I am quietly slip stitching away with shrimp-coloured yarn and slowly but surely my patchwork garden blanket is starting to take shape. I still have no plan for the edging but that’s fine; there’s no rush and I know inspiration will come. In the meantime, I am enjoying the pop and zing of those crazy vibrant colours.
It has been a joy to have made most of this blanket outdoors, surrounded by the colours and scents of real flowers, the gentle murmur and movement of bees and butterflies, the call of the cuckoo on the mountain and swallows swooping through the yard. It might be a gift for a September baby, but this little blanket has a Spanish spring woven into every stitch!
I felt a bit naughty starting the rainbow blanket before the other was finished but in retrospect I think it’s a good idea. Once I’ve finished, at least I will know exactly how much yarn I have left to do the edging rows around the patchwork. I completely and utterly love this ripple stitch, it is giving me so much pleasure and is working up into a blanket of gorgeousness. Ripple stitch Each new colour seems to bring an almost magical quality so that the blanket is constantly changing and shifting beneath my fingers.
However, before I start waxing too lyrical (heavens above, I’ll be writing poetry next) I must confess that it hasn’t all been plain sailing. I had no problems making the little trial swatch but the hike up from 31 stitches to 115 made getting started a tad tricky, with a great long snake of chain coiling out of control and me concentrating on every stitch like mad, terrified I would reach the end and find I had the wrong number. I did – so I had to start again. Second time lucky and I found the second row much easier as I was working into stitches rather than chain but . . . half way along I lost concentration and didn’t work two stitches for an increase where I should have done. I didn’t discover my mistake until I was at the same point in the third row, by which stage I’d also changed colour. Aaaargh, more unpicking! Still, mistakes are a great learning tool and I haven’t done it again. In fact, it has all been going very swimmingly and I have loved every minute.
There is a lovely gentle rhythm to this stitch, working up the mountains and dipping into the valleys; it echoes our life here, where every journey from home in any direction is just like that – up mountains, down valleys, twisting round hairpins. It isn’t a difficult stitch (as long as you can count to four) and once established, it’s easy to see where the increases and decreases need to be worked by looking at the row below.
It’s like a quiet meditation, needing only a soft concentration and allowing me to be aware of the sounds and scents in the garden, or hold a conversation, without going wrong. It has grown steadily, rippling across my knees as I work; just a couple of stripes needed to finish the last rainbow, then I need to think carefully about the edging.
In all the fun and excitement of crocheting baby blankets, I haven’t forgotten my other woolly projects. First, I plied and skeined a couple of bobbins of spun Merino for an upcoming dyeing session, then I went back to finishing the Merino / silk blend in those beautiful blues and greens.
I use my spinning wheel outside at every opportunity and in the warm weather there’s nothing better than shaking off my shoes and spinning barefoot. I love the feel of the treadle under my toes, the wood so smooth and polished from a lifetime of use. There is a comforting connection with history there: so many hours of spinning, so many miles of yarn . . . I just wish the wheel could talk and spill its secrets!
I’ve had a few problems with tension (the wheel, not me) so I was really thrilled to produce the very skein I had hoped for: a fine yarn just right for socks.
The project I’ve had in mind is a pair of summer socks, a birthday gift for my June ‘baby’ and very different from the other socks I’ve made recently. Merino and silk spells softness and luxury: these are definitely not rufty tufty boot dwellers, no hiking or gardening for this pair! I want something that sings of summer, light and airy, fine and feminine, a delicate touch for soft sunlit days.
I feel like I’ve cheated a bit by using ready-dyed fleece rather than dyeing it myself so the socks themselves need to take a little more effort than usual and I have just the pattern. Leaf lace sock pattern I bought this pattern many years ago and have never mustered the courage to knit it on account of my horror of lace knitting (quite honestly, I’m at a complete loss as to why I ever bought it at all – it is without doubt my worst knitting nightmare!). However, I have promised to try new and tricky things this year so time for a deep breath and positive attitude. This is definitely not the occasion to try out my new 2.25mm circular needle; quite the opposite, in fact – I usually knit socks on three double-pointed needles but the pattern is written for four, so four it is. To say it is fiddly would be a gross understatement although as with all socks, it’s getting easier the further down I go. I’ve managed two blocks of the pattern so far and didn’t even have to undo anything in the second block (I’m not going to say anything about the first few rounds, it would be hard to put into words politely . . . ); that said, it requires 100% concentration, I can’t take my eyes off the pattern or stitches for a single second. Also, after the whizz and flow of crochet with a thicker yarn, the stitches seem so fine and tiny – there will be nothing fast about this project.
Still, it’s comforting to see the delicate tracery of the leaf pattern emerging, even though I suspect the real ones may well be falling from the trees before these socks are finished! 🙂