InVESTments in Knitting…

So, I am working my way through the second level of the Master Hand Knitter program offered by The Knitting Guild Association.  It is rigorous, to be sure, but it is also supremely enjoyable.  I have begun to notice how much I enjoy figuring out ways to accomplish my knitting goals, while still maintaining a firm grasp on the critical importance of craftsmanship.  Having come from a fine arts background, and having focused on the creation of abstract stuff (much of which caused friends and family to scratch their heads and then turn to deliver to me a quizzical look accompanied by a dense and rather uncomfortable silence), I realize the need for craftsmanship in every pursuit.  However, I notice in knitting – as in many other things – the need for hey-look-at-what-I-just-did accolades runs rampant.  It certainly has run rampant in my work at times, but I think the Master Hand Knitter program has really caused me to look at finishing work as just part of the overall process of creating a garment.  No longer do I view the weaving of yarn tails, and the proper sewing of seams as the devil’s work.  Now it’s just part and parcel of creating work using two sticks and some wooly yarn.

As part of the Master Hand Knitter’s level 2 work, knitters are asked to select a vest pattern and knit it.  I did that.  I was thrilled with the stipey green and blueness of the vest I created until I realized the armholes might threaten the blood supply to my model’s hands were he to wear it for too long.  My model happens to be my teenaged son – and while he is the epitome of awesomeness in my eyes, he is still a teenager who has to be allowed to roam our house without his limbs being unnecessarily bound by a wreck of a vest knitted with love (and wine) by his dear old mother.

That first vest, which also had issues including a gaping hole just at the very crux of the V at the base of the V-neck, will be kept and displayed.  After all, even I was able to put it on.  But the thing won’t be worn.  It’ll be a teaching tool.  A reminder that sometimes you screw up after a ton of work.  I guess the bottom line is that life often includes intersections with two signs:  Quit here and submit to my power, bitch…   and, the other sign:  Don’t fucking give up…

I chose the second of the two options.  And put my feet up…

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Now, I find myself with the makings of a second vest.  I’ve knitted the front and back.  I’ve sewn the pieces together at the shoulders.  I’m now preparing to do the ribbing work around the neck.

Suffice it to say I’m a little bit tenacious.  Like a pit bull.  Or, as some of my county kin would say….like a hair in a biscuit.

Here are the pics…

The green and blue vest was the first of the two…

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Never let it be said that teenagers can’t be super helpful and awesome – my teen guy was willing to put on that first vest at the risk of losing blood flow to his fingers…

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Second vest:  A few yarn tails.  Just a few…

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BLOCK PARTY!!!

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The Sweater Diary

About three weeks ago I started working on the Aidez sweater by Berroco Design.  It is a really wonderful pattern – both in results and in the ease of knitting something that is really incredible to see and touch.  I ended up using KnitPicks.com’s Bare Cadena Natural – because I had a bunch on hand already.  So glad I did – the yarn is just as yummy as the knitting pattern!

I started off working on the back panel.  When I finished it, I couldn’t wait to pin it up just for a quick look.

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I worked the arms next – and apparently made some Facebook friends nervous when I posted a picture of a sleeve on just one of my legs.  I got a couple of notes asking how I’d broken my leg.  Ahhh – the joys of attempting-to-see-without-glasses after the age of 40 – or 45.  All of that said, here’s a snapshot of the sleeves on BOTH of my legs.  Several people mentioned they would make great leg warmers.  Hang on, let me cut my sweatshirt off and make it hang off of my right shoulder…

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So, I then did the left panel – for which the pattern was written.  I felt more confident starting there as the right panel is simply a reverse of the left.  I figured I wanted to get to know the left one before the whole reversal thing.

I finished the right panel this morning.  But I was dying to get a feel for the look of the finished product…so I pinned up the back and the left panel.  Makes me think this would make a really amazing sweater vest.IMG_1900.jpgIMG_1901 (1).jpg

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This whole sweater knitting process reminds me that knitting has so much to teach knitters about themselves – and about life in general.  Wading through the minutiae of patterns, making things understandable, tracking progress, undoing mistakes – and redoing the work that needs to be redone, all while maintaining the sort of composure that allows one to get through a knitting project with a bunch of pieces – kind of sounds like my life.  The only thing that remains for this project is for me to put all of the pieces together in a way that’s presentable and polished.

That’s one philosophical sweater…!

 

Book Love

Walking on the treadmill this morning, the words of the Clara Parkes book Knitlandia causing the minutes and miles to evaporate quickly (thank the gods of fitness), I felt myself becoming overwhelmingly grateful that Parkes has gifted readers with stories that infuse the sometimes rigid and self-conscious world of knitting with rich, warm humor.  If you haven’t read the book, grab it and get to it.  It makes exercise go by lightning quick – and in my world that’s nothing short of miraculous!

Hellraiser – If Pinhead Knitted

I’ll first admit I’ve never seen the movie Hellraiser.  It’s probably a good thing too…  I mean, seriously, his face – all those pins.  I just don’t know about that.  But, when I recently blocked the last watch I had to reknit for Level I of the Master Hand Knitter program (experience…?) offered by The Knitting Guild Association, I immediately thought of Pinhead.  Funny how a character from a movie I’ve never seen can invade my skullmeat in totally unexpected ways…

Here’s the photo that made me wonder:  If Pinhead were a knitter, what sorts of things would he knit?

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In an effort to move past the nightmare inducing blocking work, I started on another project.  I’m working through the Aidez sweater pattern offered for free by Berroco.  The sweater calls for some really yummy looking Berroco yarn, but I happened to have a few spongy, lofty center pull balls of KnitPicks.com’s Cadena in Natural.  I opted to go with what I had on hand (and order some more yarn of the same type in order to be able to work the whole pattern – after all, Pinhead probably wouldn’t be caught (half-)dead in a muscle shirt/sweater sort of getup, would he…?).

Here’s progress photo of my work on this project:

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The long and short of it is that it’s pretty funny to observe your mind’s wanderings when you’re working with fiber.  Oh, and after writing this, I looked up some information on the Pinhead character’s profile and evolution.  Just in case you’re interested, here’s a page of fun info: http://www.clivebarker.info/pinevolution.html.

Ok – guess I’d better get back to knitting!  Stay calm, knit on, and keep one eye open…

 

 

 

On My Way To The MASTERS

So, I’ve been working my way through level I of the Master Hand Knitter series offered by The Knitting Guild Association.  It’s safe to say I was a solid knitter, but by no means an expert, when I started level I.  That said, I have learned more in the last few months about knitting than I ever thought I would and I am seriously looking forward to learning even MORE as I continue to work my way through this level and the two to follow.

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I sent off my binder of work at the beginning of January and received it back from the Master Hand Knitter committee this past weekend.  The response to my work is nothing short of incredible for its attention to detail, and the awesome amount of information it contains.   I did quite a few things well – and I certainly left much room for improvement in many other areas.  Currently I’m working to correct the things that need correcting, and will soon send back my revised work.

You know – the last page of the response, which was about a dozen typewritten (single spaced) pages – said that the reviewer hoped I would take the response in the spirit in which it was intended – as guidance rather than as criticism.  Absolutely!  I couldn’t be more grateful to be learning from knitters who are among the best in the nation.

Knit on…!