You are not alone in purchasing yarn simply to have in your stash - to hold, to stroke - or even to sniff (or at least I am reaching out to you, reader, hoping that I am not alone!)
This is a safe space – we have no judgment of the size of your stash here.
The pleasure of fibre alone is one of the things that got me interested in knitting in the first place. Texture and colour are the things that excite and stimulate our creative minds. So whilst the pure joy of simply possessing a skein of beautiful fibre does satisfy a certain need, it is ultimately the addictive process of crafting by hand that keeps us picking up our needles.
Knitting is the ultimate low tech and basic skill. Anyone can have a go at it – all you need are two sticks and a length of continuous yarn.
There are many reasons why we choose to knit – to relax, to manage stress, to be creative, to meet like minded people (to name but a few) – but in order to cast on a project it has to be something you really want to make.
When you are taking the time to make something by hand and using a beautiful, premium yarn it is most important to choose a garment that to quote Marie Kondo “sparks joy”; something that will be in your wardrobe for a long time, where the final product is as satisfying as the process.
When designing a hand knit pattern simplicity is always my end goal, although the process of achieving this is usually far more complex and meandering. For me, hand knits should be wearable, season-less pieces that become wardrobe staples to be loved and cherished year on year. Craft after all is the antithesis to ‘fast fashion’, which in the last 30 years has become disposable leading to an environmental crisis in the textile industry that we can no longer ignore. We, as crafters, are about making slow clothes – selecting the best possible materials that you can afford, taking time to perfect the fit, shape and style and learning how to care for your garments to make them last.
Wool Local is a 4 ply or ‘fingering’ weight yarn, with a fineness and neat stitch definition to create elegant and refined pieces. Hand knits certainly do not need to be lumpy and unflattering. Designing a garment to be worn is about understanding the body within it and it has taken me many years of experience, not to mention trial and error to learn certain tricks and techniques to ensure a good fit on a body. When grading up a size sample for example - just because a chest measurement is increased by 5cm for instance, it doesn’t mean that the arm length with also be 5cm longer!
‘Grimshaw’ is designed in the round up to the armhole to give a seamless finish and with an elliptical hem to be slightly longer at the back, which I find to be flattering to most body shapes. This is a great piece for layering, which could be dressed up for work over a shirt or kept casual over an easy t-shirt.
Using two ends of Wool Local held together creates a fuller fabric, but one that still has a good drape and lightness perfect for the outerwear cardigan ‘Fettle’. The boxy sleeves and edge-to-edge fronts make this a very easy to wear piece that can be thrown on when leaving the house to be comfortable and stylish. I like to incorporate details learnt from the ready-to-wear industry; particularly for making up garments to give your hand knits a really professional finish. A three needle cast off done on the outside of the work to show helps the shoulder seam lay flat and adds interest. An unashamedly simple technique that helps to elevate a handknit to a covetable garment.
If you do find just one hank of a yarn in that stash of a fibre that gets your needles clicking then a scarf or muffler is a great project to use it up. It is something very easy to wear, or a great gift, and it can be made simply to show off the beauty of the fibre in garter or stocking stitch, or made more complex by using a lace or woven style stitch pattern. ‘Betty’ uses a larger size needle to create open, lacy stitches and as it is made from just 1 hank of Wool Local is a great lightweight project to knit on the go. Follow the stitch patterns recommended in the pattern or incorporate some of your own favourites. My patterns are designed to be simple recipes that can be customised and adapted to suit you.