Yarn & Paper – Back to Writing Knitting Patterns, and a Fair Isle Hat

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

The Festival of Quilts is over, the History of Quilting display was (barely) finished in time, and days later I’m still recovering from a very full weekend. I really do need just a few days rest, which I’m hoping to get this coming weekend. In the meantime, I’m back to reading Kate Atherley’s The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns, which is now overdue at the library. It is a quick read, really, I’ve just been distracted lately. It would be a fantastic reference book to have on hand if you write knitting patterns with any frequency. I’m just reading it out of curiosity, and the vague thought that I might like to get into tech editing at some point.

I started this Fair Isle baby hat after buying the yarn on a whim several years ago. I knit the body of the hat on a provisional cast-on, in case I ran out of yarn part-way through. All the charts are my own, worked out on graph paper ahead of time. At some point the project got stuck at some decision point and I put it away for months. I pulled the project out again this past weekend as the next “backlog” project that I wanted to tackle. I just finished the crown, and now I need to knit the ribbing and do some epic grafting to attach it to the body of the hat. I’ve been making slow progress on the number of projects in my “backlog”, both crafting- and computer-based projects. Ideally I’d like to have less than 10 because they start to stress me out when they build up. At the moment I’m down to 22, so I still have a ways to go.

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Yarn & Paper – Last-Minute Rush

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

No knitting this week, and not much reading either. This is crunch week; I have a Knitting Guild newsletter overdue and a History of Quilting display to finish for the Ottawa Valley Quilters Guild Festival of Quilts, which starts on Friday. I’ll be back next week with a proper Yarn & Paper post, hopefully slightly less stressed and considerably more rested. If you’re in Ottawa, consider coming to the Show this weekend. It’s going to be awesome!

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Yarn & Paper – The Shakespeare Encyclopedia, and Significant Vest Progress

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

I finished the Tutankhamun book! According to Goodreads it took me 10 weeks to get through the whole thing. It was actually very well suited to short bursts of reading over breakfast, but it went on for long enough that I was glad to be finished with it by the end. Following my plan to tackle my to-read shelf in order of book size, I’ve pulled out the next-largest book, The Shakespeare Encyclopedia. I haven’t actually started it yet, since I’ve been trying to get to work earlier and so have been eating breakfast on the go. Hopefully I’ll be back to my regular morning routine in a few days so I can start making my way through this tome. I have a feeling this one might take even longer than the Tutankhamun book as there is more writing and fewer large photos.

My Splitstone vest is coming along nicely, I just finished the waist section and started the increases for the bust. I should probably try it on again at some point just to make sure the sizing is working out. Unfortunately both my knitting WIPs (this project and my sock from last week) need a few minutes of careful thought to make sure I’m knitting the pattern correctly. The sock needs a heel turn in the right place, and I need to make sure the bust increases on this vest are going to work out for the gauge I’m getting. So I have no “pick up and go” knitting right now. This is not ideal, since I could really use some easy knitting at the moment. My “no new things” policy in April helped, but I had already taken on too many things before the month even began. I have a two major writing/editing projects (side gigs, not my actual job) to finish by next Wednesday and they are both far from completion. So, the knitting projects may have to wait until for a week or two. Alternatively, I’ll just knit away on them to keep my sanity and live with the possibility that I’ll have to rip it all back when I have time to do the math properly.


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Yarn & Paper – Writing Knitting Patterns, and Self-Patterning Socks

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

The workshop this past weekend with Kate Atherley was fantastic. She kept the class entertaining with her very British, very dry humour, and she is clearly an expert on all things related to sock knitting. I learned a new heel that I’d never tried before, plus a few tricks including how to prevent holes from forming when picking up for the gusset. The afternoon was all about sizing socks to perfectly fit your feet; I now have plans to measure my own feet, possibly with some help. Ultimately I’d like to knit up perfectly-fitting socks with the gorgeous Riverside Studio yarn from last week’s post. I spent most of the workshop knitting, what else, a sock. Inspired by some of Kate’s comments I decided to do a plain heel flap rather than my usual reinforced Eye of Partridge. The Eye of Partridge would have obscured the self-patterning yarn, and I’m curious to see how the heel holds up without the reinforcement.

The workshop also inspired me to check out Kate’s latest book, The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns, from the library. Besides being a knitting teacher and speaker, Kate is also a tech editor for Knitty.com. That job involves editing knitting patterns for clarity and accuracy, checking all the math, and making sure that the pattern actually produces the item it claims to produce. I’ve been interested in tech editing ever since I found out the job existed, since I enjoy editing, I’m not afraid of math, and of course I like knitting. I’m hoping that reading Kate’s book will give me more insight into this kind of work and whether it would be something I’d like to pursue as a side-gig.

