Episode 12 | Colonial Knitting

The next Socks-for-Mum podcast has been uploaded.

In this episode I show my newly finished Diamond Fizz Shawl and I chatter about the Fern and Feather sweater.  There is a prize draw.  I share a little bit about knitting in Colonial times – yep, I have finally started my research on for the dreaded History of Knitting paper I must write for Master Knitting Level 2.

Cable Flare – A Discovery

One of the things I like most about the TKGA Master Knitting program is researching and learning new things.  I’ve spent the last three weeks researching what causes cable flare and must admit that, in all my knitting adventures with the twists and turns of cables I had never heard of ‘cable flare.’  Nor had I really wondered why, when transitioning from the ribbing in an Aran sweater to the cable portion one increased stitch count.  I had a vague awareness from knitting socks that patterns which contained cables had more stitches cast on than other socks patterns but had never questioned why.IMG_1669

The non-knitters may want to pass on reading this post and those of you who don’t knit cables may follow suit.  On the other hand, those of you who are process (or curious) knitters may want to hang around a bit while I share what I found quite interesting.  Who knows?  YOU may be a future designer of intricate Aran sweaters!

When knitting cables all that twisting and turning results in the fabric ‘pulling’ in somewhat.  I the swatch below I was instructed to knit a seed stitch border above and below (and on the sides) of a cable pattern of my choice.  As you can see, despite my best efforts in blocking, there is a slight puckering (or flaring) above and below each cable.  Ikes!  My next task, after writing a pattern for this puckering swatch, was to find why it puckered like that and figure out how to compensate for that puckering so it wouldn’t flare out.

So why, dear knitter, do you think there was puckering?  If your answer has to do with GAUGE then you are exactly right.  The seed stitch border and the cable portion have very different gauges!  I know, I know……that word – GAUGE …..makes us all groan.

So off I went to find the gauge in the seed stitch border.  Then I picked another cable (below) and knit a swatch of the cable to take it’s gauge.  I did some calculations and discovered that there is a good 4 stitch difference between the two.  Wowsers!  That is definitely enough to cause a pucker under that cable.


I learned that the way to compensate is to increase those number of stitches right after the last border row but they just can’t be increased anywhere, they need to be increased right over the cable.

So that is what I did and since I had two cables, I increased 8 stitches – 4 for each cable.  I worked the cable portion with those additional stitches and when I finished the cable portion I decreased back down to my original cast on to work the other seed stitch border. And guess what?  Voila!  No cable flare!


Tuck this knitting tidbit into your knitting knowledge hat and the next time you knit a pair of cabled socks you will know why you have to cast on more stitches (because cables pull in) or you are knitting a cabled sweater and see increases at the bottom of the cables and decreases up at the top of the shoulder you will know why!

Full disclosure to inquiring minds – I have not yet submitted these swatches to the Master Knitting Committee so when I do they may tell me I’m bonkers and I need to do more research and resubmit them….actually, they would tell me in a very gentle way.  If my research has been wrong then I will come back here and let you know that you have been steered wrong by someone who is still aspiring to become a Master Knitter and is taking the scenic route 😉


As my world spins faster and faster—or maybe it just seems that way when a text message can travel from Italy to Colorado in fractions of a second— I have looked for ways to cope with the resulting pressures.  This last year I have found it more than necessary to maintain some semblance of balance and some sense that I am the one steering the ship of how my time is spent.

I had begun to feel overloaded, overreacting to minor annoyances and feeling like I could never catch up. One of the best ways I found to cope was by seeking, and enjoying, solitude.

a lonely, uninhabited place

a lonely, uninhabited place

There is a world of difference between solitude and loneliness.  They sometimes look a lot alike because both are characterized by solitariness but the appearance is only on a surface level.

Loneliness is a negative state, marked by a sense of isolation. One feels that something is missing. I remember a friend once telling me that you could be in a room full of people and still feel lonely.  On the other hand, solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely.  In this state you provide yourself with wonderful and sufficient company and you don’t desire to be with others, you simply desire to be alone with yourself.

In my moments of solitude I have spent time reflecting on whether I use time efficiently for the projects and activities I engage in. I’ve searched within myself to determine if I do these activities because I want to do them or if, instead,  I have been heavily influenced by someone else often resulting in an end project or outcome that isn’t even ‘me‘.

In solitude, when we are least alone. ~ Lord Byron

In solitude, when we are least alone. ~ Lord Byron

In moments of solitude I’ve had time to experience the beauty of nature.  I’ve had more time for deep theological reading, meditating, memorizing and prayer because these are the backbone of my life and gives me great joy.

“Solitude suggests peacefulness stemming from a state of inner richness. It is a means of enjoying the quiet and whatever it brings that is satisfying and from which we draw sustenance. It is something we cultivate. Solitude is refreshing; an opportunity to renew ourselves. In other words, it replenishes us.”

In my solitude I have concluded to buy the best quality yarn that I can afford.  Why?  Because there are just as many stitches in an article knit with poor quality yarn as there is with good quality yarn.  The article knit with poor quality yarn will not last through half a dozen wearings whereas the other will be an heirloom quality creation.

Solitude brought me to realize that there will always be more new and exciting things to knit, spin or quilt around the corner, never-ending in fact.  It helped me realize that there is great value in finishing the TKGA Master Knitting Courses and I need to beware of  projects that distract from staying the course for they will always be there.  The time is now.

This is to be alone; this, this is solitude. ~ Lord Byron

This is to be alone; this, this is solitude.
~ Lord Byron

In my solitude I remembered what my mother taught me about choosing friends. She told me that if a ‘friend’ tore other people down behind their backs then that friend most likely was doing the same about me when she spoke to others and I shouldn’t trust that ‘friend’.  And, in my solitude I remembered the proverbs which tell us not to associate with those who have hot tempers lest we learn their ways nor with those who betray the confidence of others.  I was betrayed this year. But no ill usage has branded its record on my feelings.  Life is too short for nursing animosity or registering wrongs.

We all need those periods of solitude, although our different personalities will differ in the amount of solitude we need.  I have a friend who loves being with people and her worst nightmare is to be stranded on a desert island.  Solitude looks different for her than it does for me.  For me, solitude is essential so that I can regain perspective and see what I should prioritize in my life.   It renews me for the challenges of life. It shows me when the schedules and demands start running my life and it allows me, once again, to become the Mistress of My Domain.