This is what I achieved last weekend.
Finishing the back of my Ribby Cardi. Good old stoic Ribby. It only gets used as an interim knit — picked up and worked on in between the snappy thrilling jazzy knits I can’t resist (more on that below) — and yet keeps on giving and giving. The material is cosy and firm and satisfying, the colours are blue hues that I love, it’s going to be so warm and, with a spot of luck, even a little bit flattering. It’s also so speedy when I actually get going. This back piece was cast-on before Christmas, ignored for several weeks, and then finished last weekend. The whole project was started more than two months ago and you’d really expect me to be wearing the finished item with pride by now. But no, sleeves and back is where it’s at.
Wouldn’t it have been handy to have a snug-fitting super-warm wool cardigan to wear when it snowed this week and London broke down? Yeah. Never mind. Ribby will keep rolling along slowly, a cast-on here and an inch there, and I’ll probably have it finished just in time for spring. No worries, I think it’ll reward me next winter nonetheless.
So this is the other thing I did at the weekend.
Ohhh fair isle. I have crossed that line and I’ll never go back. And god bless you, Eunny Jang, for your enticing and encouraging endpaper mitts.
I didn’t go for fair isle when I first started knitting again two years ago and I skipped that chapter in Stitch’n’Bitch. Stripes were the limit of any colourwork I was prepared to do. Intarsia was daunting enough, but fair isle quietly scared the crap out of me. So I established that I loved to do stitch patterns instead (which I do), and pretended that fair isle didn’t exist. Unfortunately it kept on silently gnawing at me that I’d let a knitting technique defeat me without even trying it. I consoled myself, though, by saying that I’d never seen a fair isle pattern I truly wanted to knit.
Enter the mitts. Small enough to lure me in, useful enough to make me want them (did I tell you I lost one of my fingerless gloves from last year, just before Christmas? le sigh), pretty enough to make me covet them. And, as it turns out, simple enough for me to make them.
I spent two hours last Saturday locked in deep concentration. I had to face the main reason that I’d put off fair isle for so long — I didn’t know how to knit continental style, and I’d thought I never wanted to learn. Wrong, wrong, wrong. So I took the plunge, took one colour yarn in my right hand and the other in my left, and away I went. And actually, it wasn’t that bad. With a few hours practice I can now do it almost fluently (albeit still quite slowly, but these mitts are so teeny that one round only takes a few minutes). Doing the knitting continental style in my left hand was decidedly weird (I had to learn to knit. But I already know how to knit. Argh, etc.) but not as terrifying or awkward as I’d feared. Sure, for the first few hours I couldn’t grasp the yarn properly like I do instinctively with my right hand. But I remembered back to when I learnt how to knit the English way, and also remembered the glee I felt when I finally got proper tension, and persevered. And lo and behold, now I can knit continental*, and fair isle is no longer the dark art it once was.
* I say I can knit continental. This is no lie. Purling continental, however, remains slightly beyond me. Not, I hope, for long.