Finishing school

It has been a while since I updated my blog with updates on my knitting progress and setbacks. Over the last weeks I have had time to think and consider what I have learned with my current projects. Setting out plans for the way ahead has placed me in yet another level of seeking to improve my knitting skills, beyond the goalposts I had previously defined. My friends will know I am strict with myself already but despite careful planning, notes and pattern reading, mistakes still happen and it is from these scenarios that I have learned valuable lessons. Hence my need to challenge myself to prepare, focus, learn, improve, challenge in order to knit and finish every project with more time spent in finishing school. Time spent preparing and finishing projects, is a vital part of my knitting mindset: sine qua non


I can add finished to dad's sweater! This one taught me a lot of lessons and took me through a roller coaster of nervous feelings. Hopefully I will share a photo with dad wearing Denali but for today the finished sweater minus dad

This may be another wordy blog as I have had many thoughts rushing round my mind that have made me think and wonder, yet again, where I fit in with the online social communities we are surrounded with now. I am very privileged to have made special friends who share the same perspective. We have become very close despite the fact we have never. I am grateful to belong to a few groups on Ravelry who have caring members with enthusiasm for knitting and designers who encourage each other and understand we all have our own pace and type of projects we enjoy. I can see changes not only on the creative side but in general, beauty and lifestyle blogs have moved to Instagram stories admitting people would prefer to zoom along and don’t have time to read anymore. Stories have their place but for me I still love to read and set aside time to focus on the work a designer has done to produce a pattern or write a book. In the same way I love to spend time setting up, progressing slowly and finishing my projects to the best of my ability. I don’t race to finish, in fact our room will be a spa for the next week or so as I have different pieces to block and dry. Mine don’t dry in a day, that’s for sure!

I had a whirl with Carbeth, it’s still drying after the spa. I didn’t ‘bang’ mine out and it is still drying on the mats. I am looking forward to trying it on to see if it suits me. Pre-blocking I became anxious about the way it looked, especially the button bands. I reassured blocking would resolve the loopy bits. I wasn’t used to this type of blocking as I prefer to shape my garments when I am knitting them. I loved knitting with Buachaille held double and the way my cardigan feels. The neckband is soft and cosy. If Carbeth suits me I will most likely knit another one and modify the bands a little as I have more Buachaille in my stash. I loved Shelter held double too and Bellows soon became my favourite cardigan to wear. Will Carbeth be my cropped spring/summer cardigan, I hope so. I made full use of my Lykke interchangeable needles and cables with this project as I was able to leave the stitches live, only changing the tips as I needed them to knit the next piece. The smoothness of the wood made the double yarn and larger gauge much easier for me to knit. 

An extra note: I have studied photos of Carbeth more and realise the iCord buttonholes are more loopy. I thought I had made a mistake but did neaten mine a little. If mine fits and I knit another one I may change the bands if they still bother me to look at. Drying time is still needed before I can try it on but it looks much better than I thought.

Second photo, blocking, drying, drying, drying




I received a surprise in the post on Friday, my friend Linda had sent a skein of Brooklyn Tweed  Quarry, accompanied by a lovely note. I couldn’t believe it as I had always wondered what this was like but to have a full skein is a luxury. Linda had one left over from here project and her generosity has given me an opportunity to knit with a chunky weight yarn after my cake wonder made the largest cake of yarn he has ever made. I am knitting a beanie with it and don’t know what it will ever like after the spa but I don’t think I have ever knit with wool like this. Linda has presented me with a challenge and one I am most grateful for. It’s un-spun and very fragile with bits of VM to pick out. It feels like felt/velvet, very dense with loose fibres, not so good for easily irritated eyes and skin. The colour is rich and true to Brooklyn Tweed’s colours with bright flecks to add bright spots in the dark Hematite shade. I am looked forward to finishing the beanie to really see how this performs but currently I am wondering if a cardigan knit in this would be heavy. it doesn’t have an airy feel like Buachaille and Shelter held double. They have a drape too but as I am knitting a beanie I may be getting the wrong impression. I am extremely interested in the outcome of this as I really didn’t imagine Quarry to be a puzzle to me. Linda has opened my eyes and her note makes sense as she left me with the ‘try and see’ scenario. Oh Linda you really have me knitting a thinking cap!

