When I first got the Quintessential Cardigan pattern in my hands, and I had a read though the beginning sections, a set of instructions jumped out at me, almost right away, that set my heart racing and filled me with dread.
It was a very intense looking SPECIAL TECHNIQUE disclaimer and instruction - the technique itself goes on to take up a quarter page of explanation on the following page.
The brand-new-to-me special technique that I was about to be introduced to, very early in this new cardigan project, was the CLIP AND TURN.
Last week I introduced to you my latest project that I’m going to make - the Quintessential Cardigan - my first full scale garment in DK weight yarn, and one that I know is going to take me some time to complete!
To track my progress, and share with you my learnings on this leap of a project, full of lots of firsts for me, I wanted to keep a project diary to share with you where I'm at each week and what I’ve encountered on my way. It’s my way to make beginners knitting more accessible, relatable and show you what it’s really like, if like me, you are learning this craft but can feel a little overwhelmed at times by the sheer talent of everyone and the intricacies of the patterns that we come across, and endless photos of beautifully completed projects that makes you feel THAT WILL NEVER BE ME!
So let’s get started!
If you’ve been following my knitting journey this year you’ll know that I’ve gone from complete knitter newbie, having never picked up a set of needles before, and where it took me numerous attempts over multiple days to cast on ten stitches, to dipping my toes into the world of projects via my first make - the Skyping Beanie.
In the past few months, via the splendour of chunky yarn, I found my knitting mojo, ignited the flames of new craft passion. Since then I have been working very happily with the Lissy Cole Auaha Haukura yarn range to steadily knock out my next few projects - including my first large scale garments - working though the Good Night, Day collection - The Kingston Sweater, Carlisle Cardigan and Aiki Seeded Rib Scarf.
However this whole time it’s been in the back of my mind that I’ve been playing in the baby pool. Paddling in safe, warm and shallow waters where I now find myself quite comfortable. And there’s nothing wrong with that - I could happily stay in that shallow end for quite some time. However with these recent projects under my belt, and my eye firmly on knitting future that involves being able to someday make a fantastical West Knit pattern - I know I have to pull on my big girl pants, leave the safety of the shallow end, and get back onto the DK yarn train if I’m to continue to grow and evolve as a knitter.
Which leads me to introducing to you my next project - the Quintessential Cadigan.
Does one ever get to the point, when it comes to knitting, where you pick up a new pattern involving something kinda new and not quietly freak out about how impossibly hard it looks, and not be able to begin to fathom ever being able to make the project yourself? Does that ever stop?!
By this point I'd say I'm a comfortable beginner knitter - I have a few basic techniques and simple projects under my belt now and the fire in my belly is roaring enough that I have a number of aspirational 'one-day' goals tucked away in my head.
And yet 90% of knitting patterns that I look up online still look to me like some kind of magical spell has been performed - the yarn conjured and enchanted my spirits to weave and wind themselves into these intricate, textural, spiderwebs. I look at them and think HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE WITH JUST STICKS AND TWINE (for some reason my brain also goes all folk-horror at this point and defaults to 'sticks and twine', rather then 'needles and yarn' - this is the spell it casts over me!).
And yet, each time, I am proved wrong and I proceed to make the said thing! WOW!
Which is what happened with my latest completed project - the Aiki Seeded Rib Scarf from Tara-Lynn Morrison's Good Night, Day collection.
As soon as I embarked upon my journey to learn to knit, I became aware that shawls were a Very Big Thing in the community. In fact, they are their entire own thing. Knitters, it seemed, were very passionate about shawls, with some making them their sole focus of the craft.
And I'll be honest with you - I didn't get it.
It's not that I don't like shawls, but for most of us, they're simply not things that we wear, use or ever bother think about on the day to day. We grow up associating shawls with a caricature grandma with a grey bun and little round glasses, or with downtrodden Cinderella before the fairy godmother came and did her makeover.
But more involved I become in the knitting world, the longer I spend browsing Ravelry, and the more Instagram knitting accounts I follow- the more I realise that I was very wrong.
Shawls can be intricate, versatile, works of art and examples of impeccable, eye-wateringly beautiful design. And I can see why they are the focus of so much passion!
I'm Lou, an Ōtautahi based personal stylist and craft-lover, and this is Never Been Knit - my journey from complete knitting virgin to...well, let's find out together!