Thursday, January 31, 2008

But is it knitting?

Since I finished the Architectural Rib Pullover, I haven't started another knitting project. I've been spinning, which is clearly not knitting; it's a fiber-related activity that provides me with the same mental relaxation I get when knitting. I've also been swatching and recalculating a pattern since I want to knit it in a lighter weight yarn than originally called for. I feel as if I haven't been knitting.

Yesterday I was mulling over my recent activities and asked myself "But is it knitting?" Which lead to an examination of what I consider "knitting". I realized that perhaps my personal definition of knitting was narrow, possibly too narrow. For many years, my definition of knitting has been restricted to knitting a clearly identifiable object such as socks, sweaters, etc.

Swatching didn’t count because it wasn’t an actual object to me; nothing useful, just a swatch. Still, while swatching I am engaged in the act of knitting. It provides me with the same tactile and calming experience I get as knitting a sweater. I can experiment with different size needles and play with stitch patterns if I want to without disrupting the shape. After all, it is only a swatch and there is not right or wrong place on a swatch to try something new. I am more likely while swatching to ask what happens if I change this and do it than when knitting an object. Although, the exception might be socks, which I frequently cast on without a clear idea of the final design.

So what about recalculating a pattern for a different gauge? Or writing an original pattern? Are these knitting? I suppose in a technical sense these aren’t knitting because they don’t necessarily involve sticks and string. The more I pondered this I came to realize that these are “knitting” in the broadest sense of what knitting comprises. I’m employing my knowledge of garment construction, fit and behavior of knitted fabric, all acquired through many years of knitting and tweaking patterns. I am imagining the outcome of such changes just as I imagine the outcome when faithfully following a pattern. I am knitting the item in my head. I am experiencing the satisfaction of problem solving; bring an idea to life by using acquired knowledge directly related to knitting. It is only missing the tactile qualities I so enjoy.

If I can’t imagine that sweater and work out how to construct it, I won’t enjoy the actual knitting—I also can’t enjoy the feel of yarn in my hands, the clacking of needles or the quiet state of mind I get when I actually knit.

So for now on, when I think about whether or not I’ve been knitting, I will consider all of the aspects of that thing called knitting.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A new friend, an old friend

Architectural Rib Pullover

Architectural Rib Pullover
Pattern by Norah Gaughan in The Natural Knitter
Yarn: Alice Starmore Dunedin in color 999
Used 7.5 skeins
Started 12/23/2007
Finished 1/27/2008

Yes, I'm lifting the format from Brooklyn Tweed. I followed the pattern as written since the construction is a bit unusual. If I were to knit this again, I would make the collar about 3/4" shorter. This is a relatively easy pattern, using make 1 increases and k2tog and ssk decreases to provide the shaping. The center front and back rib panels are knit as one piece. You pick up stitches along each side for the sides and sleeves. It only has two seams. This is the first Norah Gaughan I've knitted and I love how clever this is.

In addition to finishing the sweater, I started teaching my daughter to sew. We picked out fabric for a pencil skirt at Piedmont Fabric. I came home and got an old friend out of the closet.

Hello old friend My Bernina, which has not seen the light of day in about two years. Which is somewhat surprising because I used to make most of my clothes. Before we started the sewing lesson, I got my fabric stash out (it's quite small and fits in a large storage bin, which was not the case years ago). We looked at the stashed fabric and my daughter claimed several pieces for herself, which is fine because someone should use it. I got out some fat quarters for her to practice sewing seams on. Then we moved on to the pattern stash, which sadly is very small compared to the stash I had before my divorce. The best find in the patterns was a discontinued Vogue pattern by Issey Miyake for a raincoat. I don't think the sewing machine is going back in the closet for a long time because I want to sew!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Overdyed and repurposed

Overdyed handspun
The weather here has been rainy and gloomy. To cheer myself up, I unraveled (I do a lot of that here, but usually it's not a knit item that is unraveling) a beanie I knit out of some orange handspun merino/tencel. For about a year I had a beanie, which I never wore, and a pair of matching socks, which I do wear. After unraveling, I had about 3 oz. of yarn, enough to knit a beret which I would undoubtly wear. Only I didn't want orange; I wanted red. So I hauled out the dyepot and my trusty dyes and mixed up a red that was pleasing to me. The orange yarn went for a little R&R in the red dye bath. It is now the red yarn cake in the picture.

I cast on and started knitting my red beret as soon as the yarn had dried. Only thing is I didn't like it as a red beret--a project that went straight to the frog pond.

Friday, January 18, 2008

3/4 of an architectural rib

Architectural Rib Pullover This is the Architectural Rib Pullover with one side and sleeve completed. It has been a pretty quick knit so far. I didn't work on it for a few days last week because I had the awful flu that seems to be striking everyone I know. The days I didn't knit, I slept. I seem to have recovered and am thinking I might be able to get a goodly portion of the second side and sleeve done this weekend.

Architectural Rib Pullover This is what the sleeve and side look like laid flat plus a close up of the sleeve ribbing.

3-ply Targhee handspun Oh, and I've been spinning. This is the targhee I bought in September. It was a dream to spin. The fiber was ultra clean and drafted easily. I loved the way this felt in my hands. Little fluffy clouds of softness. I had 6 oz. so I spun up three bobbins of singles and then made a 3-ply yarn, which yielded approximately 210 yards. I had some left on two bobbins and made that up as 2-ply, giving me approximately 80 yards. I would really like to spin more of this fiber. Not that I need to add any more fiber to the stash!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Some magnetic poetry fun

Stitch to 1 more row This is what happens when it is pouring rain and you are being silly.

And this is what I hope to find. Purl in your dreams

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Not much to look at

Architectural Rib Pullover I've finished the center panel of the Architectural Rib Pullover and picked up the stitches for one side and sleeve. And, as you can see, it looks like one big nothing. I was hoping to be a bit further along. Friday we lost our power for almost six hours. Since it was pouring rain and the sky was very gray, I had very little natural light to work in. Well with black yarn, it was a little difficult to see the stitches and I was still working the center panel where I needed to increase. So I needed to look at my work. I can't wait until I can see the shape a bit more clearly.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Archtectural Rib Progess Report

I've started on the back of the center panel. This has been fun to knit so far. I can't work on it too much at night because it is hard to see the stitches since the yarn is black. Hope to have the center panel done by Sunday.