Sunday, 10 January 2016

On Balance. . .

My week of chanting the mantra of "balance"seems to be working so far.  I am not imposing any stress on myself for trying to get things done by a specific deadline, just setting aside chunks of time for different projects, working my way through them in the time allotted, and then STOPPING so that they don't take over my life.  And looking back on what I've done in the last ten days, I feel pretty good about it all. 

Above are my various cast-on and cast-off swatches for my course.  I've had a lot of fun trying several new techniques, including the long-tail cast-on for the first time (I always thought it would be very fiddly, but it was incredibly easy), and the Channel Island cast-on. There are some good online tutorials here and here.  Many of the bind-off methods I was already familiar with, but a new one to me was Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn bind-off which I will definitely use again as I like the firm edge it creates.  I still have to write up my notes for this section, but I feel I've plunged right into the coursework and am getting very disciplined about it.

I also made time to knit another swatch for the Knit British Breeds swatch-along (and my eventual blanket).   This is Llanwenog wool and the pattern is called Rosemary Sprigs (a nod to delicious Welsh lamb) from Nicky Epstein's book Knitting Block by Block.  I've still to soak, wash and do the wear test on this, but it was a lovely yarn to knit with - very substantial and firm and as you can see, there is a lovely stitch definition.  An aran jumper would look fantastic in this wool.  This was also enormously fun to knit; you cast on 192 stitches and work in the round from the outside inwards.

I've also finished the front and back of a new jumper, Driscoll, knit in New Lanark DK, in these rich autumnal colours.  The company will have a booth at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival and I wanted to test out the yarn as it's very reasonably priced with a good palette of colours, and I'd love to find a good workhorse yarn in the UK, similar to the Cascade 220 I used back in Canada.  As the pattern is fairly straight-forward, I've limited my knitting time on this purely to when I'm watching TV or on my breaks at work.  Onto the sleeves now!

And with any luck, I'll be finished most of it before the next KAL over at the Knit British and Brityarn groups.  This is a challenge to knit a garment in time for a meet-up at the  Edinburgh Yarn Festival in mid-March.  It has to be knitted out of 100% British fibre and use at least three natural shades.  I spent most of the weekend dithering over what pattern to knit but have decided on Buchanan by Kate Davies from her wonderful Yokes book.

I did a quick swatch and think the design will really lend itself to the different shades in my stash. The main body colour will be in Blue-faced Leicester and the yoke will have some Swaledale, Manx Loaghtan and  Falklands Island wool in it.  The KAL starts on Thursday the 14th and I can't wait to cast-on.

I've also finished two books this week and even went to my first Zumba class at the gym. It also stayed dry enough at just the right times of the day to allow me to walk to work four times, something that I really enjoy as it helps clear my mind along with exercising the body.  I may even sneak a film in tonight as well.

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