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December 11, 2005

Bandwagon

This Kool Aid dyeing business is a lot of fun.

Enough (hopefully) self-striping superwash to make another pair of Jaywalkers.

November 30, 2005

Excessive

Goodness - thanks for the nice comments about the socks! It really is a fun, tidy pattern, sensibly and clearly written (would you expect anything less from The Great Grumperina?) but plenty interesting to knit. Just one (very mild) warning about the pattern - the zigzag stitch does indeed make for a hugging, supportive fit, but it comes at the expense of lateral stretch in the fabric. DON'T worry too much about mods to make them smaller, unless you have very wee dainty little fairy feet. I wear a size 6 shoe, and found that I couldn't get the cuff over my ankle on the first go-round, when I'd blindly tried doing the whole thing on size 0s.

Everything yesterday was excessive. In eighteen waking hours, I:

  • drank enough coffee to float the Spanish Armada;
  • sent out more rock-solid queries and proposal packages than I normally do in a week;
  • got excited about some more ideas I'll solidify later
  • ate Ghandi's weight in butter chicken and tamarind pickle;
  • spent something roughly equivalent to the GNP of a small country on yarn;
  • talked until my tongue ached;
  • single-handedly brought about the extinction of several species of fish in a sashimi-related natural disaster (also known as "dinner");
  • poured cup after cup of sake for my dad, and accepted those proffered in return, until we were both pleasantly maudlin and weepy;
  • knitted and knitted and knitted and knitted.

I mean, if you're going to do anything, you might as well do it thoroughly, right?

The lovely-in-real-life Laura and I made the most of an otherwise grey day with some good food and some good yarn-ing. We swung by Knit 'N Stitch in Bethesda, where I picked up some felting-destined Cascade 220 in a pretty heathered rust color:

and then went on to Yarns International, just down the street. I LOVE this shop - All About Yarn is so close it's made me lazy to head anywhere else, but I'd forgotten how beautiful this shop is, full of thoughtfully selected fibers and an almost reverent regard for traditional knitting. They carry an enormous assortment of J&S Shetland jumperweight (I'd say almost half the line), but I knew what I was looking for:

Their own brand of 2-ply jumperweight in natural fleece colors, spun and put up for them by J&S themselves (in Shetland, to boot!). I bought one skein of each of the nine colors, plus a dark wine dyed J&S color I just couldn't resist, in an effort to further my FI education. Here they are, grouped into the basic light-on-dark shadings I'll start with:

That wine red will look dandy, I think, as a single line of pop in the horizontal centerline of the pattern bands. Does it make me a complete loser if I confess that I can't wait to start snipping yarn and swatching and arranging and charting for Armwarmers v2.0 portion of The Fair Isle Project?

We also had a lovely conversation with two extremely knowledgable, very proficient ladies in the shop about Fair Isle method and design and history (the older lady told a funny story about Norman Kennedy whipping off his homemade sweater during the middle of a concert to show her his construction method - "Och, lass, I haven't finished the ends yet, and it's been near twenty years!"). There was some general bemoaning over the Starmore debacle, some really good information exchanged about steeking, and some wonderful advice about good theory books. With their encouragement, I bought this,

which has an amazing discussion of color, and am on the lookout for copies of some other books they recommend. Traditional Fair Isle Knitting, by Sheila McGregor, is supposed to be a really invaluable resource for straight charts and thoughts on line and shape, and of course there was some general swooning over the Starmore book.

Oh, right, and I did a little work on the bag:

That is, I finished all the knitting for it and sewed it up about half way. I changed my side treatment, to create sharply sloping sides that almost meet at the top,

which I think will look a lot more finished and a bit shapelier than the box-with-handles in the pattern instructions. I'm thinking the Kate Spade Bexley Maddox bag

is a spiritual sister to my little project - with that in mind, I'm going to be very thorough with construction for this. No floppy, frowzy felt tote for me - there will be interfacing, there will be turning out through lining, there will be buckles and feet and interior pockets.

But first, there must be felting. I think I just felt a little shiver run down my spine.

November 29, 2005

Jaywalker Socks

This is a really fun pattern - Grumperina did a great job!

Pattern: Jaywalker Socks, by Grumperina for Magknits September 2005
Yarn: Lana Grossa Meilenweit Fun & Stripes, in color 602 (cream/grey/charcoal/black, discontinued)
Yardage: Approximately 300 yards
Yarn Source: All About Yarn
Needles: 2.25mm (US1) for sock leg and foot; 2.0mm (US0) for ribbing, heel, and toe decreases, Susan Bates Silvalume Sock Set (metal DPNs)
Gauge: 31st/4" over pattern
Modifications: Knit portions with US0 needle for better fit.

See all entries on this project

November 25, 2005

Processed

Stephanie said:

I would love if you wrote about how you learned to knit.

'Appy to oblige, m'dear. My dad's mom taught me to knit on one of her trips to the east coast when I was very very small - about four or five. I don't think she taught me anything other than the knit stitch, but never mind that - I made garter stitch doll blanket after doll blankent.

So, then, I've been knitting for at least fifteen years or so, but my level of interest/obsession with it has waxed and waned relative to whatever other craft thing I was addicted to at the moment. Knitting got pitched for origami for a few years, then for seed bead weaving, then for millefiori beads with Fimo and Sculpey...now that I think about it, my long-suffering Mom and Dad should have shining stars on the Encouraging And Nurturing Parent Walk Of Fame.

When I moved out five or six years ago, I got really into knitting. I think it was mostly a function of having disposable income of my own - if I blew half a paycheck on yarn, the ensuing ramen comsumption could be blamed on no one but myself. I think this was right before knitting became hugely trendy - Rowan had JUST changed their magazine from a mostly-black-and-white to a full-color job - and there wasn't nearly as much hip parephenalia around (if cute, heavily-styled books like Weekend Knitting or Loop-d-Loop existed in quantity, I certainly didn't know about it). I basically re-taught myself to knit with that good old tome Vogue Knitting, spent a lot of money on Rowan and Jaeger yarns (heh - even today I look askance at Debbie Bliss yarns as an experimental "vanity project"), and generally just hoped I was doing things correctly. I didn't know anyone else who knit, and thus didn't have anyone to tell me when I was making mistakes - I did a lot of squinting and comparing with drawings and photographs.

I guess I'm still a follower, since it's only in the last couple years that I've become any kind of thoughtful knitter. I see how designers like Teva Durham and Hanne Falkenberg redefine the way we use knitted fabric - and try to see possibilities in that way. The current explosion of pattern and fiber sources on- and off-line - it gives me ideas for my own projects beyond my comfort level and an appreciation for materials produced with care. Finally, the blog medium has given me a close-up on some knitters whose scrupulous technique leaves me amazed - they make me want to be a cleaner, more careful, better knitter.
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...Maybe one with even the tiniest glimmer of hope that I'll ever learn self-control. I must have been in a deviant, licentious mood after the frenzied dinner last night:



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