Knitting: keeping me sane in strange times

Times are strange.  And scary.  There is an odd kind of stress associated with being hunkered down watching a calamity spread, simultaneously slow-slow-slow and incredibly fast and picking up speed.  We have been in isolation for nearly two weeks now.  In between learning how to work and teach remotely (not as easy as it sounds), I have been passing the time with knitting.  Quelle surprise!  As I’ve said on here before (like here and here), it grounds me.  (See also this post on mental health and knitting.)

I have started two projects this week.  Having finished my last project and not having any WIPs at hand (gasp!), I needed to quickly get some quarantine knitting on my needles.  If you remember, a few weeks ago (it seems like it happened in another world), Doug and I went to Unravel ( a knitting and yarn show in Farnham, near London), and I bought six skeins of Beyul DK from Kettle Yarns:

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I had in mind a project which I have wanted to knit since I first saw it in 2006, Hatcher by Julie Hoover:

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© Julie Hoover

This is proving to be the perfect yarn for this project.  It is crisp and shows off the cables perfectly, and it has a fantastic feel to it.  The yarn is a mix of Baby Yak, Silk, and Ethical SW Merino, and is such a springy, soft, glossy yarn.  I love it.  The colour is called “yurt” which really doesn’t do it justice.  It is a very urban, sophisticated shade, with bits of pewter and grey and taupe.  I am very happy with it and it is knitting up quickly:

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The second project should actually be classified as a “glimmer of a project” as it is still in a formative stage.  I have frequently gone back to look at the pattern Fragments Cowl by Trin-Annelie:

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© Trin-Annelie

I think the stitch pattern is totally cool and in the back of my mind I have been noodling around with the idea of using the stitch pattern from this cowl to knit a vest for Doug.  I can’t get to a yarn shop right now (for obvious reasons) and so I enlisted the help of Jen and Jim Arnall-Culliford.  I told Jen what I was thinking of doing, and that I wanted to do some swatching with Jamieson & Smith 2ply Jumper Weight yarn, which they carry in their online shop.  Despite being in isolation themselves (with kids), they jumped in to help.  Jen picked out a palette of shades which she thought might work, and arranged them in many different combinations of five and photographed them for me. She suggested that I might want to just order one each of eight shades and then do some swatching.  Jim managed to get the yarn packaged up and in the post for me.  Here is the palette:

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And I spent part of yesterday doing a preliminary swatch, mixing and matching parts of the stitch pattern with different shades to see how they work together:

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Why does the swatch have all of those ends hanging loose on the side?  Because I was swatching while knitting flat for a project in the round, using the technique whereby you cut the yarn at the end of each row, slide the knitting back to the other side of the circular needle, and attach new yarn for the next row.  When swatching this way, you will be knitting every row, rather than alternating knitting and purling rows, so that you will be able to get an accurate gauge for circular knitting without having to actually knit a huge swatch in the round.

I blocked the swatch last night, and after careful consideration, Doug and I decided….. that I needed to do some more swatching!  So stay tuned to this channel to see how the story progresses, as I try every conceivable permutation of colour and pattern.

I am also planning a third project to cast on.  I want to knit Koko by Olga Buraya-Kefelian:

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© Olga Buraya-Kefelian

When I was at Unravel, I almost bought some yarn to make this.  Luckily, I took a photo of the yarn.  I am still thinking about it, but am wavering towards yes.  

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I think that this green has such a cheery “pop” and combined with the navy and cream will look very nautical and spring-like.  What do you think?  Yes or no?

Please take care everyone.