Given the weather – cold and dark – and the whole staying isolated at home thing, you would think that I would be busy knitting like mad. Not so, I’m afraid. I’m not sure why that is, but I am feeling pretty drained from this year and working long hours for the day job, and I don’t seem to have much brain power left for anything else.
When I have managed to pick up the needles, it’s to knit a row or two (three if I’m lucky) on either of the two projects which are currently on the go. First up is the Ursula vest for Doug, which is looking very nice:
I’ve had trouble capturing the colours of this, but the photo above comes pretty close. It was sitting in a heap on this chair just as a beam of sunlight kissed it and the camera finally managed to capture it in an almost real life way.
I managed to get Doug to try it on while there was enough light to snap a photo, and I think the fit will be good. I am relieved about this, particularly since he won’t be able to try it on again once I’ve put in the steeks at the armholes.
I have also added a few inches to the Koko shawl. This is a very relaxing project that’s incredibly easy and intuitive to knit. I am taking my time with it, however; picking it up now and again as the spirit moves me. Much of the time, it’s just sitting on my lap, rather like a prop for a knitting blog photo.
That’s it. A lot of not knitting going on. I think I will sign off and go not knit some more.
I hadn’t intended to stop my Lockdown Flashback posts so suddenly, or to skip last weekend’s post. I have been drowning in work, however, and everything else has taken a back seat. I was supposed to be in Johannesburg the past two weeks, but since that is obviously not possible, I did all of my South African teaching while sitting in my study here in England.
News flash, Emma: Eight years after you left home, I have now taken over your room! It’s my study now! I spent a month teaching from the kitchen table while Doug taught from the study. It wasn’t working, and now we are teaching from adjacent studies. Sometimes while I am in a meeting, I can hear Doug teaching about electrencephalography from the next room. I’m thankful that we have enough space to do this. I have one colleague – with small children – who zooms into meetings from her bathroom as it’s the only peaceful place in her house.
Along with not writing the blog, I was also not knitting, not reading, not house cleaning, and not doing anything else. Thankfully, Doug is a good cook, and he’s been taking care of me. I can show you a bit of progress I’ve made on my Hatcher pullover since I last photographed it. I started off with a bang on this one, and I do think it would knit up in no time, if I had time to knit. It is a very enjoyable project, with beautifully written instructions. Here is the back, which only has about an inch to go before I do the shoulder shaping:
The pullover is knitted in the round up until you separate for the front and back, and then it is knitted back and forth. Here you can see the front:
I love the yarn (Kettle Yarn Beyul DK in Yurt) which is a mix of wool, yak, and silk, and had fantastic weight and depth and sheen. It really takes the cables beautifully. I am definitely going to use it again.
Doug and I have been socially isolated for over two months now. We are extremely fortunate – we are both still working, we live near open countryside, and so far, we are both healthy. The girls are well, too, although I wonder when we might be all together again. I can’t help but feel, however, that if one were to believe much of the narrative on the news and social media, that everyone is busy knitting up a storm, quilting, canning and preserving, refinishing furniture, painting the house, reading the works of Shakespeare, podcasting, learning to speak twelve languages, writing and directing a new cinematic masterpiece starring their children and filmed on their phone, magically gaining new editing skills on forty different platforms, and still having time to wash their hair and put on lipstick.
I find that this narrative of the lockdown is getting me down. (Not to mention the pandemic itself, which is very scary.) I feel like I’m just hanging on, and working hard. And all of my colleagues are reporting the same, so I know its not just me. Rumour has it that we are going to be working from home until at least next January, possible next Easter, so maybe there is still time for me to write a great novel, or perhaps just to clean my house.
I hope that you are all keeping safe and well. If you are knitting up a storm, please let me know and I will live vicariously!
The last flashback post was about a skirt that I knitted for Emma a good ten years ago. Let’s continue with that theme by looking at another skirt, also for Emma.
This was featured in the post “How to end your knitting year with a bang!“, published in January 2016. I had a lot of fun knitting this skirt, which incorporates a breezy, flirty ruffle, an even flirtier corseting feature which ties up through the back with a ribbon, and great shaping details. In this post, I talked about making this with a more affordable yarn, and also how I got a bit of lift into the ruffle. Looking at this post now, I am surprised at how green everything looked in the middle of January! I’m not surprised at how good the skirt looks, as it’s a great pattern and Emma is a great model.
I hope that you are all well and managing to keep it together. Stay safe!
Two things I’ve really noticed during this strange time, when so many of us are physically isolated and needing support, is the importance of community – including on-line communities – and the kind acts of strangers. Both of these things are evident in this very short post, called Totally knit-worthy from June 2014.
