I’m going to risk beginning with the words ‘Happy new year’, on the off-chance that I finish drafting this post before it’s time to crack open the Easter eggs, AND on the off-chance that this new year does in fact turn out to be in any way happy. After the horrors of 2021 and 2020 (and 2016, for those of us Brits who treasure our European neighbours), I hope that your 2022 will be at the very least Not Overtly Dreadful. Right now, a merely non-abysmal year would feel like a great big win. Here’s hoping.
Oh dear, I’m re-re-re-re-editing this post on 11/1, so we’re getting perilously close to being outside of new-year territory. Here’s some knitting that occurred during a power-cut today, since it wasn’t as though I could do Big Important Internet Worky Thingummies without any wifi or power to the kettle:-
For the record, my own new year began with rehearsing a musical play conceived/written/directed/everythinged by one half of the twinnage (aged eleven). Apparently, I’m to take the starring role as a mad scientist: IT’S A COMPLETE MYSTERY WHY THIS PART WAS ALLOCATED TO ME. I’m to sing a song – composed by my son – about stealing people’s memories, whilst laughing maniacally between verses. It’s a fun opportunity to ham things up, but goodness my son is a tough director – Hollywood must be a picnic in comparison. (The twinnage once had the chance to be in a real-life big Tim Burton film, shot at Pinewood Studios, but they noped out on the first day of filming, despite the superior nature of the pastries available in the pre-filming breakfast tent. Have I ever told you this story? Do you even want to hear this story? Sometimes I worry that I’m recanting my repertoire of anecdotes faster than I’m acquiring new ones. That’s probably a sign that I should get out there and engage in more shenanigans.)
Let’s get back to the yarn. The book content is progressing, because I am on it. I’ve designed most of the patterns, which took just a teeny weeny bit longer than eternity. And I’ve written most of the text: this was the easiest bit, because the tone is conversational so I merely had to open a little flap in my skull and wobble my head a bit to empty my brain’s stranded-knitting-related contents on to the page. That was a lot of contents – no wonder there’s no space left in my memory for where I left my car keys or what my husband’s name is. (You think I refer to him as the ‘Stoic Spouse’ to maintain his privacy? Nah, it’s one of those situations where someone tells you their name the very first time you meet, and you immediately forget it because you’re concentrating so hard on trying to appear like a respectable human being, and then time goes by and it gets beyond the point where you can reasonably ask them again without it being AWKWARD… and after 14 years of marriage and two children and some earnest conversations about whether or not to repaint the shed this year, I’d say that we’re well past that point. Would anybody like to hazard a guess as to my husband’s name? Hieronymus? Agamemnon? Quentin? Bob?)
Anyway, returning to the book, I’m now knitting a gazillion swatches to be photographed as illustrations of what to do vs. what not to do. It’s amazing how, when you’re trying to do things wrong, stitches tumble off the needles looking perfect. It’s almost as though the yarn has a sense of humour, because I can promise you that the knitting doesn’t always emerge so well when I’m trying to do my best. I probably shouldn’t show you any of these swatches, so here at least is the reverse side of a couple of them:-
It’s been a lot of fun writing this book, because I get to chatter about yarn, and colour theory, and nature, and the maths of working in at least nine dimensions with multiple colours, and all sorts of cool stuff, and – so far, before the reviews are in – nobody has said WILL YOU STOP GOING ON AND ON ABOUT YARN ALREADY YOU IRRITATING WOMAN, as would doubtless happen in real life. Also I get to design elaborate things using pretty wool. (Top tip: if your vibe is monochrome minimalist simplicity, you probably shouldn’t buy this book. No disrespect, but you and I just aren’t on a compatible aesthetic wavelength.)
But best of all is the chance to evangelize about the fabulous possibilities of stranded colourwork, and how you too can most definitely design and make your own creations. At the outset, I think the publishers just wanted a book of patterns, but I argued fiercely that patterns were fine and dandy and I’m happy to provide them, but also I want to spread the word about HOW AWESOME STRANDED KNITTING IS, AND HOW EVERYONE SHOULD FEEL CONFIDENT TO DESIGN THEIR OWN MOTIFS. And eventually, there came a point where my editor was weary enough to accept that this was the direction that the book would take. (There are lots of patterns in it too, I promise.)
In addition to the book, I’ve got a design commission from a European yarn company for a Fair Isle cardigan and a dress, which is beginning to cause some serious busy-ness in my week. The first stage of designing garments involves sketches and themes and plans for overall structure. Then comes the knitting of ginormous swatches because I really need to be sure of my gauge before calculating how much yarn is needed for the patterns. Then I’ll begin to sketch actual motifs. Then – some time this month – I need to submit detailed plans with numbers to the company.
I’m enjoying the process of designing from scratch, and the maths of converting ideas into actual knittable patterns. But it’s very difficult being a knitting blogger when you can’t really show any of your current knitting! Please, bear with me. One day soonish, I will be able to reveal absolutely everything. That day will be a happy day.