Thursday, August 30, 2007

Many Hands Maketh Long Scarf

0041I recently photographed Knitter 0119 for the 1,000 Knitters Project. You may have heard of her: Charlene Schurch, author of Sensational Knitted Socks and More Sensational Knitted Socks, et al. If you've been hanging out in here for a while you know I'm sort of That Way about Charlene, so having her in my living room was quite an event. I gushed and burbled, and we talked, and then at last I did get around to taking her picture. And she kissed me.

Burble. Giggle.

(No, that's not Charlene at right. That's Sheila, Number 0041. Hi, Sheila!)

Those of you who've sat for me (or who are planning to) might be interested to know that in addition to Charlene a number of other noted hands have worked their rows on the scarf, including Karen Frisa, Joan Schrouder, Leslye Solomon, Beth Brown-Reinsel, Sally Melville and Nancy Bush.

I love chatting with the knitters while I photograph; it's one of the best parts of the project. But shooting folks whose work I have admired from afar can be a little daunting. You can't break the ice with Nancy Bush by asking, "So, what do you like to knit?"

There have been several calls for 1,000 Knitters swag (t-shirts, bags and so forth) in the shop. At first I hesitated; but then I realized that I could put money from sales towards the expenses of the project, which are considerable. Watch for news of additions to the shop in the next week or so.

In the meantime, sitters who keep a blog might like to help themselves to a blog button, with my compliments and thanks. It's a mere token, but I hope you will like it.

1000 Button

Shooting at Loopy Yarns

I'm pleased to announce another public shoot in Chicago, this time at Loopy Yarns (719 South State Street). The atmosphere should be akin to Carnival in Venice, as on the same evening (Friday, September 7; hours TBA) they'll be celebrating their second anniversary. I foresee a naked conga line of yarn-wielding hooligans snaking around the block before the party is over. You know what those people at Loopy are like.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mo' Mobius

Mobius DetailThe Cavalcade of Completion continues with Mom's Möbius. It has the distinction of being the only thing I've ever finished twice. I gave it to her (off the needles, thank you very much) for Christmas, but have just added an additional 10 inches to give it the looser fit she prefers.

(Why yes, I do know that Christmas was in December and that it's now August. Would you like to step outside and discuss it?)

If you aren't familiar with the möbius you can read about it here. At the moment it's all I can do to recite my phone number, let alone explain The Riddle of the Universe.

These days I suppose Cat Bordhi is the name most associated with möbius knitting, but it's generally accepted that Elizabeth Zimmermann was the first person to work the concept into a design. If you check out Knitting Around (and you should, it's a delicious read) she uses it to create a scarf, a vest, and a jacket. This möbius is a descendant of Elizabeth's, and the designer gives her due acknowledgment.

Mobius CompleteProject: Magic Mobius

Designer: Susan Levin for Knit One, Crochet Two

Yarn: Douceur et Soie (silk/baby mohair) in colorway The Hell If I Remember

Needles: US8

Notes: I picked this out for my mother because she hates wearing hats (they crush her hair) and scarves (they bind her around the neck) and I worry about her catching a chill. The möbius, when properly worn, elegantly covers both those areas without choking or flattening, especially when knit up in something as feathery light as this yarn. And in spite of the light weight, it's surprisingly warm.

It's a very pleasant knit, a worthy variation on Zimmermann's original, and Susan Levin has incorporated a very clever edge treatment that doesn't interfere with the diaphanous look but does give the selvedges a little extra body.

Now you have no excuse, Ma. Put something on your head before you catch pneumonia. You think I don't know when you're cold?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Portrait of a Photo Shoot

So, I have this little album devoted to photos of my niece, Abigail. I call it the Abigallery. If you visit my apartment for longer than thirty seconds you will probably have it thrust under your nose. It's not that I'm a proud uncle. It's just that she is an exceptional child in every way.

This morning I've been adding prints to the book, and I ran across the shots from an impromptu family portrait session we did the week after she was born. We did it in the nursery using ambient light, with everybody in denim and pale cottons for a soft, relaxed look. Abby is the first WASP baby in the history of my family (okay, she's half-WASP) and so the Ralph Lauren/Town and Country vibe seemed appropriate.

