Knitting together

Knitting together has been playing on my mind and as knitters K2tog is something we follow in most patterns. I am knitting together the first two strips of squares for my Shieling blanket and whilst I was doing this I started to think.

 2 strips : 5 squares per strip : 250 stitches each side = 500 stitches to knit together with a 3 needle bind off. Repeated for 6 strips in total, knitting together forever

2 strips : 5 squares per strip : 250 stitches each side = 500 stitches to knit together with a 3 needle bind off. Repeated for 6 strips in total, knitting together forever

 

The shortened code means the same no matter where we are in the world and we all know many more abbreviations that help us to knit and understand patterns. In dad’s world some of my knitting language is in morse code. KAL is another term I would say at least the huge community in Ravelry all understand. Not too sure if the rare local yarn shops would know what I meant if I asked about a KAL, well at least the old fashioned wool shops who don’t even have the wool I could knit with. KALs help us to knit along with others, some for extra motivation to start and finish a project. Others join in for the fun social aspects and are a lovely bunch chatting and knitting, possibly some housework is fitted in too. I have become less active in groups as I am still very shy and felt overwhelmed by a lot of activity but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy KALs or following WIPs of those who join in. I feel sad when others don’t understand that it’s not always easy for people like me to join in all the WIPs. I enjoy their enthusiasm and the way they can join in without all the doubts and fears which I put myself through. 

I was pleased to see the new KAL for Kate Davies patterns from The West Highland Way club will be a long KAL without any pressure or the need to be actively involved on a daily basis as I really have been struggling with some health issues and find Instagram easier to engage with the knitting community. I would like to add a finished Shieling blanket to the finished objects, eventually as I have a long way to go before this will be completed. I purchased the wool to knit Coinneach yoke cardigan but still have to swatch my contrast colours. This would be another project I would like to have for the end of the KAL. I still can’t cast on a lot of WIPs but if Geiger gets to the stage of seaming then I might use this opportunity to swatch and maybe knit the cardigan to the stage of knitting the body round and round in the evening when I need to knit but don’t want anything complex. I was planning Myrtle but some of my lace weight stash may not work as I had hoped. I will know better when I have time and mind space to swatch. 

My knitting is essential to me right now and it really is proving the fact about being therapeutic as I am not one to want to go to the doctor so I need to take my mind off a few nagging health issues. I enjoyed a conversation via Instagram with a friend who feels the same way as me, so I guess both of us prefer knitting needles than any blood test needles the doctor would inflict on us! 

D for dread and I deed x2 d’s - doctors and dentist although I can’t avoid the dentist as easy as a text arrives to remind me it’s time for Jim to check my teeth. The only friendly D during this exchange is the initial of my friend who shares my dread especially of doctors. 

 What's in my knitting kit?

What's in my knitting kit?

Speaking of health but the more fun side of ‘what’s in my knitting tool kit’ I love knitting The Shieling blanket and the wool blocks out beautifully and feels silky soft but the mohair content irritates my eyes when I am knitting with the yarn. It isn’t the only yarn to do this so it isn’t a new reaction to me but eye drops and sprays are part of my kit. Hand cream essential at each stage, one than sinks in fast and a luxury one for the last thing I use every night before sleeping. I forgot about the sticking plasters. I think I should have bought shares in them as I keep getting cuts or my skin just opens and I cannot risk doing a red stain to my work. Muscle gel not just for knitting aches/numbness but I really hope I wouldn’t need this forever. I had to buy yet more needles. When I searched my boxes for two 150cm circulars, I found the length but needless to say the gauge wasn’t what I need to knit together my first two strips of Shieling squares. I had cables for my Lykke needles but I needed the lace tops of my ChiaoGoo’s 

I used 100cm for the arrangement in the photo, they would suffice for the individual strip joins but I knew for the big pick up 150cm were essential. They arrived just in time to be part of what’s in my knitting kit. 

