Saturday, April 16, 2016

And so it begins

There is a Saturday knitting group, meets every five weeks or so and each session focuses on a technique or detail. We meet yesterday and the focus was flowers - but I was distracted. Alongside the five-weekly topics there is a year long project - this year is is a colour work challenge. The goal is to explore some aspect of colour work and develop a better understanding. Lorna, group inspiration and leader is working with a knitting belt and traditonal fair isle patterns and her own hand dyed yarn. Others a working tams or colour work tubular scarves and exploring different combinations of colours. Me - I am planning to become more proficient with a knitting belt and the 2+1 arrangement of long dpns.

Once I decided what I was going t work on I ordered some shorter needed, Etsy provided these three sizes in stainless steel, from BobNWeave, there are lots more sizes on offer but these work with the fingering yarns I like best for colourwork. EBay provided a cheap and cheerful all round set of 11 sizes from 1.5mm to 5mm, also in stainless steel.

So with needles sorted and no excuses with the camp sweater all done and off at camp - I began.

The first challenge for a left handed yarn handler like me, one who works with both yarns in the left hand was to fathom out how best to tension the yarns with a belt supporting the right needle. I decided the best thing was to knit a swatch.

I picked some yarn similar in weight to my pectoral yarns and began. At first I tried to carry both yarns in the right hand - and that produced interesting results, that is to say the tension of the foreground and background yarns was very very different. Long ago, before I converted to knitting with two yarns held in the left hand I had briefly tried to knit with a colour in each hand - and found it almost impossible to remember which colour went with which hand movement. The coordinated amongst you will laugh, probably out loud, but even when I could see the orange yarn was in eb left hand - my brain seemed to take an age to work out that it was the left hand, that one there that I had to move. So with the knitting belt I avoided working with a yarn in each hand - until nothing else worked and then eventually after consultation with knitting friends and Ravelry group who all asked 'if I had tried a yarn in each hand' I thought insipid revisit the technique.

I'm glad i did, and glad that others kept recommending I try - as this time, many years after my initial tries my eyes, hands, brain all seem to be better at working together. You might notice that the practice swatch begins with ropey tension and ends with much more even tension between the two yarn colours,

And so I begun my knitting belt project, a tubular cowl, designed by Wendy Johnson, the Leftovers Cowl in the real yarns (not that the other yarns were imaginary -- just they were not the ones selected for the project). So far so good, I'm eager to knit up all the brown and work the patterns in the various shades of pink. The pink yarn is Schopel Wolle Zauberball 100, in Villa Rosa, a single, and the blue is from the same manufacturer but applied yarn named Admiral in a lovely soft deep blue. The orange chain is my provisional cast on - all easy to be unzipped when the cowl is done and the two ends ready to be grafted together for a seamless join.

The project and details are listed on my Ravelry page, here, the Makkin Cowl. Makkin is, I am told, the Shetland name for a knitting belt, and also the practice of knitting with a belt.

Na Stella.



Rachelle said...

Where did you get your knitting belt? I'm wanting to try one, but am wondering if I'd be better off trying to make one myself.

Stell said...

I got mine when I was in Shetland in 2011, we found eight yarn shops and they all had them in stock. I suspect you can buy online, the nicest ones, were as always, the vintage used ones worn by local knitters.

Shirley Goodwin said...

Can you please explain what a knitting belt IS?