Using a chart makes knitting so much easier! Once you've got the symbols sorted in your head, you really do fly along each pattern line. Yes, you'll be knitting slower to begin with, but all of a sudden, it becomes second nature. I've been very hesitant about following charts, but all the things I want to make require this skill, so it was time to be brave. Start with something fairly simple, and within no time, you'll wonder why you were fearful.
Pattern safes / chart readers are a must! The more complicated the pattern, the more likely it is that you'll lose your place, or inadvertently repeat the wrong line. I've been struggling to keep my place by balancing a piece of paper under each relevant line, but that's fiddly, particularly when you're also working with multiple balls of yarn, or, like me, enjoy knitting in the car. I've been told that Post-Its work quite well, but their stickiness diminishes rapidly if you're placing and re-placing the square every few minutes. The answer is quite simple: pattern safes / chart readers. In essence, they're like bookmarks, held in place by a couple of magnets - and these ones, by Fripperies & Bibelots, are just perfect.
This is my latest project (the photo, the scarf and the design all belong to Kieran Foley, whose work I've admired for a long time). I downloaded the pattern and bought the yarn over a year ago, but didn't feel that confident about starting the work as it required the use of a few skills that I didn't yet have - stranding, M1R / M1L and working from a chart being just three.
One year down the line and I knew the time had come to just dive in (if you'll pardon the pun). Fortunately, I made a test swatch - something I'm normally loathe to do - and I messed it up completely as the yarns became twisted and very messy at the back. So I ripped it all out, kept the blue yarn on my right, the biscuit on my left, used English style knitting on my right, Continental style on my left, and it's all coming along a treat! The undulation is developing beautifully, and the back is now mercifully tidy; three pattern repeats now done, only 17 to go.
I'm so glad that I decided to start this, as stranding and Fair Isle are two techniques that I really want to employ in my work. It's no secret that I've long been a fan of Kaffe Fassett, and if I'm ever going to be able to produce work as colourful as his, then both techniques are going to be essential.
I'll take some photos of my progress this afternoon, and put them up on Ravelry. And I think I'm going to start dreaming of the other colourways that I can use to make this scarf; a graduated one in purples and blues would be lovely, with a dark grey background/border: mmmmm!
Just a few of my finished objects. These are lightweight scarves - the top ones have been knitted using bamboo and utilise a number of different stitches; the lower ones are feather-and-fan / Old Shale and fishtail lace, using Colinette's Banyan yarn.
Here's my latest spinning project; a purple merino and silk mix. The darker colour is a purple merino and silk blend from Wingham, and I've plied it with a hyacinth coloured merino that I bought on eBay. I started this last week at Talybont show, and finished it this afternoon; all I need to do now is set the ply, and it'll be ready for knitting. It's incredibly soft, as you'd expect, and it's made a lovely variegated yarn - I hope it knits up nicely.