Monday, March 29, 2010

The Fearless Knitter rides again...

The Christmas before last (Xmas 2008), I bought myself a present, a bag of patterns and other useful stuff from Knitting Daily. On the front of the bag, there is a heart design and the slogan "Fearless Knitter". This was a promotion/challenge that Knitting Daily ran through 2008, challenging knitters to try at least one new technique during the year.

I took that challenge to heart (a bit late, since the promo had finished, but nevertheless...) - over the last 12 months, I've started knitting socks (unfortunately, start is all I've done so far, but I'll make it one day!) - I've crocheted some reasonably complicated garments (now that's the ultimate in fearlessness for knitters - putting one of your needles down!) - and last, but not least, I have started clearing my stash by knitting Fair Isle patterns.

The first thing I discovered was that there are an incredible number of variations on the theme of knitting with more than one colour. Apparently, to be strictly accurate, I should call my current project (Jo Sharp's Devon cardigan) a 'stranded colour work' project. 'Fair Isle' refers to traditional Scottish patterns, knitted in the round using no more than two colours at any time, and generally using a palette of no more than five related colours. Intarsia refers to patterns where large solid blocks of colour are knitted without running the yarn across the back of the work (as happens in Fair Isle patterns). If I wanted to slip some of my stitches instead of knitting them, I'd have something called slip-stitch knitting, which may or may not involve colours, but usually does. I could also go beserk and try mosaic work (square or rectangular patterns, similar to intarsia work).

The second thing I discovered was that it is very hard to knit from three balls of wool simultaneously while travelling on public transport! Usually, I use my travel time for knitting - PT is generally slow, and knitting or crochet helps to relieve the stress of knowing that I'm going to arrive late. Unfortunately, I can only knit patterns that don't require a great deal of concentration, as I need to focus my attention on the various announcements to make sure that I catch the correct train/tram/bus and get off at the correct stop! Hence my socks have a rather fetching dropped-stitch effect (caused by dropping stitches!) and my colour work cardigan currently consists of two half-finished fronts. I managed to knit as far as the colour work panel on both sides, but then found that I couldn't knit colour work, decrease for armholes and front slope AND decipher the announcements coming over the PA system at Flinders Street.

Looking forward to the day when I am both fearless and accurate with my new techniques...

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