I’ve been away from the keyboard for a minute. And it got me thinking: most non-knitters think that we knit to entertain ourselves. But that isn’t even often the main reason we knit (for meditation, to calm, to create, to name a few).
I know quite a few people who get upset if a person knits in their presence. They believe that we aren’t paying Attention, some are even insulted by it. I can totally play board games and knit at the same time!
During the Holiday Season, I’ve been spending time with the Kids on Holiday, and thinking about blog goals for the New Year: more of everything, and consistency really. Same as every year, James.*
*From the classic “Dinner for One” comedy sketch that runs every year in Germany on New Year’s Eve at least 15 times on various TV channels.
If China’s going to be taking less of our waste on, then we have to start to seriously look at how to produce less waste. In all aspects of our lives. This is some serious world-changing, so I am on tenterhooks. What will happen next? Will we make the Change we want to see happen? Will it take?
All the same, these things tend to do well when we start one step at a time.
As makers, we’re in a unique position to do something practical. This week, December 2-10 is Make Something Week, to turn our thoughts away from necessarily buying something in gift-giving season, but towards how we can take time to consider our own wardrobe needs, or the people we want to give a gift.
Even a small step is a start, and as German poet Herman Hesse wrote:
In every new beginning lives a special magic,
protecting us and helping us to live…
We as knitters, makers and clothes-wearers also need to look at how we can help fix the broken Fashion system. There’s a new report out from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, not just restating the Problem, but giving suggestions as to how we can fix it:
the report sets out four main ways to create “the new textiles economy”: phase out hazardous materials (including those that contribute to the microplastics problem); make better quality clothes and keep them in the system longer through rental models; improve recycling processes; and use renewable resources in manufacturing.
I’m knitting Pam Allen’s Sheep Sorrel hat using Falkland Aran by Debbie Bliss in Claret. This is a soft, shiny organic wool, from a farming community in the Falklands. It’s a three-ply, with a good amount of twist, stitch definition, and has a good amount of loft (ie very springy and squishy) and elasticity.
The pattern is clearly and efficiently written, even including instructions on how to do the cables with and without a cable needle.
Why bother You can knit faster. You know when sections change, and know what comes next. You can find (and correct) errors faster. With a recurring pattern, you reading your knitting means you understand what the designer intended, and you can actually let go of the pattern (which means portability). Many people often praise patterns for being easy to memorize. Reading your knitting means you don’t need to memorize at all.
How-to Read the general description in the pattern introduction first. This will not click at first. But we’ll come back to that later.
Then look at the pattern section. Make a rough stitch chart if there isn’t one. (If there is, then skip to the next step). It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be good enough for you to understand. The Sheep Sorrel hat has a 15 stitch repeat over 4 rounds.
Do a mini-swatch
If you are a learning-by-doing knitter like me, making a swatch to learn a pattern isn’t such a hardship. Cast on the required stitch number plus 6 extra for a 3 stitch border on each side. Place stitch markers, so you don’t forget where your border sits. Knit three rows (for a garter stitch/ non rolling edge) and then get going. Once you’ve done two or three repeat, finish off with with three knit rows and bind off.
I wouldn’t bother cutting my yarn. This swatch isn’t to be blocked, so it is perfectly fine to rip it out after, and knit it into the hat.
I definitely am not a big fan of swatching in the round, however I wanted to see how quickly it would take me to learn the pattern on the fly. I took me four repeats, dear Readers. In my defense, a glass of red wine was involved.
On the fly
Once you’ve gotten into knitting the pattern, exactly as written (a stitch marker after each repeat will help you keep your place), stop and have a good look at what’s on the needles.
Now is the time to revisit that general description and compare it to what you have before you. Sheep Sorrel seems to be about panels and mini-cables (actually twisted stitches, but hey, let’s not quibble). We can see that the garter and patterned panels alternate and are separated by columns of cable. We also see that each column of cable has a p1 before and after it.
Once I realized this, I realized that one type of twist was used per column. Some columns twisted to the right and others to the left. That meant I could undo and repair any twist that was incorrect (if something looks like an S, then it’s wrong). I left one S, because nothing in this world is perfect.
At this point, I knit another round, without peeking, to see if I understood the pattern. Once I had done that, checked, then made my corrections, I knew I could let go the pattern and continue the required length of knitting. I wouldn’t say that I’ve memorized the pattern, but I’ve understood the logic behind it: I want to keep my panels going, and the cables twisting the right way round.
Back from holidays, I thought I would wash everything in a jiffy and pack it away. We’re onto transition weather at the moment: Too cool for sandals, but still warm enough to get away with a linen T-shirt under a jacket.
I haven’t packed away much of anything yet, but our family is of the opinion that while it wasn’t the best summer ever (weatherwise), it wasn’t the worst either. I think the same can be said of my summer wardrobe as well. It’s not quite there yet. And I’ve been pondering on what could make it better. I think I was missing a cardigan or two. Here are a few that I’ve had my eye on for a minute or two…
Of course I don’t mean to flog a dead horse. But the Greenery dilemma made me very much want to look at how to work with tricky colours in a systematic way, rather than hoping inspiration strikes, and that I’m paying attention when it does.
Beads and pieces has a lovely brief intro, with pictures on how to use a colour wheel.
If we look at the Green segment, we can see various shades of green, all of which would work with Greenery (the darkest, outermost* hue in that segment), in a monochromatic palette.
We could combine our Greenery with the Blue-Green and the Yellow-Green neighbours, for an analogous palette.
We could look at Greenery’s complement on the opposite side of the wheel: mauve pinks (some colour wheels will give you red, but no one wants to look like the Ghost of Christmas Past, so we’ll go with mauve pink for now).
Another alternative would be to look at the split complementary colours. These are the direct neighbours of the complement: pink and mauve (for a red complement, red-violet and red-orange).
Or various tetrads (four colours), here we have Greenery and its complement on both ends, with two neighbours in the middle.
Another tetrad: three analogous colours plus the complement.
So what do you think? Do these combinations make Greenery more wearable? Or knittable?
Palette source: paletton.com
*Please note, apart from the monochromatic palette, I am referring to the colours in the outermost ring of the colourwheel.
Just got through an interesting magazine interview in Der Spiegel with Frank Trentmann (his book “The Empire of Things” has just been translated and released in German). Trentmann is a history professor at Birkbeck College (University of London), says that we’ve been living in a mass-consumption society since around the 17th and 18th centuries.
He talks about consumption in the Renaissance, and late chinese Ming dynasty, about anti-luxury laws in the 15th century, how colonialism and the industrial revolution changed people’s ideas about consumption, to where we are today. Although he’s a bit cautious and sceptical about any bandaid fixes, he does mention several things that we’ve mentioned: repairing, mindful consumption, and political action.
On the other hand, it’s a bit of a consolation and pespective, that we as people didn’t suddenly become frenzied consumers. We’ve been this way since the 15th century.
“We express ourselves through what we buy [and acquire]…” – Frank Trentmann
So, what are we expressing through Stash? A connection to cozy cuddly knits, a tradition of artisanal handcrafting? To the origins of the things we consume? Perhaps all of this, and more.