I have one mitten knit for a lady whose friendship was made through my blog, which is a friendship that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have Internet access. I value friendships and how much we can share and help each other and mainly because we all learned to knit. I began to feel so guilty as the mittens are a gift and they should have been flying across to Canada before this. Canada post is slow but Beverley’s attempts at knitting another pair of Mīlēt mittens have been thwarted by pain and cuts opening on my hands. The small circumference needles with a very fine gauge have proved difficult for me this time. I knit my own pair last year and didn’t have the same pain/poor circulation. The lady understands but they still played on my mind. I am pleased to report and show that I have one mitten knit but I seriously have to pace myself with the second one as I don’t want to end up not being able to knit at all if I don’t heed the warning signs. I will pack them up with a lot of love when I eventually finish the pair. I don’t have second sock/ mitten/sleeve syndrome but I seem to have very poor circulation and a few more aches this year. 

I plan to knit myself another pair at an even finer gauge as I need a smaller cuff but they definitely won’t be knit anytime soon. The photos show the inside and outside of the mitten and a comment made by another on Instagram friend really helped me as I worry a lot if I am knitting for someone that my knitting would look awful when they received it. The comment made me smile as I was beginning to worry about dad’s eyesight when he didn’t realise I was showing him the inside of the stranded colour work. My friend took a few seconds when looking at the photos on Instagram before she realised which one was inside out! At least I can stop worrying about dad now when ;) 

Typing this blog has lifted my spirits, especially when I am recalling all the friendships have made and how we all care for each other. Too often I dwell on the people who don’t understand my type of slow knitting and only one or two WIPs at a time. I enjoy things in a different way and Ravelry is a great source of inspiration although with the books I have added to my library recently and the patterns I still have to knit, I really don’t need to add any more. I am looking forward to knitting along with my friend who couldn’t start to knit Geiger as we had planned. Both of us have Helga Isager’s new book and the patterns are all most appealing. As with Geiger Isager garments pay attention to detail and fit. The book has simpler patterns than the one I knit from last year but they will be part of my knitting plans in the future. Geiger has been a turning point for me and has given me many hours of knitting joy. I still have to note all the shaping but I have enjoyed knitting each piece. I will write more at another time, suffice to say the design is indulgent for me. A Geiger session followed by a Shieling square, slow, therapeutic knitting. The mitten is part of my immediate plans but the only slow part is my hands. I will knit the second mitten for a friend who reached out with her hand of friendship. Friends, knitting together has kept me above the clouds when health issues try to bring me down. I hadn’t even bought any new clothes but I think I fixed this bit on Monday night.....France will be calling soon....tomorrow!

To knit, to share, to help, to inspire to knit along together despite being miles apart, there’s a lot to be said for a creative community no mater which platform we prefer to exchange views on. Closer to home and part of my family was a message and photo from my sister after Heather read my last blog post. She had bought lovely red tweed flecked wool and started to knit an aran sweater. My sister can knit but is much more relaxed than me, chalk and cheese! Heather hadn’t knit for a while but after reading about Geiger she found her needles again. Family tradition goes on, knitting together but in different homes now. 


I will add up my squares for April at the end of the month and hopefully have these strips knit together. I love knitting the squares but I am not so keen on picking up stitches and there’s a lot to pick up before someone comes to pick me up! 

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This morning I was backing up some photos and noted a photo memory shown to me for the same date last year. Incredibly it was a line up of squares for my Birlinn blanket. I wonder if I will be knitting another blanket if I am still around this time next year!

 

 

 

 

Nature is also a great restorer and I hope soon both of us can be out again enjoying the season when butterflies dance and the birds sing. I have my own little choir singing each morning and both dad and myself noticed little brown wings fluttering in the garden the other day. We didn’t see enough to identify our visiting butterfly but when I opened iCal there on the same date last year we had a small tortoiseshell butterfly in our garden. I have one more photo to share fresh out of the garden. Dad came home, called me to look at just outside my window was a blackbird’s hatched egg, beautiful colours. Creation in all sorts of medium is all around me. Restoring my mind and reminding me that God sees the little sparrow fall and yes, He cares for me.

 blackbird's egg : restorative powers of nature, perfect colour contrast without man's intervention, inspiring

blackbird's egg : restorative powers of nature, perfect colour contrast without man's intervention, inspiring

I hope we can share a knit friends together through my blog, even if you don’t knit we can all care. 

