Every now and again, I receive a letter about, or am otherwise made aware of, a knitter’s journey which resonates with me. Today I’d like to introduce you to Liz, who is currently working on an ENORMOUS project inspired by one of my patterns. She has been keeping us updated through the DK Techniques Club on Ravelry, where we keenly await her progress pictures and cheer her on her way. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable conversation: I love watching how other knitters approach such a project (she has gotten a multitude of helpful advice from the start), from casting on to advising on broken cables to the invaluable virtual hand-holding essential to the pains of ripping back several weeks’ worth of work.
Here, then, is Liz’s story in her own words:
Over 30 years ago, when I was a child, my mother taught me to knit. I really wanted to, but was terrible at it. I was persistent, but terrible. For the most part, she would try get me to make a jumper or cardigan, and by the time I was less than half way up the back, still on the first piece, I’d be starting to grow out of it. I was painfully slow.So I gave up, but held on to how much frustration I had experienced trying to knit and thought I hated it. I learnt to do a few other crafty things, including making my school uniform one year. I learnt to do lace making, tatting, and even made some large hand-sewn patchwork quilts. All this, but nothing grabbed me.
Around 7 years ago, I was in a phase of serious online gaming: 20 hours a day if I could manage it, 7 days a week. But one Saturday, I woke up thinking how my tombstone would read “Liz led a Virtual Life” or such. I got onto eBay and decided that, as I hated knitting, I would try crochet..
Well, crochet grabbed me by both hands and I began making many blankets and other things. I designed my own patterns pretty much from the start, as I am a geek! I just viewed stitches as pixels in a picture. However, crochet, while really adaptive, has one limitation: it doesn’t stretch. So, it doesn’t have the same fit when it comes to clothes, and socks. And although I do like making crochet blankets, there are only so many you and your friends, acquaintances, family, friends of friends you’ve never met or spoken to can need… I had pretty much run out of recipients and the ‘done’ pile was stocking up.
In May 2013 I seriously injured my knee at karate. The resulting pain gave me chronic insomnia. So, what do you do all night and all day when you can’t go to work? The obvious answer is craft! But my brain needed something new. A friend on Google+ showed me a couple of pictures of double knitting. I had never heard of it but wanted to give it a try. From this explanation, all I ended up with was a yarn barf. Then I discovered a double-knitting class at craftsy.com .
I bought Lucy Neatby’s Foundations of Double Knitting Class, and watched it in the wee hours of the morning in bed. It was like that moment in the Wizard of Oz when the world changes from black and white to full colour!
My main issue when I first tried to double knit was that it was knitting and, well, I didn’t like knitting, did I…
But this looked good and it had to be tried. The next problems were, of course, how to work with 2 yarns, then keeping tension and reading what was on the needle not what was visible in the work, and remembering that everything is a pair!
My first success, if you can call it that, was done in black and white (the most contrasting colours I could find) in thick, chunky wool. I made a motif I found in one of my books. I made mistakes, but realised, like with my first ever crochet piece, that I really liked this. I followed Lucy’s suggestion of one yarn on each hand, and learned to knit continental. Well, wasn’t that a revelation: pick knitting, where had you been all my life?
The first official Double-Knit item I made was Lucy’s Moonstone Scarf, a lovely simple repeating pattern which I could memorise and then concentrate on what I was doing. It became easier to think in pairs, and I got faster; it looked good, really good.
It looked so good, in fact, that I then wanted to make a bedspread based on it. I can hear you now, “Oh that would be nice..” – Yes, yes it would… but mine is a kingsize bed! 361 pairs of stitches, progress is slow, but I have ideas coming out of every pore… I just can’t knit quickly enough! I have never been this inspired by anyone or anything, and I only have Lucy to thank, or blame, depending on your viewpoint.
Over Christmas, to get some finished project to cheer me up, I made a pair of socks. I am wearing them today: they are perfect. A year ago I would never have thought to make socks; it was crochet for the win! Of course they are just standard toe up socks in normal stockinette stitch. I have started a second pair, I have a bookmark in double knitting as a wip too… and a cabled jumper I started… I am a dog with two tails, I can’t wag enough.
Lucy has so many amazing patterns! She has truly changed my life. I have taken the journey from avid knitting-hater to double-knitting obsessed loon. I’ve got many designs and ideas in my head, each one cascading and triggering yet more ideas. From little bookmarks to thinking of a kingsize bedspread made in cobweb weight wool… Double-knit, of course.
I look forward to going home and knitting, I dream of knitting, and daydream of knitting.
Happiness was just the cost of a Craftsy class or a Lucy DVD away. Who knew! Of course, I now have all her DVDs, as Lucy could inspire me to try anything!