jamie fraser cowl

Folks, please find for your enjoyment, a new, free knitting pattern developed by yours truly!

In May, Hugh and I traveled to the UK. We had a fabulous trip, visiting Exeter, Oxford, London, Islay, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Birmingham and Cheltenham. Hugh’s parents purchased first class BritRail passes for us and it was the best thing ever! It made covering all of that distance so much easier and worry-free.

Hugh and I made a bit of a deal for this trip that I would humour him visiting all the distilleries he wanted, if he humoured me visiting all of the wool shops I wanted. It worked out quite well! From Exeter, we visited nearby Devon, where I knew there was a museum in an old woollen mill, and I had reason to believe they sold knitting wool.

Coldharbour Mill Museum was fantastic! Even Hugh enjoyed it and was a bit inspired to look into spinning wheels. I think he liked the large factory feel to it. I made sure to purchase enough wool to make a sweater, but they also had a bargain bin full of unlabelled skeins. I grabbed all of this chunky, dark green wool that I could, 2 full-sized hanks and one smaller one.

While on the train between destinations, I started sketching out what I wanted this wool to become. Inspired by the dreich but beautiful gloom of Scottish weather, and probably as a result of watching too much Outlander, I’m quite pleased with the result.

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you, the Jamie Fraser cowl (I prefer to call it the James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser cowl, but that was a bit wordy for publication). Scroll to bottom to download the pattern in PDF.

SONY DSC

This unisex cowl is knit in the round and incorporates trios of cables and panels of seed stitch knit in super bulky yarn. Pair it with your favourite tartan and be sure to enjoy with a fine dram of whisky.

Use any bulky, super bulky or chunky wool and size 7.0mm (US 10.75) circular needles (or size appropriate for your wool). My finished cowl is 92cm in circumference and 26cm in height, but these measurements can be easily modified by using a thinner wool and knitting fewer rounds.

abbreviations

c2f: Cable 2 front. Worked over 4 sts. Slip 2 stitches to cable needle and let hang in front; knit the next 2 stitches from the left-hand needle, then knit the 2 stitches from the cable needle.

c2b: Cable 2 back. Worked over 4 sts. Slip 2 stitches to the cable needle and let hang in back; knit the next 2 stitches from the left-hand needle, then knit 2 stitches from the cable needle.

c4f: Cable 4 front. Worked over 8 sts. Slip 4 stitches to cable needle and let hang in front; knit the next 4 stitches from the left-hand needle, then knit the 4 stitches from the cable needle.

pattern

Cast on 124 sts, place marker and join to work in the round.

Rnd 1 (and all odd-numbered rounds): [(k1, p1) 3 times, k1, p2, k4, p2, k8, p2, k4, p2] 4 times.

Rnd 2: [(p1, k1) x3, p3, k4, p2, k8, p2, k4, p2] x4.

Rnd 4: [(k1, p1) x3, k1, p2, c2f, p2, k8, p2, c2b, p2] x4.

Rnd 6: [(p1, k1) x3, p3, k4, p2, k8, p2, k4, p2] x4.

Rnd 8: [(k1, p1) x3, k1, p2, c2f, p2, c4f, p2, c2b, p2] x4.

Repeat rounds 1 – 8 a total of five times (or until you have reached desired length), then repeat rounds 1 – 7.

Bind off.

finishing

Weave in ends and give Laird Fraser a warm bath with some wool wash. Block to desired measurements.

Download PDF jamie fraser cowl pattern

 

Advertisements

How (not) to store your wool…

As Karen alluded to in her last post (a super helpful tutorial!) this blog post is about Type A vs Type B personalities.

Personality Psychology is a huge area of psychology and this is not the space to dissect, or even explain, what it is about. Wikipedia is always your friend so if you are interested in learning more please feel free to head over here for more information!

For brevity (and wit) today I will be focusing on one particular personality theory: Type A and Type B Personality Theory.

You may have heard of this theory before as it is a common one. What you may not know is that it was developed not by psychologists but by cardiologists! Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman conducting a longitudinal study into risk factors for heart attacks and found that more competitive, ambitious or aggressive men were twice as likely to have a heart attack than those that are more relaxed. They labeled these as Type As and Type Bs respectively.

Since then these personality types have been researched extensively and Friedman even went on to write a book about Type A behaviour as something that can be pathologised and treated.

So here we come to wool.

I think it is safe to say that Karen would define herself as a Type A personality: organised, sensitive, anxious. While I think I could safely define myself as a Type B personality: reflective, impulsive, disorganised. And there is no better place that this manifests than in our approach to knitting.

