Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ikea - Få orden på livet ditt

A little something to entertain you while I'm busy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

You cannot know the power of the dark side.

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Laci colorway Corvid.
It will be this.
It just goes to show you that the old "never say never" adage is true. I am not a fan of the faroese shawl, never was. It was kind of klunky looking, and the patterns out there were nothing that grabbed me. There was an ok one now and then, but I wouldn't have called any of them beautiful. So I pretty much wrote them off, and stowed the whole thing in that part of my mind reserved for scrapbooking and webkinz and entrelac socks, the brain equivalent of file 13.
Then came Anne Hanson, whose incredible design not only turned me to mush, but had me chiming in with her daily mass of comments and blithering on endlessly about how much I loved, wanted and needed this shawl. And when Miss Vanity here throws that much pride out the window and starts with the hem kissing, it's all over.
The pattern came out yesterday. Faroese shawls have been granted a reprieve. I am no longer remotely concerned with becoming a knitter or a Knitter. I've gone from zero to Jedi and straight over to the Dark Side.
And they really do have cookies over here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My Friend Failure

So Lotus Knits is having a really neat contest, where each Monday she posts a question and all you have to do is post your answer in her comments to enter. If you win, you really win, because she is a really talented yarn dyer, and the prize is a skein of her beatuiful work. Now, that's my kind of contest, because any contest that actually expects me to know something or *gasp* do anything isn't going to go well for me and, well, I like yarn.

This week, she asked a very intriguing question regarding how we approach our knitting, and asked us to explain a bit about ourselves and our processes. As I wrote my answer, it occured to me that I would really love exploring this idea further, so I decided to expand a bit on my entry.

I am very gonzo in my knitting. Of course, over the years I have seen the Dale patterns and some of the Starmore designs and complex lace as being beyond my abilities, but I have always known it is just a matter of time. From the start, unless I was obviously outclassed, I have always jumped in with both feet. Sometimes that has caused me to frog, but never has it caused me to regret trying.

I realized that the best gauge for how my knitting skills are progressing is to find that project that brings me to a failure point. It usually identifies the areas I have to work on. In the beginning, it was "Branching Out" and "Forbes Forest" that utterly destroyed me, now I fail at much more ambitious projects, like "Cromarty" and "Ingeborg".

Now, I know this sounds like a really negative way of approaching this, but really it is making lemonade from the lemons of knitting. And we all have them. Whether I am learning that I am not quite ready for lace patterning on every row or that a particular yarn substitution really wasn't suitable, or that I lack the Clapotis appreciation gene, I am learning.

Knitting does not come naturally to me. Along with a whole new set of physical skills are an entire panoply of concepts which have to be intellectually assimilated or else, while knitting might be achieved, it will not be understood. I don't want to be forever a slave to patterns as written - in all my work I greatly prefer to be a more active participant, putting a bit if myself into the project. By internalizing the techniques I become more flexible and can develop some refinement of skill and knowledge. But that doesn't mean what I try always works, whether I am slavishly adhering to a pattern for the purpose of learning a new skill or pushing the limits of my knowledge by kitbashing a pattern to get something different out of it.

Now, admittedly, I am still very much in the learning phase of my knitting life. I am more often adhering to the pattern, but I am more likely now to seek a pattern for my next project that will allow me to explore a different aspect of the craft than to repeat known techniques over and over. And glorious failure is often my companion. But what's the worst that can happen? I have to rip? It (generally) doesn't hurt the yarn. It doesn't waste time, because I have identified a problem, an opportunity for growth, even if I haven't yet identified the solution.

Too often I see other people learning to knit and they are fighting it for all they are worth. I have to wonder if they really want to be doing this, they seem so unhappy. Don't get me wrong, I curse my knitting regularly, but I do not approach it either defensively or offensively. I don't feel my knitting is a kill or be killed sort of thing. I look at every new project as a meeting of equals, and even though I am sometimes overly optimistic I am never unhappy, even if the project fails. It only fails for the moment. And, it is a shared experience between myself, the yarn and the pattern, so no one aspect is regularly to blame, which is very freeing.

