Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Opinionated Knitter

There's an interesting thread running on Knitter's Review wherein folks are, in that remarkably civil manner unique to knitters and buddhists, debating the merits of Elizabeth Zimmermann as a writer, teacher, and designer. I've been following it with some fascination, since while I bow down to EZ as a genius of geniuses (I mean, right up there with whoever first figured out that a lobster was something you could break into and eat), it took me a long time to appreciate her. Some 30 years ago, as a frustrated attempting to self-teach knitter, I picked up a copy of Knitting Without Tears figuring I'd find the hand-holding granny I'd never had. I just wanted someone to tell me exactly how to untangle those two sticks and a hunk of string. However, EZ's disdain of blind followers shamed me into casting the book aside in...well, tears. I can quote the exact paragraph that stopped me cold, from page 45:

Let nobody say she can't sew up a sweater--she just doesn't want to. Reminds me of the infuriating remark, 'I've always wanted to knit, but I just can't.' Pish, my good woman, you can plan meals, can't you? You can put your hair up? You can type, write fairly legibly, shuffle cards? All of these are more difficult than knitting. You just don't want to knit, so why pretend that you do? It's not compulsory; take up something else.

Well, it happened that at the time the only skill listed above I could consider myself remotely competent at was planning meals (couldn't cook, but I could plan). So I gave up until 10 years later when I encountered a cranky buy doggedly patient instructor at an Adult Education Course who taught me the basics (thanks, Mrs. DuPre). And then I returned to Elizabeth Zimmermann, who taught me how to knit. Oh, and I have since accomplished most of the above, but I still can't shuffle cards for shit.

By the way, The University of Wisconsin--Madison is launching an exhibit called "New School Knitting: The Influence of Elizabeth Zimmermann and Schoolhouse Press". Article here; exhibition link here.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Scribble Me This

An Absorba, a kimono, and many, many ballbands have not stilled my obsession with Mason-Dixon Knitting. So, I have moved on to the Scribble Scarf, being rendered in yet another mystery yarn from my stash—it seems to be a mixture of a kid mohair and a very thin boucle, neatly double-stranded and rolled into a workable ball. I swear I have no idea where it came from (hey, if there are yarn fairies out there repleting my stash while I sleep, I could use a bunch of Lamb’s Pride Bulky in assorted colors, OK?). The thick strand is Lion Brand Incredible, a nylon ribbon I wouldn’t ordinarily touch, but it serves its purpose very well here. The colorway is called Autumn Leaves, and combined with the mystery thin it results in a shiny, happy fabric that lends itself to regular arms-length admiration during TV commercials. And shiny, happy, light and airy is a nice change from the dense cotton of Absorba. For now, the scarf is dubbed the ALDS Scribble Scarf, hopefully to morph into the World Series Scribble Scarf (Let’s Go Yankees…thump, thump, thump thump thump).

UPDATED 10/7/06: OK, Let's Go Mets (Willie Randolph will always bleed pinstripes to me). And deep in my heart I knew this was going to happen...since 1960, the Yankees have only won the World Series when the President of the U.S. is a Democrat. Yet another thing to blame on George W. Bush. Next time, I will refrain from officially naming my Scribble Scarf until the fat lady sings.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Absorba, The Great Bathmat--F.O.

Thanks to the aforementioned Law & Order: SVU marathon, it's a wrap. I mean, a mat. Presented outside of its natural habitat because 14 year old DD refuses to give up the bathroom for a photo op (she's still in there, even as I blog). The stats: 20"x28", 11 hard-earned logs including the center. I used some truly ancient Patons Chunky Cotton (I think it's been discontinued) in a grimy footprint-forgiving army green. Since some balls were partial, it's hard to tell exactly how much was eaten, but I'd guess 8 100 gram skeins, triple-stranded, on size 15 needles. The toe-squishing result was worth the pain, but when DH suggested another for the kitchen, I laughed until he backed away, slowly.