At last I feel I have worked out the needle combination for The Shieling blanket squares. A halt came when I discovered I had a twist in the round but I didn’t see this until round 22. The only excuse I should heed myself to set knitting aside when I am tired. Frogging was the only way to fix this and once done I felt much happier. I have ChiaoGoo interchangeable sets which I never really used as I couldn’t work out the cable lengths to suit any projects. I have a lot of the fixed needles and always chose these to knit with. At last I can use one as the odd length suits the start of the square and gives the stability I need to slowly knit those dangerous rows. A setback in one way but several lessons learned and needles to start, progress and finish all reorganised. The only issue I have right now it the lace tip managed to pierce my thumb, ouch but the ouch went deeper, more of a slice which means I had to pause the squares and fine gauge knitting. This was the perfect partner project for my mind when knitting Carbeth. I loved changing to finer needles and a colour work design.

I am pleased to report I am back to Geiger and enjoying this slow knitting project. I knew I had to start again soon as one of my friends has had to delay our knit along but we know one day we will be knitting together and I can find the issues along the pre-amble. I have four charts to work across the back but I am enjoying every minute I spend knitting it. This is what I needed, concentration, notes, charts and a pattern to read. Perhaps I should be classed as a ‘rare breed’ as this is the part of knitting I enjoy. In-depth instructions, techniques to learn, skills to add. I may only knit a few rows in one session but this is my happy place. Right and left sleeve, ready to go to the spa. Just started the back with two charts to work.

I appreciate we are all different and as I reflected on changes around me, I discovered I haven’t changed. As a child I wasn’t keen on fast paced entertainment. I have been encouraged to see a group of ladies from the Ravelry groups I belong to meeting up at Edinburgh Yarn Festival and sharing the friendships they had made online, merged into real life friendships. The photos of the group wearing their knitted sweaters, vests and cardigans showed how much this community has been knit together. Although I don’t have the confidence or courage to meet up with anyone I experienced this joy through digital media which is beneficial in times like this. I loved to see their purchase of woolly wool especially a wool I really would love to try this year. The support of the group stood out to me, whilst the hashtag for the festival made me nervous with so many people in the one marketplace but within this was a group of people genuinely caring and sharing the friendships they had made online. 

It’s all in balance and this weakened balanced my thoughts about trends, friends and online communities. EYF would still be a mammoth adventure for me but I felt the enthusiasm and friendships while wrapped up with my KDD snood, knitting at my slower pace. We all knit together from different patterns, different techniques, we need a community with different breeds of sheep!


Learning curve

This week I have a progress report which could be summarised as backwards and forwards with a few twists mixed in with both cable design projects. The best laid plans as most of us know, don’t always go the way we hope, no matter how many notes a concentration we devote to a project.

First lesson for me was to stop trying to knit something more complex when I was under the weather with what seems to be the flu that’s been floating around this year. I thought I could take it easy and knit but now I know better. Thankfully words from an observant blog reader pointed me in the right direction. A few painful gulps but then Beverley mode took over and I ripped back 80 rows of the sleeve of Geiger. I am one of those solitary knitters who feels better when the mistake is ripped out and I could knit back up from a clean slate/needle. In fact I became very aware of the cable directions which I turn helped me to memorise and recognise the design. I was knitting with caution but slipped but when I knit the sleeve back up again and completed it, I felt; a lot happier. I have bought highlighting tape and will be back to colouring the shaded parts of the chart for the next sleeve before I even start. I am just relieved I only knit one at a time as I don’t think I could concentrate enough to have different leaning cables on a right and left sleeve at the same time. I am still enjoying this project and to know I have friends who are there to knit along slowly has helped to calm my mind.