With an unpredictable subject like a baby, you can't plan your shots too much. You clear the space, set up the lighting to be as all-purpose as possible, and go with the flow. And I find it best to shoot the same way I shoot rodeo: keep the camera to your eye and your finger on the shutter. Good moments are fleeting.

I'm usually not one for conventional, posed groups, but I figured they might be more to the taste of the grandparents and so we started out with a few of those.


What I really wanted, though, was something slightly more unusual so I asked Susan and Phil to lie down on the floor with Abby and just cuddle up together. I shot them from above, and caught some fun vignettes like this.

Family Hands

Getting them out of the rocking chair and into a playful position led to the sort of spontaneity that I generally prefer to formality.


However, at one point I did get the idea to have Abigail lay in a niche created by Susan and Phil's bodies. I wanted an image of her surrounded and protected by her parents, and with their cooperation I got something akin to what I'd imagined.


But I'm almost as fond of this misfire, which happened when I accidentally tripped the shutter while adjusting my position.


Abby, honey, I know from the look on your face exactly what you're thinking. And I'll tell it to you plain: the bad jokes never get any better, and the older you get the weirder they're going to seem. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about.

You can always come stay with Uncle Franklin when it gets to be too much. We'll have lunch downtown and rock the shoe department at Nordstrom.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

What Boys Like

Back in the spring of 2005, when this blog had only been around for about a month, I wrote a screedish little entry about how my search for a men's sweater pattern had turned up miles of Aran cables and acres of Fair Isle, but nothing I felt would suit a fellow in my particular (urban, gay, young[ish]) circumstances.

"The knitting fad," I huffed, "has brought out shelves full of pattern books for the young urban female knitter. So how much longer do the guys have to wait, dammit?"

Manual CoverI think the wait is over.

I've just spent a pleasant couple of hours sitting with Kristin Spurkland's The Knitting Man(ual), a copy of which was sent to me for review by the publisher, Ten Speed Press. This is the book I had in mind when I wrote that early complaint; and a solid piece of work it is, too.

In putting her book together, Spurkland and her publishers have taken obvious care to appeal to a male audience without condescension. The look is sharp and decidedly masculine, with clean typography and subtle blocks of color. Refreshingly, however, there is no reliance on cheap macho stereotypes: no army camouflage, no grunge typefaces, no evocation of the car repair manual aesthetic. The handsome photography by John Valls, which includes a wide range of races, ages, and body shapes, is beautifully executed and shows off the projects to perfection.

And the projects themselves (there are twenty-two) are on the whole a well-edited and attractive lot. The first is a ribbed and cabled throw; the others are all for garments, including hats, gloves, mittens, socks, and several sweaters. All have their good points and some are perfectly delicious. Only two (house slippers with weird toes and a schlubby color block scarf) miss the mark entirely. Paging through the rest afforded me the pleasure, never before enjoyed, of finding in one volume six different projects I'd like to knit for myself. The previous record, in case you're wondering, was two.

For true beginners, there's the usual introductory section of techniques–illustrated with photographs of male hands. This would be a perfect gift for a guy newbie, as the projects range from very simple to moderately complex. I could well imagine it providing impetus enough to keep his needles clicking until he's past the Point of No Return.

The only thing not here that I'd like to see is some discussion of male fitting issues. And yes, ladies, male fitting issues do exist. Not all shoulders are created equal, to say nothing of chests and stomachs. Perhaps in volume two? (Hint, hint.)

In 2005, knitting books occupied about six inches of space on my bookshelves; now they take up five feet or more. I own more than enough books on knitting technique, design, and history. My need for The Knitting Man(ual) is perhaps not so vital as it once was, but I'm still awfully happy to find it at last.

Renovations Continue

Thanks for the positive feedback on the recent design changes. I'm still working on them, so certain features (like my blogroll) aren't in place yet. All in good time.

