My big breakthroughs came a couple of years ago with discovering knitting in the round on circular needles and the technique of holding one strand in each hand. In this way, the right side of the work was always facing me and it was so much easier to keep the strands of yarn untangled and my tension even. I may have got a little carried away...
Through that whole winter I developed a positive mania for knitting colourful hats. Anna Zillboorg must bear the responsibility for this. Using her book '45 Fine and Fanciful Hats to Knit' no head at Yarn Archive HQ need go uncovered. They really are great fun to knit especially as they are sized for the use of DK weight yarn which is great for beginners. These are by no means some of the most outrageous designs in her book. Even I drew the line at the Stacked Star...
I also had fun with her mitten book - although once again, the eccentricities of many of them were a little too much even for me. I have noticed when linking these books that they are changing hands for an extraordinary amount of money now that they are out of print. They are great fun and a wonderful introduction to colour work but I'm not someone who is prepared to part with £80 for a mitten knitting book!
Having developed my skills on these larger scale projects I attempted some finer work by starting some fairisle socks but became frustrated at my poor technique with stranded knitting and double pointed needles (way too much like patting my head and rubbing my stomach) so confined it to embellishment and having discovered slip stitch knitting set aside the challenge of further developing my skills.
All the beautiful examples of stranded knitting that I have been looking at, particularly on Natalie's blog have spurred me into action! Having some time to myself at home this weekend I decided that I needed to grasp this particular nettle and brush up my skills. I decided that the Endpaper Mitts by Eunny Jang would be a good place to start as the pattern is regular and designed for beginners. I also love fingerless mittens. Surprisingly, they are going quite well. The pattern is well written with Eunny's trademark attention to detail. I am using Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift in Yellow Ochre and Rose Heather which make a rather regal combination. I am also rather proud that I am dealing with my 'Issues with yellow'.
I set out this year to improve my skills and am sometimes struck by the fact that things I might have found difficult a few months ago can now be tackled and I wonder what I was making all the fuss about!
Buoyed up by this discovery, my ambitions are now running well ahead of my skill base so, having limbered up on the endpaper mitts I am determined to try something a little more challenging next time.