Tuesday 14 March 2017

Can life be like knitting?

Life's irritation number 16
Don't you just hate change?

Sometimes it takes more than a bit of Knit Lotion to sooth life's irritations, nothing less than a full course of anti-histamine can get rid of that awful itch!

You have to admire knitting designers, they spend ages thinking up an idea for a pattern, selecting the best yarn and stitches to make the item look just the way they imagine it, writing the pattern, getting other knitters to test it, making amendments and finally publishing it. Occasionally, us knitters come along and, thinking that we know better, decide that we want to knit this carefully designed pattern but don't want to use that yarn or maybe even that stitch pattern so start changing things!

Sometimes it works out but other times these changes can have disastrous effects.

There are so many elements that have to work together to produce that perfect item that if we change one it can throw all the others out.

By changing the type of yarn, the experience of wearing the item can go from something which is soft and feels like heaven against the skin to something rough and scratchy. Different types of fibre have different properties which will effect the drape, elasticity, handle and something called loft which is the amount of air in the yarn making some yarns light to wear and others heavy.

Some fibres are strong, others break easily, some take dye more readily than others producing vibrant colours, some possess an elegant sheen while others are dull. Certain yarns wash well while others felt at the merest glimpse of water, some are so soft they shed fluff as you knit, others can feel like knitting with barbed wire.

By changing the ply of the yarn, the size can change from a perfect fit to something which is either far too small or much too large.

And if you change the yarn you will nearly always need to change the needle size and if you don't get that right the resulting knitted fabric could be very loose and holey or really tight and stiff.

Surprisingly, even the needle material can effect the gauge or tension, wooden, metal, plastic and, the new kid on the block, Carbon Fibre can all result in up to a 2 inch different in width and length on an average garment.

Then there is the stitch pattern! 20 rows of garter stitch will not measure the same as 20 rows of stocking stitch, moss stitch will produce a firmer fabric, lace patterns a looser one and goodness only knows what happens if you use brioche stitch.

It takes a lot of time and energy to make changes successfully. Sometimes we knitters are just not prepared to put in all that work so the project doesn't even get on the needles let alone off them.

But if we really must change something there is no option but to swatch, swatch and swatch some more (a thing that is greatly disliked by many knitters). Even then there is no guarantee that it will come out right. Sometimes it might look like the tension is okay and you might even start to knit only to find when you are half way up the back or even finished that it doesn't fit or look or feel quite right and then there is nothing else to do but rip it out and start again on a different project.

So yes, sometimes life is like knitting!

And what's on my needles right now?

Having not blogged for over a year, a lot of things have gone on to my needles and some of them have come off. According to my Ravelry project page I have started 13 items since March last year but I know I haven't finished them all. 

Here is a recent finished item which I love.  

The pattern is Dufton by the lovely Victoria Magnus at Eden Cottage Yarns and it is knitted in one skein of her Whitfell Chunky in the beautiful Damson colourway which is actually a deeper shade in real life than the photo suggests. I made it slightly longer than the pattern by adding an additional repeat as I wanted it to cover my ears. I also added a little knotted i-cord pigs tail to the top as I didn't want a pompom.

I bought the yarn on a visit to Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft, a fascinating little museum founded in 1985 in the historic village of Ditchling on the South Downs which provides an insight into the work of the varied artists and craft workers who set up a community in the area in 1921, including some familiar names. There is still time to see the exhibition celebrating the centenary of the publication of A Book of Vegetable Dyes by Ethel Mairet which closes on 16 April. 

I know that I haven't been a regular blogger over the last two years but I am planning to address that in the coming months now that I am no longer working full time. I have some interesting knitting projects that I want to tell you about so please do keep following me.

Bye for now!