on being bold

Did you see Kate’s blog last week? How exciting!

She has designed a series of patterns with me, as a bold beginner knitter, in mind. I don’t think I had ever considered myself bold (but then I have a case of fairly typical artist’s imposter syndrome). I guess, for some, it can take friends/family/community – someone looking on to let you know you are bold.

Before I re-started learning to knit this year I often looked at hand knits and thought “No way I could do that!”

Carbeth-Cardigan-Knitting-Pattern-Scotland-Hedder-Pink-Purple-2

Time spent packing book and yarn orders for KDD & Co and modelling new designs mean I’ve been pretty close to some gorgeous patterns and finished garments (such as the Carbeth Cardigan above). This has led me to study the stitches and consider the processes involved in their creation.

Jane-Learning-to-knit-photograph-compilation

In the short time since I picked up the needles I’ve managed to equip myself with, what I think is, a fairly solid foundation of basic skills. From the Knit: How book I’ve learned to:

  • cast on/bind off for my first sample swatch,
  • knit/purl to make ribbing and stockinette for mitts,
  • moss stitch and joining ends together for a cowl,
  • knitting in the round and decreases for a simple hat,

Moving on from the learn to knit book to using a chart for the striped colour sequence in my version of the Let’s Stripe hat and most recently reading the written instructions for the cabled section in Kate’s famed Owls Sweater. This was something I really didn’t think I could do. But, with a wee prompt from Kate and some reassurance that cable knitting was within my capabilities I managed to create this complex looking garment.

OWLS-Sweater-Kate-Davies-Designs-Pink-Blossom-Handknit-Pattern-5

That’s the thing I’ve been wondering about. After following a learn to knit book, what would be the next logical step? How do I decide what to knit? Ravelry has so many possibilities, and of course I have a warehouse full of pattern books here at KDD & Co. Without guidance, support and encouragement would I end up stuck in a repetitive loop knitting cowls, mitts and simple beanies forever? On the other hand there’s the fear of biting off more than you can chew, attempting a complex project which becomes tiresome and disheartening.

It seems that Kate has considered that too with her latest series of patterns for bold beginners.

Bold-Beginner-Knits-Book-Skep-Blanket-KDD-2

First on the needles is the modular hexagon blanket, Skep.

The beauty of this pattern is that it is broken down in to several small projects, which are a lot less overwhelming, and it introduced me to a new set of techniques – centred double decrease, garter stitch in the round, three needle bind-off.

It’s very portable – each little motif is like knitting a wee hat, so you need only carry two skeins of yarn at a time.

This was the first time I had followed a chart for the stitches/decreases. It took a bit of getting used to – reading it right to left and keeping count of which row and repeat I was on. A printed copy and marking with different coloured pens kept me on track.

Bold-Beginner-Knits-Book-Skep-Blanket-KDD-6

Blocking is really important in this project. When just off the needles each hexagon is squishy and the edges gently curl but once blocked they reveal the strong geometric shapes with the edges ready to be bound together.

Bold-Beginner-Knits-Book-Skep-Blanket-KDD-3

Three needle bind-off sounds frighteningly complex. However, I found the linked tutorial (demonstrated by Mel) to be very helpful. I watched it a few times then paused each section as I was joining the pieces together. After doing this once it becomes fairly simple. By the time you have your whole blanket together you’ll be an expert.

Bold-Beginner-Knits-Book-Skep-Blanket-KDD-4

The result is a striking object in any combination of colours you like and once joined, the vast expanse of fabric is super impressive. Plus, the round and squishy Àrd-Thìr yarn is great to work with, shows off the stitches really well and makes a beautifully smooth and even fabric.

Bold-Beginner-Knits-Book-Skep-Blanket-KDD-7

Bold Beginner Knits will be published in August and is available to pre-order now.

Skep Blanket-208

Be sure to come back next week to see the second release from Bold Beginner Knits – it’s a stunner!

Be bold.

Jane.