When on holiday in the Pennines in October I started making a rug with the ‘extreme knitting’ kit my Mum got me the previous Christmas, and was quite excited to be doing so. The kits are by Rachel John, a textile artist. The idea is that you use giant needles with several strands of yarn, to make big things. The kit Mum selected for me was, happily, in autumn colours because she knows I like them. It fitted nicely using the autumn colours when it actually was autumn. I don’t know whether they’re natural dyes, but it’s definitely 100% wool, it smells strongly of sheep, which makes my husband sneeze! It’s worn off a bit now, though. The instructions were quite vague, I think deliberately because you’re supposed to get creative, but she did give tips on the size needle to use for ‘x’ number of strands of yarn. I do have big needles, but they aren’t very long, so I went with her first suggestion of 15mm needles and 6 strands of yarn, with 36 stitches to the row. I wanted to knit stripes of different widths, and pretty much did that as I went along, doing some stripes then laying it out to see what would look good next. I didn’t want to have stripes of the same width next to each other, and tried not to do too many repeat colour combinations, though some do naturally go better together. The blue and the lighter yellow stand out, so I wanted them to be reasonably evenly spaced along the length of the rug.
A practical problem was that the kit consisted of 28 balls, 4 each of 6 colours (a light and dark yellow, brown, green, and 1 shade of blue), so to do stripes with 6 strands of yarn I had to make 6 balls of one colour by unravelling some balls, cutting them, and tying them together to make six. Knitting with 6 strands also meant that when it came to colour changes I couldn’t do as usual and start a row knitting with two colours for a few stitches, because that would mean knitting with 12 strands for a bit! So I had to just knots, and there are a lot of knots mid-way through rows as well because I didn’t work methodically making the six balls of each colour. I made sure the knots were at the back and fortunately they disappear into the thickness of the rug quite nicely. I regret not leaving lengths of yarn where there were colour changes near the beginning to weave into the back of the mat, and just snipping close to the knot, because they are now really obvious. I changed this after the first few colour changes, so there are only a few, but it’s a shame.
I’ve never made tassels before, but husband helped me and they turned out okay. They’re simple ones, no cardboard involved. I finished the rug itself just after Christmas but it took me til last weekend to do the tassels. It was a struggle because I’ve had a bad cold which really got going last weekend, so I did tassels on the Saturday with a hacking cough, but they’re done now! The cold’s still there, but going (more slowly than I would like). Glad I didn’t get the ‘flu, touch wood, but by Sunday afternoon it was edging in that direction and I took to my bed for a bit and had to take Monday off work.
The rug is lovely and soft to walk on. While knitting it I was sorry as it became apparent that 36 stitches equals a long and narrow knit – its finished size is c. 6 ft x 2ft, but am glad now because it’s nice in our corridor thingy. It would probably be good by a bed, running along one side, but our bedroom is almost too small for the bed, we have it pushed against the wall and you can only walk between the wall where the door is and the bed by walking sideways crab-like, hence why all the chests of drawers are in the corridor, so no room for the rug in the bedroom. But I make these things with my ‘one day’ home in my head, so hopefully one day we’ll get there! If you had a two-storey house it would look nice on an upstairs landing, I think.
Back to my autumn quilt, as well as finishing a cross stitch cushion cover, getting on with a new jumper I’ve started, and planning a new (winter) quilt! Oh, and making some pyjama bottoms… wouldn’t like to get bored, or actually finish my backlog before starting something new!