A Tale Of Two Knitties (Sorry)

Well, it’s quiet here, so if there’s anyone reading I shall make a small and almost imperceptible wave of shy thanks.

Joy and creativity have been a tad sparse on the ground of late because I have been suffering a few health challenges this new year. I shall not go into detail as it is not very interesting and recounting it actually upsets me a tad, but I’ve had to step back from a few things that were detrimental to my health for a while and have been instructed to take some time off of work.

I thought that maybe I would be able to re-set myself in this time, to try to re-kindle those small embers of what I felt I had let fade, but it has been incredibly hard. I can’t seem to think or operate properly, perhaps because my mind is still busy sorting through everything that has passed and it will take time to clear the room in my head to let the ‘me’ things back in. Due to this my creativity has ebbed and my hands have remained idle. I have not been able to read, or watch TV – it’s like nothing has quite sunk in. Things are eased somewhat when Mr Awesome returns at the end of the day and I feel as if I am being loved and protected from the world, but I am having trouble with trying to regain the sense of calm self-understanding.

This all sounds quite negative, but I think it is sometimes part of the healing process, and yesterday I had a bit of a breakthrough. Jen of Jen A-C Knitwear had recently blogged about a sweater that she had fallen out of love with during the knitting. It was yellow, it had stripes and a kangaroo pocket, and looked to me to be all sunshine and happiness. There were a few elements of the sweater that she was unsure about and this brought about a reluctance to finish it, despite only being a sleeve and a half away from completion. Part of the inertia seemed to be driven by the uncertainty that Jen would wear and enjoy it. Ever helpful I spurred her along by very selflessly naming myself as a definite wearer of stripey yellow things should she not re-kindle the romance with the jumper of sunshine. In the end, though, Jen did not feel she had retained enough love for yellow stripes to finish, and actually asked me if I would like to finish knitting the jumper, if I’d wear it.

Duh.

Sometimes, when life is challenging, every finishing line seems to be so far away as to be out of sight, and it is never more distant than at the outset. There can be a reluctance to start anything as with it comes the feeling (which feels almost assured when the world seems to be pitting its wits against you) that you will fail. But what if life could just drop you into that journey with the goal in plain sight?

So it is with this jumper. It would have been a mountain taller than I could dare to start with even a foot on the path to begin such a project, but the Jen A-C Helicopter of awesome (which is bright yellow) has dropped me with the summit in sight with a packed lunch for energy.

Somewhat surprisingly, the sweater Jen was working on is knit in 6 finely graded shades of yellow. From what I can tell the top starts with the extremes of shade (darkest and lightest) and moves through to the mid tones near the hemline, where the stripes blend closer together. I’ve studied the shades closely and the points at which they subtly change, and I have knit the second sleeve to the point where Jen left off the first sleeve to make sure that everything remains equal and closely matched. Now I have two half sleeves to finish, and that doesn’t seem like too strenuous a hike. It seems achievable, and it’s the first thing in a very long time that I can say that about.


Obviously Jen is very special and dear to me. She has been a kind and generous faraway friend throughout some great difficulties in my life, and is one of the people who I owe a great deal to for their support through a difficult period in the past. She is talented, and inspiring and wise. And she has awesome knitted things.

She has recently written a couple of posts about the yellow jumper above, and in the most recent: Letting Go, she has also decided to let go of something else: 4 skeins of 100% brushed suri alpaca from Frog Tree yarn and the Lingering Doubts shawl pattern to go with it. It looks beautiful, and would make someone very happy. If you think that person might be you, pop along to the blog post Letting Go and a Giveaway and leave a comment on Jen’s blog that will make her happy. The details are in the post, it is open worldwide and you have just under two weeks to help spread some happiness in the comments.

Narwhal & Whale: A Duo Of Ocean Friends To Knit

A pattern for two new ocean friends is available to download from today, for anyone wanting to cuddle a narwhal or snuggle up to a whale.
The Whale and Narwhal are knit to the same body plan, the pattern beginning at the head and moving down the body in a single piece to the pleasing flukes of the tail.

Only the flippers and narwhal’s tusk are added after the main body is complete, meaning that there is very minimal sewing involved, making this an un-fiddly, high reward project. And you get a narwhal and whale to play with, and surely that’s all the convincing you need?
The samples are both knit in Sublime’s Lustrous Extra Fine Merino DK yarn on 3.5mm needles, and resulted in a Narwhal that measures 30cm (12″) from tusk to tail, but this pair of sea-dwelling friends can be knit from any smooth (non-‘novelty’) yarn  of any weight; a bulkier yarn will result in a larger friend and fine yarns will result in a more pocket-sized companion. It’s recommended that needles 1-2 sizes smaller than those recommended for the yarn are used to produce a dense knitted fabric that the stuffing will not show through. Because of the flexibility of the pattern in this respect, this is a great stash-buster for using up those odd skeins and balls of yarn that you are unsure of what to do with.