Excuse the Dust

Dolores is off to Kankakee and I have a bit of free time on my hands, so I'm engaging in some long-overdue renovations to The Panopticon's layout. During this period you may become disoriented or frustrated. You may find yourself unable to locate things that were right here just a moment ago. You may experience nausea, dizziness, or mild hallucinations.

Welcome to my world.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tricot Triage

FoundlingThe recent spate of finishing chez Panopticon continues. To be more precise, I continue to focus on finishing things.

I wish I could blame this heap of unfinished objects on spontaneous generation, or claim they were left on my doorstep in a basket with a note: "I can no longer work on this scarf. Please look after it, and finish it as though it were your own." But no. They're mine, all mine, and I take full responsibility. The only question is which to work on first.
  1. Möbius scarf in Douceur et Soie. Strictly speaking, this is a finished object. But in order to fit the recipient (my mother) I need to undo the grafting and add another few inches to improve the fit. Since this was given at Christmas, and is for my mother, and next Christmas is already approaching, it may step to the front of the line.

  2. Koigu vest. All I have to finish are the armscyes and the neckline. We're talking about twenty-odd rounds of k2, p2 ribbing. What happened? I took it to Knitting Camp, I finished one side, and realized I'd picked up way too many stitches. It looked dreadful. I got discouraged. Since then it has been sitting in a bowl next to my chair, mocking me.

  3. Poetry mittens. I finished one cuff and then decided I really wanted to chart my own poem, not use the one in the pattern. Then I couldn't decide on a poem. Still can't. You'd think I'm engraving my own epitaph in granite instead of just knitting a stupid pair of stupid mittens. Why do I do this to myself?

  4. Regicide Scarf. This one's giving me an ulcer. The yarn - Four Play from Brooks Farms, is delightful to the touch. The pattern, King Charles Brocade, makes it absolutely sing. So, what's the problem? I'll tell you. I hate knitting King Charles Brocade. And I don't mean it bores me. I mean I hate it. And not a small hate, either. A hate that burns with the heat of ten million suns. What's not to loathe about a pattern that is too simple to be interesting, yet too complicated for mindless knitting? A pattern in which it is shockingly easy to lose one's place, and in which the smallest error stands out like a pimple on the heavily insured nose of Heidi Klum? Options:
  • Work the final moss stitch border right now and call it done. It would be five feet long. And I would never wear it, because in a Chicago winter a cute little scarf that won't wrap around my neck and face is a waste of yarn.

  • Concede defeat. Rip it back and use it for something else. And remember, every time I look at it, that nothing will ever harmonize with that colorway quite so happily as King Charles Brocade. And grit my teeth. And get a headache.

  • Shut up and knit to the damn end of the damn ball. And risk becoming one of those people who wanders about in the streets mumbling to himself. In my case, I'll be mumbling, "Knitting is so relaxing. Knitting is so relaxing."

Tulip Jacket Yarn

Knitguyla and Kay were curious about the source of the yarn in the Tulip Jacket. The ultimate source, of course, was Dream in Color, but I got my kit (and therefore colorway) from Arcadia Knitting here in Chicago. If you order from them, note that even though I made the jacket for Abigail, I chose the "boy" colorway. I'm not a big fan of pastels, even for babies, and as I recall the "girl" colorway has a bit more pink going on.

The Imperfect Wagnerite

Christine Olea asked for my general opinion on Wagner operas. Well, I'm not a musicologist, just a garden variety opera lover, but here goes. On the one hand, there are passages in just about everything he wrote (not that I'm claiming to have heard it all) that give me shivers of delight. On the other hand, I wouldn't be excited at the prospect of sitting through all of Siegfried again. Of the bunch, my favorite is Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, which had me at the overture. I seem to recall being thrilled at a Minnesota Opera production of The Flying Dutchman*; but I'm not sure whether the goosebumps came more from the music or the handsome fellow who invited me to go see it with him.

Among the Germans, I still prefer Mozart. More humanity, less theory.

