December 27, 2005


I hope everyone is having a nice holiday season, with a minimum of stress and a maximum of pastry seasonal cheer.

Me, I'm just glad it's winding down. Despite my efforts to keep things simple, everything combined always ends up being too...too, what with the booze and the sodium and the electronics and the paper and the lights and the crowds and the general atomoshpere of frenzy. I spend the last week of every year slightly dazed, as though I've just emerged from out of a particularly garish pinball machine.

Last night, that sweater coat became

a lot of very fine, somewhat fragile yarn. I was wrong when I guessed that it would be a fingering weight made of several plies - turns out it's two strands of laceweight-ish knit together. It needs to dry, and be wound, and then we'll see what we see.

To rip the coat, I used this


Courtesy of my boyfriend, who apparantly braved the uncharted and highly treacherous territory that is the knitting store in order to pick this up. It's perfect, since I don't need a ballwinder - I'm getting pretty handy with the nostepinne method - but the whole outstretched-knees-as-skein-holder thing wasn't really cutting it.

He gave me this, too:

I've been wanting this collection for a long time; there are some unbelievably beautiful patterns and motifs in here (Frost Flowers, anyone?). It's worth having for the charts alone, but the prose is charming and some real effort went into making this a coherent collection. Huzzah for wonderfully thoughtful, much-needed and much-appreciated presents!

Yesterday, I got my first (long-delayed) closeup look at the winter Interweave. This design was the only thing that caught my eye in the magazine -

but, oh, what a winner it is! I'm not crazy about the colors, but I love the concept, the shaping, the sense of geometry together with those sinuous cables that interlace and join the panels of the garment as though they grew that way. This is the sort of stuff I want to come up with - there's so little that's truly innovative when it comes to a craft as old as knitting, but man, is this a clever take on things.

Project Rundown:

--I decided Friday afternoon that I wouldn't try to finish my dad's sweater or the houndstooth clogs - a copout, maybe, but there were shrimp to be fried and temaki to be rolled in preparation for a big party. I really should learn not to bite off more than I can chew or choke down or chug.

--Some time ago, I took stalled-out projects off of the progress list. Brief obituaries follow:

  • Circular shrug: I hated the way the motifs were looking, hated the length of my rib section, was running out of yarn, and probably would not have found a shrug all that flattering (I think I was induced to cast on by the same flight of wild fancy that makes me think every May that yeah! This is the summer I can pull off one of those cute string triangle bikini tops. Yeah, no). I've been thinking lately of making a tightly shaped felt cloche, the mohair brushed up and shaved to resemble rabbit skin. Some wilting felted flowers and a droopy ribbon, and Ann Darrow'd have nothing on me.
  • Fair Isle Vest and the Fair Isle Sweater Jacket: The Fair Isle Exercise lives on, as the Fair Isle Armwarmers. The sweater jacket was poorly planned (suprise!), while the vest never really got off the ground. Until I develop an eye for color and pattern, I'll experiment with small projects.
  • Martha: Sigh. I have no excuses here, except that I got tired of knitting it. I came to dislike the Dale Stork (weird-feeling, like knitting with a full strand of embroidery floss), and dreaded the thought of stringing more beads. Maybe I'll get back to it when spring rolls around, or maybe it'll become a little baby jean-ish jacket.

Phew! Now, I just have to decide what knitting to take on vacation with me. The Austrian stockings? The baby sweater I've got to make? Those damn convertible mittens?

November 03, 2005

In a hurry

Laura asked what the brown and white intarsia piece was - it's Nicky Epstein's Floral Felted Bag from the fall '04 IK.

For a variety of reasons, I went with two-colors rather than replicating the pretty-but-awfully-twee full-color bag pictured. Just a very leeetle more progress has been made on the second intarsia panel.

And I started charting and swatching for the fair isle vest project:

I'm going to think of this project as an exercise in color and pattern, and keep the shaping fairly simple. Right now, I'm thinking columns of infinite knots mixed with traditional peeries...but I don't know. At any rate, it will have to be a slow-burn kind of thing - I can't justify knitting too much for myself when there are gifts waiting and deadlines piling.

Speaking of which, I'm off to get another skein to finish the Fir Cone. Look for a FO by the weekend!

(I've been doing a lot of admin stuff on the site lately; if you're using IE, you may have to empty your cache to see the changes to the stylesheet. There's been some cosmetic stuff, but the big organization changes are as follows:

1-You can now click on any item in the "In Progress" list to see all entries mentioning that project;
2-You can click on any item in the FO list to see a bare-bones spec list on the project, hopefully containing only helpful information. At the bottom of that page, you'll see a link to displaying all entries on that project.

Thoughts? Like it? Hate it?)

October 31, 2005


I have been thinking lately about the phenomenon of the upscale knitter - that is, he or she who embodies American knitting's century-long shift from the only practical way of outfitting a family with warm winter underclothes to a luxury parlor art indulged in more often by those with disposable income and idle time than those without.

I'm a practically penniless writer, myself (lacking only the garret room and the consumptive lover), but I can't help but smile a little at the irony of indulging my champagne-and-cashmere tastes in order to reinvent as a pastime what has historically been a chore - Marie Antoinette playing at milkmaid.

Don't worry - this isn't turning into a fiber fascist's manifesto - I knit for the simple pleasure of it; because I think making something that pleases the eye and hands is worth time and effort; because I have an unconquerable inability to sit still; because I can't bear to step into a mall come Christmas. The holier-than-thou who sniff at "trendy" knitting can see me in hell - I'll be the one wearing the mohair legwarmers.

I do think, though, that it's important to be a thoughtful knitter, aware of the spirit of economy and thrift out of which today's expensive hobby grew. I'd like to learn to spin, and learn more about fiber production, but for now:

True scraps and leftovers that will become a bonny Fair Isle vest, in the best tradition of turning waste into something new and useful - exercising my portion of the innate and universal eye for beauty, gratefully.