Training Wheels

I know I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy setting goals in the New Year.  I don’t limit my goal setting to just that time of year.  In fact, my favorite time of year for that is in the Autumn.  But I try to take time a few times a year to pause, evaluate where I am, re-evaluate current goals and consider new ones.  It helps me stay on track and enables me to shake off things that are no longer serving me.

A goal I have had for at least two years now is to knit a sweater.  But, can I be a bit transparent here?, anxiety is a thing for me.  I often find myself intimidated at the outset of learning a new skill.  Inordinately so.

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do. ~Georgia O’Keffe

I cannot say I’ve been terrified every moment nor can I say that I’ve never let fear keep me from anything.  But by and large, that quote resonates with me and is fairly reflective of my experience.

For my first time readers, this may seem a bit much for a blog about knitting, but the fiber arts and their exploration and practice have been incredibly therapeutic for me, often as calming as meditation.  It also helps me overcome my fears.  Because my desire to learn how to make new things or gain new techniques is stronger than my fear of imperfection or failure it gives me the impetus to try anyway and not give up.  Every success builds my confidence, every failure teaches me something new, both in knitting and in holding to my resolve. This often translates to other non-knitting areas of life as well.

Still, sometimes it takes me a while to tackle what seems like a daunting project and I still have no hand-knit sweaters in my wardrobe, lots of socks and shawls, no sweaters.  At a recent meeting of the Tri-State Fiber Arts Guild, I mentioned my goal of knitting a sweater and one of the ladies there made a brilliant suggestion.  Knit a sweater for a baby or a child first.  Perfect!  This was just the baby step (no pun intended) I needed to move forward without undue pressure.  This wouldn’t require the large investment of money for an adult size sweater, would take far less time, and would still teach me the basics of sweater construction.

In our extended family, there is a little boy who will be celebrating his first birthday in September.  I decided this would give me plenty of time to knit this for him, time for pauses as I learned new techniques along the way or (goddess forbid) tear out and begin again.

I chose a Ravelry pattern called Save the Baby Whales for him.  I had already purchased some baby soft cotton yarn for the sweater that was a dark green, but as the Beatles said “sky of blue and sea of green”….so, I’m good with a green background instead of a blue one.

This sweater is knit top down.  I have already decided to forgo buttons on my project since I’m not a fan of buttons on baby garments.  I’m still deciding what sort of closure to create, zipper? velcro?  We’ll see.

Here’s my progress thus far:


I’m now to the part of the pattern that begins the color work.  This requires something of a lengthy pause because another resolution that has been on my list about as long as the sweater goal is learning how to do stranded colorwork. So, two birds, one stone.

I have played with it a little with some success, but I’m not quite as solid with this skill as I would like to be yet.  This is where I am glad I chose a long deadline.  I have time to practice and experiment until I’m comfortable enough to continue.

I have practiced it enough to know I like working with the one strand on each hand.  One of my first posts on this blog was learning to knit Continental after years of English style knitting.  Continental is now my preferred method by far.  Stranded knitting in the round is reasonably comfortable for me since it’s all knit stitches and I am happy with my progress there.  But because this project is worked flat I have to work in knits and purls, that has been slightly trickier.  My left (continental) hand, no problem, but the right hand is just not there yet and doesn’t have the same consistent tension.

I’ve decided to try to pick up the “flicking” method of knitting for my right hand to see if this helps me smooth out the kinks.  The tutorials on Very Pink Knits have been very helpful in this.  She has an introductory tutorial for this method:

And she has a follow-up Q&A video for those who want a bit more.

In order to gain some proficiency here, I’m going to choose an as-yet-to-be-determined two-color scarf to be worked flat.  Since it will have a wrong side, I’ll attach a nice flannel strip on the back once it’s completed.  I’m going to take the advice offered in the video to complete one project in this method and then decide whether or not to continue using it.

I’ll update you with the stranded knitting progress and when I complete this sweater.

Not being a monogamous knitter I always have something else on the needles.  Usually, I have at least one pair of socks (sometimes two) going while working on other projects.

My mom, two daughters and I have the convenient fortune to all have feet around the same size.  So I can knit a pair that fits me and then gift them to the recipient of my chose.  Daughter 2 got a pair for Christmas, Mom just received a pair for her birthday.  Daughter 1 has a pair on the needles even as I type.

At Christmas, I acquired some Madeline Tosh sock yarn for me (!) and have just completed a pair of Syncopation Socks for myself.


I really like how they have turned out and they are amazingly comfortable.

So the sock drawer is growing apace.

I am also participating in a KAL with the Fiber Arts Guild here.  We are doing the Enchantment Shawl.  I have completed the lacy edging section but now have to buckle down and pick up stitches to move on.  Our monthly meeting is next week, so I’m looking forward to having a little tutoring to get comfortable with that skill,  One of the reasons I learned to knit toe-up socks was so I didn’t have to pick up stitches for the heel, but it’s time to add this technique too.  I think I can, I think I can.

That’s it for this post.  I hope everyone is doing well, learning, relaxing and finding joy in their making.



P.S.  Wish me and my husband a Happy Anniversary today, 33 years of riding the rapids and feeling fine.


3 thoughts on “Training Wheels

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