Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Get stranded!

more Loop class (1)

OK people, get your 'impressed' faces on please! I know that this little swatch of knitting doesn't look like much, but believe me, it's the result of about 5 hours of blood, sweat and tears! Actually there weren't any tears and no blood was shed during the knitting of this swatch; it was fun but just incredibly HARD WORK! Oh yes, my brain certainly ached after so much concentration! On Sunday, I went to the fabulous Loop yarn shop in London to take a class in colourwork. If you're a regular reader, you'll know that colourwork has appeared on my list of knitting resolutions for far too many years without me doing one single thing about it! Well, no more! Whilst I haven't exactly conquered it yet and am in no way ready to cast on my first Fair Isle sweater, I certainly feel like I have been equipped with the knowledge and skills to make that a possibility at some point in the future!

Loop Colourwork class (2)

When I arrived, the table was set out with an array of inspirational knits made by the class tutor, Juju Vail. Not only that, but there was a mahoosive plate filled with biscuits to keep our blood sugar nice and high! It was fabulous to see what can be achieved once you've mastered the basics!

Loop class samples (1)

Loop class samples (2)

To begin with, Juju set us all off learning how to knit using the Magic Loop technique. I had only tried this method once before and Did Not Like It At All! So my heart sank when I found out that Magic Loop is the preferred way of knitting any stranded knitting rather than using double pointed needles, so there's less to contend with, knitting from needle to needle as well as all the stranding. But Juju's method was so simple, it all fell into place straight way and there I was, knitting in the round with no sign of those pesky ladders that had put me off this way of knitting many years back. As well as using Magic Loop, Juju showed us how to knit in the continental style, using the left hand to tension the yarn, rather than 'throwing' the yarn with the right hand in the English way of knitting. So my first few rounds were painfully slow, having to think about each stitch I knit. Juju suggested that we practise for 10 minutes a day for two weeks to get the movements into the muscle memory. Once we were reasonably happy with that, it was time to introduce a second colour to begin some stranded knitting. Initially I did a 'salt and pepper' repeat of the two colours before trying out a little charted pattern. I held both of the yarns in my left hand, and found it quite awkward. But I plan to keep on with this method for now as I reckon with practice it will become easier. We were also shown how to steek our work, using crochet to stabilise the knitting before cutting. So I did the same thing when I'd finished my swatch. It was a little scary taking a pair of scissors to the knitting, but at least I know that it all holds together!

Loop Colourwork class (6)

Loop Colourwork class (4)

After the class finished, I had time for a bit of browsing in Loop. There are so many gorgeous yarns there, it is hard to resist. I bet you're thinking that I bought loads of yarn, aren't you? Nope! You would be proud of me as although my fingers twitched towards a skein of Socks That Rock yarn and some balls of Jamieson's Shetland yarn for trying out colourwork samples, my resolve to knit from stash this year was strong and I left the shop yarnless!! That has to be a first! 

So what's next? Well, I plan to knit a pair of plain vanilla socks using both the Magic Loop technique and Continental knitting as my next project, before tackling some colourwork socks. I'm just off to pick out some yarn before settling down to watch Bake Off, so I'd better hurry up! I'll let you know how I get on! xxx


VeggieMummy said...

Goodness, that all sounds very complicated; well done you for getting the hang of it. Another pat on the back for showing such great restraint in coming away yarnless! Can't wait to see the results of your next knitting project. xx

knittingsandwich said...

Wow, I'm super impressed, it certainly seems like you got your money's worth from that class! So many new techniques, and not easy ones to learn quickly either! I was convinced for years that I was incapable of doing colorwork but then when I was pregnant with Mateo and had lots of time on my hands, I tried it out and really fell in love with it. It opens lots of new doors and makes things so much more exciting. That said, I'm still terrified of steeking- major respect to you there! I've never tried Magic Loop but once I started using 2 circulars I've never gone back to dpns.
Excited to see where your newfound skills will take you! Congrats!
(and p.s. I've been to loop and it's AMAZING! must go back someday!)

Lynne said...

Gosh, that class sounds brilliant! I'm a big fan of the magic loop, and am always impressed with anybody wrestle with double pointed needles. Yey to mastering continental knitting too, I cheat a bit by tensioning the yarn on my right hand. Your sample knitting looks great, and good luck with colour work.

Jenny said...

I've done a fair bit of colour work in my time, fair isle, Kaffee Fassett etc, but honestly I've never enjoyed the process and probably won't do much more. I have never been able to understand the magic loop and though my Danish friend knits in the continental way, and thinks our way is over laborious, I have never given that a try. So brownie points to you for all your new skills, and also for resisting the stash enhancement (so far).