Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Gussets and a bit

Looking more and more like socks with every rounds.

I am already itching to make another pair, and something else!

But I have been reading too. I sometimes like to read cooking books, (or Cook's Illustrated Magazine) or to watch cooking shows.

I don't do much of the fancy stuff I read about. I don't entertainment much, and I don't need to make something that serves 4, or 6.. though I confess to making up lovely curries—and other spicy stews and portioning them out and freezing the extra (lately chicken curry has been on the menu twice a week—I cheat and use prepared spice mixes.. (several different ones) and tend to add extra vegetable, (making them unauthentic stews)—but SO EASY to have meat and vegetable in one dish, and less clean up!)

I've been reading knitting books too—One of my first projects (was it my first? Or did the grey watch cap, done in Red Heart wool, come first?) was a very simple stranded doll's skirt--certainly it was one of my very early knitting projects.

My mother (and almost all of my female relatives) knit (or sewed, or did both!) --and she knit fast, demon fast, and she could do lace (but didn't often do fancy lace work) and she could cable (in the air with no cable needle (I was an adult when I learned how to use a cable needle—and thought it was so slow and cumbersome!) and churn out hats and mittens and sweaters for us (there were 5 of us) in no time at all. But she didn't do color work.

Me? I was drawn to it, right from the first, like a moth to the flame. And while I knew there were patterns for things (sweaters or hats) it never occurred to me you'd need patterns for stranded work. It seemed so self evident.

I've been reading Alice Starmore's book of Fair Isle Knitting, and while she touch on how some of the patterns evolved I think she buys into the idea that stranded color work is hard.

I've never thought it hard.. I love the regularity and symmetry--(she does cover the symmetry) but she doesn't point out—as Anne Zilboorg has done, how lovely and pleasurable some patterns are to knit. Some patterns are like dancing for your fingers.. The result is beautiful—but the work isn't work at all-- but a finger dance as pleasurable as any dance!

Some complex looking 'peries' are so rhythmic—they are just wonderful to do. And many peries (and the first pattern I did was about 7 rows—and almost identical to the first 7 row pattern in the book) (page XX) have a 4 way symmetry—which makes them even easier. R1 and R nth (the last row) are the same.. R2 and penultimate row are the same.. (making a 7 row pattern really a 4 row pattern; R1, 2, 3, C, 3, 2, 1) and a 10 stitch repeat really just a 5.. 1,2, 3, 4, 5, C, 5, 4 ,3. 2, (1) (which is really the start of the next repeat.

I think it's a bit funny—I started my knitting with stranded work—and have done all sorts of color work on and off (not nearly so exclusively as someone like Nannette, but more than most) and now, 50 years later, I've finally gotten round to reading about it, and learning about Fair Isle knitting! I know there are other kinds of stranded work—i frequently use the term fair isle (in lower case) as a synonyms for stranded work (of the non Fair Isle type. )

I doubt I will ever knit a proper Fair Isle sweater—I might, at some time, (but I don't have any plans) make a vest.. Certainly, I will do hats—Tams and other hats. And maybe even a fancy sock with a deep folded over cuff of Fair Isle.. (I don't like the fit and feel of stranded work on my foot.. and besides, the thicker stranded work socks don't fit into most of my shoes.)

But its wonderful to read about, and lovely to look at.. As appetite stimulating as a good cook book!


Virginia G said...

I am definitely attracted to the idea of color work. Either Fair Isle or intarsia or something else... but just haven't gotten around to it yet.

I really should.

pdxknitterati/MicheleLB said...

I love stranded color work. It's not hard. It's rhythmic, zen-like. And pretty.

Intarsia? No thanks!

gayle said...

My first stranded colorwork was a skirt I knit back in the '60s. (When else would a stranded colorwork skirt have seemed like a good idea?) No one had told me it would be hard, so it wasn't...