January 29, 2010
That, if you have tried to check the blog regularly, might just be a question you ask. I blame part of it on the amount of time I spend with my iTouch – that keyboard is not conducive to blogging. I blame part of it on the amount of time my teenagers are on the computer. And part of it, well, if you know me, you know that communication is not always my strong suit. I mean, I can talk and will whether or not I have something interesting to say, but when it comes to writing or typing, it’s not so sure. Still, this is at least a good a place as any to share some stuff that’s been floating around my mind.
I’ve been knitting recently – not a big shock, I know, I know. Anyway, I’ve been knitting Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Green Sweater and it’s an interesting knit. There are steeks since the whole thing is knit in the round, along with fake seams and very interesting sleeve designs. In spite of my initial plan, I’ve decided to stick with the original dolman sleeves. There’s an authenticity to that which makes me happy. Also, it might turn out to be flattering; a sweater that’s 50 years old and still good-looking must have something special. Because of who Elizabeth Zimmerman was and how she designed (and because knitting in the round gives me lots of time to think), I’ve been pondering the thinking and motivation behind the sweater design. And in the roundabout way that my brain works ( horrible pun acknowledged), I’ve been whether sweaters designed today will still be made in 50 years.
There are a lot of wonderful sweaters that I am sure will be around. Some sweaters fly to the land of “What was I thinking?”; trust me, I learned to knit in the 1980’s. You can imagine how well I learned that lesson. So, really, this isn’t a question of good design or bad design. It’s more a matter of skills and the reasons we knit.
I took a class with the amazing Sally Melville last summer and she said that knitters used to know how to make a sweater that fit and flattered because that was how you got a sweater – you made it. Which makes a lot of sense. I’m not talking only about the utilitarian days before machine-made clothes. Even in the early to mid-20th century, a good sweater was expensive and since every woman knew how to knit, there wasn’t a real reason not to make it yourself. You might adapt fashion ideas from magazines or books, but no matter what you could make a basic pullover.
Knitters today, though, don’t usually come to the craft in childhood. They take classes. They check the internet and YouTube. They read Ravelry. There are lots of knitting books and magazines dedicated just to knitting, let alone crochet, weaving and spinning. We’re not usually approaching this from the standpoint of keeping ourselves warm. We can buy an inexpensive sweater made in a factory for that, even if the quality may be inferior to what we make for ourselves. We can (and I hear the groan of knitters everywhere as I type this) buy socks from Wal-Mart if all we wanted were foot coverings. That is so NOT the point for us.
Now, whatever your reasons for knitting, they’re not usually entirely practical. (I mean, other than the whole, “I knit so I don’t kill people ” thing.) As a result, we’re making things for fun. Practicing lace knitting because of the satisfaction or beauty. Adding complex curves and shapes because we want to play with the shapes. Making sweaters because we just couldn’t resist the hand-dyed yummyness of the yarn. We have trends and hot patterns and amazing, amazing creations every day. So, the first question is, Can this last?
Well, the answer I want is, of course, it’s incredible. The answer I feel sure of is, no, because change is inevitable. Changes may be for the better or the worse, but that depends a lot of things. I know my daughter is spinning yarn. Maybe the trend of everyone knowing it is growing again and her generation will take the magical explosion of creativity for granted, the way they take the internet for granted now. So, there’s no telling. What I should ask is my second question:
What will last from this generation of knitting? What will make something truly classic and timeless? I have some thoughts on that and I’ll try to share them soon, but I am really hoping that I’ll get some comments on this and we can discuss it. Think about it – and before you do, remember to look at pictures of yourself 10 or 20 years ago. That is usually a real eye opener.
July 10, 2009
A couple of posts ago, I promised you photos of the socks I designed with Brown Sheep Cotton Fine. Before they went into the mail to live in Nebraska, I took a couple of photos.
I call the pattern “Floating Islands” but I don’t know what the final name will be. I really like the Cotton Fine – the stitch definition is really good and that makes a difference for lace.
On another fiber front, I’ve been unofficially participating in the Tour de Fleece. I decided it would be an attainable goal to clean all the fleece in my house. Since I do it in small batches in the sink, it is a job that takes a lot of dedicated effort. Since it’s always much more fun to play with clean fiber than stick my hands into hot soapy water with greasy wool, I needed the extra incentive to get it done. I bought a 5 1/2 lb. Corriedale fleece last year at SAFF and I probably have 2 lbs left to wash. So far, I’ve done the amounts of white and brown Polworth fleeces I have; tomorrow should be the end of the roughly 6 oz. of silver-gray Polworth. I have to say – I haven’t even spun the fiber yet and I’m in love with it. The staple is so long and the crimp so fine, that by the time you get into the fineness of the individual fibers, it’s just ridiculously good stuff. I have a cunning plan to blend some angora with the brown Polworth. It should make the most divine fingerless gloves. If I can bear to give them away. Hm, I wonder if I have enough for two pair of mitts instead?
Maybe I’ll make that my reward to getting back to the Corriedale. Such a nice fleece, but hard to get back to cleaning it after dealing with the coated Polworth. You can tell she’s a Southern sheep by all the red dirt!
July 7, 2009
Hi there! So, clearly, I have to get in the habit of posting more regularly on this blog. I don’t know if a blog is a good idea for someone who has never been able to handle keeping up with a diary. Then again, I never have to hate my handwriting on a blog! And, these days anything I write is only likely to be filled with the angst of my own teenagers – that seems less embarrassing than flaunting my own drama as my early diaries would show you.
My big news is that I got my sketchbook back from a friend who scanned it as a pdf for me. She’s a busy woman with 3 little boys, but still generous with her time and talent. Thank you, Mariana! My sketchbook is filled with ideas I have for a knitting book. I’ve made one item from it so far and I love it. I figure that the worst that comes out of designing the garments is that I have a wonderful wardrobe!
Anyway, that’s all there is for me. See you soon!
June 21, 2009
For whatever reason, when my mother got into town this week, she decided she needed to clean my house. Which is great, really. It meant I didn’t get a whole lot of knitting done, but I did get clean carpets and more. She even got my husband to hang things on the wall, which I’ve been trying for longer than I care to think about. My mother is a force with which to be reckoned.
On a fun note, though, I got yarn from Brown Sheep. While I was at TNNA, I sold them a sock pattern I’d done in their Cotton Fine. (Photo to come soon.) Normally, I’m not a cotton socks person, but this yarn has 20% wool in it; that gives it loft and memory. They also asked me to design a shawl for them from the same yarn. I am so psyched. I love designing and the idea of seeing my design used by other knitters makes me very happy. So, as soon as I get the sock pattern written up, I’ll be working on the shawl.
That is, after I get my room more organized. You see, my mother is coming back Wednesday. Yes, I’m 41 years old and getting my room clean for my mother. She thinks I need to organize my yarn, fiber and books better! I wonder if she has any idea what she’s really asking? Maybe it’s best to hop she doesn’t.
June 17, 2009
Wow, a blog. I do remember when a friend had to explain what one was to me. Granted that was about 8 years ago, which is like 80 years in web years. Still, here I am at last.
I’ve just gotten back from TNNA, which for those of you who don’t play with fiber professionally, is the market for yarn related everything. I met lots of people and am going to be doing some design work for a couple of companies. I’ve also got a book proposal that needs some samples made. Must get to work.
That is, once I’m unpacked and caught up on sleep. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t wait for that to happen.