This is my first post of the year, and don’t think that I haven’t noticed that we are a few steps into March. I started with the best of intention and ambition. No set ‘goals’ as such, but I was ready for a year of just enjoying my place in life. Newly 40, I congratulated myself on getting this far, and having by my side a beautifully kind and gentle boy, and the most amazing husband.
So I could make pretty with my progress, Russell treated me to this year’s Strickplaner, because I love beautiful and neat ways to keep notes on the projects I enjoy and invest time in.
I filled it out for five days, and that’s when I had my collapse and was the start of all of my cardiology problems, which have consumed my life and happiness since.
I’m not going to write too much about that right now, because it is all too present, and I am not ready to tackle unravelling my thoughts with enough clarity to put them down on paper, but also because I need to focus on something else right now. I need to build some happiness and hope, and right now I am using a very timely project as a structure to help me with that.
Boost Your Knitting: Another Year Of Techniques
In 2017 I joined in with the extremely successful series put together and hosted through the online community that my dear friends Jen and Jim Arnall-Culliford have built with their Ravelry group. A Year Of Techniques was a monthly pattern and tutorial program that introduced and expanded skills in a different aspect of knitting each month. Some of the skills were completely new to me, and some I had used before, but each included techniques, tips and refinements that gave the knitting technique extra polish, or a greater understanding that allowed me to apply the new learning to new projects and experiment further.
You can learn about the original A Year of Techniques series on the ACKnitwear website, where the pattern and tutorial book is available to purchase, so you can work the projects with help from the amazing accompanying video resources that the team produce. I had a great time participating and documented my fun in my A Year Of Techniques section.
Now the team are back with twelve new techniques, and a whole lot of things to learn and explore.
Boost Your Knitting is aptly named, as it gives knitters the opportunity to incorporate new skills into their knitting skills over the course of a year.
If you sign up, joining in will get you not only the chance to be part of a wonderfully supportive community of knitters, with a year of knitalongs (if you decide to knit to the monthly calendar, which you may not, there are no rules…), but also:
- 12 techniques to learn and boost
- 12 patterns, from…
- 12 amazing names in the knitting design world
- 12 sets of photo tutorials and
- 12 sets of video tutorials
The projects are varied, but each is sized to make it possible to complete within a month, and the wealth of support materials mean that even brand new techniques are achievable and become exciting rather than daunting. The team behind Boost Your Knitting are absolute masters at clear explanation and clarity of visual as well as written instruction. As there are accompanying picture as well as video materials alongside the amazing writing, there is a learning style to suit everyone. I prefer written instructions, but the photographs of the knitting skills being performed are undoubtably the key, for me, in understanding a brand new skill.
The Techniques This Year
I’m so pleased at this list of new things I’ll be trying this year, released in a recent blog post.
- Brioche knitting, including increases and decreases*
- Choosing colours for stranded colourwork
- Correcting mistakes in lace knitting*
- Tubular cast-on method in the round*
- Dip stitches
- Double knitting, including decreases*
- Finishing techniques for toy knitting (sewing together, stuffing and embroidering faces)
- Gusset short row heel for toe-up socks*
- Intarsia in the round*
- Joining in yarns for colourwork
- Tuck stitches*
I’ve put an asterisk next to those that will be new to me. Marlisle, for example, is one of those words that I’ve seen around Instagram over the last year or so, but never really understood, so I am looking forwards to discovering more with that. And Double Knitting! I’ve wanted to learn that for the longest time, but never really found a project that caught my attention to invest the energy in researching enough to actually cast on. But here, the work of pairing the perfect yarn to the perfect pattern and finding all the learning materials to understand the technique are done for me.
Because, really, I need someone to hold my hand right now.
And this is why I want to talk passionately about this project. For me, it’s fallen at just the right time. I know that my case will not be the same as everyones, and I hope that most people will be knitting along for just the sheer enjoyment of it, but for me, I need some help to get through this time. For the first couple of months of this year my life has felt suspended whilst I hope and try to maintain trust that the doctors can work to getting me well, and to allow me many years more with my little boy. For weeks I have just been in too much shock to even think about what I might make. But as many reports have shown, knitting can be beneficial to health, and right now it is a means to allow me to divert some of that over-working my brain is doing into learning. This year will be like the queen of all craft snacks, to get me through some uncertain times, and I hope that with each month I might complete that things will be easier at the end of the year than they have been at the beginning.
And They’re Off.
And so, just like that, the starter has blown her whistle and we are galloping along (though… not in a race). The first technique is Tuck Stitches, and the first project is a cowl so springy that it practically bounces in the stitch pattern.
If you are looking for a little Boost, to your knitting or, as with me, to help give a bit of fun to the structure of something ongoing, this is one idea that may help. Knitalongs can also be a great way of getting involved with the community aspect of knitting, and are full of support as everybody is tackling new skills and challenges together.
And here is a close up of my first knitting of the year. I think the cowl deserves a post of its own, so this is just a teaser for now, but to read more about the entire year’s program, and hopefully to join in at your own pace, visit the ACKnitwear shop, where you can buy the pattern and tutorial collection, as well as a kit with all the yarns needed for the first three months or, indeed, the entire year, then pop along to the Ravelry group and get stuck in.