September Sucks

FOs (Finished Objects)

What’s been finished since my last post

  • My Spectral scarf fell off my needles today. While there are (many) more segments than the pattern calls for, I got bored. So when I ran out of my first skein of black yarn, although I have another 25 grams of the colour-phase yarn, I stopped. It’s long, just not Dr Who lengths.

WIPs (Works in Progress)

Works actively being worked on – (not hibernating or we’d be here forever) including my PP (Purse Project or the project that is living in my handbag)

I played with several ideas but my brain just isn’t engaging with the world around me, let alone my crafting at the moment so I have very little to report here.

Every Day’s a School Day

What I’m learning from my crafting this month..

  • Demystifying Double Knitting
    Attended this really informative and eye-opening workshop with SockMatician. Not sure I am as sold on this technique as I wanted to be (often I can barely finish one project so the idea of doing two of the same thing – albeit at the same time – is kinda freaking me out) however it is excellent for making you think and I’m getting much better at holding two yarns at the same time and working continental methods, which are without doubt my weakest skill set. See below for more on this workshop.

Bits of Sheep

Stash reduction or enhancement

I have bought no yarn. Woot. Go me!

MonthBalls/Skeins InBalls/Skeins OutNet Balance

Oh Shiny…

The source of my startitis – for example planned projects , inspirations or ideas that have caught my eye or subjects or topics that have snagged my attention..

Ok. the looonnnnggg bit of this post, as I haven’t posted since mid August – best laid plans and all that!

September decided to be particularly demanding with lots going on at work and a variety of ‘events’ pulling attention from what I wanted to be doing.

The end of August I was lucky enough to ‘pop’ to Vienna for a few days with Mr Fortnite and drop in on friends of ours who live there. Vienna is such a beautiful city that is easily navigable and feels very safe. We did tourist stuff such as the palaces, as well as sat by the Danube and had fresh fish for lunch. We attended an excellent Tango Milonga and just wandered the streets getting deliberately lost. No, I did not buy any yarn (I didn’t even go to a yarn shop while I was there as I haven’t used up the stuff I bought the last time I was there 6 years ago). I did however manage to come home with two beautiful traditional dirndl dresses which I am looking forward to wearing – one of them makes me feel like Cinderella!

Unfortunately September decided to arrive with a ‘bang’ and there were ‘issues’ with our flight home (they basically closed the gate while a group of us were coming through security – which in Vienna airport is after Duty free and just before the gate) resulting in us having to buy new tickets and cope with a further delay of 48 hours. I’m not the most relaxed traveller at the best of times and this little incident hasn’t improved matters. On the plus side I did get my first experience of business class lounges.

A few days later, driving home after visiting another friend, the car decided that my life had been way too uneventful and stable so tried to fix that for me by throwing a wheel on the motorway. I had always wondered how I would react in this sort of situation, and now I know (pretty damn fine according to the Police). I got to deliberately steer into the central reservation (to avoid the car who was undertaking me at the time) and experience the thrill of spinning across 3 lanes of traffic before coming to a controlled stop on a grass verge and watching my own wheel continue down the motorway without me.

I’m fine and thankfully nobody else was involved, but there is a strong possibility that my inability to focus on practically anything the last couple of weeks could be some form of delayed shock – so I’m just letting it play out. The insurance company confirmed this week that our car is a write off, so now we need to look at if we actually need a car (I mean, after all we live in an area with good public transport links) and if we do what sort of car do we want.

We then got to tick off one of our ‘local tourist’ items and visited Bletchley Park. Wow this place is huge and just stuffed full of history – it’s fascinating and very well presented (though be warned, the audio tour can feel very disjointed as basically they don’t know what order you are going to listen to the recordings in so they have repeated a lot of information but not covered other bits) there is a recommended route but you can go around in any order you please. Below are some of the ceilings from the main building…

Bletchley was really inspirational, and though I didn’t understand all of it, I did come away with several crafting ideas inspired by the place. A particularly nice touch in the ‘coding sheds’ was the use of hand knitted garments to dress the rooms. My friend and I must have cut quite the eccentric image as we examined seams and knitting techniques on cardigans, gloves, scarves and hats while everybody else was reading the historical information about the war on the walls.

