The lovely Carol from Stolen Stitches has kindly granted me a spot on her blog tour for her new Craftsy course, Celtic Cables. I’ve asked her to write about knitting, her fears and just jumping into advanced techniques like cables.
I deal with fear a lot in my life, consciously and unconsciously. In fact, it often affects more of the choices I make than I’d care to admit. Fear of failure, of taking on too much, or of just looking like a fool is something we all deal with daily. You can’t tackle all your fears at once, but you can make a real effort to acknowledge what you are afraid of (and why), and to take steps towards pushing your own personal boundaries.
In the last few years I’ve tried to push myself each year to do something totally new, something that on first thought makes me really nervous. Starting as an independent designer was one of those things, as was publishing my first book, Contemporary Irish Knits. And, saying yes to the invitation to teach Craftsy courses definitely falls into that category! I began teaching a few years ago and the first few times I taught in person I found it terrifying. After a few classes, I found myself easing into the process to the point where I now look forward to teaching. However, even though I knew I could do the teaching part, the full studio recording production needed for an on-line class was a whole different ball game. I prepared for the classes like I never had before, running through the lessons over and over in my head many times. I wanted to think through every last detail so that nothing would catch me out. This of course didn’t stop that lovely queasy feeling on the first (and second, and third …) morning of shooting. But eventually I started to relax and before I knew it I was in fact enjoying the process!
As a designer, teacher and most of all as a knitter I know that trying new techniques can be scary, particularly in the middle of a large garment representing dozens of hours of your work. If you’re in that situation and the idea of working cables in a garment really scares you, I’d suggest taking deep breath and jumping in.
If you are new to garments and/or cables, you should be warned that doing a cabled cardigan will require a lot of swatching and patience, but it can be done by anyone with basic knitting skills. It will take patience and practice, but as long as you take it one stitch at a time you WILL be able to do it! I think the nice part about an online class (rather than a once off face-to-face event) is that you can go completely at your own pace. You can just begin with one portion of the class and there is no pressure to move on to the next challenge until you are totally comfortable with the last one. This safety net helps you grow as a knitter, letting you face new (sometimes scary) challenges and overcome them as you master new skills.
In terms of my Celtic Cables class, I think there are two aspects that knitters might find new (and therefore a little scary). The first is working with cables if you have never done so before. Cables at their most basic are just stitches reorganized on your needles. To work them, you usually slip some stitches on a cable needle (just an extra needle that’s smaller than usual), hold them at the front or back of the work, and then work them after you’ve worked a few more stitches. The magic of cables really starts appearing after you’ve finished a few rows; you can see the pattern start to emerge, which is very exciting.
I think the fact that you need to knit a few rows “on faith” before the pattern is established is part of why a first time cable knitter might feel nervous. For me, one of the ways to get over this hurdle is through charting. Cables are very visual and I think the best way of writing a cable pattern is using a chart. Perhaps you’ve avoided charts before now? I love the visual quality of charts, especially for cables; what you see is what you get! I use them often in my published patterns and hopefully my love of charts translates well in this class and can help you love them as well. In the class, I show how to read charts, and most importantly how to keep track of where you are in the chart as your work progresses.
Another possibly scary challenge for many knitters is knitting a garment that fits very well. Perhaps you’ve knit garments that only ‘kind of’ fit or maybe you’ve avoided working with garments entirely? With a combination of accurate gauge and good body measurements anyone can knit a well fitted garment. In the Celtic Cable class knitters work through the steps that they’ll need to help a garment fit them well starting with accurate body measurements and the correct gauge. Once both of these steps are in place each lesson deals with different sections of the garment, how to knit them and how to make some possible modifications if necessary.
As a designer and knitter, I love the look and feel of cable patterns, and flattering, well-fitted garments – I think most knitters do too. One of my hopes is that my patterns and classes in general, and the Celtic Cables class in particular, will help knitters who have been nervous about tackling this kind of work to feel more confident and ready to give it a go.
Many thanks to Carol for that inspiring essay. You can preview the class and receive a 33% discount by using this link to the Celtic Cables class. Below is a full list of her blog tour, please stop by and say hello:
- 23rd July: Yarn Yenta
- 26th July: Miso Crafty Knits
- 28th July: The Pagan Knitter Podcast
- 1st August: Anni’s Knitting Blog
- 3rd August: Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts
- 5th August: Handmade by Stefanie
- 7th August: Rosemary Go Round
- 9th August: A Good Yarn Sarasota
- 11th August: The Sexy Knitter