Life With Yarn

Sample knitting

Posted on: February 11, 2014

I’ve been really busy the last month but it’s nothing I can show here which does not make interesting blogging. I finished Anniken’s baby shawl and have only today posted a lace shawl to her as well. I also completed the jumper for Anna by the end of January. All three have provided a challenge for me in some small way and it got me thinking about how sample knitting has helped my knitting generally.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve found the idea of sample knitting more and more desirable. I work from home which means I have the time to do it and I’m a fairly quick knitter which definitely helps with tight deadlines but I had no idea how to really get into it. I started by test knitting on Ravelry; there are forums there purely to get designers and willing test knitters together and I started here by offering to test knit patterns that I liked or had the yarn for. It meant that I could use up some yarn and try a new pattern before others. I’ve since used these same forums to find test knitters for my own designs and have, so far, had a really good experience as both tester and designer.

I started working for Anniken last year when she tweeted that she was looking for sample knitters. Anniken Allis is one my favourite designers – her lace shawls are beautiful and I have loved knitting them so when she asked for sample knitters I jumped at the chance. What’s not to like here? I knit a design I know I’ll like in a yarn I might not have tried before and I get paid to do it.

Of course, it’s not always as straightforward as that. The pattern, whilst looking great, is unedited and may have mistakes which require clarification. I can’t just rely on what I think the designer might be trying to do, I need the designer to tell me that just so I don’t spend hours knitting something that is wrong.

When I do knit, it has to be perfect as well. With my own things, I will often let a wrong stitch remain if it doesn’t affect the overall look. In lace, this is less likely because mistakes in lace show a lot more readily but if I’m decreasing on a sweater and do a right leaning increase instead of a left leaning increase then on my own sweater, I’ll let it go. If it’s a sample, then I have to correct it, either by ripping back to the mistake or dropping the stitch down a couple of rows and pulling it back up the correct way. Sample knitting has taught me a lot about fixing mistakes!

I love sample knitting but it does take me away from my own stash and, to be honest, I’m unlikely to get rich quickly, or at all, by doing it. But the experience it has given me and the way it has improved my own knitting has definitely been worth it. These are just some of the samples that I’ve knit and it’s quite satisfying to see them online and in magazines and know that I knit it: Marazion, Sam Cable Scarf

On the needles

But it’s not all been sample knitting, I’ve managed to get a few other things cast on as well. I currently have two pairs of socks on the needles: Circle socks by Anne Campbell in Zitron Treking XXL. I love the colour of this, it’s like a dark, muted rainbow and my pictures just don’t do it justice. I finished the first sock about 2 weeks ago but have been too distracted by other things to get the second one cast on. I used the OMG Heel by Megan Williams for the first time which I really liked and fits nicely.

The second pair of socks are Juugatsu by Claudia Eisenkolb in Ring-a-Rosie Handpainted yarn, which I’m knitting as part of a Ring-a-Rosie sock yarn knit a long. I’ve only done about half of the cabling detail on the first leg but I know once I get back into them, they’ll fly. I plan on trying the Fish Lips Kiss heel on these socks, which I’ve seen being raved about on many blogs and podcasts.

I also cast on and am almost done with the Kismet top by Sara Gresbach for Zoe. This is being worked in some pink Artisan Yarns Telfi and two black yarns – Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply and Violet Green Supersock. The pink has been sitting in my stash since Woolfest in June 2012 and I am just never going to make something that colour for me, but Zoe of course loves it so I found a few patterns and she chose Kismet and chose to pair it with black stripes. I’ve ended up using two different yarns for the black stripes simply because I had less of the Rialto 4ply than I thought and needed some extra to complete the last couple of stripes.

I still have the Shipwreck shawl on the needles – I’m now into the second skein and slowly loading it with beads before knitting. It’s slow going so it’s spending a lot of time just sat there. I also have my sock yarn blanket which is being slowly worked on. I’d still really like to have that for next winter and I think 2 squares a day should do that. Of course, I’m currently behind but I’m doing 3/4 squares a day to make it up, so fingers crossed.

Off the needles

I finished both the socks and mitts I mentioned in my last blog post. First up, the lavender socks and also the Tideland mitts which Rebecca was very pleased with.

It just fell into my bag

I’ve bought a lot of yarn recently, but have been a bit slack in getting the photos taken. I bought lots of sock yarn, including Lorna’s Laces Solemate and some new colourways of Zauberball which I love for socks. I was also lucky enough to get a gift certificate for Fibernymph Dye Works for my birthday last month and I’ll getting some self striping sock yarn from there next month at some point.

I also finally caved and bought some interchangeable needles after casting on two projects and discovering the circular needles were too long. So I bought some HiyaHiya sharps interchangeables in the small needles sizes (2.75mm – 5mm) and so far, I’m really pleased with them.

Hopefully with the sample knitting done for now, I can come back sooner with pics of lots of lovely new things for me!



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