Saturday, 26 June 2010

New Challenges

Ok, so first off I'll get my little rant out of the way. Not so much a rant actually, rather, just pointing out the obvious and predictable. While I was away in Egypt my copies of 'The Knitter' magazine and 'Yarn Forward' arrived in the post. Hubby well knows by now that the first thing I look for when I get hold of any material like this is to see if any mens patterns have been included. He checked my face while I flicked through the first publication.

Flick, flap, flick. Page open.
Him: "What is it?"
"One second"
Next magazine - flick, flap, flick. Page open.
"Hmmmm" (with raised eyebrow)
Him:  "Oh"

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen. Hubby knew it before I even showed him the magazines and I would assume that, if you've been reading me for any length of time, you can see what's coming too. Two of the most popular knitting magazines in Britain, one of which certainly is entirely polished in every other sense, have produced YET AGAIN a pair of the dullest, most boring and tedious mens patterns ever. Only outdone, I would assume, by whatever they publish next month. I guess that in the interests of fairness, I ought to point out they may actually only have printed ONE of the dullest, most boring and tedious patterns ever because, in truth, they are almost identical. The one below is from 'The Knitter' and is knitted in a very daring blue. Blue for a boy. How original. I wonder how many sleepless nights the designer endured before finally settling on that wacky shade. As for 'Yarn Forward's offering, it was simply so yawnworthy that I couldn't be bothered to take a picture of it. Suffice to say, turn the blue version cream and add elbow patches (err....hello?) and you're basically there. It's not like the jumpers are unattractive. Just dull. Who wants to spend hours, days, weeks even, working on a knitted project PLUS £100 or so on yarn only to end up with something that looks like it was bashed out in a sweatshop and purchased in Primark for a fiver?

Then again, I'm not sure what else to expect from a magazine that uses this woman as their cover model...

So a lot is to do with styling, and I'm not having a go at the woman personally but....perleeeese.... with those pigtails she looks like she is about to star in some low budget pornographical movie. I don't wish to trash the magazine too much because, in general (that is, models and mens patterns aside) it is superb. The womens patterns are fantastic, the articles are far more in-depth and interesting than many others you could get hold of, and the whole thing is put together with a great sense of quality. I guess nothing is perfect. return to my real reason for posting - I've decided that I am a lazy knitter. Rather, I knew this all along. But, do you not find that with gifts to knit and stashes to use up and etsy/folksy shops to stock, the temptation to just keep on churning things out without ever developing yourself is almost overwhelming? I do. So I've decided that I'm not going to worry about who I'm knitting for or how long I take over the project (could make for some dull blogging if it drags on too long but hey-ho!). It's time to take up some more challenging techniques! I've never knitted lace before, at least, not a proper, full throttle lace project. I don't think little panels or borders really count. Besides, I'd like to learn to use charts too. As if 'The Knitter' somehow pre-empted my decision and decided to offer an olive branch over the lacklustre mens patterns, they kindly included this article to get me started:

I scoured ALL of my knitting magazines in search of an appealing lace project which, in itself, was quite a challenge - I subscribe to so many! My top two were the 'Prairie Rose Shawl' from a back issue of 'The Knitter' and the 'Dalenni Scarf' from 'Yarn Forward'.

The 'Dalenni Scarf' is knitted in color-mart laceweight 2 ply (which I just happen to have in my stash for once!) while the 'Prairie Rose Shawl' is knitted in a Jamieson and Smith 2 ply lace (sadly not in my stash!)
After spending four and a half hours winding the color-mart yarn into a ball (seriously! Don't ask me what happened as I have no idea!) I decided that I preferred the lace pattern of the PRS and so I started on that first and just hoped that the gauge would be similar (I don't believe it is now!). However, because the yarn is so fine and similar in colour to my bamboo needles (I intended to knit the shawl and then take an even greater risk and perform my first dye job on the finished piece to liven up the rather dull beige!) I had terrible trouble maintaining the correct number of stitches. I imagine I was knitting some together when I ought not to.

I had a look on 'ravelry' and some people had knitted this shawl in The Natural Dye Studio's sock yarn. Again, this is something I had in my stash, so I picked it up and knitted a swatch (the very blurred picture below!). The thing is, now I'm not sure I like it as much. I feel like the 4 ply sock yarn is too thick for the shawl and is detracting from the open nature of the pattern.

The next picture shows the swatch alongside the yarn I wanted to use. You'll see what a difference there is in the yarn weight.

And that's pretty much where I am right now! Dithering and indecisive about how to progress! I wanted the knitting itself to be a challenge - I didn't expect choosing an appropriate pattern and yarn to cause so much trouble. Usually I just pick up, cast on and go....

Of course, all the while this has been going on I've been coming across hundreds of other adorable lace projects, as well as adding to my list of knitterly challenges (intarsia, fair isle, learning new cast-on methods, double knitting).

I'm feeling rather flustered!

More soon (when I've made a decision!)

Mother's Ruin xxx

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