Wednesday, December 11, 2019

New Year resolution

If you were a superhero, which superpower would you prefer to have? Maybe as a knitter, you would like to be able to knit with light speed and make a sweater in one day?
Well, I think it would be cheating. You can make a knitted garment fairly quickly without any superpowers, just by buying a knitting machine. Yet, if I can produce a sweater in a day somehow it would cheapen the process and the end result at the same time. The time and effort that go into careful selection of yarns and designs, long hours spent swatching, trying different colors and patterns, unraveling half-finished parts because of the poor fit – all of this (and more) create an aura about the garment you get at the end, make it more (or less) dear to your heart and are with you every time you put it on.
Since I was a little girl, I couldn't keep a journal. My day to day life never excited me enough to write about it regularly. However, as I discovered, my knitted garments have this unique ability of reminding me of the place and time where and when they were made. As well as of my state of mind at that moment. Some smells and tastes have this ability, like the famous Proustian madeleines.
Actually, I do want to have one superpower. I want to be able to squeeze easily any hair conditioner from a bottle. It is an every day’s torture for me and I never get to the bottom of a bottle. This superpower wouldn’t make me a superhero for sure, but my life would have been much easier though. Sigh!
If you are wondering about the title of this post, it’s because originally I wanted to tell you about my resolution for the New Year (but somehow got digressed into the superhero topic…). Normally, I don’t make any resolutions. Do you? I am realistic about my abilities and the amount of my will power (or, maybe, rather pessimistic?). If I can accomplish something, I won’t be waiting for a New Year to start doing it. And if I am absolutely unable (=don’t want) to do it, no matter how many resolutions I make, I won’t do it. Believe me, I tried several times and failed. So why bother?
This year though I decided that I need one serious resolution. I want to get the excitement back into my knitting. I want to try and experiment with new things, play with colors and yarns, make some designers knock offs, make something challenging and time consuming… All of this is hard to do, while making clothes for other people. Which I’ve been doing since June, if you haven’t noticed. Over the last six months I made only one garment for myself – my second Kaleidoscope, and it was the most joy I had with my knitting.
Gift making is great and it brings me joy as well to see my knits worn by other people. But it requires speed, severely restricts the choice of patterns, yarns, and colors, as well as styles and sizes. That is why next year my plan is to cut on knitting gifts, and concentrate on making something that I really truly want to make, have wanted for some time but it’s been getting postponed because of the gift knitting. I want the anticipation and exhilaration of a new challenge back in my life!
That said, here are my last two knitted gifts of this year.
I made two round yoke stranded cardigans from Japanese knitting books that I love so much. Cardigans are multifunctional and easy to layer. And I had quite a lot of yarn that I brought from Scotland last year – West Yorkshire Spinners Illustrious – in five different colors. In April I attempted to make a cardigan from this yarn and discovered how much it stretches after washing. The two antidotes for too much stretching are: 1) cables and 2) fair isle. Since I didn’t have enough yarn for cables I picked two fair isle patterns. Japanese patterns were chosen because they are beautiful and extremely accurate. It is easier to just follow directions when you are stressed for time.
And here we are.
First cardigan – Sky (named after the island where the yarn was bought) – is a design by Junko Yokoyama from Sekai No Amimono/ World Knitting, 2015-2016 Autumn-Winter. By the way, I was positively ecstatic when I found this book on Etsy because of all its gorgeous patterns!
I made some changes while knitting this cardigan (see my Ravelry page) but mostly kept to the pattern which is extremely clear and simple.
The body if made in one piece. The sleeves are knit separately (they were supposed to be knit in the round but I made them flat). Then all the pieces are connected for a beautiful fair isle round yoke.
Unfortunately, I managed to miscalculate the amount of buttonholes needed and made one more than the buttons in my disposal. While waiting for the new buttons promptly ordered online, I started the second cardigan.
Winter tale is a design by Yoko Hatta from her book Fair Isle and Nordic.
My two minor changes here were the main color and the 4-row colorwork pattern on cardigan’s edges. Had I followed the pattern, I had to cut the white yarn, which I didn’t want. Everything else was done according to the pattern. Actually, I was surprised at how well this cardigan turned out. It wasn’t my favorite pattern from the book and I decided on making it only because I had the exact same gauge with the yarn. Note to myself – you can never be sure of how it will look in real life!
The body of this cardigan is done in three separate pieces, plus sleeves, everything knit flat. Connecting all the pieces together was the only difficult part for me (I got a bit confused at some point). The yoke knitting was so much fun that it went extremely fast.

While working on the gifts I started a simple and straightforward sweater for myself. I was craving for simplicity (I picked a project that is actually called Simplicity) and wanted to be able to work on something while watching TV or talking with friends. Little did I know how tired I’d be or how time consuming the gift knitting would turn out.  As a result, now I have a back and a front of a sweater that has to be finished and, most likely, will become a perfect addition to my wardrobe.
Nothing flashy or challenging, everything practical and useful. Exactly what I like. As soon as it is finished, I’ll post it on Instagram and Ravelry.
My next blog post will have to wait till the New Year though. Happy holidays, everyone, we all need a good break!
Talk to you in January,


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