A Year Like No Other: 2020

At the end of each year, I like to look back and reflect on what I’ve made, plans for the next year and thoughts in general. This year, though, things seem a bit different. The year that we’ve all experienced is quite different from previous – unlike anything many of us have experienced in our lifetimes. Regardless of which side of ‘the fence’ we fall upon (and I lament that we seem to have to choose sides), for our family, there will be no gathering this year. The finish of the year feels a bit surreal to be honest – and the idea of celebrating Christmas and the New Year, a bit odd.

At the beginning of the year, I had some absolute grand plans! I wanted to do a Make Nine that included a lot of sweaters – this really resonated with me at the time. I wanted to increase how much I wore them and saw it as an opportunity to curate my wardrobe. I was in fact able to do that, with varying results! I think it’s pretty amazing that only one of the sweaters was ripped out to be honest!! When one commits to this much knitting, I kind of expect a certain amount of pivoting or changes in plan.

My Make Nine goals are listed here, but this is the grid that I was inspired by:

Make Nine Grid for 2020: Total 9 Sweaters, Goal: Mostly Handspun

For the sweaters, designers and pattern links, please have a look here. Amazingly, I was actually incredibly successful in completing my goals – I have cast on all 9 sweaters and completed 8 of them. Partially, I am amazed at how much knitting time I was able to carve out this year AND I am amazed that I also completed 2 sweaters outside the Make Nine goals.

Sauvabelin by Jessica Gore wasn’t a Make Nine sweater but I absolutely love it – it has been a favourite since I finished it!

I completed 25 knitting and weaving projects this year, which two large woven tea towel projects with 11 yard warps. They took all year and the looms have not been warped with anything else but! That’s a lot of weaving regardless!

2-Colour Pinwheel Towels off my 11-yard warp – total towels from this warp: 10

Of those 25 projects, I completed 13 sweaters – 11 for myself (which is completely selfish and I thoroughly enjoyed the time making them!) and 2 for Norah, which is pretty great.

The Shift by Andrea Mowry

I knit 4 shawls – one of which for my sister-in-law after the death of her mother in the Spring, right as restrictions were ramping up in hospitals here. And 6 accessories – including toques and mitts – all out of handspun or commercial yarn combinations to set off the handspun. Lastly, of those 11 sweaters I knit for myself, I ripped out one, which is pretty incredible that of all that knitting, that was the only snafoo.

I learned some valuable lessons about my knitting this year, including the types of sweaters I enjoy wearing the most, some of the attributes to look for in knitting patterns and aesthetics, and yarns I enjoy working with the most. Let’s start at the top!

Stonecrop Pullover by Andrea Mowry: A bit too short for my liking — goals for the new year including lengthening

Firstly, while I love the look of cropped sweaters, I prefer sweaters that are slightly longer or standard in their fit length. I also prefer sweaters with slightly smaller necklines. I loved the Stonecrop Pullover so much – the knitting was lovely, although intense with all of the charts of changes. This kept it interesting and moving because there was always something coming next BUT! It was a lot of knitting and for that amount of time, I would have preferred a longer sweater. I can absolutely change that as I have access to more of the main colour and leftover handspun – it’s on my list for the New Year to fix.

Anker’s Cardigan by PetiteKnits: A good reminder about details, slowing down and taking note.

Second, necklines. I much prefer necklines that I am not worrying about whether my bra strap is showing, necessitating pulling at the neck and rearranging it! I learned this with both the Stonecrop (photo above) and Anker’s Cardigan. This was the only sweater that was ripped out this year – I was off with my gauge and wasn’t careful enough about fit. I was too intent on ‘getting it finished’ which meant I was sloppy with fit and details. A good reminder to slow down and take note when our gut is talking to us!

Gentle Morning by Trin-Annelie: That perfect place of handspun and knitting pattern harmony.
100% local Cheviot from Birkeland Bros kind of just snuck through on the podcast, being talked about a little bit and then knitting up immediately. It never really got its time in the sun – and to date, is one of my favourite spins!

I have bins full of handspun yarn now. It’s a bit overwhelming to be totally honest. I love working with handspun so much – AND, there is nothing like that perfect marrying of yarn and pattern. Absolutely nothing. When the two come together in perfect harmony, the sweater or garment or item just personifies that beauty. This was the case with a couple of sweaters this year, which reminded me of the experience of great handspun and great pattern writing – even if simple. This was absolutely the case with Gentle Morning, which people in the community are still waxing poetic about, and the Shore Cardigan. The yarns were fantastic to spin, the fibres enjoyable to work with and the sweaters showed it.

Shore Cardigan by Carrire Bostick Hoge: A match of handspun yarn (Friesian dairy sheep fleece, carded and spun) & pattern.

Finally, I had some surprises this year that reminded me of the magic in our making when it’s not so planned.

Little Shore Cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge & Last Unicorn by Meghan Regan (below)

First, I had a lovely time knitting some things for Norah that she requested – both her Little Shore Cardigan and Last Unicorn sweater. I also can’t believe how much she’s grown this year, even just between those few months when each sweater was finished.

Endell by Kelly G. Knits (above) and Pink Velvet by Andrea Mowry (below): Lots of colourwork this year!

Second, I did A LOT of colourwork this year, which I don’t normally do much of at all!! Three of the 4 toques were colourwork and I knit a colourwork yoked sweater.

Crosswise Cadence Mitts by Amy Odin (above) & Headband with a Twist by Mirella Moments (below): Lots of small projects were thoroughly enjoyable!

Third, I enjoyed some smaller projects that were quick off the needles, including the headbands and a couple of toques.

Plans for the new year: Some spinning-focused goals rather than garments or sweaters

I do have plans for 2021 but I’m going easy on myself, keeping it simple and small. Some projects that will focus on others – Mike and my mom – and some spinning goals, rather than garments or sweaters. We will be delving into luxury fibres so I hope to have some projects from those endeavours. Moments for making are precious and rather than big, high-pressure goals, I think some smaller, moderate projects are in order! Like another headband … where are my needles … hmm …

How about you? What are you most proud of for 2020? Surviving?! Seriously, though, I’d love to hear.

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