 

March off my needles

“The best laid plans” words that could sum up the month of March for me. Knitting plans amongst personal dilemmas all appeared like mountains to climb but I am happy to blog about some of the progress I have made with my knitting projects. I have one finished with two slow knitting companion projects progressing at a steady pace. I finished Carbeth cardigan and have worn it (a lot!) I really love how Buachaille feels knit double stranded. I checked the extra Buachaille I have in stash and think I may knit another marled version. I loved the gentle marl of Ptarmigan and Haar and know how versatile this will be for me. I am possibly the only person who can wear Carbeth with another layer over it to keep me warmer. Suffice to say I was hit again with a sore throat and shivers but I hope when my temperature returns to normal I will be cosy with a layer under Carbeth. I actually think I will knit the sweater version as I have worn the cardigan with the buttons closed so at this stage, the sweater I didn’t think I would wear would be a viable option for a cosy everyday wear in a different marl of Buachaille.

Updated: 2nd April - I will knit the cardigan version after all as the neck is much warmer than the sweater for me. I hope to modify the button band

 

  Carbeth cardigan  : Buachaille Ptarmigan and Haar  marled

Carbeth cardigan : Buachaille Ptarmigan and Haar  marled

I apologise that there are no photos yet of dad wearing Denali or of me wearing Carbeth as I am still not feeling well enough to be out. This blog is a day late too, as I had planned to type it for the last day of March but I wakened up yesterday with a niggle in my eye, ignored it and kept on with the things I had to do. I posted a photo of The Shieling on Instagram and when I got up to move again a migraine type headache hit me really hard. I really felt unwell and there was no other option for me but to go to bed and close my eyes. I know dad must love Denali as no matter what sweater I put out for him to wear, he appears in Denali! I will have to hide it this week and make sure he wears another sweater as I don’t have time to knit him another one at the moment.

My larger scale projects have really given me solace and my time offline has been valuable. I have learned new skills and have enjoyed every stage of planning, preparing, knitting and finishing. The tools I have purchased in the past have all proved how essential they are to my knitting and the way I approach each stage. Projects have really become in-depth for me and have given me a  boost when I felt I couldn’t cope with other things happening around me. To knit with my full attention, yet feel refreshed after my timed session, packing my wool and needles in my field bag and porter bin. Smoothing my work on Cocoknits mats, a satisfying experience amidst a world where everyone seems to want to move along in a face paced lifestyle. I am very much a person of routine and feel better doing anything methodically. I know this wouldn’t be everyone’s choice and it may be considered as boring, but it’s me, always has been, it’s the way I cope. 

I knew Geiger would be a challenge but was happy to know two friends would knit along with me. I didn’t realise the depth of comprehension that I needed before I could continue to knit this special cardigan. I feel happy with the choice I made to start with the sleeves. By doing this I became familiar with the charts and cables with minimal shaping required. The next piece I cast on was the back, the bottom section eased me in but then I saw ‘read the pages ahead before proceeding’ if Brooklyn Tweed put this in a pattern, take heed, read, learn and inwardly digest! I read ‘at the same time’ a few times, referred to the techniques, abbreviations, noted the repeats for the size I am knitting. Noted the charts had different repeats of sections, rows 1- 58 actually involve a lot more rows when the repeats are worked at different stages. Pattern shifts are at a different rate from the other shaping. My notebook became a bit messy and I hadn’t even started to knit. I decided to use the sturdy cards dad salvages from old legal document books : note the stages with a lot of different coloured pens. This method has really helped me as before the lightbulb lit up in my head I needed to work out where I was adding/subtracting or doing both. Dad became a speaking calculator! I think all dad needs to do is buy some wool and knit as he was really helpful, although he was convinced I was learning morse code. He counted when I rhymed off the instructions, my living stitch counter tallied the numbers. It was worth the time to do all of this as when I eventually went back to knit, the design made sense and now I am enjoying knitting  every stitch. Don’t let my method put you off knitting this design, just remember the most important thing to do is read ahead when Brooklyn Tweed advise you to! The method I used worked for me as I am a nervous knitter, with less confidence than most knitters. I needed reassurance even if it means slower than slow knitting. I know I will have to knit at least some rows everyday or my confidence will dwindle. I had two mornings I didn’t have to bake or clean the coffee maker before I expressed a shot or two to keep me alert. I used used this time to set my charts, then had another distraction free session in the afternoon. I felt a real sense of refreshing in my mind after a successful afternoon. The sense of relaxation is incredible after knitting intensely, it seems contrary to how I should feel but Geiger really is one of the most enjoyable knitting projects I have undertaken. I still check everything and don’t knit Geiger at night, this is just my choice as I don’t want to spoil the process by making a sleepy eyes mistake. There’s another place to watch on the chart, a tiny symbol to decrease that isn’t written. Sleepy minds or eyes might miss one. 

