Tuesday 5 January 2016

New Year Knitting Resolutions

The decorations are down, the tub of chocolates is empty and life is returning to normal in the cold January light. I'm not a great fan of resolutions because they can become a big stick to beat yourself with when you don't achieve them, but this last year I have learned a few knitting things that I'll remember as resolutions this year.

1. Do I like it or LOVE it?
My friend wearing Owligan
Every time I flick through a magazine or knitting book I see a pattern I like. That's why, in times past when I was feeling flush, I bought the yarn for the project and now have yarn bags shoved in drawers all round the house, despite last year having a cull and reducing the stash. This year I'm not going to buy the yarn and pattern for a new project unless it's something I really love and can see fitting in well with my other clothes and their colours.

A good example was the Kate Davies Owligan cardigan. I spent a lot of time and money knitting it in the smallest adult size using the extremely strokable Toft Chunky yarn and blogged in May 2015 about finishing it. The trouble was it was just too big. The body and arms were the right length but the chunky yarn swamped me. It wasn't comfy to wear and felt like I was sporting a big sister's cast-offs. So I donated it to one of my lovely best friends who stands just over five foot and it fits her perfectly. The photo of her wearing on it is on the right and seeing it I know I made the right choice - better the cardigan gets worn than sits in my drawer unused.  (Please excuse the photo's poor quality - I can't seem to work out why my camera's setting makes everything look yellow!)

This year's first knitting project for me is making Owligan again using the largest size of the children's pattern Wowligan. This time I'm using the equally-strokable Toft DK in Silver and it's knitting up well. I like the knitting in the round construction and lack of sewing up that needs to be done. So far I've completed the body and am on the second sleeve before starting on the yoke. This is a project I can't wait to finish and wear, plus it's a great example of a design I love, not just think's nice.

2. Is it vintage?
Image courtesy of Susan Crawford
When I got back into knitting nearly a decade ago it was seeing Susan Crawford's vintage designs on the internet and her stand at the Harrogate Stitching and Knitting Show that drew me into vintage fashion styling.

Apart from finishing Crawford's Perfect Christmas Jumper and knitting half a vintage-style top that is now languishing in my 'must finish' pile, last year was pretty vintage-free.

Later this year I'm going to spend a day with Susan Crawford at her farm, looking through her samples for her Shetland project and learning as much as I can from her about knitting and adapting her patterns to fit me. I'll also be leaving with skeins from her wool range so I can knit a few of the patterns I love at home (I paid for this once-in-a-lifetime experience as part of her crowdfunder appeal for her The Vintage Shetland Project book).

This year will hopefully be for me the year of the vintage knit and I'm hoping to become pretty proficient in Fair Isle.

3. Does it have a twist on the old?
When another of my friends announced her pregnancy at a Christmas party my first thought was congratulations and the second dismay at having to knit yet another baby blanket. It's become a tradition that I knit a blanket for new arrivals, using mostly my own pattern I designed. Last year I knitted for seven babies, so you can understand that baby blankets have become, well, rather boring.

I don't want to be a bah humbug scrooge, and so when I came across a baby butterfly blanket pattern in the January issue of Knit Now magazine I was delighted to see a project using yarn and stitches I haven't tried before. I admit that the yarn isn't British, and I'm breaking my own rule here, but I chose just this once to use the yarn recommended for the pattern. I'll blog about the blanket when it's finished.

Wishing you all very happy, healthy and woolly 2016.

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