16 December 2013

A labour of love

I was hoping to have Johnathan's cotton cardigan finished for Christmas but it is not to be. I foolishly mis-read the pattern twice! and I had to unpick a sleeve when it was almost finished, twice. So now I'm doing a bit of cardigan knitting most days and since the cricket started, it's been what I pick up when I sit down to watch. What a pleasure it is to watch cricket, knit and snooze. Yesterday, when we were looking after Jamie, he and I had a sleep after lunch and at one point, I looked over at Hanno, who was also watching the cricket, and he was sleeping too. Life is slow and gentle here and it doesn't matter if we doze off. There was a time when I couldn't sleep in the day time, even if I wanted to, but now all I have to do is to sit down for a few minutes.

When I first started knitting I only knit during winter. Now it's an all-year pleasure. I particularly enjoy summer knitting because of the cricket and it allows me to plan what we need for the colder months to come. But no matter when I knit, it's a labour of love to sit quietly and wind cotton or wool around sticks and to create something unique for those I love.

I am lucky to have Eco Yarns as one of my sponsors and Vivian's organic cotton is the yarn I love to knit with the most. I'm using it for Johnathan's cardigan and finished a Miss Marple scarf for my friend Kathleen in late October. She travelled to the US to visit her family in November and said the scarf was ideal to wear with almost all her outfits. It's not hot or scratchy like some wools can be. A free pattern for the Miss Marple scarf is available on Ravelry. If you visit Eco Yarns, be sure to check out Vivian's blog, she often writes about the project she is working on.

Some people wonder about the logic and reason of knitting. They say it's slow, expensive and wonder why anyone would spend time on something you can buy in the shops. I guess people knit for different reasons, I knit because I love the slow progress of one stitch at a time. It's almost like a meditation. It slows me down and shows me, unreservedly, that beauty and value can be created slowly and mindfully. I also love giving things away and there is nothing better than giving a beautiful baby something warm, soft and organic.

This was my photography assistant yesterday.

I know it can be expensive to knit up a jacket or shawl and if you look at an acrylic jacket in the department store, you might wonder why you'd choose home knitting. Well, what you'll create will be from your heart, it will be unique and the quality will be far superior to the cheap imports. When you touch hand-knitted jumpers or socks, it's not line after line of rigid perfect knitting, it's a celebration of home production and individuality. If you can't afford to buy new wool, look around your thrift shops and see if there are any pure wool jumpers or cardigans there. If you can get hold of one that is bigger than the size you want, you'll be able to unravel it and use that wool. Wool is very long lasting and forgiving. It can be unravelled and re-knit many times - each time producing a one of a kind garment. You can do that with the wool you buy too. If you decide you don't like something you've knitted, undo it, wind it up into balls and rework the yarn in a pattern you love.

If you've never thought about knitting, maybe it's time to give it a go. You can learn how to knit by watching the many beginners videos on You Tube. You'll start off with "casting on", then learn plain, purl and cast off. Most knitting is a combination of those four processes. You'll probably start off feeling a bit clumsy but it gets easier the more you knit. Start with something easy like a scarf or fingerless mittens but be prepared to love the slowness of it as well as the things you make.

What's on your needles right now? What's your next project?

I think I can see myself knitting this for one of the babies in my life
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