Photos show my progress, notes, back, back again, sleeves relaxed after the spa

I have a lot more to knit but I wouldn’t forget the extra level of pattern reading skills needed to progress with a more relaxed mind. It’s a wonderful pattern and dad reminded me it was a cardigan to wear. I didn’t even think of wearing it as I just saw complications ahead. I can now look forward to wearing it, one day, a few months away. 

I will have to keep my last project short but The Shieling blanket squares have been my comfort knitting. I knit this in the evening and realised the colour work with a visual chart to follow with minimal words took my mind into a different place. It is still a long term knit but to have a finished square is an achievement for me. Once again the tools and needles I have invested in are being used. I re-jigged the needles I use for the cast on to use a ChiaoGoo interchangeable cable with a log tip. It has stabilised the cast on after that twist experience. Blocking is easier and picking up the stitches to join the strips is much better too. I hope to join the strips as I knit the 5 squares needed. I realised when I went to join my first strip how soft the yarn had become after blocking and leaving. 

 The Shieling:  Milarrochy Tweed   - 1st strip joined - one more square to join 2nd strip 

The Shieling: Milarrochy Tweed  - 1st strip joined - one more square to join 2nd strip 

I didn’t think I would knit a garment as I wasn’t sure if I could wear anything knit in it. I get itchy eyes and hands when knitting with the yarn but the finished/relaxed squares feel and look beautiful, I can now look forward to wearing a cardigan using the colours I had received when I registered for the club for the colour work yoke. The main colour (Birkin) arrived yesterday and I love it.  I took advantage of my club discount just before it ended to purchase a main colour with plans to knit the yoke cardigan, in the future. I ordered an extra skein as I have had one skein of First for my blanket which looked like it was ready to splice which meant in couldn’t knit with these sections. Hopefully this is the exception to the otherwise lovely yarn. 

I guess anyone who reads my blog knows by now that I am fairly strict with myself and when a knitworthy project had to be put on hold I didn’t feel good about this at all. I started it but my thumb wasn’t healing and knitting on small circumference needles in a very fine gauge took its toll, pain and swelling no matter how I tried to compensate when I knit the mittens, I had to heed the warning signs and leave this project aside to come back to when my up. I will be back knitting the mittens before any other knitworthy project plans. I will be placing a VIP tag on this project as soon as possible. Thankfully my friend understands and I hope the mittens will be warming her hands as autumn arrives but I need to have them knit before autumn starts to show signs of appearing this year.

I really could type so much more but I feel this is long enough. I have been curating a lot of things online and have been anxious about news happening in social media. I had to make some decisions which were difficult but hope if I activate my account again my dear friends will still remember who I am and how much I care. I watched a knitting podcast about EYF and was smiling and laughing by the end when I saw two of my Ravelry friends dancing together. This was so much fun to watch, I watched it twice and each time it warmed my heart to see how much they were enjoying the event. I know I could never do this but I was part of the fun due to social media, so not everything is as disheartening as the recent news about Facebook.

One last thing, I really wasn’t on top form yesterday and I think I can cope better with a knitting mistake as I baked bread for dad first thing yesterday. I had been baking a few mornings last week and one recipe uses baking powder, the other on baking soda and the bread baking powder and cream of tartar BUT I didn’t check the recipe - NB I need to apply my pattern reading criteria. I thought I knew it so well and wondered when I looked in the oven why the bread was flowing over and looked like a monster. It still didn’t click until dad asked me what the difference was in baking powder and soda - goodness I had added baking powder and soda instead of cream of tartar! I instantly wanted to bake another loaf but dad wouldn’t let me. He is eating it toasted but I really am cross with myself and will bake a fresh loaf remembering cream of tartar! Frogs in knitting aren’t as bad as this ;)

Thank you for reading if you have managed to read some of the words I have posted today