Yes, I remember I have a blog.
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.