Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Five Year Anniversaries. . .

This week marks five years since moving to the U.K.   I can't believe how quickly the time has flown, or how much has happened to me over the years.   I can say, without any hesitation, that moving was one of the best decisions I've ever made.  Yes, I definitely miss friends and family back in Canada and in many ways in terms of day to day activities that we often take for granted, Canada just works better as a country to live in (don't get me started on U.K. banks or U.K. politics).  I certainly still get homesick for the strangest things and miss that feeling of just being a Canadian. Hard to explain but I know my fellow Canuck ex-pats will understand.

But I feel really settled in my new home. I initially moved to be with the Liverpud and we're still together, still having tons of laughs, and still planning and enjoying the ongoing adventure. This island remains one of the best places in the world to be a walker and I continue to be awed at the infrastructure available for hikers and the amazing and beautifully varied countryside and coastlines open to all. I have a good, non-stressful job that I enjoy and which allows me to work part-time -  a complete switch in the life-work balance game -  something I feel so profoundly grateful for. I've made some really good friends, I have good neighbours, I actually know my neighbours (never did in a busy city like Toronto), and it's been wonderful to have a proper backyard and to indulge in some amateur gardening (haven't had one since I was a kid). I planted some lettuces this weekend - never thought I'd ever do that.  And of course, I now feel really connected to the British knitting and wool community and have met so many amazing people from all over the U.K. through Ravelry, at wool shows, at knit and natters and on social media. It's a fabulous community and through it, I'm even going to be visiting the Shetland Islands later this summer with seven fabulous knitters.

But I'm not the only one celebrating a 5th anniversary.  Pom Pom Magazine is also 5 years old.  I've been subscribing since Issue 6 and they just published their 21st.  I've loved them all;  it's so encouraging  to see a print journal be successful, but they've really found the perfect blend of original indie designs, interesting articles, and a good recipe or two. It's also filled with beautiful photography and design elements.  I think they've been the perfect model for other really creative and beautiful magazines now publishing such as Laine or Making. I was never a fan of self-publishing in the book world but there's a lovely revival going on in crafting that I can certainly get behind and love to support.

I knew I wanted to knit something out of this anniversary edition and since one of my favourite yarns - Baa Ram Ewe's Titus 4ply -  is also celebrating its 5th anniversary, it seemed only right to cast on and combine the two.

I chose Jamboree designed by Francesca Hughes. Her original version shown below is knit in lace weight but it was a bit too wispy and see-through for my liking.  Knitting it in 4ply created a much firmer texture but the alpaca and BFL in the Titus still keeps it soft. 

The garment is knit sideways so it's very easy to work out the width that you want.  Unfortunately, in my eagerness to cast on, I didn't swatch so didn't really pay attention to the length.  Thus when I'd joined the shoulders, it was far too short. 

I nearly despaired at this point.  I didn't want to rip it out and start again and I was so in love with the look and the feel of the top. The arm holes were already finished nicely because they incorporated the cast on and bind off so it was easy to go for a sleeveless option.  But what to do about the hem?

I tried various forms of ribbing and mesh but nothing seemed to look just right. Originally I was knitting it in the dark grey and it just emphasized the mistake in length.  It was only when I switched to the blue and made a mistake doing a twisted rib (instead of twisting both the knit and purl stitches, I was only twisting the knit ones), that I felt it was going to work. The more circular-looking rib stitches tied in to the overall pattern and I was finally happy with the look.  I decided to knit a split hem.

I then finished off the neckline with a few rows of simple garter stitch, decreasing stitches evenly around to pull the neckline in.

And here is the final top - I am so glad I didn't give up on this. I love the colours, the texture and the hem.  It's a nice - if warm - summer top and I can also wear it over long sleeves in the winter.

And if you want to hear more about why I love Titus 4ply so much, check out Episode 85 of the Knit British podcast.   Apologies if I accidentally blast your ear drums - I do get very excited - and loud -  when talking about wool!

Happy Anniversary to all of us!


Katherine said...

What a lovely post, Maylin! Congratulations on your 5 year anniversary, and on the gorgeous sweater. It's such a lovely piece. And thanks for sharing your thoughts on moving, five years in ... I read them with a lot of interestsince I'll soon be in a similar boat!

Blithe Spirit said...

Thanks Katherine - it's always tough moving, whether to another city or country and it takes a while to get settled. Having a knitting community really helps though - I found a knitting group from ravelry that met not far from where I lived and that really helped with getting to know the city and making new friends.

Beth Theis said...

Congratulations1 So great to hear your voice on the Knit British podcast - you've added Saltaire to my list of UK places to visit, net time I go. Love your enthusiasm.

Blithe Spirit said...

Thanks so much Beth for your kind words. Saltaire really is worth a visit - the whole town was built by Titus Salt, not only the mill, but the workers' houses, the church, the village hall and the library and it's all still there. The only thing he wouldn't build is a pub but there are ones there now including one called Don't Tell Titus.

Anonymous said...

I really love what you've done with this sweater, Maylin; it is smashing! And congratulations on the milestone.