Karen has a beautiful craft room with everything in its own place, she keeps here WIPs (Works In Progress) in bags so that they can be stored tidily, and she sometimes even winds her skeins of yarn more neatly before knitting with them!

dsc_0336

I, on the other hand do none of the above. My friend Molly does a lovely impersonation of me storing my knitting. It looks a bit like a person scrunching up a piece of paper and ‘shoving’ it in a bag. She even uses the word ‘shoving’ to describe what I do. Invariably this leads to frustrating tangles that take hours to unwind, but I never learn. Because I am spontaneous, I rarely think ahead and so I keep doing it because it’s easier and faster in that moment.

16177476_10209430983584451_3118821498923985917_o

This is where I depart from Friedman and Rosenman. They saw Type A as a problem and Type B as desirable. However, they were cardiologists, not psychologists (and definitely not crafters). I can definitely see the merits in being more organised and more of a planner. While I am often less stressed in any given moment, I would probably (definitely) save more time if I was organised.

As with anything, maybe it is about balance. It’s probably just a behaviour that I could choose to practice (because by now you all know that behaviour is a choice!) and so I continue to work on it. In the meantime I will continue to be a source of much mirth to all my friends and my husband as, interestingly, they are almost all Type As.

And to inspire me to change my unhelpful behaviours, if anyone has any wonderful wool-spiration or craft rooms-to-die-for, please comment and show me a photo or a link below!!

Interested in finding out what personality type you are? click here for a quiz

If you want to know more about different personality theories check out:

The Personality Project (http://www.personality-project.org/index.html

Simply Psychology (http://www.simplypsychology.org/personality-theories.html)

Group work: Or ‘How to Knit a Dress’

‘It takes a village to raise a child’
Or apparently, to knit a dress for one.

For almost all of us working in a group is a part of every day life. Whether it be in sport, at work or in our leisure time. In my work I often do group sessions as well as individual therapy, and the two are completely different tasks. In trying to achieve an outcome as part of a group we are often more exhausted than if we had done it ourselves (in fact, a lot of the time we will do things ourselves just because of this!). But is there value in group work?

I would like to think so. When we work as a group we open ourselves to new viewpoints; we access new knowledge that can give us an advantage or lead to innovation and we can achieve more in the long run.
dsc_0101

Caroline, collaborator and knitter-extraordinaire-in-the-making

My most exciting piece of teamwork recently was a knitting project. Caroline is part of our informal knitting group but is a new knitter and as is often the case, can lack the confidence to throw herself into new challenges. She is incredibly committed to only ever knitting in the round- but has produced some incredible hats!

I tend to try a new knitting technique with each new project. This can often lead to disasters and abandoned projects, but it keeps me out of trouble!
So together we agreed to knit a dress for Rose (daughter to a mutual friend in the UK, Tori). The idea was that Caroline would do the bottom bit because it was all knit in the round, and I would do the top bits. In the end I also got to pass on the joining and sewing in the ends, which was perfect as it’s my least favourite part of knitting.

img_5331-2
The pattern we followed was taken from Fawn Pea over at blogspot (www.fpea.blogspot.com.au) and was her ‘Apiary Jumper’. The wool I used was a variegated yarn in 8 ply (sadly I have forgotten the brand, it was bought from Baa Baa Wool in Warragul, Victoria). It was super simple to knit and didn’t require much finishing. I think everyone will agree she looks adorable in the dress!

But what did I learn from this experience and how does it relate to what we already know about group work?

Firstly, yes, I could have done this dress myself, but it was so much more fun doing a group project! And Caroline even had a go at a new decrease so it pushed her out of her comfort zone.

Secondly, I do work wonderfully well to deadlines. I finished the straps in a shop just before seeing Tori for lunch. Literally 10 minutes to spare. Caroline did the finishing in the pub while we ate lunch! (Thank goodness she always carries a tapestry needle with her.)

And finally, I learned that, even when you think your group is small, you often have to draw on outside resources to get a project completed. It turns out this project needed not only me and Caroline but also three friends just to unravel my very messy wool (I’d blame the kittens but it’s not all their fault), Tori’s mum to sew the buttons on and our team of support knitters (especially Karen) to help us decode the unfamiliar bits of the pattern!

img_5169

Steve, PK and Polly (not pictured) all chipped in to untangle the wool! Thanks 🙂

I want to leave you with a bit on what we do know about group work:

In this project one very important idea was the concept of team cognition is important; this includes not only what the group knows, but also the idea that everyone in the group knows what the others know (i.e. they don’t assume people have knowledge when they don’t), and how they share what they do know. During the knitting stage Caroline, Karen and I communicated regularly to help each other with fixing mistakes we made (dropped stitches etc), as well as reading the pattern. Having this network is so helpful in any project or skill.

