Tuesday, 8 February 2011

A January Aran

Once upon a time, there was a knitter, and this knitter had a conversation with her boss at work. The conversation went something like this:

Knitter: I've been wanting to knit more Elizabeth Zimmermann patterns for ages.
Enabler: Okay.
Knitter: Have you read the Almanac? It's really well written, and there are lots of patterns - like the February Baby Sweater.
Enabler: Oh, so that's where that comes from? Didn't someone do a Lady-version of that?
Knitter: Yes they did, and there's a February Lady Jumper out there as well. That's the thing - EZ patterns are so versatile, and she really encourages her readers to experiment, and make things that fit them, and that use their favourite things.
Enabler: So why's it an Almanac, then?
Knitter: Well, the patterns are all written around the idea that they might be what you want to knit at that time of year - jumpers in the winter and spring, small, lighter things in the summer... that sort of thing. You could kind of knit your way through the whole book in a year.
Enabler: We could...
Knitter: Oooh. That's an idea - we could do that, you know. But not next year - I have lots on next year.
Enabler: But now we've thought of the idea...

And so, the knitter went away and thought, and daydreamed about jumpers, and designing, and making herself do things that seemed terrifying and difficult (like steeks, and knitting a colourwork jumper in a month), and mentioned it at the Knit'n'Natter group, and then a Ravelry group was set up... and then it was New Year's Eve.

And on New Year's Day, as the chimes of Big Ben faded away, the knitter pulled out her needles, and nice sheepy yarn (vital, for the jumper was to be a cardigan, and would be steeked), and cast on. And she knit, and she knit, and she cursed the dark and the choice of navy yarn, and she knit, and she carried on knitting for most of the month, even when her intended pointed out a 'really clever bit that goes this way, and then the other way' (mis-crossed cable) about 40 rows back, and she had to rip out the four stitches of the cable column and knit them back up, until she had a perfectly functional jumper.

And then she learned to crochet a slip-stitch chain, and knit a swatch so she could practice, and cut up her swatch, and crocheted a slip-stitch chain in the front of her jumper, and waited for her intended to come home. And he cut up the front of her jumper, so she didn't have to, and so she could pick up stitches for button bands, and finish her cardigan on the 30th of January. Whereupon she went out, so that she could wear it, and came back, and said: "What am I going to knit between now and Tuesday??"

Sunday, 6 February 2011

New Year, News, and New Projects

Last year brought a few significant changes.
In June, this happened:

In July, I got dressed up:

In August, I became a member of the team here.

And now 2011 is here. Time to start anew. I'm looking forward to it, although, as usual, I'm reeling somewhat from the very busy Christmas `break'. Now that we have returned from the no-longer-frozen-North, and recovered from the holiday, new projects are on the needles, and the drawing / sewing / daydreaming board. The biggest new project for 2010 (other than the Wedding, of which more later (no doubt), is a knit-along I'm running, both in 'real-life' through TKP, and on Ravelry... Knitting the Almanac 2011 started, as many of these things do, with an enthusiastic conversation about Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac, and has grown into a year-long knitting challenge. Personally, I'm envisaging the 12 projects as a series of adventures in knitting, requiring me to experiment, to attempt new things (like steeking), and giving me the gumption to try my hand at designing. As Jasmin from the Knitmore Girls has put it, EZ's patterns are sometimes less like patterns, and more like recipes - you might be able to follow them blindly and come out with a garment, but the intention behind them seems to be to get the knitter thinking, to teach a skill, rather than simple facts or knowledge, and to make our garments individual again. The January challenge - an Aran sweater - is well under way, and it's been really interesting to see how different knitters have taken the challenge on board in different ways. So far, I've seen hats, socks, jumpers, and dresses, all from the same jumping-off point! It should be fun - and as EZ herself says: "the rest of he designs in this book will now seem childishly simple"! February is baby things, so I'm making the February Baby Sweater, which I've been wanting to knit for ages, but there's lots of double-knitting going on, which sounds really interesting too.