Geiger sleeve  : it hasn’t been to the spa/blocked I just pinned the sides to keep them neat for my slow knitting project  

Just before I found I had to rip my own, I was seaming dad’s sweater and asked him to try it on, emphasising the need to be careful with my clips and stitches. Little did I know how strong this wool is, more about that soon. It would be a pun to say ‘to cut a long story short’ as this is what I faced. The sweater fit neatly across dad’s shoulders but the saddle style shoulder had deceived me a little. I know I modified the gauge as dad likes his sweaters neat but a long sweater just isn’t dad! It was far too long. No matter how much I tried to bunch it, nudge dad to slouch, I knew this wasn’t the sweater I had hoped to give to dad. My heart sunk as I knew dad was trying to stop me breaking down completely and would have worn it, pretending it was ok - it wasn't and I would have failed completely if I didn’t do something about this. I wanted to knit it all over again, which is still an option but dad is adamant that it isn’t an option. I tried it on as I have always thought I would like a knitted dress! Well it was dress length on me but it took the trend of oversized to the extreme. I tried to tell him I would wear it in the house but in reality I knew I would waste it. I knew what mum would have done, yet I didn’t have the confidence but this made me feel worse as I felt I had let dad down even more. I have a friend on Ravelry who has shown on her Instagram feed that cutting knitting is something that can be done. I couldn’t cry, please will you cut this sweater but I knew I had absorbed her inspiration which now turned into my motivation. The project is still in the ‘be careful’ zone but after testing cutting the rib, I knew Shelter held the stitches. This morning when dad was out I snipped through the wool further up, a little more complex as this was in the midst of cables. The stitches were visible, dad tried it on midway. Thankfully he did as I was going to rip up further. It looks about right as I have to knit the rib back on, eventually.

The next bit will be slow as I have left it to go back with a fresh mind. If all goes wrong I will save what I can of the wool, wash and re-skein and knit something smaller for myself after I have bought dad more wool to knit his sweater all over again. Hopefully with what I experienced this morning, the sweater can be saved. I am prepared to take a long time if I can work this out in spates of clarity. I have had the numb/tingles in the left side of my head which magnify when I feel stressed, therefore this is restricting me atm the tingles started in force this morning so I have left the sweater aside but have hope I can save it.


Deconstructing Denali  

All of this put one of my swatched projects on hold, thankfully it was a sweater for me. I have also set a second Bellows on hold - mentioning Bellows, I don’t want to take this comfort blanket off! I really need to knit another one.

I left The Shieling squares in the project bag but had knit a 2nd one just before my disasters. Last night after completing my sleeve, dad encouraged me to start another square. To have a complete change from cables was refreshing and I was so pleased I had a modular project to fall back on.



The Shieling: one, two  

I have three international parcels to post and had set myself one to do everyday. Sadly I have only one done but dad has taken this one to the post office this morning and I hope to start my 2nd one soon. I have another colourwork project to do which will be on my needles when I can see without headaches and have cleared dad’s in my mind that it will work, no matter how long it takes me.

We may pass along Instagram and Ravelry, looking at friends work, ideas, methods. Liking them but thinking we would never do this or that but if it wasn’t for my friend who is more confident than me, sharing her rips/cuts and all the modifications she does, I know dad’s sweater would have ended up in the corner as I would never have cut my knitting like this. Mum used to do it but now it was my turn. How thankful I am for a lady showing me the error in my cable and for friends who share advice and tips.

I went backwards to come forwards and learned lessons long the way. I have two A’s today thanks to Alison and Alix

Now to get rid of those tingles in my leg and head, where next? At least I can knit with a bit more comfort now. I had to restrict my time online but hope to catch up again, slowly. Thanks to another A's Anna's advice when I asked about a knitting publication, I ordered a copy and have just taken delivery of my first copy of Laine magazine and it is beautiful.

I end my blog with three A's