Other important factors in effective teams identified in the literature are autonomy, participation, cohesiveness/cooperation, increased diversity and shared norms (standards shared by group members). Interestingly rewards and presence of group conflict often do not lead to reduced group effectiveness. In this project we worked wonderfully as a team and the reward was seeing Rose in her dress. (If you want more information on the above feel free to do further reading, maybe start at DeChurch & Mesmer-Magnus, 2010, or Cohen & Bailey, 1997 for a meta-analysis and further detail.)

And don’t forget to tune in next week to find out just why my wool is such a mess.
(hint: this isn’t the only reason…)
img_4076

Just keep knitting until the wool runs out

trains.jpg

It took me four hours to get to work on Friday morning. I got to the train station just in time to catch my train to Geelong, but there was no train. There would be no trains all morning: they’d all been cancelled.

I hate being late. When I was little, my older sister and I attended a tiny, private school run by our church. The school handed out demerits for tardiness and other naughty behaviours, and the threat of receiving a demerit terrified me. My mom used to struggle to get four children out of bed, ready, and into the car for the school run, and we were constantly late to school. The school principal was our church pastor, and the teachers were my mom’s best friends. They all knew my mom’s struggle. Yet it never occurred to me that they might be lenient on me or my family. I would arrive at school frustrated, embarrassed and cranky, all because of an imagined threat of getting into trouble.

I’m not a very punctual person, but I still hate being late. It still fills me with dread and anxiety when I realise my train or tram isn’t going to move quickly enough to arrive at my destination on time. And it doesn’t matter where I’m going, or if anyone will even care that I’m late. I spend the whole journey stressing.

Unless I have my knitting. Knitting occupies my brain in such a low level way that it frees me from any anxious thoughts plaguing me, while allowing my mind to wander down calmer paths. When I’m knitting, my lateness doesn’t bother me as much. I still know I’m late, but I’m able to place my trust in the car/bus/tram/tain driver to get me to my destination, eventually. I did a lot of knitting over the four hours I was traveling to work Friday morning! My ball of wool was getting very close to the end, but it was just enough to get me through the extra-long commute.

mira

Even if I don’t practice mindful knitting, knitting helps me to reach a more meditative state. It lets me step back from the anxiety and panic. And it wasn’t until I read Julia’s recent post on finding yin that I understood why: in knitting, I inadvertently focus on the pause between stitches, the gap inside the next stitch, the slowing of the needle as it reaches its apex before coming back towards me. Then there’s the almost imperceptible growing of a garment that will be useful to me or the person I’m knitting for. It’s incredibly therapeutic.

bee stitch

Right now, I’m making myself a jumper for this cold weather. I can’t wait for it to be finished! (Though of course, I’m enjoying the process!) Want to know what I’m making? The pattern is called Mira, and was written by Justyna Lorkowska (@letesknits). It features bee stitch, which is very squishy and cosy. I can’t wait to wear it! And for now, I’ll revel in an opportunity to spend four hours knitting away on it.

What this week has brought me!

 

Even Alexander has been getting involved with yoga and meditation! Here he is executing a perfect Down Dog (adho mukha shvanasana).

In my last post I wrote about the power of finding a space or a break and gave a few tips. I have been following these tips over the past week and I feel wonderful!! I just wanted to share my week and hopefully inspire you to make a change.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

-Mahatma Gandhi

IMG_3900

On Wednesday, the day of my last post, coincidentally my softball training was cancelled. Rather than use this as an excuse to sit around and do nothing my friend Alys came over and we baked some brownies! It was so much fun (although there was one very mindless moment where I turned on the mixer with the beaters up and brownie mix went everywhere).

It was so nice to use some unexpected time to do something different and set the momentum for the rest of the week.

On Thursday I tried out Yin Yoga! The idea behind yin yoga is that you hold positions for a few minutes at a time and so are creating change within the connective tissue such as ligaments, rather than at a muscular level as with yang forms of yoga. I particularly love the focus on remaining still and identifying the sensation without labelling it as discomfort or pain; it is so important to listen carefully to the body in yin yoga and so is a truly mindful practice.

FullSizeRenderOn Friday, Stuart and I decided to put away the technology. We did not turn on the TV, put our phones away and pulled out the Monopoly. We had so much fun but it was also nice to reconnect with each other and actually talk rather than simply having a running commentary about the TV, or half listening while distracted. It left us in much better moods on Saturday and with more energy for the weekend.

One of the side effects of these changes was that at the end of last week I was left with a sense of calm and patience which has lasted throughout this week. In my next blog I want to talk about affirmations and Sankalpa because this has been working for me this week too. But for now I will leave you with a photo of me knitting with the kittens- because I’ve had more time for these things now I’ve found the space!!

IMG_3893