Used My Brain

So, I have been avoiding cables and chart reading for a while.

Not because I was afraid of them, but mainly because I just didn’t want to have to use my brain while I knit. You see, knitting for me has been a stress relief activity that allowed me to busy my hands and focus my mind on something other than the things that were bothering me that day.

Knitting (or crocheting) was something I could do while tv watching with my dear husband. Come to think of it, I have always sat and watched tv, even when very young, while doing some creative activity: needlepoint, counted cross stitch, rug hooking, drawing, crewel work. (I also painted by numbers on velvet, but that dates me.)

Back to the matter at hand.

It was a request to knit a sample cable project for a class from a teacher/designer I happen to do some work for that prompted me to get off my lazy patootie and just get it over with.

I first had to find an easy enough pattern to teach myself cables and charts that would produce something that I’d be interested in knitting. I decided to go with Susan Ashcroft’s Canadian Maple Boomerang. I’ve knitted quite a few of her designs in the past so I was familiar with her format and liked her designs.

At first, I was lazy and just went by her written instructions for the cable pattern which got me past just making the cable. Piece of cake. Knitting the cross over to create the cable was fiddly (because that’s what cables kinda are), but other than that, just basic knitting like any other pattern. I did end up purchasing a set of Clover cable needles. I didn’t like them because they were plastic, therefore, slippery. I subsequently purchased a set of Brittany Birch cable needles that seemed to work better for me.

After getting past learning how to make a cable, I switched to teaching training myself how to read the cable chart.

Sigh.

So I did it. It wasn’t bad, just took some brain training. But I couldn’t watch tv. Or talk to my husband. Or let him talk to me . . . without having to tink back (tink = knit spelled backwards — unknitting) to where I knew I had knit the correct stitches. If interrupted by emails, or dinner, I would have to review where I was all over again. It was quite tedious. But I did it! Whew!

Enchanted Canadian Maple Boomerang

Part of what made the chart reading less of a struggle for me (because chart reading for this pattern was to read bottom to top, from right to left, then next row up reading left to right — see what I mean???), was to use the KnitCompanion app on my iPad. I use KnitCompanion exclusively. For this pattern, I set highlighting colors as pink for reading right to left and green for reading left to right. And as I read each row, I could tell, just by the color, which direction I should be reading the chart. I also have a highlighter bar for the regular written instructions, too, so I don’t have to row count (unless a pattern calls for multiples of a row and then there’s a side counter for that). So no paper patterns! All my patterns and annotated projects are saved as PDFs in Dropbox automatically. Well worth the money.

Enchanted Canadian Maple Boomerang

Not only did this little exercise get me out of my lazy I-don’t-want-to-use-my-brain rut, but it produced a beautiful shawl with awesome texture. Plus, I got to finally use the skein of Happy Fuzzy Yarn (colorway Enchanted) that I had languishing in my stash since October 2013. The yarn was a pleasure to work with and had great stitch definition — important for cables. Very squishy and warm. It only took a few days before this shawl was snatched up from my ongoing post in the Ravelry swap group We Love to Barter!

Enchanted Canadian Maple Boomerang

And as for the sample cable project from the designer/teacher? She decided she didn’t need me to knit it after all! 🙂

OSKnits on white

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