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Friday, 6 September 2013

KNITTING - my selfish year

Last year I decided that I wanted to take a selfish knitting sabbatical - a 'holiday' from knitting for everybody else in order to knit exclusively for myself for a whole year. You may think that this sounds like a great idea - the opportunity to knit all of the patterns that you've been pouring over and putting in your Ravelry queue and tagging hopefully - 'one day'; using up vast quantities of stash yarn on garment-sized projects because you actually have the time to indulge in a 'big' knit; not feeling obliged to knit absolutely EVERYBODY you know something for each and every Christmas and birthday because you are the knitter in their life, and they have come to expect it.

Or you may think that selfish knitting is a contradictory term - the antithesis of what it means to be a knitter. That somewhere inside every knitter is a giver, so that the act of creating something is somehow intrinsically connected to the act of giving. It sounds a little deep, but this is the truth that I have discovered during my 'Selfish Year'. I knit because I love my craft, and I love to wear the things that I create. But, I also knit as an act of selflessness - to gift my knitting to the people I love as a physical demonstration of just how much they mean to me. I'm completely sure that you feel the same way.

During this year of indulgence, I have so far completed 4 cardigans for myself as well as shawls, socks and other accessories. Two of these cardigans are in CEY yarns - my Larch Cardigan in Fresco and my Featherweight Cardigan in Firefly - 2 very different yarns in terms of fibre content, but both equally beautiful in their own way.

Larch by Amy Christoffers is available as a download for purchase on Ravelry at a cost of $7 (around £4.60). I had long been in love with the classic styling and immense wearability of this cardigan and decided on using CEY Fresco in colour 'regatta' to make a versatile but still luxurious feeling garment. The yarn is a sportweight blend of wool, alpaca and angora (50grms has 164yrds) with a slight halo and a beautifully soft hand which knitted up very evenly with good stitch definition on the raised stitches section around the collar. Knitted in one piece to the armholes, I enjoyed the minimal seaming for the main part, although I actually find that set in sleeves are more flattering to my body shape (which this pattern has) and so this was the perfect combination.

My other cardigan success of the year is the Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig (available as a Ravelry download for $5.95/ £3.92). As any of you who are regular Ravelry users will know, this pattern has rarely been off the 'Hot Right Now' board and looks to remain there for some time to come. I guess that the true success of this pattern is that it is so adaptable - Hannah has written the pattern for either lace or fingering weight yarn but there have been many many substitutions of different weights and yarn types too. Knitted from the top down with raglan sleeves, this garment is so easy to adjust to fit your shape as you knit it - you are completely in control of choosing long or short sleeves, adding length or cropping it, making it more or less fitted - it is a pattern formula for the perfect cardigan!

My choice of yarn was CEY Firefly - a lovely light summer yarn in a blend of rayon and linen in colour 'linum'. I confess that I don't usually choose seasonal yarns but as we have actually had a summer here in the UK this year, I decided to give this a go. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed knitting with it - the hand is cool which makes knitting so much easier when the weather is warm, and the knitted fabric produces a lovely drape with a subtle sheen. I used just 7 skeins (a 50gm skein has 155yrds), which considering I lengthened the body by 3' and extended the collar by an inch I thought to be a great value.

I'm feeling very pleased with my haul of handknits this year - and I'm planning to knit a few more before my year of selfish knitting comes to an end. I have some more Fresco to knit a sweater in colour 'celadon' - this time a CEY pattern called Flurry from the 'Snow Angels' booklet, some Quince & Co 'Lark' to knit a 'Chickadee' by Ysolda Teague, a sweaters worth of Jamieson and Smith to knit Kate Davies Ursula Cardigan, a couple of the new MillaMia adult garments in some of our brand new colours,  5 skeins of John Arbon Viola to knit a . . . well, I haven't quite decided what I'll make with that. Yet.

As for how successful my year of 'selfish knitting' has been, well, if it can be measured in terms of quantities of garments then it would seem to be a success. On the other hand, I haven't managed to knit exclusively for myself at all. As you will have seen by my posts here and my Ravelry page, I have knitted for new babies and gifts for Easter, I've knitted socks and scarves and cushions and hats - none of which were for me! And, as the summer settles into Autumn, we all know what is just around the corner . . . yes, winter is coming and I have teenagers who have requested sweaters for Christmas :)

You can find all of the gorgeous yarn and patterns on Classic Elite Yarns website with a list of places to purchase their products here. Unfortunately there are no stockists of these lovely yarns here in the UK, although Loop do carry some of the pattern booklets. Webs ship internationally and stock a vast range of CEY yarn but do be aware that shipping costs can sometimes be expensive and you may also incur customs charges.
(posted by Max)

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