Sunday, 20 July 2008

Knitter's Block

Tennis champ Bjorn Borg used to wear a T-shirt that said "Remember, to a tennis player love means nothing". The different meanings we attach to words has been on my mind this week as I've been enjoying using my wonderful new blocking board (mucho thanks to Other Half for wielding the staple gun!). In cricket, blocking is a defensive stroke batsmen play to stay in the crease. Writers talk about being blocked when they are stuck, unable to progress their work. As a knitter I can recognise this phenomenon but for us the words blocked and blocking also have another meaning - the process of pinning out a completed piece of knitting to its correct size and applying water and/or heat to facilitate sewing up. I have to confess that I've always been extremely lazy about blocking. Once the knitting is completed all I want is to get the sewing bit over as quickly as possible. Recently, though, I made a pair of baby bootees with a stocking-stitch sole which, in the nature of that stitch, was curling up. Being so tiny this was making sewing up a challenge. Pinning and blocking by waving a hot iron over the dampened piece of knitting and leaving it to dry made it really flat for sewing up. Now I'm hooked.
Far from representing stuckness, knitter's block can create progress. Having my swanky new blocking board (two towels wrapped onto chipboard and covered with a cool green check tablecloth) has also "unblocked" my languishing cardigan project. I've pinned out the back and two fronts ready for sewing-up before going on to the next difficult bit: working out the pattern for the sleeves, which I want to make three quarter length. I've also finished knitting my throw and begun Module 1 of my City & Guilds course. This connection between the two types of "block", has been made by setting goals to complete various projects and a commitment to having the right tools to make this possible. Another recent acquisition has been a leather knitting belt, which I bought on Shetland the other week.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Stunning Shetland and Fabulous Fair Isle

This is just a quick update on my return from another week on Shetland. Had a fantastic time, although not nearly long enough, just short of a week. The weather was really kind to us - I've never known it to be less windy on Shetland. Only one full-on rainy day, during which we toured the knitwear design outlets - unusually for me I spent my money on knitwear this week rather than wool! Didn't manage to make it to Fair Isle itself this time but managed to buy a couple of lovely Fair Isle hats and a cardigan (see photo) that fitted me perfectly and wasn't something I was ever going to make for myself. Looking at the Shetland landscape again I can see that it's where all the inspiration has come from for my throw, so I need to press on and get this finished soon.

I've also just signed up to to the City & Guilds Level 3 Hand Knit Textiles course with Loraine McClean via her new enterprise Knit Design Online. I was very impressed by the way Loraine got in touch so quickly after I left a message for her and I've heard good reports of the course from a friend who is already signed up. I've been thinking about doing this for some time and it feels good to have finally taken the plunge. I think it will be really helpful to give me some structure and focus for my knitting and design work.