It turns out when you spend at least two hours a day drawing, you improve. I’m down to only using two types of pencils: 2H and 6B; I find I can get enough dynamic range of out them.
I am no longer using pen outlines which means i can tweak more and more as I go if the drawing isn’t quite right. Also can put more details in the eyes and they have a softer look overall.
I am spending far too much money on Knitting books, but hey. BOOKS.