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!
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!
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!
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