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And Now For Something Completely Different

I started writing about knitting with colour, and before I knew it I was creating a graduate-level thesis on colour theory ... riveting to me, but perhaps to no one else. So I started writing about mistakes knitters make, and soon digressed to writing a compelling essay about my early reading behaviour, which isn't why you're here.

So I've scrapped all that, and I'm just going to share with you my current PIPs (projects in progress). Welcome to my knitting lair! Here's an unfinished sock.

I'm using the Church Mouse pattern, it's pretty classic, and I prefer the standard heel to the afterthought heel. (I only know 2 ways to knit socks, Toe-Up via a Craftsy* lesson, and Church Mouse method).

I like socks because they're portable, fast, and useful. At least that's their street cred. For me, since I'm not good enough at socks yet, I don't carry them around--they stay on my desk, next to their pattern, since I basically have to follow it for any section other than the ribbed leg part. They're not fast, because they're just a sock, which means Almost Any Other Project seems more interesting, so these are constantly back-burnered. Sorry sock. I'm sure you'll be beautiful in 2020 when I finish you, and I look forward to 2024 when your partner is knit and I can wear the two of you at last.

(I got the sock yarn from Wool and Wicker in Steveston, a charming neighbourhood in Richmond BC (or should I say the charming neighbourhood in Richmond BC, oh, snap!), where my knitting buddy Lorraine works.

Notice the heel in a contrasting colour, and how I don't know quite how to introduce it in a way that doesn't create a line of the contrasting colour across the top. The heel is in a contrasting colour because I am insanely paranoid of running out of wool, so if I can knit the heel (and toes, when I get there) in utility grey, there's no chance of running out, despite my larger-than normal feet. So far, so good. (I've knit two pairs this way, and didn't run out).

Here's an unfinished Fair Isle sweater:

(I think of all stranded colour work as Fair Isle, but purists would only use that term for the characteristic patterns of the Shetland Islands. I may be many things, but pure ain't one of them.)

It's knit bottom-up. I'm using Rowan Pure Wool Superwash Worsted yarn. The pattern is the GGN Norwegian Ski Sweater (I found it on Ravelry). They suggested one knit a gauge swatch by making an actual hat, so I've already knit the appropriately-titled GGN Gauge Hat, and it turned out rather well. The pattern comes with an excel spreadsheet (woohoo!) for entering personal measurements and inserting the resulting calculations back into their instructions, which I appreciate.

It's apparently quite straight and not fitted, and I'm athletic at the chest, but small at the waist (thanks, FitBit!) so I'm expecting it to be roomy around the middle. I think I'm okay with this, but I also thought I'd enjoy The Shape of Water so I know my judgement can't be trusted. My rule of thumb is that for a sweater vest, one wants it to fit relatively closely (or it looks sloppy), but in an actual sweater, it can flop about a bit and just comes across as casual. We'll see.

Their pattern is in two colours and it's really elegant, but I have decided to alternate between blocks of green and navy, and grey and red, as shown above. I truly don't think this will be nearly as nice looking as the two-colour original, but it will keep me from becoming too bored, and that's enough reason right there for mixing it up a bit. (Besides, someone--probably several someones--already has the original sweater. Do I want their sweater? Heck no, I want my own, special, personal, one-of-a-kind sweater, even if theirs is more handsome.)

Here's a bit of unfinished crochet:

This is almost actual size, at least on my PC monitor, which is to say it's a 97% chance it's not remotely actual size for you at all. This is my first crochet project (see my earlier blog post, "Help! I'm Cheating On My Knitting!" for how I ended up here).

I've finished Round 3, in real life, but this is a picture at the end of Round 2. Both Rounds 2 and 3 went very well, but Round 1 took three tries (over three nights!) before I was happy with it. To be fair, I've never crocheted so much as one stitch before, so I'm not beating myself up about it. I took a quick poll at my knitting group on Monday, and everyone there knew how to crochet, and one was actually doing it. Yes, I'm dense enough that people can crochet in front of me and I won't realise it's going on. So it's time I learned and caught up. I'm assuming this giant project will be essentially a master class in crochet, and it comes with youtube videos about every step.

