Earlier this month, a sibling asked me what I would like for Christmas. ‘Wool,’ I replied. But I didn’t really mean that. I  just meant something with which I could knit, regardless of its fibre content. I meant yarn.

In following the Wovember campaign, I have started to be more mindful of the distinction between wool and yarn, and to challenge my assumptions about the former, particularly concerning price. My yarn-buying tends towards the cheap and cheerful, perhaps because I feel my skill as a knitter does not justify expensive materials. But then I looked at prices of such things as Cascade 220 and the gorgeous Excelana, and was very pleasantly surprised: high-quality materials at a very fair price. Materials that will last.

I have also started to look at the fibre content of my clothes, eyes opened wide by the Wovember Hall of Shame. My ‘good wool skirt’, whatever the moths might think, is not especially woolly. Nor are my hat and gloves. I baulked at the price of a 100% wool coat last year, but it has proved one of my best investments: smoky blue boiled wool, with a snazzy Cadbury’s purple lining, it is well into its second winter of near-constant wear and, bar a couple of coffee splashes, look as good as new.

Above all, though, Wovember has encouraged me to make a linguistic shift, to engage with the semantics of my craft. To draw distinctions between yarns based on their materials, not to lazily and vaguely refer to it all as wool.

So, with new projects in mind, I am going to order some wool. You know: the stuff that comes off sheep.



Last year, I had great plans of taking part in the Knitting Olympics, with my project of choice being a pair of socks. I duly cast on and attempted to wrangle the dpns, but after a couple of false starts I decided that, under sporting rules, I was probably out and settled down in the stands to watch the cross-country skiing instead.

The yarn has come out a couple of times since then, and generally gone back into the stash pretty quickly, with my attempts at socks never getting far beyond the cuff. Now, as a warm-up for projects planned for the new year, I am having another go.

So far so good, and progress has been quite quick as I marvel at the self-striping yarn and rattle on to see what’s coming next. I’m down to the heel flap of the first sock with no ripping out or excessively unladylike language. Indeed, the only casualty has been one dpn disppearing into the inner recesses of the sofa, never to be seen again.

Pattern: Tiptoe Through The Tulips
Modifications: self-striping yarn, no intarsia heel
Yarn: Hot Socks Circus in 523


More on the mittens

I was very taken with the Frostbite set on Knitting to Stay Sane and bought the pattern at the beginning of October, along with the yarn to make the mittens in teal and white.

Not having a great deal of experience in knitting on double-pointed needles, and even less with colour work (bar a brief skirmish with intarsia) I decided on a plain run before going for the whole colourwork enchilada.

Knitted in Sirdar Escape chunky in ‘Endeavour’ to size small, but with size large thumbs: not because I have disproportionately big thumbs, but because I didn’t pay attention and knitted the wrong size. Still, I’m pleased with them as my first go, thought the pattern clear and straightfoward, and the colourwork ones will appear in the new year.