In my last post, I wrote about managing to finish a summer crochet project, and how my thoughts were turning to the next make with this delicious set of scheepjes yarn:
I had an idea that the gradient yarn would work really well with the black in a brioche pattern. The only problem? I did not know how to do brioche knitting. But what a great opportunity to learn, I thought. I am an experienced knitter but there is always something new to tackle – that’s the joy of a hobby with endless potential variation.
I have had Nancy Marchant’s book Fresh Brioche Knitting for a while. It’s a lovely read but always felt a bit daunting. After all, the charts and brioche stitches seemed completely new and different from ‘normal’ knitting. But really, if I could happily knit something like this from a chart….
….surely I could tackle brioche?
So I started with a small test piece, using one of the patterns in Nancy’s book:
It seemed to come along quite well and I really liked how the fabric developed, on both the back and the front:
So I confidently decided to tackle a project with my scheepjes yarn. I had read that it is necessary to knit with smaller needles for brioche than one might usually choose. This is to make sure that the fabric is sufficiently tight to be able to show off the unique pattern. But I was not happy with the initial results. It just seemed too loose and untidy.
Attempts to knit with different sized needles did not make things any better. So perhaps this yarn was not cut out for brioche work? I tried other yarns to see how the knitting might turn out:
Hmmmm, I was not at all convinced by either combination. So instead I wondered whether I should abandon the brioche attempts and take a look at another new-to-me style of knitting: double knitting:
I really like the combination of the purple and the black here. But double knitting seemed just too boring. I would have been knitting up some 2,800m of yarn and I wanted the knitting process to be entertaining along the way.
So I resolved to go back to the original plan for another go. This time, I worked on a swatch with a simpler stitch, which seemed to come out a bit better:
Perhaps this might work after all? Let’s go for it, I thought. After all, what’s the worst that can happen – it’s only yarn!!
I cast on using the ‘Sushi Ushi’ stitch in Nancy’s book. So far so good (sorry about the weird colour in these next two photos):
The only problem with this, though, was that I had cast on miles too many stitches. So there was only one thing for it….
Sigh. By now I was starting to think that the universe was simply trying to tell me something about my choice of project. But I was determined not to admit defeat. I cast on again and put my head down. And you know what? All that previous toing and froing turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I had not realised that, along the way, I was deepening my learning of this new technique, such that when I finally settled in to the right pattern, the right width etc etc, it became a joy to knit. Now I absolutely love this project and can hardly put it down. I love the technique, the pattern, the needles I am using (even though they are tiny 2mm sticks), the whole thing. And why wouldn’t I, when the result is starting to look like this:
I’m so pleased that I persevered with it all. Those few weeks of trial and much error now seem totally worth all the irritation and frustration. Perhaps this next quote is rather dramatic for a bit of knitting, but this all feels like a useful metaphor for life:
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
I’ll report back on progress when I am a bit further through the gradient colour change – can’t wait! 🙂