When I was about 5 years old, my mother and I bought my father a set of hedge trimmers for his Christmas present so that he could better tame the privet hedges that surrounded our house. The child me was sworn to secrecy so as not to spoil the lovely Christmas morning surprise. My father, one Sunday in December, said I could accompany him to the newsagents to get the papers, and on the way he casually asked what we had got him for Christmas. “Its a surprise Daddy” I responded, “Mummy says not to tell you”. “Oh OK” my father chortled, “but can you give me a hint”. “Yes Daddy, you cut your hedges with them….”
And this sets the scene for why I’ve prioritised this post before an update about The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, or about fudgey adventures today. During my day out with my pals yesterday, I was asked what I had knitted during the week. “Its a secret” I said, but of course, in light of the story above, I can’t wait to disclose all the details, so here we are.
This may well seem of little significance to you all, dear Blog Readers, but I have created something that, despite being abandoned mid project, I am really proud of, which, when you’re me who has spent most of her life feeling inadequate and pretty useless at many things, is no mean feat.
When I met my chum HappyMouseFairy about 7 months ago now (time flies when you’re knitting), we very quickly established that she was a “thin knitter” preferring yarns to be 4 ply or less, and I was a “fat knitting” choosing yarns of DK or greater. In fact, DK was often a challenge for me! The difference between us, furthermore, was that HMF could use any weight of yarn she fancied. I honestly believed that I couldn’t. I did try to cast on some socks with a Zauberball that she kindly gifted me but don’t think I even managed to do one round before ripping it back and getting my 10mm needles and super chunky back out for some nice comfortable knitting. I did feel a little held back by this inability to handle anything finer than a really thick string size, but was grateful to be able to knit at all after 30 years of being unable to do even the basics.
And then HMF casted on and finished Peerie Flooers by our favourite designer, Kate Davies. Not only worked in 4 ply yarn, it was Fair Isle with the most elegant flowers depicted in a variety of tweedy colours. “Oh!” I gasped when I saw it, “I couldn’t do that…” and spent the rest of the evening feeling a little grumpy that I was restricted to big, fat, squishy, lovely cables and the like. I want delicate and I want fair isle. But I’ve only been knitting for about a year and surely I haven’t earned the right to be able to attempt such a lofty goal.
Then I was reminded of an author called Brian Tracy who wrote a book called “Reinvention”, which was possibly one of the only good things to come out of my business engagement with a new Channel Sales Director in my last job (the other thing being, err, resigning…). Anyway, Mr Tracy emphatically states that you are only held back by your beliefs about what you can do. So was it possible that I was capable of knitting with thin yarn, and achieving colourwork? Was it only my perception that I couldn’t that was making my prophecy self fulfil? Well, no one has ever died from trying something new in knitting (I don’t think) and so, in the secrecy of my lounge, late at night, and with the spirit of a pioneer in my heart, I made this:
And not only did I make a rather nice argyle fair isle, stranded part mitten, the blue yarn was sport weight, and the pink, I am sure – was 4 ply. Yes, I had broken the barrier that was firmly set at DK until now! I used 2.75mm and 3mm needles – that is at least 2mm and at most 12mm smaller than my usual choices! I didn’t particularly research how to do stranded knitting, bar a cursory glance at YouTube, and I used my rapidly growing knitterly instinct to get along – and get along I did because this was created in about 4 hours, which for me is incredibly speedy particularly given the practically cobweb weight of the yarn – OK, four ply but when you’re used to Super Chunky…
I cast off because I had struggled in joining the round neatly and had made a couple of mistakes, brought about, I believe, by staying up til 1.30am in my excitement at the ground breaking knitting that was going on. So I cast off but have kept the half-mitt as testimony to the fact that I did it. I’m fine with that, the achievement here was not generating a pair of fingerless mitts for my mum (which remains to be done!) but was in that I tore up and stomped upon my own self-limiting beliefs that I couldn’t do something, and I went out and proved that I could.
I’m really proud of myself and am hugely excited by all the knitting goodness that this discovery has opened up to me.
And what’s more – at Ally Pally yesterday I really wanted to buy some Shilisdair 4 ply, 50g in lovely variegated purples and 50g of black, to start again with the argyle mittens. But, in the fear that this would give away my little secret in the same way that an innocuous hint like “You cut your hedges with them…” did, I held back and allowed only a purchase of some rather more innocent and less suspicious light DK.
So Happymousefairy, you ain’t the only thin knitter in the house no more. Yay!