In April 2019 I shared with you my philosophy for learning out loud (LOL). Today I wanted to show you how my knitting skills are improving. If you haven’t read the first instalment of this story, you can find it here.
I am amazed by all those (mostly ladies) I see who can motor through rows of knitting while drinking tea and setting the world to rights with their friends. While I appreciate that speed comes with practice, it also comes with technique. With that in mind, one of my many Pinterest searches on the subject of knitting was “how to knit faster”. As you can imagine, that search brought up a massive amount of information. One of them was a video on continental style knitting.
I wasn’t convinced I’d be able to grasp the technique. However after an hour or so of simple knit stitch, then another 15 minutes of alternating knit and purl, it was fairly straight forward. It became a habit very quickly and I’m happy to say, it does make a difference to my knitting speed.
How It Works
In simple terms, you don ‘t need to “throw” your yarn over your working needle. You hold your working yarn in your left hand (if you are right handed) and use the working needle (right hand needle) to scoop up the yarn. It sounds much more complicated than it is in practice.
Here is a link to the video I watched if you’d like to try it for yourself.
Cable stitches fascinate me. They draw me in on a level I don’t understand. I’m not going to question it, though. I’ve accepted that this is where my learning imperative is leading me and I’m going with it. Who am I to argue with my muse.
I’ve been tinkering with swatches for a project I’m planning to take on holiday. I found the pattern on Ravelry (The Teatime Blanket by Anne B Hanssen Design). I wanted something fairly large which will help me improve my skills. This blanket gives me scope to work on something substantial but without a deadline or the crushing need for it to be perfect. I can keep for myself even if it has some flaws.
My only problem is, I’m not 100% loving the border. So, as crazy as it sounds I’ve adapted the pattern to suit myself. I’ve chosen a simple seed stitch (knit one, purl one) border and decided to space the cable transitions further apart.
If you had asked me in April when I started this fun journey, if I’d be capable of adapting a pattern (and make it work!) I’d have laughed you out of the room. So it just goes to show what you can do when you set your mind to a task. Don’t doubt what you’re capable of before you’ve even tried it. Take a leap of faith and live with the results. You’ll either win or you’ll learn.
Brioche – More than Bread!
Who knew brioche was more than just baked goods! Not me. Not until I discovered photos of it on…yes, you guessed it. Pinterest!
I’ve developed an affection for the skill of brioche knitting. Full disclosure I did the run before you can walk thing and attempted two colour brioche before I tried single! What can I say, it’s seductive. I was enthralled by it’s yarny loveliness. The word DUH! is ringing in my ears. Yes, it was…ill advised. I hesitate to call myself stupid, but it wasn’t my best decision. I think I’m also learning that being a perfectionist doesn’t give you much scope for experimenting so I’m trying to set it aside as much as possible too.
Thankfully, it wasn’t a total disaster either. I learned that, if I take my eye off the ball for a second (which is inevitable) I completely loose my way. It’s so easy to forget which row you are on!
To solve that problem I now draw out a grid before I start a pattern. I work out the number of rows that repeat and then the number of repeats in the pattern and number them on the x & y axis of my grid. I then tick off the rows/repeats as I complete them. That won’t work for everyone but it does help me. Here is a free PDF of my grid for anyone who’d like to try it.
Single Colour Brioche
Single colour brioche is much easier to understand. It follows a very simple, two stitch repeating pattern. When you grasp that, and surprisingly it doesn’t take too long, you have the basics in the bag. No difficult new terms to learn, no complicated stitches to fiddle with. If you can knit a stitch and slip a stitch purl wise, you can master single colour brioche.
The resulting fabric is squishy, stretchy and textured and you can easily add interest by using variegated or self stripping yarn to give it more depth.
I was thrilled to bits when I realised I had completed rows and rows without having to refer to the pattern. It’s far from perfect, I’m still trying to work out why one of my edges is untidy but my progress is none-the-less encouraging.
I believe the problem is with my tension so I’m paying particular attention to that now. If any of you have tips on correcting this issue I’d be delighted to hear them.
I plan to give two colour another shot soon to see if it’s easier now I have a foundation to build on. I’m determined to suceed. I’ve seem some breathtaking patterns that are quite simply too beautiful not to try, so keep your fingers crossed for me.
Good question. I can’t decide if the next thing I want to try learning next is lace work? It could be a leap too far at this stage in my learning but it is something I’d like to explore in the future.
I find it beautiful, intricate and can be super delicate. When I think of me, one word I’d never use to describe myself is delicate, so I think I’d like to be able to create something that is.
While I’m making up my mind I intend to keep working on my basic skills and make more than a test swatch with my new found skills in brioche.
A wise man said, “you don’t need to 100% better, to be better”. I’m living proof that that is true. I’m making progress every day and that is my goal. There is no destination for this journey, only a direction. That means I can follow my heart, my muse and let go of any preconceptions. The joy comes in the learning, the improving, not the knowing.
Until next time,
Be productive, be brilliant, be kind.