Then there are those who, whether they mean to or not, infect others with their anxieties and dislikes. I don't need to tell you about steeking, do I? I have read so many accounts of steeking that read like they came from Stephen King's Handbook of Knitting Horrors that it was all I could do to remind myself that without the internet and with basic instructions I would probably succeed at cutting a steek with little to no fuss at all. Tie knots in your yarn when you could use the erudite fad join of the week? The knitting police will surely be busting my door down any minute now. Not that there isn't a time and a place for nearly every technique, even if it is only in the interest of studying the history or anthropology of knitting, but there is never a time or a place for snobbery for the sake of snobbery. Not in my world at least.

So there, that is my several cents worth. No knitting scares me. I don't have to like all of it. I may not be ready for all of it, but I suspect when I know it all, there will be little of knitting I am left to be interested in. As there is so much to learn (remarkably, for a craft that anyone can do) I seriously doubt I will ever get tired of knitting. And failure will be my fast friend for many happy years to come.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Uneasy Knitter

Anyone remember that Charlie Daniels song "Uneasy Rider"? I just did the knitting version of that. I went from Atlanta to Stone Mountain via Canada. Thankfully my trip does not involve the police. All the same, I feel rather foolish.

See, I am all revved up about learning knitting terms in other languages ever since Claudia created Stricken Sie Deutsch. Now I'm not going to pretend that I don't have to refer to the list of translations now and then, but I have anschlag down pat and I now know that I can make der zopf without a hilfsnadel. I am 4 rows from done on the MS3 and ready to cast on her swatch. I also have an estonian lace book and I remembered that there was a translation of the symbols online, so I looked that up and put a tiny button on my sidebar right under Claudias' button. Then I found info on Japanese knitting stuff and put that on the sidebar too.

So I'm tooling around the www, and I come across mention of a book all about knitting terms in different languages. It's title is, of all things, "Knitting Languages". And as usual, as soon as I find something I want or need, nobody carries it, or it is out of stock, out of print or discontinued. It's almost like a guarantee with me. So I poke around, and search around and I'm not finding squat until I come across a Canadian site (what is it about me and Canada?) that has it listed for sale. Well, faster than you can say zwei maschen rechts zusammen stricken, I have it paid for and on its way.

At this point, let me say that if I had simply googled (or blackled) the authors' name I probably would have immediately found her publishers' website, where anyone can buy the book with no problem right from the good old USA (actually less than 20 miles away from my house) without currency conversions and customs craziness. But I didn't.

I got the book today (customs obviously knows what uses books can be put to better than they know about the potential terrorist uses of yarn), and opened it and found out the hard way. I would like to blame it on vacation brain, or too much laughing gas at the dentist office or on my biorhythms or something, but no, I was just dumb. And believe me, I paid the price. Plus the shipping from Canada.

So kids, don't be like me. If you, too, want the convenience of knitting terms in 11 languages at your fingertips, just click the link above.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


I am not now nor will I be committing to the NaBloPoMo bloglines-clogging nonsense. I just happen to have news (i.e. stuff to show off).

I got my wheel! And I already suck at spinning! It's so cool! I haven't been this excited about being bad at something in a long time! This is a Babe's double treadle Production Wheel.

I figure I will practice treadling for another year or so and then give the spinning part another try. The yarn room also got a serious sound system upgrade.

Bose, baby. I don't even care what bodyparts still hurt, I have amazing sound. So I finally (four days into the vacation) felt up to knitting. And ruining roving. It was great! My husband did good.

I actually got my german language Anna out that has the pattern for Lyra and thanks to Claudia's "Stricken Sie Deutsch" project I was able to make pretty good sense of it. I am amazed at how much I learned. Hopefully my life will never depend on my being able to pronounce any of that correctly, though; I may have the German genes mixed in among the Irish and the French, but none of them went to my tongue which is somehow Japanese. Don't ask, I don't know. Of course, the proof will be in the knitting. If I only think I am reading this right, I will make a very unusual Lyra. Before that, though, I have WIPs that must be FO'd. I guess I'd better get back to knitting now.