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Yarn & Paper – Finishing Brideshead Revisited, and Workshop Homework

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

I finished Brideshead Revisited! Apparently it’s kind of a classic? Like most classics, I found it a mostly depressing read. There were happy moments, but it was a melancholy book overall. Not my favourite, despite being set in one of my favourite time periods. Since finishing it I have no fiction books on the go, and unfortunately I’m getting a bit bored with my in-progress non-fiction books. I’m very tempted to pull one of my favourite novels off my bookshelf, but that would violate my “no new things” rule for April. Finishing off the non-fiction would make me feel better, I suppose. I’m really trying to reduce the number of things that I have in-progress, books included. I’ll hold out until the end of April, at least.

This weekend Kate Atherley is coming to Ottawa to teach a series of workshops hosted by the Ottawa Knitting Guild. I signed up for the Saturday classes on how to knit custom-fit socks. One class has a rather large swatch as optional homework, which I’m knitting in some beautiful Riverside Studio yarn I bought on my first visit to Montreal. The colour is appropriate since we are finally seeing our first signs of green returning to Ottawa. The first green grass of the year always makes me so happy after the unrelenting brown and grey of the last few months. I can’t wait for the tulips (and spring) to finally arrive!

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Yarn & Paper – Tutankhamun Continues, and New Socks

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

The Splitstone vest from last week’s post is getting too big to fit into my purse, so I cast on a new set of vanilla socks to carry with me everywhere I go. The yarn is from a store in Shediac, New Brunswick. I bought it last fall during my first road trip through the Maritime provinces with my boyfriend. I bought a lot of yarn on that trip, and this is the first ball that I’ve cast on. The colours aren’t knitting up quite how I expected, and I’m not sure I like it so far. Hopefully the orange becomes less prominent as I get further into the ball.

I read fairly quickly, but it has taken me 2 months of daily reading-with-breakfast to get only most of the way through this Tutankhamun book. The bulk of the book is mostly short descriptions of the various items found in Tutankhamun’s tomb, which makes it perfect for short 10-15 minutes reading sessions. The photos are what really make the book; they are gorgeous and incredibly detailed photos. And unlike many coffee-table books, the text is well written and interesting to read. My only issue is that it doesn’t usually take me this long to get through a book, so I’m starting to get impatient to finish it and move on to the next one.

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April: No New Things

Over the past month or so I’ve been feeling an ever-increasing sense of overwhelm with no obvious cause. Sure, work has been a little busier than usual, and a little more stressful, but not enough to cause this feeling I’ve had. My volunteer commitments have stayed relatively constant, and I’ve spent the usual number of weekends out of town visiting family and the boyfriend. Nothing changed significantly from February to March, except that I suddenly felt like there was too much happening and it was happening all at once.

It took me awhile to name this feeling, but once I started paying attention to it, I noticed that most of my anxiety and stress was centred around the commitments I had made to other people. I’m what Gretchen Rubin classifies as an Obliger: I find it much easier to meet other people’s expectations than my own. This often works out well for me since I’m able to reliably deliver on the promises I make to people. The downside is that I’m too quick to offer my help when I know how to fix a problem. It is very easy for me to become overwhelmed with these kinds of commitments, and I have a hard time saying no to new ones. Once I’ve agreed to do something, it is almost impossible for me to let that person down. This can lead very quickly to a state of overwhelm.

Now that I’ve recognized that I’m getting overwhelmed, I want to do something about it! As tempting as a few weeks in an isolated cabin are at the moment, I don’t actually want to drop everything and retreat from the world for weeks. I also don’t want to back out of anything I’m currently committed to. Instead, I’m trying an idea I’ve used in the past: I’ve declared April to be a month of No New Things. This means that anything new that comes up during April gets put off until May. This could include an idea I have for a new craft project, or an interesting book that I hear about and suddenly want to read. If anyone asks me to take on something new (outside of work) I have to say no, or at least “not now”. Work is an exception since I don’t have a lot of control over those tasks, and they tend to stay nicely bound within work hours anyway. I keep a running list of things that I’ve put off so that I can review it in May.

I’ve taken a few key actions to implement this idea:

  • I paused all my holds at the library
  • I’ve deleted all the “interesting” events from my calendar that I hadn’t already committed to attending.
  • I started list on my phone to capture all the ideas I have this month. That way I can review them in May and I won’t feel the need to start them immediately

It’s not easy to stick to this plan. I’ve already failed a few times, and spent a few hours on things that aren’t my responsibility. Still, just deleting the events from my calendar brought such a feeling of relief that I know I’m on the right track. I’m trying to stay mindful and repeat “no new things in April” as often as possible. My hope is that I’ll be able to stay focused this month, finish off a few commitments, and start May feeling lighter and less overwhelmed. If not, I might just extend the “no new things” rule another month! I’ll let you know how it goes.

P.S. I’m not quite satisfied with “no new things” as the name for this idea. It’s descriptive, but it doesn’t exactly flow off the tongue. If you have any better suggestions, please let me know! I have a feeling I’ll be doing this again in the future.

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