I feel like I’m stepping into a room where you can write your name in the dust on every surface. Okay, it’s not been that long, but it feels like ‘Write blog’ has been staring accusingly from my to-do list for more than just a couple of months. Of course, the more time I’ve left this space in a state of neglect, the harder it becomes to work out what to write. I’ve decided that the only way forward is to attempt a sort of ‘okay, this is what’s gone on, wipe the slate clean, onwards!’ approach.
So. Pattern releases. There have been a few that should have had a bit more of an airing than they did. Firstly, the other two Eden Cottage designs that premiered at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show: Bramble and Flora. As a yarn, I love and recommend Eden Cottage BFL. I also think the world of Victoria and her business and am really pleased with the designs I (eventually) came up with, along with the photoshoot we did at my in-law’s farm. However, if ever a project was beset with obstacles- time, illness, discovering your original idea looks just like a design in a clothing catalogue, technical problems with printing- then this project was. To put the tin lid on it, sales have been…modest, let’s say. Still, all part of the learning curve I’m on as a designer. There really are so many things to learn.
Where the collection for Eden Cottage had some sort of coherence, my recent clutch of designs for Knit Now have been a little more diverse. I’ve come back to stranded colourwork again for the Tweedy gloves and Folk Dance dress, the latter being the first time I tried the technique of mixing ombre yarn (Crazy Zauberball) with a solid colour. The ‘Dodger’ spats were a very quick, fun knit with Rowan’s very fluffy, bulky-weight yarn, Tumble. It’s not the sort of yarn I’d normally use but I have to say the colour was beautiful and the yarn very soft. Obviously, being the weight it is, you also get very quick results.
Knit Now also launched a spin-off just before Christmas in the form of Quick Baby Knits. The idea was that you could buy the magazine and that any one of the patterns featured could be made with the yarn that came free with it. I thought this was a really great idea for people who do a lot of knitting for little ones, or who are perhaps taking up the craft again because a baby is due. My contribution to all this was ‘Baby’s First Book’- yet more colourwork, this time to make simple, two colour images on each page and a personalised front cover.
That rounds up the pattern releases but it doesn’t really tell the full story of what my needles have been up to. My Christmas season also included a couple of Kate Davies stranded colourwork designs (is this a phase, or an actual addiction!?)- Snawheid, made for a fabulous and much appreciated colleague, and Boreal, made for me. Yes, that’s right, I actually found time to sit down and make something just for myself! It was my Christmas treat/project and I have absolutely no photos of it yet, not least because the weather has been so unrelentingly grey. We haven’t even had the snow everyone else seems to have had this week and my Boreal would look AMAZING in the snow. I think when I finally get some pictures sorted I will have to write about it separately here, because I love it so. I have also been working on a project I owe my sister as a birthday present from last year, but we won’t talk about that because her birthday is NEXT MONTH and it shows that I shouldn’t promise anyone knitted presents ever.
So that’s surely a slate cleaned, all ready for a 2013 jam packed full of thoughtful and creative blogs from yours truly? Hmm, I think the knitted present issue above should teach me something about rash promises. I think the best I can do is do my best.
I’m not usually very good with New Year’s Resolutions. If I ever make them, mine end up abandoned long before the dreary dregs of winter have gone. The start of this last haul through the gloomy cold months is just not the right time to instigate policies of self control or self denial are they?
This year I thought I’d do things a little differently, and instead of promising to give up chocolate after 9pm or take up yoga again, I promised I’d give knitting a shawl a try.
Shawls seem to be a little bit like socks in the knitting world, in that there seem to be groups of people who make them endlessly. They casually refer to designs by name to one another and create pieces of intimidatingly awesome complexity while joking about how the cat kept sitting on their work while it was in progress. Another group have never tried knitting them, and have no intention of doing so as they don’t see how they’ll ever have use for them in their wardrobes.
When it comes to socks, I’m somewhere between the two camps, veering nowadays towards the latter. While I love the sweetie-counter effect of the 4ply/sock section of yarn shops and admire the technical expertise that goes into patterns, I’ve made a couple of pairs, got very bored by making the second each time and never really worn them.
As for shawls, I’ve never really got on with stuff that drapes around my shoulders but could see myself wearing them more like scarves. What scares me is the idea of tiny needles and skinny, skinny yarn (I’m a DK+ girl in general) not to mention the fact that whenever I’ve glanced through patterns in magazines I’ve been unable to make head nor tail of them. Nonetheless, being a curious knitter who likes to try out new things and also quite stubborn about resisting intimidation by scary-looking pattern, I decided that despite my qualms, in 2012 I would make a shawl. It was mainly a matter of finding time and a reason.
This was the reason. Or one of them. This ball of gorgeousness is Skein Queen 4ply Squash yarn in ‘Fairytale’. It’s a superwash wool that came into my hands as leftover from a yarn tasting my knit group did recently. I adore the colours and was going to use it for my Beekeepers Quilt. However, since I had nearly a full skein it seemed a shame not to make a whole item with it. Then it occurred to me that it was a dear friend’s 40th birthday coming up later in the year…and a reason to keep my resolution appeared.
I’ve chosen (on the recommendation of those friends who name-drop shawls) Liz Abinate’s Traveling Woman Shawl. I’m told it’s an easy one to begin with, and it looks lovely. So far I’ve begun on the ‘set up rows’ and already I can begin to see how shawls work. It might sound dim, but I didn’t even know where you began with a shawl- top? bottom? one of the corners? It’s the top, apparently (or at least, it is with this one). I’ve yet to hit the lace yet, when charts, repeats and multiple stitch markers will kick in, but so far it’s not been as bad as it looks. I may never become fluent in shawl-speak, but I think I’m going to keep this resolution. I might also add that, even without a resolution, this year I’ve taken up running…
The Christmas season definitely does its job with me. Just as it did with our ancestors, the season of light and feasting in the middle of the dark winter days always leaves me feeling rejuvenated and re-energised, ready for that shiny, untouched new year. That said, much as I love the red and the gold and the sparkles and rich food, I’m always keen to return to the normal and simple once the last presents are unwrapped and the final Christmas visits completed. Then it’s just a rush to get ‘thank you’ cards sent before our January birthdays come around. As for New Year’s resolutions, well I find a whole year a big prospect, especially given what ours has in store. I have a few things in mind, but prefer to take it one day, at a push one month, at a time. At the moment uppermost in my mind is: getting back into practising the piano, making bread again instead of buying it and looking out for Seville oranges coming into the shops so that this year I can join the family tradition of marmalade making for the first time.