of my favourite brain cells checking the arithmetic of stitch counts against the schematic at various key points in the pattern. It was…wrong. The number of stitches, when knit at the gauge specified, did not result in the measurement proclaimed so boldly at the top of the pattern page. I redid the math several times. I redid it with a calculator. I redid it whilst yelling it out in rage. It was still wrong.

Taking a deep breath, I plotted my next move. Other than throwing the whole lot in the fire (come on, we’ve all been there…). ‘Aha’, thought I – ‘I’ll just knit the next size up’. Chastened by the ten million stitches I had already fruitlessly knit, I cleverly decided to check the math for this enterprise. It was also…wrong. Whatever absurd size grading this pattern used meant that there were huuuumungous gaps between sizes, rendering the one size too small, and the next size up too big.

Now, what a sensible knitter would probably have done at this point, bearing in mind that this pattern had quite an unusual shoulder construction that was quite key to the look, would have been to give it up as a bad job and find something else to knit.

I am not a sensible knitter, as you have possibly gathered by now. No. I saw this as the pattern thumbing its nose at me, and I was not about to back down at this juncture. No, I would reverse-engineer this cardigan, retaining all the unique features, but the correct goddamn size. Did I mention that I had knit precisely two sweaters before this, one of which was Flax, the easiest sweater pattern known to knitter-kind?

So, casting aside all notions of this fabled ‘relaxing knitting’ thing I hear people talk about, I set about engineering this cardigan…

To be continued…

An EYF tour

I really love the month of March as it means it’s time for a quick hop across the Irish Sea to visit the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I’ve been every year since 2015 and have very fond memories of being with my tribe. People who get my enthusiasm and excitement for all types of yarn.

I thought now would be a good time to follow my knitting journey over the last four years as it’s pretty much summed up in my EYF stash.IMG_1999.JPG

 

The first year there was a little bit overwhelming as I had never seen so many skeins of yarn in the same place. I was like a child in a sweet shop, my eyes just didn’t know where to rest. At that part in my journey I was exploring the world of knitting socks and shawls so all those pretty hand dyed skeins of loveliness captured my attention. I think the most important thing was discovering indie dyers and seeing how many British dyers there were. I was excited to return home with some Old Maiden Aunt , Ripples craft and Skein queen.

Year two was more of the same but I found yarn from Easyknits and liked it so much that when I decided to knit a garment I decided to go for lighter loftier yarn than my go to super smooth merino . I bought some Blue faced Leicester and began my steps towards discovering the delights of more rustic yarn. I loved the sheepy smell of the lanolin as I knit . It conjured up images of gambolling lambs in spring sunshine.

Year three was a strange one as I had so many single skeins in my stash that I could knit enough shawls and socks to last a lifetime. I was beginning to want to knit garments. Now this requires more planning , patterns need to be chosen and the correct quantities need to be purchased especially if you are using hand dyed skeins. I got two lovely skeins of Old maiden aunt lace to knit a lace weight cardigan Laar. You would think that impulse purchasing of a sweaters worth of yarn but Ysolda is the best enabler ever and I found myself leaving with blend no 1 a beautiful mix of polwarth and zwarbles to knit a Polwarth sweater .

FullSizeRender.jpgThis year my journey from hand painted merino loveliness to sheepy goodness seemed to be complete. Through EYF and the podcast lounge I entered the world of podcasts and blogs and learnt about colourwork that requires a much toothier sticky yarn. So once again Ysolda enabled with Rauma yarn and Shetland yarns.

The thing that inspired me most was the meet the Shepherdess event on Sunday where I found beautiful yarns that had gone from farm to skein . There was so much variety from natural sheepish tones to beautiful jewel dyed skeins. I came away with some treasures and plans for colourwork mittens, cowls and hats.

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