Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Did It!

Let me explain. :D

The Christmas that we were 10 my best friend, Rachel Alexander, gave me a pair of mittens that she had knitted. They were red and blue, with a design on the front. They are, as you can see, beautiful. I still have them, 45 years after she gave them to me.

Rachel's Mittens, one inside out, showing that there are no floats

But the most amazing thing about them, as far as I was concerned, was that on the inside, instead of having long loops of yarn where the color wasn't used on the front, it was all neatly woven in, so there was nothing to catch my fingers.

I asked Rachel how she'd done that, and she said, "You just carry the yarn," with the utter disdain that only a 10 year old girl can muster up.

When I started to knit, last February, one of the things I was determined to do was to learn how Rachel had done that, and make all my color work the same way.

Months ago, I asked in my Local Yarn Shop (Old Village Yarnshop in Plymouth) if they had ever heard of such a technique. They showed me a book by The Philosopher's Wool Company that explained how to do it, but I couldn't figure it out from looking at the pictures, since I was completely unable to read knitting diagrams. (My knitting never looks like that.)

They did have a website, and i went there, but I couldn't see the video. It wasn't Mac compatible. (It is now! I just found it again, when I went there to get the address to give you guys. I wonder how long that's been up there?)

All I knew for sure was that the technique that they use is two=handed. You hold one color in one hand, and knit "continental" style, and the other in the other hand, and knit "English" style.

So I taught myself both styles of knitting, and then tried again to figure it out. No good.

Well, I was adding the last color of yarn to the Jaywalker socks (I decided to finish them, and wear them imperfect as they are, by the way, because there are so many other things to knit! :D ) I was trying, once again, to use that technique to work in the ends of the yarn as I went along, when the penny dropped!

I finished the socks as quickly as I could. Here they are. The "different yarn" starts where the toe is black, and goes on into the green. Not much, and I think it's okay. You can see that the foot is bigger than it should be, and they haven't been washed and blocked yet, but at least they are done. :D

Finished Jaywalker Socks

Then I got out some cheap acrylic yarn, and practiced a bit, catching the yarn using the English style very handily. Then I got out the book, took another look, and found that this time I'm familiar enough with knitting that I was able to figure it out! (It's not hard, after all.)

So I practiced that, and then I got out a circular needle, and made a small practice cuff thingie. It's not very good, because the acrylic was too thick for the needles I was using. (What can I say? The size 9 needles were uncomfortable, this evening, and the next smallest size I have was six. I thought it would be okay. I was mistaken.)

So it's lumpy and weird, and by the time I was done my hands were quite sore from fighting with the yarn. And it probably has an armor class of at least 3. But it's recognizably the pattern I was using, there are only a few tiny little floats on the back, and I am comfortable with the technique now.

Here it is, showing the outside,

Colorwork Practice piece, bright blue and white

And the inside!

Colorwork from the Inside. Look! No Floats!

Hooray! Color work, here I come...

(Too bad I didn't realize that I was going to have this breakthrough earlier today, when I was at the yarn store. I would have gotten yarn that I could do color work with! Ah well. I guess I'll just have to buy more of yarn! Shucky-darn. :D)

So, that's that! Pictures tomorrow. Next day, at the latest. :D


Beth123B said...

You're a braver girl than I! A year after I started knitting, I still find myself intimidated by colorwork. BTW, in case you didn't know it, I now have both a blog and an Etsy store. Both links are in my Ravelry profile!


Robin Wood said...

Hi Beth! Coolness. I like your stitch markers. Reminds me of the stuff you used to do with goblets, away back when. :D

Colorwork is fun! It's harder than cables, which I was doing within a few days of first picking up needles, but it's not really hard at all.

I do recommend learning to knit both "English" and "Continental" style before you take up colorwork, though. Makes it really easy to do!

Beth123B said...

*snicker* I'm actually using up some of the beads and wire I still have from when I worked on goblets! Glad you like my work!