Knitting away earlier this evening, I pondered the vagaries of test knitting. Over the past few years I’ve taken part in around half a dozen test knits, all of which I’ve enjoyed immensely. However, during some of those knits, it’s become apparent that my fellow test knitters don’t all necessarily follow the pattern to the letter. Why is that? Surely the whole point of the test knit is to test the pattern as written by the designer, not alter it to suit the knitter? I’m not saying there’s a right way or a wrong way, just that it seems odd to me to undertake a test knit and then not make what the pattern directs.

Perhaps the reason I think like this is because I am a strictly vanilla knitter. I read the pattern and then I do what it says, the only exception being to add a bit of length if necessary. I’m not sure why I’m like this – it’s not like I’m an inexperienced knitter, given that I was taught as a young girl (and I can remember winging it and knitting clothes for my dolls) – but I just don’t seem to have the confidence to say ‘oh, well this neckline won’t work for me, so I’ll do xxxxx instead’, or ‘hhhmmm, I need a bit more room in the bust here, so I’ll just add in some extra increases’. Not even ‘ooh, I think I should add some waist shaping to this, so I’m going to start decreasing now’. Nope. Vanilla, vanilla, vanilla.

How I yearn to be able to decide to alter a pattern on a whim and then carry it off with conviction. I won’t even attempt colourwork, so afraid am I of discovering a lack of skills … ok, if its a simple effort where I change from one colour to another easy and simply, I might be persuaded to give it a go. I surpassed myself earlier this year and made Andrea’s Shawl in Rowan Bamboo Soft (I used the Jewel and Pepper shades).


Here you see it modelled by Ethan, who longsufferingly humours his Mum and models various knitted garments for the purposes of my Ravelry project page.

Anyway, I absolutely loved knitting this, it was quick (11 days – good for me as I don’t always get lots of knitting time) and it was easy … and so maybe I should feel a bit more confident about my knitting abilities. I quite fancy having a go at something a tad more exciting in the colour stakes … maybe not quite as involved as fair isle, but a bit more complicated than vanilla single coloured projects.

We’ll have to see … I wonder if I can overcome that fear of anything more cinnamon than vanilla.

Finally and in the meantime (as it is now past 2.00 am and I should really be getting to sleep), I am pondering a one skein project to accompany me on my travels next week. Preferably 4ply and preferably using dpn’s, as we’re flying and I don’t fancy having my nickel Knitpro tips confiscated at check-in, whereas I’m sure my wooden dpn’s will get rough safely. I suppose I will end up knitting socks or gloves … or maybe a hat. I’ll even have a go at a crochet project as long as its not too complicated. I just need to find the perfect project!


About katiepopsmartin

I'm a busy 40-something, juggling many things at the same time, including a very rewarding and challenging job in the NHS, being the founding partner of a small company manufacturing business and craft rubber stamps, a hobbyist enjoying the challenge of working with yarn and paper (not usually at the same time, obviously), trying to get the house sorted out, studying for further qualifications and being a harrassed single Mum.

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