Tips are given as to different types of eyes that can be used (whether you are using beads, embroidered eyes, felt eyes (as in the sample) or ‘safety’ eyes, and their best application). Placement for all features is also provided as a guide.

The downloadable patterns for both the whale and the narwhal are included in a single, easy to follow PDF.

NOTE: Due to changes in VAT laws in the EU, EU pattern sales are now being processed through Ravelry & Loveknitting partnership. The checkout process remains the same.

Yarn weight: Any (designed for any gauge, sample is knit in DK weight yarn)
Gauge:Any (designed for any gauge, sample has gauge of 24sts per 10cm/4″)
Needle size:Use needles 1-2 sizes smaller than those recommended for yarn (sample is knit with 3.5mm needles)
Yardage: 80-90yards (75-80m) used for sample size
Sizes available: Dependant on yarn choice. Sample narwhal is 30cm,/12″ from tusk to tail.
Price: $4.50 add to cart or buy it now

Many thanks and happy knitting!

I’m Cutting Out A Few Of My Favourite Things

So the season of festivities has jollied many of us along and dumped us shivering into the cold and grey reality of January. Too many mince pies and an over-reliance on the comforts of rich, roasted dinners has left many an uncomfortable belt where once a trim waistline used to reside, so many people will be thinking of cutting a few of their favourite things out as part of their new resolution.

I have also decided to cut out a few of my favourite things; but these won’t be crisps and chocolates that I eschew – it will be my most favourite things in life (not including those precious to me and my dear Giantmonk). And when I say I am going to ‘cut them out’ I don’t mean that I am going to avoid them, I mean I am going to literally cut them out (of paper), and knit them, and draw them, and make them from clay and craft them in a huge number of other ways.
Narwhals are among my most favourite things, and perhaps the inspiration behind this idea.

I was thinking of experimenting with designing simple papercuts and card toppers for a bit of paper-crafting, ready for the next wave of birthdays and weddings, and to try to get me back in the creative mood. Thinking of what to start with the things that usually first to spring to mind are, understandably, the things that make me happy, and cue the narwhals.

After creating this little pod* of narwhals and reflecting on how happy they made me, I decided that the subjects of the things that I make should indeed bring me joy, and so I jotted a short list of my most favourite things. This list may change, get longer or shorter in time, but for now it is a little reminder of the things that make me happy, and I’m going to try to create a few projects based on the items, ideas or stories in that list throughout the year.

Another of the Favourite Things list items is lighthouses. I have always loved the idea of lighthouses, from the lighthouse inhabited by the old lighthouse keeper and Sprocket in Fraggle Rock** to the one where my husband and I walked to in the pouring rain on our first date in Whitley Bay, and therefore they have a special place in my heart as a protective and caring source of light and hope.

I decided to make a birthday card with a lighthouse theme. I have enjoyed experimenting with the idea of using the negative space to cut a recognisable design from a contiguous single layer of card, placed over a contrasting colour to provide the image. It’s a challenge that sparks the need to approach the idea of shape and design, but it’s also a lot of fun with a cup of tea nearby and Illustrator beaming out from the laptop in front.

These are really only the very first of my experiments, so I am sure that I will find new ways of putting ideas into action as I work a bit more with paper and card as materials, but at the moment it has provided the first little flutter of inspiration after the creative drought.

I’m really happy with the finished card, perhaps to the point that I don’t actually want to give it away, but I know that I can cut it again, without the sentiment, and frame it if I ever wanted (or could find room for) a bit of extra art on the wall.

And now I have many more of my favourite things to experiment with design and creation, which will hopefully bring about further ideas and exciting projects.

Oh, and when I said I wasn’t going to cut out Giantmonk? It was a bit of a fib.

*When checking I had the collective noun right, Google also suggests that a ‘blessing’ of narwhals is acceptable – though the validity of origin seems a little hazy, it seems to be in common enough use to now be in usage. I’d head of a ‘blessing’ of unicorns (which also make it onto ‘the list’) before now, and as the obvious sea-cousins of the unicorns, perhaps this is where the similarity in collective noun has been made.

**In case this confuses any U.S. readers, though Sprocket in your version of the series lived in a workshop with an inventor, and in various other locations around the world, here in the U.K. they were based in a lighthouse above ‘Fraggle Rock’.