My project is resting on a book, a book containing the pattern, in 210 pages. Yikes. When I finish, I'll be 90, but my caregivers will be able to tell each other "He's obviously very good at crochet."

Here are some unfinished blanket hexagons:

This is the Persian Dreams pattern, which I stumbled across (virtually, again on Ravelry, not sure how I found it as I certainly have never particularly searched for stranded colourwork blankets knit in the round ... because why would one?)

There are 24 hexagons all together, I think. Originally the pattern had 7, and you repeated some, but that way lies boredom so in a later update the designer kindly sacrificed symmetricality for fun and designed umpteen more hexagons so you never have to repeat yourself.

I have two stranded patterns on the go right now, this and the sweater--I like how every row is different, but only in patterning, I can knit stitch away in stockinette and only keep my mind on the one thing--what colours to use. And they repeat as you go around, so you quickly memorize and life is good. (Anything easy enough that I can watch Australian competitive reality TV programs is perfect for me, although my definition of easy has changed for the slightly-more-difficult over time, as my skills improve).

I've adjusted the colourway slightly to suit me just a smidge more, plus I'm not using the identical yarns, so the identical colourway would have been impossible.

I normally don't use suggested yarns or colourways--I've used the right yarn & colourway once only (the Sheep Heid hat, because it was a class and they provided the yarn & pattern), and once with the right yarn but my own choice of colour (the Vice Versa scarf project, shown below, which is done in Cascade 220 and Noro Kureyon). So here's the unfinished scarf:

It's my first attempt at double knitting*, and it's not perfect (in particular some of the edges aren't great, even to the extent that I may have to seam them), but otherwise it's working exactly as double knitting is supposed to.

Double knitting is like airplanes flying. I know how it works, but will never, never, never understand why it works. It's like magic! Pure knitting magic. If I tried to alternate between squares of two types of yarns (or even a square within a square!) any other way, I couldn't do it ... but double knitting makes it seem easy.

Pitfalls of double knitting for the keen but unwary ... keep in mind that you're knitting two strands of yarn, and you have to go across and back, so essentially there are 4 passes (across and back with yarn 1, and across and back with yarn 2) before you're done. You have to knit one strand and slip the other ... and it's VERY easy to get attached to one kind of yarn and find you're constantly knitting it and slipping the other and never getting around to knitting the other one, and then the slipped stitches get tighter and tighter and your rows are out of whack and you have to unknit a whole bunch. So please, keep careful track of your sequence of 4 and make sure you do them in the correct order, consistently.

On the Needles

(I will mark with a ! when I have advanced beyond last mention)

  • Sophie's Universe crochet project (Round 3 done)!

  • GGN Norwegian Ski Sweater (Chart B row 1 for the 2nd time) !

  • Vice Versa scarf (double knitting!) starting the fourth row of squares!

  • Persian Dreams Blanket (row 27 of the second hexagon) !

  • A Random Blanket (about 1/4 through)

On the backburner:

  • Feather Duster Lace Shawl (I'm repeating, for the first time, the body section)

  • A Church Mouse sock (post-heel)!

  • World's Simplest Mittens (prior to thumb)

  • A Hitchhiker Scarf (started over a year ago. It's for when I'm needing mobile knitting and every other project is stuck at a complicated point. I will be in the middle forever, I guess)

  • Simply Ribbed Scarf (again, it's ancient, intended for emergency mobile knitting, and I'm in the middle)


*Craftsy =, a popular (and well worth it) online crafts education site--it even has free classes to get you hooked. Check it out, and if you're like me, just bite the bullet and get Craftsy Unlimited for a reasonable monthly rate. I've always got about 30 classes on the go now!

*Double knitting = a technique for creating reversible fabric (because it's double-sided, i.e. both right sides face out), often used for colour work. It creates a scarf, say, that's similar to if you knit a great-big tube, but if you tried to do colour work you would have 4x the thickness of an ordinary scarf because of stranded yarns, or else you'd have to deal with intarsia* I guess.

*Intarsia = a technique for introducing small areas of colour that don't continue around the entire row. Sometimes necessary, always fiddly. I still can't do it, and I've taken classes with Anne Berk both online and in person.

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