Happy New Year, happy Twelfth Night (or Day!) – and apologies for not signing off properly before Christmas. I hope you’ve had a lovely break with your nearest and dearest. I couldn’t check out quickly enough and tried to make the most of the relief from routine. Traditionally, Twelfth Night marked the end of Christmas festivities and feasting, and for many, including self-employed folk like me, the fun is over and in my case it is time to think about getting ready to teach a new batch of students. Correction: GET READY, not just think about it!
The fact is, I enjoyed the escapism of this Christmas holiday so much that I’ve decided to make a bit more time for activities that have little to do with my daily work. A couple of dear friends have been key here. The germ for the idea came from a jazz dancing class back in November, which was absolutely fantastic! I have no real experience of dance; the only things I have ever done in this area include a year or so of gymnastics as a child and more recently twelve weeks of bar exercises for ballet. Keeping up with the group, which included one of my friends, was challenging and I couldn’t help marvelling at the talents of the regulars: I witnessed a standing split and other 180-degree leg extensions during the hour! I don’t claim to aspire to this, but I have decided to make ballet a more permanent part of my life and will be trying out a few studios in the near future. I have been crazy about Pilates for years now so ballet should be quite complementary.
The second treat is my brand new Art Pass, a Christmas present that will ensure that I feast my eyes on new, interesting things and visit museums and historic houses more frequently. I was at the V&A a month or so ago and had to rein myself in on Instagram, but I will share these photos of a baby’s handknitted gown, made during the year of the Great Exhibition:
I have already made a list of exhibitions and places of interest to visit throughout the year, and slotted these in my diary fairly regularly so that I have something to look forward to every so often. And of course this involves visiting friends – preferably by train. Trains are my favourite mode of transport, hands down, and have been since my early childhood. Love them!
And my loose ends as per my last post? Well, the admin ones are very nearly done…and the knitting ones are coming along well. There were so many on the Bute cardigan that I decided to sew half the yarn ends into the fabric pieces, and remaining half into the seams once assembled. I reasoned that sewing all of them into only one of these places would create far too much bulk and necessitate more steaming. So far the theory is proving true – here are some snaps of the front bands of the cardigan:
To sew the ends into the fabric, I wove them under and over the purl stitches, following the curved lines of that side of the fabric, making sure that the needle went under and through the U-shaped loops of the fabric to keep the woven yarn invisible from the right side. (The N- or arched loops on the purl side are the tops of the stitches; working into these loops will therefore make your sewing visible from the right side.) This works because the U-loops are actually the connecting threads between stitches, and as such are hidden. To see for yourself, mark them with a scrap piece of thread and stretch your knitting horizontally. Below is an example for another current project:
Patience and working bit by bit are key to a good finish. I definitely won’t pretend that I haven’t been eyeing up and been tempted to start new projects whilst sewing in the ends (experience has told me I should NOT do that!) but the results are worth it and I’ll be wearing my fairisle garments for far more time than I’ll ever spend making them! Regular breaks are the secret to detailed work – and your daily work. There are so few public holidays in the UK it’s little wonder that going back to work is such a shock to the system. If that’s you, try to have intermittent days off or time doing something just for you rather than build up to massive long holidays only 2-3 times a year. The feast of Twelfth Night is over, but the fun doesn’t have to be.