Buddenbrooks Decoded

Yesterday's batch of comments on the mention of "crocheting with two needles" in Buddenbrooks was a delight to read and I'm grateful to everybody who chimed in. Blogless reader "aka Bini" (I believe I parsed that correctly) was first with a well-supported hypothesis, and she undertook to read a text set in 1909 German blackletter for my sake, so she gets the sketch. Bini, please write to me at franklin at franklinhabit daht cahm and let me know where to send it.

And I'd like to give an Honorable Mention, by the way, to Country Mouse, who was first to raise the idea of the crochet/knitting confusion arising from Mann's use of the unreliable narrator.

If you missed the comments, do go back and read. They went far beyond my initial question to include discussions of unusual methods of crochet and debates about what the hell a "landscape room" is. Those Germans have a word for everything.

This is a quality crowd in here, folks. No doubt about it.

*Dutchman does offer the magnificent spectacle of a stage full of spinning wheels. In a live performance, this affords fiber types the pleasure of watching members of the ensemble treadle like they're leading the Tour de France and pretending to spin finished bulky weight yarn on the flywheel. If you can find a production of Gounod's Faust these days, chances are Marguerite will give you a similar giggle while she sings "Le roi de Thulé."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Geeking Out

I don't know what's wrong with me. Maybe I'm going through a compulsive phase. Maybe I'm getting too much sleep. Maybe the Moon is in the Seventh House, strummin' on the old banjo.

For whatever reason, lately I keep finishing things.

Abigail's Tulip Jacket is complete.

Tulip Complete

All the reports you hear of this being a fun and rewarding little project are accurate. What can I say? In putting it together, Dream in Color hit all the right notes: detail sufficient to keep things interesting, yet simplicity enough to knit in public or with company. And did I mention the spectacular yarn? Do I even have to?

Is There a German in the Haus?

I'm re-reading an old favorite, Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family. If you haven't read it, do. It's a sort of Biedermeier soap opera, told in scenes that seldom speak above a polite murmur or move faster than a brisk trot–yet it packs a cumulative wallop that will make your ears ring.

My old copy of Buddenbrooks, a Penguin edition if I remember correctly, was lent out in college and never came home. This edition, from Vintage, is a new translation by John E. Woods and I love it. I have very little German beyond the smattering I learned during my time as an opera coach,* so I can't pronounce it faithful or unfaithful to the original; but the stumbles and bumps I recall in the older version are far fewer here.

But this really isn't a book review. I have a question, and I'm hoping a German reader (or a reader who knows German) might be able to offer an answer. At the beginning of Part Six, Chapter Four, I stopped dead in my tracks when I came to this passage:
Madame Buddenbrook happened to be sitting in the landscape room, crocheting with two large wooden needles–a shawl, a blanket, or something of that sort. It was eleven o'clock in the morning.
Huh? Crochet? With...two...needles?

What happened here? Off the top of my head, I can think of three possible scenarios:
  1. Mann, who renders even the finest period details with loving compulsiveness, didn't know the difference between knitting and crochet.

  2. There is (or was) a North German version of crochet that actually used two needles or hooks. I vaguely recall something of the kind in Rutt's A History of Hand Knitting, though I also seem to recall it was French or Spanish and possibly mediaeval. My 19th century dictionary of needlework hasn't turned up anything.

  3. The translator didn't know the difference (or thinks there is no difference) between knitting and crochet, mistranslated the passage, and none of his editors caught it.
I'm not going to be able to sleep soundly until I have an answer. Help, please. I'll send the first person who offers a solid explanation with supporting evidence a sketch.

*And that smattering isn't very useful in a modern setting. Prior to my last visit to Eastern Europe, I told a friend who lives in Frankfurt that if I got into trouble in Vienna I knew to scream "Zu hilfe! Zu hilfe!" (Help me! Help me!), the first words of Mozart's The Magic Flute. He smirked and said that yes, that construction would be very effective if I were being mugged by a time traveler from the late eighteenth century.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Joy of Small Things

Some projects are epics, and when they're finished you stand there blinking and thinking "I made that?"

Some projects are more of a short story, and when they're finished you regard them with a cheerful countenance and say, "I made that."

