Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Confessions of a seasonal knitter

Spring has been creeping up on us for a few weeks now - the English spring can start as early as the middle of February - but it started to feel properly spring-like over the weekend. The sun was shining, the flowers were blooming, and the temperatures were downright balmy. But as a seasonal knitter, I must confess that my first reaction to this state of affairs was to worry that I wouldn't be able to finish all the winter woolen projects on my needles!

I feel less concern the farther from completion a project is. After putting a half finished garment away for the summer, it is very satisfying to pick it up again once autumn rolls around. The head start means one can actually finish it before winter. Though possibly this early taste of accomplishment leads to unrealistic expectations: the belief that it is physically possible to knit 5 or 6 sweaters and at least 3 cowls in one season... leading to a glut of unfinished knitting projects at the end of winter, and the cycle begins again.

It is much worse to finish a project just before spring, and then not have a chance to wear it until the following autumn. I am left longing for a few more weeks of winter, which feels churlish when everyone else is eagerly awaiting warmer temperatures. I do sometimes think I am living in the wrong place - the cold north or a continental climate is really a more appropriate location for avid knitters.

Luckily, I recently finished knitting two winter garments and managed to give both of them a test run.


I knit the Raven dress from the Isager Bird Collection, using yarn purchased several years ago on a trip to Helsinki (destashing!). I added a strand of kidsilk haze to get the required gauge. There was a slight danger that the addition of mohair might result in something resembling a throw blanket, but I think I got away with it.


I renamed my dress Starling because the colour reminds me of the greenish sheen of starling feathers. Which sent me off on an internet search, resulting in the discovery of this video of starling murmurations, taken just down the road at Otmoor nature reserve. Definitely worth a visit, if you are lucky enough to catch the starlings in action.

Café au lait

If you have the urge to quickly churn out one more sweater before spring, Debbie Bliss Paloma is an excellent yarn choice. This super bulky yarn is decadently soft and light, so knits up in a breeze. I wanted to knit something like the Easy Knit Raglan jumper in the Paloma book, but the pattern was too simple to justify buying the book.

Instead, I took the opportunity to design my first sweater, using Elizabeth Zimmer's seamless raglan sweater recipe. This being my first time knitting a sweater without a pattern, I forgot to factor in the thickness of the yarn, so ended up with a rather snug garment. Never mind, it is wonderfully cozy.

Café au lait

It still feels too early to start planning my summer knitting schedule, so I'll keep knitting away on the two other sweaters I foolhardily started this winter. After all, an early taste of spring doesn't necessarily mean that winter is over.