Before I start talking about my new cardigan project (and this blog post ended up being a monster, I really do miss writing), let’s address the fact that it’s been two months since I last posted with a little photo.
This has been my life for the last couple of months – two courses, two exams (one passed and the other results still to come). I was a bit cocky when I started training to be an accountant. “I worked in finance while I studied full time at uni…the other way round should be the same, right?” was a constant refrain when I first started. Wrong. It’s hard to concentrate all day at work then come home and hit the books. This leaves little time for writing, knitting, spinning, cross stitch…and the rest, as I’ll explain.
Anyway, I’ve got a month’s grace now and I’m celebrating by getting in a bit of all of the above before I go back to college.
Whoooo am I? A cardigan
Those of you who have been long time readers will know I’ve been talking about knitting a cardigan for at least three years. The whole time I’ve been dreaming of it, I’ve known which one I was going to knit. I’ve never actually sat down and started it. There have been a number of reasons, but I’ve finally found the motivation to sit down and knit, and I am loving the project.
Having scrolled through my previous posts I realise I never actually stated it here – I’ve moved again. A lot of deeply personal things happened at the beginning of this year and as a result I found myself in a new house, still in Bristol but in a bit of emotional turmoil. The change that brought this about has lead me to spend a lot of time questioning pretty much everything about myself – who am I, what do I want, where do I want to be in a year, two years, five years, why do I do what I do…
Recently my evenings have consisted of going to my favourite bench on Bristol Harbour and contemplating life, the universe and everything, to borrow Douglas Adams’ phrasing. I can’t say I exactly know who I am now, but I’m slowly coming to terms with unchangeable parts of me. One of these things is the fact that, despite hiatus and breaks from not only blogging but even looking at a pair of knitting needles, I always have been, am now, and always will be, a knitter.
Upon realising how much I missed knitting, I started taking some time to prepare myself to finally sit down and knit my cardigan. The other reasons I hadn’t started it began to lose their hold on me.
I originally wanted to spin the yarn myself so that I didn’t end up buying a sweater quantity of yarn that would then sit in my stash for years. I have stacks of fibre, including some beautiful Exmoor Blueface from John Arbon that I debated dyeing for a while. The problem with this was it was essentially three projects in one: dye the fibre, spin the yarn, and assuming the yarn came out the right weight, knit the cardigan.
The number of obstacles this presented proved too much for procrastination Corrie. My Kiwi wheel has some fibre on the bobbins that I’ve been slowly working on for a year, and I can’t justify buying new bobbins at the moment. The Traditional is currently in storage following the most recent move, and although I have tons of empty bobbins for that, I can’t have the Kiwi and the Traddy in my room at the same time. It wouldn’t be particularly pleasant going and sitting in a storage container and spinning in the evenings!
Luckily, one of the other things I’ve done over the last year has been to lose a lot of weight. I gave up sugar in September and now try to eat only things that contain 5% sugar or less. Mostly, this meant I stopped drinking coke and eating chocolate. Combined with running, eating more healthily and trying not to snack between meals, I got to the point where I’d lost three dress sizes. How on Earth is this relevant to yarn? Because of this.
The Icon Dress, which I finished in 2015, no longer fitted me. There was £70 worth of prime Knit by Numbers John Arbon yarn in there, in the right weight, in a colour I still love. Without thinking about it too much, I sat down and over the space of two months, unravelled it.
I had a lot of people asking me how I could possibly bear to do this. It must have taken me hundreds of hours to knit – what was I thinking? The thought of the dress lying in my cupboard, never to be worn again until I piled on the pounds, was less bearable than taking it apart and repurposing it into something I’ve been wanting to do since I finished that dress. It wasn’t a hard decision at all.
One of the other things that really put me off was gauge. I am really quite a lazy knitter and the necessity for swatching is something that I acknowledge, but always hate. Having yet another completed swatch lying in my box of swatches bothered me. Eventually, having put all that work into unravelling the dress, skeining up the yarn and resetting it with a good bath, I decided to pull up my big girl pants and get to it. As with all things you avoid, it took me approximately a fifth of the time my head told me it would take, and I completed the swatch while watching a good game of football.
Then came the measuring. To my horror, my gauge was slightly off. I am quite a tight knitter, and it was a little bit out – but not by enough for me to reswatch with bigger needles. I used 4mm to do the swatching, and would have to move up to 4.5’s – I’m convinced this would have given me a gauge that was too loose. Looking at the measurements of the cardigan, I also thought that if I went for the size dictated by my bust, it would end up fitting up top but being too loose around my middle. These are the hazards of being gifted in the bust department (I’ll let you decide if that’s a blessing or a curse – I certainly know which of the two I think it is, and it’s definitely the latter). With a slightly tighter gauge I thought I would solve that problem. It remains to be seen whether I’m right or not.
Starting the Cardigan
When I got started on this blog post a week ago, I’d already started knitting the cardigan and was about a centimetre through the bottom ribbing. Fast forward to this week, with hours spent in front of the football, a few days in Devon with my family and an afternoon sitting in my favourite cafe with a friend, and I’m more than halfway through it. This has been the most gratifyingly quick knit, and I’m incredibly fired up and inspired to start knitting in earnest on all the things again.
The pattern is Ginny’s Cardigan from Interweave’s “The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits, Special Issue 2013”. It’s the cover pattern, and there’s a certain poetry in the fact that I’m knitting it in bright orange yarn given the nature of Ginny Weasley’s hair colour.
I finished the first sleeve yesterday, although I think I’m going to go back to it and make it a bit longer. With another afternoon of football to look forward to, I expect I’ll finish the second sleeve today, and hopefully get some time to join it this week.
I often seem to do this – start big projects that aren’t weather appropriate in mid-summer. I doubt I’ll be able to actually wear it until the seasons change again – but given that I might have to undo it if my gauge is wildly out, and also that if i started it in autumn it might not be ready till even later in the year, I’ll take it.
Having a pair of knitting needles in my hand is wonderful – I do remember how to knit (I was honestly a big worried haha) and the therapeutic effects of slowly working my way through a pattern have been remembered gratefully.
On that note, I’m going to head off and get a few more rows in. I expect the next time I blog, it’ll be a finished object post! Watch this space…