In it, Emma tells me of an encounter with a stranger who comments on the hand-knitted skirt she is wearing. I dare you to read it and not think “Wow, I love knitters!”
I have to giggle at this cartoon from First Dog on the Moon, entitled “Stuck at home I am starting to miss the things that used to annoy the hell out of me”, which appeared a few weeks ago in The Guardian. Here is one of the frames; go check out the rest! (I love First Dog on the Moon!)
Cartoon by First Dog on the Moon, published in The Guardian, April 1, 2020
This made me think of a post I wrote in May of 2016 called “Annoying things“. I published it on the second day of May (so almost exactly four years ago today) and I was very annoyed because it was cold out and my boiler was broken, and I decided to write a post about things that I find annoying. So, I present it to you here (follow the link) in a Lockdown Flashback, so we can look back with a sense of humour (hopefully) on how naive we seem in retrospect.
In light of events of the past few months, as first dog says, I would be happy to be annoyed by many of these things again, if it meant this was over. Except maybe mystery KALs – I still want to know what I’m knitting.
For this flashback, let’s go back to a post written in October 2013, called At least something got done around here. The title refers to my having finally finished the Viajante Shawl, designed by Martina Behm, and the post has lots of photos of the finished project.
I realise now that I wrote this post just two weeks after starting my Executive MBA programme (as a student). How long ago that seems now. Since then, I have finished the degree, become a faculty member at the business school, and spent a few years running the MBA programme. But this post takes me back to that time when I had just become an empty-nester, and when I was thinking about all of the studying that I should have been doing while writing a post instead! (Shh! Don’t tell my students!)
The Viajante Shawl is lovely, but has a strange shape and can be difficult to wear. This led to some fairly funny photos:
The shawl took a long time to knit, and I wrote quite a few posts about it at the time. You may want to check out this one, which is about winding all of that yarn by hand while on holiday in Lebanon, or this one, which shows Emma posing in the shawl on holiday in Sicily. Emma wears it with much more style than I ever could, so I gave the shawl to her. Unfortunately, it’s now in the bottom of a drawer waiting for me to mend a hole.
Best wishes to all. I hope that you are enjoying these blasts from the past. Let me know if you are tiring of them. Keep well!
I was speaking with Emma about how I was feeling under pressure to write a post, while at the same time distracted by a crazy amount of work. And she said “You need to use ‘Teeny, tiny hat’ as a Lockdown Flashback!” Maybe that is because the post starts with this diagramme:
Ha ha! It turns out that not only am I relating right now to that, but I am also really feeling the “head thunk” part of the post. Thank you, Emma, I’ll play along: This Lockdown Flashback takes us back to Teeny, tiny hat, written in February of 2016. The post shows what happens when you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing. In this case: a VERY small hat.
In case you are wondering, I re-knitted the hat and it came out beautifully. You can see it here.
I have been doing some experimenting with colours, knitting swatches of the same pattern in different combinations of colours (more on this in my next post). Thinking about how colours play against each other, and how different a colour can look depending on whether it is background or foreground, reminded me of this old post, Double feature, from April 2014.
In it I shared some photos which juxtaposed two very special colourwork projects which I had knitted, each using stranded knitting but in strikingly different graphic styles. I used the same yarn for both projects – yellow on purple for the Tolkien-inspired pillow and purple on yellow for the comic book inspired mitts. Links to both projects can be found in the linked post.
This photo makes me smile. I think I could use a little “Bam!” and some “Pow!” as well right about now.
Today I will flash back to a post entitled Why I knit, from August of 2014. This post shows off a gorgeous cardigan which I made for my daughter Leah. It turned out to be a lovely combination of pattern and yarn and personality, resulting in the perfect sweater for Leah.
When I look back at all of the garments I’ve knitted in the past decade or two (or three or four) this one stands out as one of those that just clicked. Everything about it made me happy. I hope that reading the post makes you happy too.
Living in lockdown is strange. Thinking about the future is scary. I hope that you are finding some solace in knitting, or in other creative pursuits. Take care of yourself!
These are very difficult and strange times for many of us, and in times like these we recognise the importance of being resilient. Thinking about resilience and knitting brought to mind a post I wrote in September 2017 titled Failure, resilience, and knitting. I think you might like it and so bring it to you today as a Lockdown Flashback.
That post had no photo associated with it. Since the Lockdown Flashback posts include a photo from the original post, I had to improvise. But, hey, I’m resilient that way. The above photo, of me sitting and knitting on a secluded stretch of beach in British Columbia, seems appropriate to this topic (it was included in the post called Holiday from May of 2019).
I also apologise for not posting yesterday. I tried to, but my internet was acting up and Doug made me a nice dinner, and I decided that being resilient also means posting when I want to.