I am calm. I am serene. I am not going to fling this ball of yarn across the room in a fit of temper. I am calm. I am serene. I am not going to…
Oh! Erm, hello! Didn’t see you there. Oops. Please don’t mind me, I’m just having a little… trouble with a scarf that I’m designing. The sort of trouble that involves unravelling several hours’ knitting and muttering darkly at my yarn whilst I rework the whole thing. This happens a lot, but I’ve learned hard lessons about how it’s never ever worth ignoring those whispers of doubt about your design-in-progress. Sometimes I coolly accept that every ripping-back-and-reworking brings me closer to the best possible result… and sometimes I don’t.
But this is a warts-and-all blog, and since I don’t have any actual warts to show you, I’ll just have to share my knitting failures instead. Just give me a few minutes to stop grinding my teeth and muttering obscenities in the direction of my needles, yeah?
And whilst you wait, let me tell you two bits of happy designing news.
First, I’ve been a little coy about a project that’s been in progress these past few months, but I’m now allowed to show and tell, which is a relief because otherwise I might just have physically exploded with excitement. There’s a fabulous company here in the UK called Little Box Of Crochet. (They ship internationally.) They’ve long had a crochet box subscription service, and have now added an equivalent knitting product – the Little Box Of Knitting. And a few months ago they approached me to ask whether I’d be interested in designing for their July 2021 box. Let’s just say that they did not need to ask twice. In fact, they scarcely had time to finish asking once before I squealed YES YES YES YES YES PLEEEEEEEASE!
At their request, I designed some socks. (Let’s gloss over the next stage, which involved a frantic midnight frenzy of sample-knitting, as described in my last post.) Stupidly, I didn’t take photos of the finished items, so these are photos-of-the-photos in the pattern booklet in the box. Meet the Viticultural socks, inspired by an early spring wander around the garden where I noticed the grapevine returning to life after its winter sleep, and fantasised about the luscious late-summer fruit to come.
If you happen to be a subscriber to the Little Box Of Knitting, I hope you enjoy the making and the wearing of these socks. And just in case you’re not a fan of stranded colourwork (WHYEVER NOT?!) I also designed some striped socks.
So that’s the first bit of happy design news. The second concerns the book on stranded knitting that I was commissioned to write. I haven’t mentioned it lately because things were seeming uncertain for a while, what with the pandemic, my cancer, and some m-a-j-o-r changes at the publisher that had the effect of flinging everything up into the air in a massive confusion of pages.
But conversations have recently been had across the soggy span of the Atlantic. The news is good. A new editor is in post. He’s very keen on the book. The book is happening, albeit rather later than originally intended. This news feels great. Awesome. Fabulous. Exciting. And also a teeny bit scary, because if you peer really closely at my contract, you’ll see that in addition to floating around in a bubble of over-excitement, they specifically mention that I do also need to finish writing the book.
Much of it is done – especially the design work, which is by far the biggest time-nibbler of the entire enterprise. But there’s still a largish chunk of work unfinished, and boy have I learned from bitter, bitter, experience just how rapidly an innocent “Ooh, wouldn’t it be fun to design a quick hat” can degenerate into a six-week hell-fest of re-re-re-re-knitting, because your cool idea for a quirky bumblebee motif just won’t cooperate with the laws of knitting/physics. (Please note: these two sets of laws do not always even comply with each other.)
And so, what at first seems like a cool idea slumps rapidly into a tangled nightmare of frustration, and you realize that the reason nobody has done this before is not – as you’d assumed – because you’re an iconoclastic genius who is way ahead of the game, but because your idea is NOT PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE.
Which brings us neatly (more neatly than my knitting) to the reason for my current
sulking TOTALLY JUSTIFIABLE CROSS-NESS. This project isn’t for the book, but it’s been keeping me busy. I’ve been playing with dragonflies. Not literally, you understand, because although beautiful, dragonflies are vicious blighters who’d rip your head off if only they could open their cute little mouths wider than a few millimetres. (Top tip: don’t Google the size of prehistoric dragonflies if you want to sleep peacefully tonight.)
Whilst I’ve been watching the real-life dragonflies flit around the pond enjoying their murderous shenanigans, I’ve also been attempting to recreate their beauty in yarn. My plan is to knit a scarf in the round (so it’ll be double-thickness and cosy as well as pretty), with a cloud of dragonflies swirling and darting and receding into the blue sky above. Stranded knitting is involved, of course.
I still think it’s a workable idea, but I got carried away and overindulged my love of underwater details. This was OK when I knitted a 120 000 – stitch picture in teeny tiny yarn…
…but just resembles a sludgy mess when I attempt similar motifs in fewer colours and far fewer stitches, knitted in chunkier yarn.
But I still have ambition. I’m ripping back and redesigning, and the next iteration is going to be better. This is all a part of the process. I’ll get there. I know this process well. I love-hate it, but I know it.
Perhaps I should get a less stressful hobby. Shark-wrestling, perhaps?