“Yes, yes, Churchill did make quite a memorable speech didn’t he, but just look at how this knitter has set in these sleeve heads… and the rib variation on the cuff of these gloves is just fascinating… does this feel like Jamieson and Smith to you?…”

All of the items were recreations (I’m guessing, on the fact that cashmerino wasn’t a widely available yarn in the 1940s that they are all recreations, though some items, which felt like pure shetland wool, could have been originals) but they were beautiful creations with very high exacting standards and worked to original patterns (I recognised a few, and even have one of them in my collection). I didn’t take photos as it didn’t feel appropriate, but it was beautifully done.

Last weekend, as mentioned above, I got to do the Demystifying Double Knitting workshop with SockMatician. A very detailed workshop with lots of examples and samples and a wonderfully engaging and passionate teacher. Double Knitting (for those readers who don’t know) is basically a method of using two colours of yarn to create a fabric that is stockinette stitch on both sides meaning there is no ‘wrong side’ to your work. A wonderfully dense, windproof, fabric that has really interesting possibilities for completely reversible colourwork. It involves carrying two colours (or yarns, they don’t have to be different colours but that would be a bit pointless) at the same time and because every stitch is worked there are no floats like stranded colourwork – so you can have as long a section of colour as you want (purists will tell you that you never have more than 3 stitches of one colour in ‘proper’ stranded colourwork. You can probably work out what I say to them).

However there are lots of ways you can carry your yarns. I ended up doing some weird kind of ‘one in each hand’ (thankfully I’m one of those obsessive types who must know all the techniques even if I don’t use/like them) and doing a combination of English and Continental styles.

Because each stitch is basically doubled (lets say a white and black side to your work) you work in pairs. The first one is knit and the second one is purled (regardless of the colour of the yarn). This means for some stitches you will be working a knit stitch English style and then doing a Norwegian purl for the second stitch. Then if the colours swap you may be doing a Continental knit stitch and an English style purl.. all while working off a chart and remembering which colour you should be using (which may or may not match the colour of the stitch on your needle).

Now, I’ve done English style knitting (my default), I can Continental style knit and Norwegian Purl (I can’t get the hand of continental purling for some reason). I have done stranded colourwork. I can see the logic of Double Knitting and how it should work. However, putting all these things together my brain just went poof… I could remember for any given stitch 3 of the 4 needed pieces of information. Lets say we are on the ‘white’ side of the work and the white is held in my right hand and the black in my left…

  1. Is the next stitch a knit or a purl? Knit – both yarns to the back, Purl both yarns to the front
  2. Is the next stitch I need to work a ‘black’ or a ‘white’ stitch? for some reason my brain wanted to add a level of complexity here by involving the colour of the stitch about to be worked, If you try this at home remember this important fact: It’s irrelevant.
  3. For a knit white stitch – work an English style knit stitch
  4. For a knit black stitch – work a Continental style knit stitch
  5. For a purl white stitch – work an English style purl stitch
  6. For a purl black stitch – work a Norwegian purl stitch
  7. Next stitch – return to 1.

My most common ‘error’ is to forget to move both yarns forwards or backwards, and it seems to be when the colours change from whatever the current stitch colour is that my brain then doesn’t know what type of knit or purl I am doing.

However it is a really fun technique, you look like a total legend doing it, and I do have the germination of some really pretty cuffs formulating in the back of my head. I will definitely be doing SockMaticians follow on class once my brain is a bit more comfortable with the processes learnt in this class…

I am also doing another class with him (Geek Knitting) next weekend so really looking forward to that – and I get to report on TribeYarns new premises in Richmond as an extra bonus!

Hopefully, with the new month starting Demanding September will finish and I will be able to get a bit more of a handle on things and I’ll get back to posting more regularly again. See you in a couple of weeks!