In the aftermath of Abigail's shawl I find myself not at all inclined to cease knitting lace. On the other hand, jumping right into another shawl of comparable size didn't feel right. Instead, I pulled some sock yarn out of the stash and created Altar Cloth V.2.0. (Version one, which you can see here, went some time ago to live with my grandmother in Pennsylvania. It has since converted to Roman Catholicism and now prefers to be called a doily.)

It took about a week or so, and was fun all the while. Here's the dossier on a simple but satisfying little project.

Blocked, Detail

Yarn: Mysterious itchy sock yarn out of my stash. The same stuff I used to make the Orenberg sample shawl for the Knitting Olympics.

Needles: Inox US 2 3/4 straights


Patterns: The stitch motif used by Cheryl Oberle for the Kimono Shawl in Folk Shawls for the sides. In the center, the knot pattern collected in Barbara Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns and also to be found, charted, in Meg Swansen's A Gathering of Lace.

Method: Disgustingly simple and wholly unoriginal.
  1. Using a loose, stretchy technique (I did a knitted cast-on over two needles) cast on enough stitches sufficient to accommodate however many repeats of the Kimono Shawl motif you want, plus three edging stitches on either side.

  2. Work six rows (three ridges) in garter stitch.

  3. Commence Kimono Shawl motif, working first and last three stitches of each row as garter stitch.

  4. When you've made the edge deep enough (preferably ending on a complete repeat of the Kimono shawl motif), knit two rows plain and begin knot pattern. Take care to center it perfectly.

  5. When knot pattern is complete, knit one row plain and place live stitches on holder or length of waste yarn. Break working yarn.

  6. Repeat steps 1-3 to create a second piece, identical to the first up to the beginning of the knot pattern.

  7. Put first piece back on the second needle and graft the two pieces together using Kitchener Stitch.

  8. Block severely, but with compassion.
In UseOf course, if the Kimono Shawl motif were not directional or if I hadn't cared about making the tips of all the leaf shapes point at the central knot, I could have just knit the entire piece in one shot.

It ain't perfect. I rather wish I'd done something more with the plain stockinette areas around the knot. Perhaps in version three.

But the roughness of the yarn, which I would not have appreciated in a sock, looks well on a small, Zen altar and on the whole, I'm pleased.

So pleased that I think it's time for more lace.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Will She Play in Peoria?

Sometimes you have to ask the difficult questions, even when you're pretty sure you won't like the answers.

"Dolores," I said, "what's going on with your show at the Lucky Horseshoe? I thought you were supposed to open two months ago."

Harry, who was sitting next to her watching Valley of the Dolls, grabbed his bag of Milk Duds and rolled swiftly out of the room.

Dolores glared at me over her glasses.

"We do not speak of That Place in this house," she said.

I was startled. The 'Shoe is almost a second home for Dolores. The strippers have come to look upon her as a mother figure and the bartenders keep her special, monogrammed martini glass under the bar. Rumor has it that the owner, who hung her picture above the till in a heart-shaped frame, plans to retire to Bermuda after her tab is paid in full.

"What happened?"

"Artistic differences," she hissed. "Apparently my vision for the divertissements was too lofty for this cultural backwater. And I refused to compromise the integrity of my art."


"She wanted to fly in on a cardboard moon singing 'Dis-moi que je suis belle,' " shouted Harry from the safety of the bedroom, "so they replaced her with a drag queen named Magic Wanda who pulls rabbits out of her -"

Dolores lunged for the bedroom door but Harry was too quick, and slammed it shut.

"Naturally I refuse to cast my pearls before swine, so the production is presently considering alternate venues in other localities."

"You mean..."

Housecoat"A tour, yeah. Victorine is managing the whole thing. She knows all about it. She's been on the road since the fricking Eisenhower administration with that Opéra Brébis du Québec gig."

"As a makeup artist."

"She is an established entertainment professional. And for your information, she has already procured our transport and is in the process of engaging us at several fine Midwestern establishments."

"Us? You're taking the dancers, too?"

"Not exactly. The greedy bastards wouldn't work for tips so I had to make substitutions. Fortunately, we got so much talent right here at home."

It took a moment for that to sink in.

