Yarn Along/WIP Wednesday – Knitting Gemini and Learning More Than I Ever Wanted to Know About Raising Sheep

The only thing I’ve ever knitted with cotton is dish cloths. And I’ve knitted lots. Dozens and dozens; maybe even hundreds and hundreds. I’ve lost track. I think of cotton yarn, perhaps unfairly, as tough, stiff and slightly harsh. Ever try practicing your cable patterns by knitting them into dish cloths? Challenging, isn’t it?  The yarn just doesn’t have enough stretch for some of those cables. I almost broke a needle trying a particularly tight Aran cable.

This week, I’m branching out with my cotton knitting. I picked up some decent yarn (a cotton/linen blend by Rowan) and I’m going to be knitting Gemini, a summer top I’ve been salivating over for months.

Gemini by Jane RIchmond, as seen on Ravelry

To accompany my knitting, I’ve picked up Hit By A Farm, a memoir by Catherine Friend, a local author. It recounts the trials experienced by two city girls who, at middle age, decided to take up sheep farming. I expected this book to be a feel-good romp, like a 21st century version of All Creatures Great and Small. Hoo boy, was I wrong.

The book has its gentle, funny moments. I particularly enjoyed the author’s recounting of her first lambing season and  the story of how she accidentally planted hundreds of grape vines upside down.

What strikes me most about the book, however, is its dark and troubled moments. She writes unflinchingly about the uncertainty and anxiety that were a constant part of her life; the sorrow and impotence she felt over loss of animals;  and the devastating effect of this major life change on her relationship with her partner.

I didn’t expect this book to go there.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it, but be prepared. Rose-colored glasses come separately.


  1. I HATE knitting with cotton because it is so ungiving. It makes my hands hurt. Linen isn’t much better. But Gemini is a gorgeous pattern and might just be worth the pain. 🙂

    • I’ve got a linen skirt project waiting in the wings too. Methinks I’d better keep a woolen project on hand just to give my hands a break.

  2. I am currently knitting with linen as I live in the south where there isn’t a lot of use for wool, but boy, like cotton there is not give!
    I just finished knitting with cotton clothes line and it was tough.
    I have that book in my cart and would love to read it. I have animals so rose colored glasses I don’t need ;).
    Love the pattern you have chosen, it’s beautiful!
    Happy yarn along day.

    • I’m sure you’ll find a lot to identify with. I picked up the book from the author’s booth at a local knitting convention. I would love to discuss it with her now that I’ve read it.

  3. I worked with some cheap, nasty cottons the first couple times I tried cotton, and it drove me away for a while too. I’m slooowly softening towards it though, especially since discovering Blue Sky Alpacas’ cotton and Cascade’s Ultra Pima. With as warm as it gets here in the summer, I’d really like to like cotton!

  4. Wait, you read while knitting? How do you manage that?!?!?! TV, audio book, music, I get how that works, but how do you read while knitting? Do you have some kind of stand for your book, and how do you manage to turn the pages while having your hands occupied with knitting needles and yarn? Wow, you’re superwoman!

    • Well, usually I can’t read and knit at the same time.
      When I do it’s usually with my kindle and not a paper book. I can prop that up easily and I only have to press a button to advance the page. Audio books are a perfect solution. I gobble those up.

      • Ah, ok, that makes sense. I think the Kindle has a text-to-speech function too? I haven’t tried it, but since I’m now hooked on audiobooks, I can’t imagine the straight reading being anywhere near the quality and inflections that a real narrator has.

        I once was knitting on the tram and I hadn’t finished the last few stitches of my row, so I knit those up while walking. I managed that ok, but you’re so tuned out of your environment, I can’t manage doing that on a regular basis. But there are people out there who do that…

  5. Thanks for bringing the Gemini sweater to my attention. I may have to consider this for a future project.
    Currently, I am using a cotton-acrylic blend for a summer sweater. I don’t know how I compares to cotton-linen (or just cotton) in terms of difficulty (or warmth). I do notice that it untwists a lot more than woolen yarns. Good luck on the sweater!

    • I notice the untwisting with cotton yarns in general. It doesn’t seem to cling to itself the way wool does. I notice that there are many projects out on Ravelry for Gemini. People have done it in a wide variety of yarns. You might be able find someone who has done it using a similar yarn blend. They may have some recommendations for gauge or other pattern modifications.

      Good luck. I’m looking forward to finishing this project so I can wear it.

  6. I hate cotton soooooo much – and why would you turn your lovely knitting into dishcloths? I think I would cry a little inside every time it was actually used.
    But the pattern looks lovely – hope you have some good strong needles for it!

    • Cotton makes for really good dishcloths, perfect for scrubbing. And at least most people will have a use for a dish cloth. An easy gift.

      • Meh, that’s what it’s for. They’re cheap, quick and easy. I wouldn’t want them to abuse the dish cloths. A certain giftee used to be less than careful about using them to clean serrated knives, which I didn’t approve of. But in the big scheme of things, I happy to see them get some good use. It makes me happy that my gift is useful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s