Sunday, 14 February 2016

Knitting as the wild side

It's been a long time since I've written a knitting post.  You may have noticed that the picture has finally changed in the right side-bar - the previous jumper shown was finished in October 2013!  I've actually knitted three jumpers and a cardigan since then, several hats, multiple pairs of socks, several pairs of fingerless mitts and two Five Hour Baby Sweaters.

I am currently knitting totally off piste.  Oh, I have years of adapting old patterns to fit me but this is different.  The pattern Entertain in This was impossible to adapt. Initially I was astonished to discover that it didn't quote gauge - no mention of a knitting tension at all.  When I read through it, I realised that the reason no gauge was quoted was because all the shaping was done via changing needle sizes, so they'd have to quote at least five different gauges!  Seriously, the needles used range from 2.75mm for the welt to 5mm for the majority of the body.  There is no way on this earth that the Drops Alpaca I'm using would cope with 5mm needles.

Anyway, at that point, I gave up trying to adapt the pattern and decided to just copy the design features:  the frilled collar and cuffs, and the nobbles.  However, when I knitted the nobbles - purl 5 into the stitch on one row, knit 5 together on the next - they didn't show up.  The alpaca halo overwhelmed them.  Time to grit my teeth and try something I've never done before:  knitting in beads.  

(There are two ways to knit with beads:  the first involves threading dozens of the fiddly things onto your knitting yarn and sliding them down it periodically as you knit.  It really only works on small items, or when you have one beaded section, since all the yarn you will knit with will be pulled through the unused beads.  Completely not feasible for a garment or for anything knitted with a halo, upon which the yarn may catch.  I did this method for the first time at a class in October, at the Knit & Stitch Show at Ally Pally.   The second method is something I knew about by repute but I'd never seen it until I looked it up on YouTube:  using a tiny (1mm) crochet hook to pull your next-to-be-knitted stitch through your bead, so that the bead forms a shank on it.  That's what I mean when I say "knitting in beads".)

Much to my surprise, given how beaded knitting is one of the holy grails of knitting, it is easy!  A little fiddly certainly, particularly as the hole in the beads aren't uniform, but really easy.   Pretty, too!  Take a look:

Believe me, it is harder to take a photo that accurately reflects the colour of the yarn than it is to knit in beads!  It's meant to be a dark blue with purple tones.

Neither of these photos are blue enough, although the latter is closer.

- Pam (only one scary knitting technique left to try - entrelac.)