"The sock yarn?"

"Damn straight," said Dolores. "They already sing and dance. They're easy to pack and move. A few tucks in the costumes here and there and you'd never know the difference."

"I am not wearing a thong!" screamed Harry through the door. There was general shout of agreement from the yarn cupboard.

"Of course not, sweethearts," trilled Dolores, like a foghorn imitating a nightingale. "My primary concern is for your comfort and safety."

"Dolores," I said, "I don't know if the Midwest is ready for you singing 'You Make Me Feel Mighty Real' in front of a chorus line of half-naked sock yarn. Why not cut your losses and focus on one of your other projects?"

"Well, that wasn't necessarily the one I was think-"

"You may be right," she said, pensively. "This country needs a firm hoof at the wheel."

"Actually, I was thinking maybe you could take another pottery class."

"You will please excuse me," she said, lying down on the sofa and closing her eyes. "I must The agony of many talents. The agony."

Her cell phone rang.

"Victorine! Baby! What's the bon mot? Slow down, bitch, you know I can't understand your damn accent. The Giddy Buffalo Show Lounge and Motor Lodge...Kankakee...two nights...forty bucks and dinner...we'll take it!"

With a jubilant bleat she tossed the phone into the air, neatly beheading my bust of Meg Swansen.

I stared at her.

"It's a long time until the election," she said. "I gotta pack."

Load In

Monday, August 13, 2007


That's the sound of my mood hitting the concrete floor of the bunker I work in after a really lovely weekend.

I haven't much time this morning, so this is less a post than a teaser. My apologies.

The second public shooting day for 1,000 Knitters, at the Stitches Midwest 2007 Market, was a rousing success. Between 10 am and 3:30 pm (I was having such a good time I forgot to stop at three o'clock) about sixty knitters added their stitches to the scarf, including a few folks whose names you will likely recognize.

More on that tonight or tomorrow, but one thing can't wait: several thank-yous.

A tip of the lens to:
  • XRX, the fine folks who run Stitches, for allowing me to wield my camera in the Market. Lisa from Marketing, you totally did not have to spend time working on my behalf with the legal department; but you did, so your name goes on the project honor roll.

  • The dear people of Jimmy Beans Wool, who sponsored the shoot and went above and beyond by keeping me well-watered while I worked. They also allotted me the invaluable services of the wonderful Jeanne, who not only kept things running smoothly during busy moments but persuaded timid, yarn-crazed knitters who'd never heard of me to stop shopping so I could photograph them.

  • Jan, who I believe is blogless (if you're not, honey, send me the link) who sat for her portrait early in the day and went back to work at Leslye Solomon's booth, but continued to proselytize. If I heard "Jan sent me" once, I heard it a dozen times.

  • My buddy Stash Haus who sat for a portrait, came by periodically to see how I was doing, and then hung around until the very end and drove the exhausted photographer and his sink-the-Titanic load of equipment back to Boystown.

  • All of you who sat. You are making it happen. How can I ever thank you?
And no...I didn't get away without buying something. Almost, but not quite. It was a very small something. I'll show you tomorrow. For now, it's back to making bricks without straw.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

It Could Happen to You

Hey! Newbie!

Yeah, you, with the half-finished hat and the goofy grin on your face, and the itty-bitty stash that still fits in a wicker basket by the couch. I'm talking to you.

Stop sniffing that fresh hank of merino for a minute and listen. It may be your last chance.

Feeling pretty good lately, are ya? Enjoying your first forays into the local yarn shop? Contemplating the esoteric pleasures of socks, cables, fair isle, lace? Dancing feverishly to the siren song of 100,000 souls given over to the orgiastic joys of the yarn and the needles?

Well, snap out of it. It's not too late for you to get away, before you become what I've become.

All I wanted was a long scarf. That's all. Maybe with stripes. But you couldn't buy a really long scarf back then, in 1992. The best you'd find in the shops was a flimsy strip of woven plaid about four feet long. Pathetic.

So I bought some wool and I learned to knit. I made my six-foot scarf. And I thought, that was pretty fun. Maybe I should buy some more yarn.

