How to make a long flight bearable: the knitter’s solution


In the past five days, I have flown from London to Johannesburg and back again!  That is a seriously long way to fly for such a short period of time.  I was there on business (to teach a workshop) and so can’t even give you many impressions of the city; I had no time for sight-seeing.  I can tell you that everyone I met was super-friendly and that the students I taught were amazing – so dedicated and optimistic and smart!


I approached the flight as any knitter would: what project would make the best airplane knitting?  I had finished up all the projects I had been working on so needed to find something new.  It had to be lightweight, take up no room in my handbag, and be fairly monotonous and repetitive.  There was one obvious choice.


Last year, I bought a dozen balls of Rowan Kidsilk Eclipse in the colour Virgo, just after it was discontinued.  I used five balls to knit my Gossamer pullover, but put seven balls away with the intention of knitting another Reversible Cabled-Rib Shawl.  I knit one years ago, in a vibrant grass-green, and it remains one of the favorite things I have ever knit.  You can see it in this post, where my enthusiasm for the project is hard to miss.


This shawl will be gorgeous in the Eclipse!  It knits up incredibly sheer, with lovely texture and movement.  The pattern was designed by Lily Chin for the Winter 1999/2000 edition of Vogue Knitting.  It has since been published in many anthologies of Vogue Knitting patterns and can also be purchased on Ravelry (link).  The green one took me over 18 months to knit!!!!  Not, I might add, because it is difficult, but because it is a boring and monotonous knit and kept getting put aside for more exciting projects.  I can say with absolute authority, however, that this shawl is worth every minute of knitting time.

I can also say, that with 4 more trips to Johannesburg planned this year, I am likely to finish this one in less time!  I have a good 18 inches done (unblocked), which means I have one-quarter of the shawl already knit.



And now, I think, I deserve a nap!

When to put your knitting down

I have been a little obsessed lately with the Rowan Kidsilk Eclipse yarn I bought up in a pale, shimmery gold shade called Virgo.  It knits up into a barely there, transparent fabric that is fluid and molten.


For months, I have spent most of my weekends and evenings studying for the MBA.  This leaves little time for knitting and other relaxing things.  Last weekend, I downloaded an audiobook I had been waiting impatiently for, and spent a day in utter, decadent luxury – sitting in bed, listening to my book and knitting away.

I am knitting a sweater in piece work; knitting bottom-up, flat.  I realize that most of my sweaters the last few years have been knit in-the-round, which means I try them on frequently and know that they fit.  Last weekend, my book was great, I was in the zone, and I kept knitting up the back piece of the sweater, merrily making waist decreases till I hit the waist, and then increases up to the armhole. I am not really following a pattern and was mostly operating on auto-pilot.  At some point, I took a small break, stretched the piece out to admire it, and realized that it looked small.  Really small.  Not going to fit me small.

I spent at least an hour taking measurements – measurements of me, of the piece, of nearly every sweater that I owned – then I tried on nearly every sweater that I owned, re-measured everything, and concluded that, sadly, I needed to rip.  I had cast on enough stitches, but had added too many paired decreases, at too sharp a slope.  I needed to rip out 11″ of knitting.

Well, it goes without saying that ripping is sad.  It is frustrating.  It is discouraging.  Anyone who has ever ripped out mohair will know – it is also a royal pain.  Ripping out lace-weight mohair that is plied with a metallic thread – not nice.


I ripped and ripped, sighed a bit, put the stitches back on the needles, put my headphones back on, and began once again to knit.  I knit six inches, and had finished my third pair of decreases when I stopped for a minute to count my stitches.  It is easy to lose a stitch with laceweight mohair – its always best to count occasionally.  I found, however, that I had too many stitches.  Twelve too many stitches; how could this be?  Smart readers may have already figured it out – I made three sets of paired increases instead of decreases!

Aarrgghh!  I had to rip out another six inches!  I don’t know whether it was the book, which I could NOT stop listening to, or the yarn, which was hypnotizing me.  Probably both.  But the result was hours of wasted knitting, copious amounts of ripping, and the killer – a flare-up of my repetitive stress problems.  (I have deQuervaine’s tenosynovitis; which I blogged about here.)  I had to forego knitting for the next five days to try to settle it down, and will have to take it easy for a while to keep it under control.

The moral of the story:  Do not be seduced by great yarn and a great book;  Know when to put your knitting down!

Spring Projects

Yesterday was a gorgeous day; the kind of day that said “Spring is here!”  The sun was shining.  There were lambs in the fields.  The outdoor cafes were filled with happy people.  And I got spring yarn in the mail!


This is the yarn that I special ordered weeks ago, in the cold bite of winter, anticipating spring kntting.  It is Merino Silk Fingering by The Uncommon Thread, a blend of 50% wool and 50% silk in the shade called Citrus.  It is mouth-wateringly yummy, sunshine-y and zesty.  It makes me happy.


A few posts ago I was lamenting the fact that I had nothing on my needles; I was on the prowl for some new projects.  Now I have three projects for spring.  Yesterday, Doug photographed all my new yarn just for you.  See how gorgeous and rich the orange is in the sunshine?  The secret is that the wool and the silk take up the dye differently, giving amazing depth to the colour.  And look at the beautiful Rowan Kidsilk Eclipse – I love how sometimes you can see the metallic sparkle and sometimes you can’t.  See the hint of sparkle in the above photo?


And here they are mixing with the heathery grey of the Brooklyn Tweed Loft.  Three pretty yarns, three spring sweaters (all for me)!  So what am I making?  The Loft will be Escher – a lovely lightweight geometric cardigan designed by Alexis Winslow for Brooklyn Tweed.  I am knitting it in the same lovely shades of grey  (such a shame this beautiful phrase has been co-opted) as the pattern photo:

© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

I love the above photo; it makes this cardi look so light, soft, cozy and stylish.

I ordered the orange yarn specifically to make Aisance, a beautiful spring cardigan designed by Kirsten Johnstone:

© Carrie Bostick Hoge

© Carrie Bostick Hoge

© Carrie Bostick Hoge

© Carrie Bostick Hoge

I love the idea of knitting this in a bright pop of juicy orange.  The silk blend will give it drape and swing and fluidity.  It’s the perfect cardigan to wear with a pretty summer dress.

What about the Rowan Eclipse?   I’ve been busy this week, knitting away:


I am pretty captivated with the yarn which literally knits up light as air.  It is a chameleon, changing in every light.


But what will it be?  Shhh….it’s a secret!