You might have spotted the image of a shade card I posted on Instagram a couple of weeks ago?
My comment was a little cryptic at the time and despite a few good guesses by some of my followers, no one actually worked out exactly what I was up to.
Perhaps this photo might give a little more insight?
(I’ll split this post up into two otherwise it’s going to be incredibly long, sorry)
As you know, I’m a member of the Handweavers Guild of Cork and at our January AGM, one of the members put forth the idea of completing a year long project based on the Tapestry Diaries by Tommye McClure Scanlin. Weaving something small everyday Tommye completed her first diary in 2009 and has made on every year since. (find the gallery of Tommye’s Diaries here they are incredible).
Tommye is a weaver and chooses to make her diaries using tapestry weaving, with her warp permanently set up on a big loom. However, despite the guilds name, were not all weavers, I mean I can weave and I thoroughly enjoy the whole process, but it wouldn’t be my go to craft. I’m not going to lie though, for a brief moment there I did consider going down the tapestry route, but in my heart, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the project.
A year is a long time to stick with one thing.
Whatever I did it would have to be knitted, but when I think of knitting I think of practical. Garments, accessories and household items, all wonderful, but having made my Moody Blanket (on which I still have to add the border – note to self) I am fully aware of the commitment involved. I only had to knit two rows on my blanket every day, but as the blanket grew the time it took to knit those rows while coping with the sheer size and weight of the blanket really slowed things down. Towards the end of the year, the two rows were taking over an hour a day, which made it very difficult to stick to. I also love the idea of tapestry weaving as a piece of art, which most of us wouldn’t consider as a possibility for knitting.
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
I’m driving home from our meeting in Cork with my brain buzzing, so full of ideas that I had to sit down immediately when I got back and work out a plan.
Unlike Tommye’s tapestry, one of the most important considerations for me was that my project had to be portable. I visualised a wall hanging made up of small rectangles, one for each day. Great in theory, but there’s a lot of sewing up in three hundred and sixty-five rectangles. So a knitted rectangle a day became strips of seven knitted rectangles to represent a week, from Sunday to Saturday.
I’m assuming it the same for most creatives, my brain goes off on all kinds of tangents and I started thinking about stitch patterns and designs, but they bring with them different tensions and therefore sizes. Using colour instead of designs means the stitching can be basic and there’s nothing more basic than stocking stitch. It’s smooth, uniform and a great showcase for yarn.
That leads on nicely to the yarn. What yarn to use?
I suspected 4ply would be best however, I sort of promised myself that I’d try (where possible) to use exhibits from the Yarn Museum where possible in 2018. Stubbornly though, I really wanted to use ‘rustic’ Irish yarn and having recently knitted Pale Fire for Olann and, I rediscovered my love of their yarn. I began knitting up a little swatch of their double knit even though I knew the yarn was too thick. I kept going trying to convince myself differently, only to go back and try something new.
I’ve been collecting odd balls of Jamieson & Smith 2 Ply Jumper Weight yarn for a couple of years now and the colour range is incredible. So I cast on a little swatch using 3mm needles which I switched to 2.5mm’s to create a denser fabric.
Yarn – Jamieson & Smith
Needles – 2.5mm (I cast on and off with 3mm though)
Stitches – 16 plus two selvedge stitches for sewing the strips together by 20 rows. This takes approximately fifteen minutes a day, totally doable.
Colours? With so many to choose from I tried to use only those, I had in my stash, although I must confess to having to purchase two extra shades.
I thought that sticking with a colour a day might be a little boring, but using too many might result in a very disjointed look. Two weeks worth of colours seemed like a fair compromise, but as I prefer odd numbers, I needed to lose one.
In truth, the majority of the diary will be knit up using the first twelve shades. The cream is my ‘neutral’ shade. January 1st was a Monday, so the cream represents the Sunday and I’ll also use it to knit up the borders for attaching the finished piece.
Lastly, how do I decide which colour to use on each day?
The weather, my mood, the phase of the moon, or something completely random?
Random involves less pressure, but how do you randomly pick a number from one to twelve. Of course, as I’m typing, I instantly think Random Number Generator on my phone, but that wasn’t where my brain went when I started this. Instead and this is typical me, I bought a bag of marbles from Tiger for €1 and wrote the number on them using a permanent marker.
I keep the marbles in a little drawstring bag and every day I draw one number the number on it relates to a different shade of yarn.
Are you with me so far? This post is already quite lengthy, so I should probably end it here and continue with the rules, keeping track and the knitting in part two tomorrow.