Looking Forward Looking Back

So, the world is starting to look a little more hopeful; there are signs of a vaccine that might work and a world leader who can speak calmly and in grammatically complete sentences. Closer to home I’ve been starting to think about the next MKAL (Mystery Knit-along) with Yarn O’clock – we had a quick chat about it last week and I’m going to enjoy designing this one a lot.

This week’s pic is a line up of my wheel spinning efforts so far, in order from left to right. The one on the right is my first attempt at woollen spinning as opposed to worsted spinning. I definitely found it easier to control, though it did require more prep beforehand. Unsurprisingly I have little say over the finished thickness of the yarn I’m spinning at the moment and so I have signed up to “Spinning With A Purpose” which is an online course by Katie of Hilltop Cloud which has the aim of helping you intentionally spin a wide range of thicknesses of yarn with consistency. It’s making sense so far (I’ve been learning about how to accurately measure wraps per inch today) and I think it’s important to be in the learner’s seat regularly – especially since I’m going to be offering online courses of my own soon.

I’m still uploading some bits to my first beginners’ knitting course for Craftucation and having great support from the website developer when things don’t behave as I anticipate, but I’ve already started mapping out the next and I expect I’ll be recording some of it soon!

Last week I told you about Outlander Knitting, edited by Kate Atherley. Well, I’ve had a chance to read it all and it’s a truly great book. There is background on the costume designer for the series and on the historical elements of the garments. I particularly appreciated how the designs in the book were inspired by a specific scene from Outlander and not only did we get a still from the show, it was labelled with the Series and Episode number as well! There were also sections explaining how, for example, a shield came to be interpreted as a Fair Isle hat design. There’s a wide range of knitting techniques, styles and skill levels in play throughout the book and it was lovely to see bios of each designer with links to where we could find more of their work.

I haven’t had as much experience of Zoom as many people have had during lockdown, but on Saturday I spent the day (10.30 – 5!!) in front of my laptop for the Knitting History Forum‘s AGM and Conference. This is normally something I’ve seen happening in a far-off place (like that London, or even further) and thought that I can’t really justify the enormous train fare or, when I was teaching, the time commitment of a whole Saturday that would inevitably involve leaving the house before 6am.

However, there have been some definite bonuses to the limitations on travel and this was one of them. I was able to attend virtually and learnt LOADS about a wide range of historical knitting from info about the Textile Research Centre in the Netherlands to detailed studies of 18th Century Abbesses gloves and knitting for money in Glasgow in the 1980s which only covers a fraction of the presentations. I love detail and information like the gauge at which the gloves were knitted (100 sts and 150 rows to 10cm!!) so it was right up my street, even though I am not used to sitting still for so long anymore. There were also presentations on some studies that current PhD students are conducting into “knitting as a thinking tool” (Michelle Hanks) and “knitting as a form of journalling” (Emily Rickard). Before the day was up I’d joined the KHF.

Writing all this makes me realise that I have actually done quite a lot this week, which is good as I sometimes feel I haven’t been ‘busy enough’. Perhaps I’m still adjusting from spending 21 years in the classroom – I’ve only been out of it for two years after all. My bullet journal is also good for this as a record is kept of what I’ve done in the day and it’s now that place that ALL my notes, ideas and plans go which means stuff doesn’t get lost because it was on a random piece of paper that got ‘tidied up’ (thrown out). One day soon I’m going to try the idea of a ‘done’ list rather than a ‘to do’ list – it’s said to be very empowering and we could all do with more of that!

Keep knitting and keep safe, K x

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