When I decided to start knitting again (after an 18 year hiatus) I decided to search the local area for a knitting group. It had been two years or so since I moved to St Albans from the Midlands, and I seemed to have spent most of my hours at work during that time, so it promised a way to meet a few people and start to feel like I really live here, no longer just resting my head.
A quick internet search later and I had found a group that meets on Tuesdays (the first and third of the month to be precise) and here was the real boon; THEY MEET IN A PUB. Brilliant. It turns out to have been a great move. I’ve made some lovely friends, learned zillions of things about yarn and knitting and crochet and how many glasses of wine I can drink before my knitting becomes one pattern repeat forward and two back because I was just-not-paying-attention. At all.
We are fairly good at keeping our projects up to date on Ravelry, and one member of the group had shared a recent finished project which caught my eye. Once I had seen these mittens, with their comic-book-geek-chic, I knew they had to be E’s Christmas present. The man spends much of his time (when he is not working or watching NFL or Baseball) reading comics and graphic novels, and encouraging others to read them.
I was a little intimidated by the idea of colour work, despite the chart and pattern being so clear. I put off starting for a while and wasn’t really sure where to begin. So I ruined the surprise. It was the only way. Once I had told E this was what he was getting for Christmas I HAD to make it.
We went on an amazing trip to Amsterdam in October.
While we were there I took us on a little diversion to a yarn store, De Afstap, and enforced some colour choices. E picked out a couple of brilliantly contrasting yarns for his Fightin’ Words in Rowan Cashsoft 4ply, and I no longer had any excuse for not giving them a go.
I used the cast-on recommended in the pattern which is from Ysolde Teague’s blog. It was challenging at first, but totally worth it, and I have used it in other projects since. Once you get your head around it it’s a lovely cast on for one by one rib, you just have to make sure you keep your finger on your last few cast on stitches, and orientate them correctly so they stay nice and neat.
I took my completed cuff for the ‘Bam’ glove to group one Tuesday early in November and asked for advice as to how to proceed. I was scared about adding in the contrasting colour and not really sure how it would work in practice with four needles, two balls of yarn and a knitter who is all thumbs at the best of times. A lovely group member, D, showed me how to hold the second yarn continental style so that my yarns didn’t get in a twist and I was surprised how much simpler it was than I had imagined.
I did have trouble with my tension; ‘Bam’ has got some areas where the green almost doesn’t show through the grey, but as I relaxed and allowed myself to enjoy the project, so my stitches became more even and the pattern more uniform.
Then… Second glove syndrome hit, and hit bad. It was November and there seemed like all the time in the world to finish the pair. I had loads of other gifts to make and E had already got half a present… so it was only fair to get on with something else.
This was a philosophy which led to the most difficult of Christmas Eves. At home, in the bosom of my family (which includes three teenage Bonus*-siblings), I had to lock myself away from the fun all day to knit the bloomin’ glove.
After much ribbing from my younger brother, A, approximately ten mince pies (they were small ones) and a few minor grumps I finally finished the ‘Pow!” glove. Just before midnight. I hadn’t woven in the ends, but at that point wrapping all the other presents for my family seemed to be a higher priority.
In the end it wasn’t a surprise present, but I know it was one of E’s favourites (he has been wearing them on his Boris Bike to work) and it’s certainly one I’ll never forget giving. I don’t even mind the flaws or the dodgy tension. I’m just pretty proud of them really.
*Read ‘foster’, but they really are a bonus, so it’s only right.