Flash forward fifteen years.

I am still knitting. In fact, I am a knitter. Perhaps I am even a Knitter. There are even indications that I may be a KNITTER.

I write a knitting blog. Some people who read the blog will decide, on occasion, to send me a knitterly token of affection through the post.

One such reader lives in Japan. She and I have never met. She wrote to let me know that a package would be arriving on my doorstep. In the package there would be "some roving" to spin. Please note: "some roving."

I came home from work and the package had arrived. A package of considerable dimensions. As promised, it did contain "some roving." Here is a picture.


Each of those two balls of roving measures nearly 15 inches in diameter. Each of those two balls is larger than my whole head.

This, newbie, is the kind of thing that may happen to you if do not drop the needles right this minute.

You may come home one day and find that someone you have never met, who lives across the ocean in a country you've never visited, has taken considerable time, trouble, and expense to ship you a box filled almost entirely by two gigantic balls of animal hair.

And you will find this thrilling.

Is that the kind of life you want for yourself? Is it? Is it?

Yeah, I thought so.

Welcome to the club. Have some hair.

Monday, August 06, 2007

1,000 Knitters at Stitches Midwest

It's confirmed, kids! I'll be shooting on Sunday, August 12, 2007 in the Marketplace at Stitches Midwest from 10 am-3 pm. I'd like to thank Laura and the other lovely folks at Jimmy Beans Wool for making it possible by acting as my sponsor, and XRX (the organization that runs Stitches) for approving the shoot.

The usual guidelines for models will apply, so if you're interested in participating please read them carefully. Obviously, the window for shooting is limited and I'm sorry that there may be folks who would like to participate, but will have gone home by Sunday. But worry not - we have a long way to go before it's time to cast off and I will be doing this again.

No need to sign up in advance, but we will be using a numbering system on the day if there's a queue.

I plan to hang out around the market quite a bit, even when I'm not shooting, so I hope to meet a lot of you. (That's why I'll be there: to meet people. I won't be shopping. I am not buying any yarn. Absolutely not.)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Glorious Technicolor

I'm knitting again, an indication that systems are returning to normal. For the most part, I'm able to live by Elizabeth Zimmermann's wonderful exhortation to "Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises," but there were several days when I picked up the needles only to drop them again.

I said that after staring exclusively at white for several months that I craved color, and sweet Minerva's dye pot did I get it.


It's the now-ubiquitous Tulip Jacket from Dream in Color, which took off in a big way after Stephanie Pearl-McPhee knit one, and loved it, and so then she knit...I can't remember...what was it, something like 22 of them in a week?

Arcadia Knitting has made up kits for the pattern,* which is a boon because to buy full skeins of all those colors in any decent yarn would push the cost into the "when monkeys fly out my butt" category. I bought my kit on the day of the 1,000 Knitters shoot. After a few awkward lunges (imagine Karl Rove on a first date with Gisele Bundchen) the jacket and I found our common groove and it has flown pleasantly along.

When it comes to shaped garments I'm still a novice, and I know it. So I meekly followed the pattern to about row 25 or so, and suddenly found myself looking down at a recognizable neckline and shoulders. I got quite excited. I wanted to hold it up and show it to the lady next sitting next to me on the train. Look! Shoulders! Little baby shoulders! And the neckline! Squee!

I remembered in the nick of time that people who don't knit never understand the thrill. (Poor bastards.)

I think this must be one of the finest aspects of knitting. A person could knit for an entire lifetime without reaching the end of the techniques and sleights-of-hand that make up all things that have ever been, or ever will be, fashioned with yarn and needles. No matter how much you learn, you never lose the potential for amazement.

There's an old Peanuts strip wherein Linus, I believe, quotes somebody's aphorism that happiness lies in having "three things to look forward to, and nothing to dread." That might explain why knitters generally can get through rough patches in life with equanimity, or even cheerfulness. While there may be much to dread, we always have far more than three things to look forward to.

*To give yourself a creative jolt, check out the multiple colorways they've come up with at Threadbear. No wonder that place has become a Destination Shopping Experience.