Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Blinding Insight In the Lamplight

In the depth of winter in Alaska one thinks a good deal about light. There's plenty of darkness to think about it in. Cranking along on the WSC, it suddenly struck me that much as I adore seeing the subtle colors of this thing as it develops, it's easy to work on because there are only two strands in each row, Light and Dark. And as long as you can keep your eesit for this row distinct from the ball of cream for that row, it's 3 lights, 1 dark, 1 light, 1 dark, 5 lights and no bother as long as you've got the right yarn balls for the right rows.

Now, the Shetland Islands and Fair Isle, where this brand of knitting was concocted or perfected, is on a similar lattitude to Alaska. And for sure it was developed in a world that was lit only by fire, right? In wintertime knitters were sitting by a peat-burning fireplace, an oil or a kerosene lamp. Less light even than all the bulbs and tubes burning in my house. (And I still can't see the colors properly except in daylight.)

Here comes the Blinding Insight, which I'm sure has occurred to you by now, too: The majority of knitting time would have been in the winter when there were fewer outdoor chores to do. Wouldn't it have been a natural thing to limit your colorwork to two per row, a Dark and a Light, so that you could carry on without daylight and have fewer chances for mistakes?

This idea is suddenly so totally obvious that I don't want to check knitting histories to find out who has already thought of it. I don't care. It came to me independently, as it did to the first fair isle knitters (probably), and I like to feel a kinship with them as they sat before the fire, chatting, telling and hearing stories, or singing, and I sit before the dvd film with an electric lamp on my work, while we all create a dance of color in wool.

PS: Scandinavian knitting. Two colors, dark and light. Think about it.

PPS: I'm now halfway through the second pattern repeat!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Heap of Malfunctioning Rubble

I am a process knitter. I love assembling the project--falling in love with the pattern, finding the right yarn, figuring out how the pattern and its techniques work, adapting the pattern to my needs/wants/desires/whims/fantasies, knitting merrily away on long winter evenings while my Netflix play on tv or computer. This means that when all the knitting is done I lose interest (or am seduced by the next project) before a product is produced. My dirty secret is that I have a huge pile of completed knitting that is not yet a product. That is to say, it has not been sewn up or finished into an actual garment. The collection I have amassed of this stuff I call my Heap of Malfunctioning Rubble. The phrase is one I cribbed from elsewhere. It's from the title of a book published by these guys. Go ahead and read some of the sample articles on their site. I promise they will make you laugh.

Back to my Heap. Here it is:

Now, aren't you feeling better about the two nearly-finished sweaters and the single mitten languishing in the middle of your stash? I thought so. Glad to be of service. The even greater embarrassment is that this isn't even all of the Heap, but when I started hauling stuff out of the stash closet a shelf collapsed, dumping books, sewing and knitting stuff all over, and I was frightened out of further excavation. What if it's only knitting that's holding up the rest of the shelves?

Back to the Heap again. You see how easily distracted I can be? I have recently realized that one of the uses of this blog could be to embarrass myself into diminishing this thing. Say, at the rate of one a month. If the result is a sweater or whatever that's wearable--swell. I have an addition to my wardrobe. If it doesn't fit, then I donate it or give it to someone and somebody has a new garment. Sound like a good idea? I thought so.

We'll see. Good intentions are all very well, but the road to hell is paved with couches.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Progress in the Afternoon

When the light got bright this afternoon I just had to mark the progress of the WSC. Crunching on toward the end of the first pattern repeat. And once I got outside with camera and knitting, it filled me with a crazy amount of pleasure to see how great the colors are and how totally appropriate the Winter Sunset Cardigan looked set in the snow against the spruces in the late winter afternoon. Melanie Elizondo, all is forgiven.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Department of Corrections

I nearly called this post "Smack Upside the Head" or "Duh". Why I didn't think of looking for the errata for this book I can't imagine. Head to the publisher's web site and there it is, a pdf ready to download. And confirmation of the flubs in all 3 charts, and a bunch of fixes for text that describes the armholes and armhole steeks. Goodness, am I glad I found this before I got any further!

So--lesson learned. Check for errata before beginning a complex project. This should tone down the dialogue a good deal, but it's still no substitute for thinking through the instructions of a pattern and having a little mental chat with the designer anyway.

And take a look--I'm out of the border and into the main pattern!