I've been seriously knitting now for the past 6 years, designing and writing patterns for the last 18 months. When I first started knitting I went on some knitting workshops at Rowan's HQ in Holmfirth, but lately I am teaching myself as I work through this myriad of knitting techniques and garment construction.
The tip for me is to challenge myself to knit or learn something new each week, every time I pick up my needles to cast on their needs to be a challenge in their somewhere. That's why for the last few weeks I have been so busy knitting my very first FairIsle sweater.
A friend of mine asked me last Spring if I would knit this sweater for him. He had fallen in love with the design whilst visiting Reykjavík some 7 years previously, walked in to a local yarn store, bought the pattern and yarn and then came home with it with no knowledge of how to get it knitted in to his beloved garment. Hence why I got asked.
Normally I don't take commissions where I haven't designed the pattern, but this was an exception. I checked the pattern over and it had all the ingredients for a challenge. Sleeves were knitted on DPN's and at the time I had knitted only a couple of pair of socks on DPN's so I knew my technique needed some improvements. I had never knitted a whole garment in the round, joining the sleeves on to the main body and then working a "yoke" were all new concepts for me. My FairIsle skills were limited to tea cosies, mug cosies and a few cushions so spending time perfecting FairIsle whilst getting a professional finish to my work both outside and in was important. The only sewing up that was needed was "grafting" underneath the arm holes. That dreaded Kitchenor stitch that I had learnt whilst knitting socks. It couldn't be too bad could it?
Pattern is RIDDARI from LOPI 28 knitted in Lett-Lopi 50 gram balls
The truth ......... It was fairly easy but a little boring. The main body of the sweater where I was just knitting round and round and round really got to me and I couldn't wait for the exciting bit where I could join on the sleeves and do some more fairisle work..... oh wait , I need to knit both sleeves first. Then the fairisle work, pretty interesting and I loved seeing how the decreases were worked in to the pattern, but the rounds were so long !
Did I learn anything?
Perserve with the boring bits, it's so worth it!
The rolled up edging on both the cast on and cast off edges is a superb little trick, which I'm sure I will be using in a new design.
Concentrate on the Kitchenor stitch and throw away the instruction used in your knitted socks. Look at the knitting and work out where the needle needs to go. I tried a few times and got there in the end. Looks lovely now.
If you wish to learn a new technique yourself then why not take a look at The All Free Knitting Web site. Plenty of opportunities to pick up a free pattern and challenge yourself in the process.
Learn how to knit socks using DPN's here.