Tuesday, November 03, 2009

.... and then

the knitter surveyed the WIP's .. and realized some sort of order was required. Its not that there is any particular disorder ... just a sense that there is a lot already underway, and the end of the academic year means students presenting and the show and marking and graduation... and lots to do. I've enough distractions without adding more. Today there is the sock request, and the wip project report, I realize not all knitting is fun, and a brief book review.

M asked in a comment on the last post is it really fair to knit socks in "Bear's Bunker" and then determine that they are not for Bear?! :)
Point made - Bears Bunker after all is a colour way named after Bear .. and those socks are not for him, so no it probably wasn't fair. My mother used to wonder out loud 'who had told me life was fair' - in truth probably right after I complained it wasn't. She was right .. life is life and its not always fair. But point made .. Bear missed out on the Bear's bunker socks. Little known fact is that Bear has is own sock yarn stash. Well one skein of sock yarn .. which is stash right? Bear was pointed at the sock knitting library and asked to pick a sock design. He did .. and after consultation has asked for The Gentlemens Sock by Nancy Bush, from Knitting Vintage Socks. So that is the next sock on the needles, I'll be knitting it toe up, the lozenge pattern is reversible so will easily work the 'other way up'.

My other active project is a Margaret Stove Lace Rib Baby vest - in cobweb. Nice pattern, nice soft white, easy to knit with a repeat of 4 rows, and 4 stitches. I'm at 13.5cm of 17 cm although the mother in me wants to knit it a little longer ... I had long babies and extra length seems a good idea.

I have a new respect for those who knit lace in cobweb yarns. This is a cobweb 2 ply, on 2.75mm needles and its knitting that required attention. The yarn is so fine I can't feel when I've scooped a strand to pull thru a loop, I can't feel when I've slid the needle in a loop, I'm careful of how I arrange the needles when I put my knitting aside least I snag one of the fine loose yarns that make up the lace knit fabric. End result is this despite its simple stitch pattern repeat .. its a knit that leaves me not as relaxed as other knitting. Cobweb yarn isn't soothing knitting - but it is fine, and soft and light and amazingly squooshy. This is product knitting - knitting for the outcome, to enjoy the result .. not knitting for the process of knitting.

And the book? I've been reading Joanne Turney's The Culture of Knitting. Recently released Sept 2009 - this is a book I read about earlier this year and put on Pre Order. I enjoyed reading it, I'm a knitter and I'd probably enjoy any book that talked intelligently about the knitting world I inhabit and know and participate in. I loved the chapter Knitting: A gendered Pursuit? or more precisely I loved the way in which Joanne described the cardigan, its rumoured development and history and then went on ...
.. Indeed, it is more formal than a sweater; a shirt and tie can be worn with a cardigan. therefore the cardigan is contradictory: a garment which is neither formal or casual, suited perhaps to those unable to fully conform or participate in either area. Indeed, in popular iconography the cardigan is utilized as the workwear of the 'hip' but relaxed college professor, aging in body and bohemian in mind, and the casual wear of the stuffy, overly formal man, for whom leisure represents a loss of control. The cardigan therefore becomes a sign of of the maintenance of one's ideals and standards in awkward situations, a sign of comfort where there is none. (Turney, 2009, p35)
I love that - and secretly I hoped the entire book was like that .. but no. It is a good book, an intelligent book (I think I said that already), but it is a book that glosses over all that knitting can be rather than a book that delves into the depths of what knitting is to knitters. It was, I realize, a difficult book to write .. for in any field the 'first' has to establish the scope, the area, the field of study and the approach has the most difficult path of all - Turney does this, and does it across a huge range of what knitting is. There are paragraphs that like the cardigan quote above make me laugh and want to share, ideas that capture an essence or way of seeing that feel 'right', but there are also chapters that feel shallow, of trying to introduce things that have not been described before and so the words must paint the whole picture alone, and yet to me, a knitter in amongst the knitting, those sections feel incomplete . There are sections where Turney made me think, to consider and to add new layers of understanding to my own knowledge of knitting culture and history. Her expression of knitting 'traditional designs' and how they can never be anything other than contemporary interpretations is perhaps a truth that we do know but don't articulate as often as we should. Should you buy this book, I don't know, if you are collecting around the idea of knitting and beyond pattern books, how to books and stitch dictionaries, yes consider at least reading it. I will return to it and reread it, and hope that in time there will be others along side it on my knitting book shelf so it stands supported and doesn't feel like it is thin in places.

I'm off to knit cobwebs now .. and yes the yarn feels as delicate as cobwebs
I have some spinning on the go .. and I might wind sock yarn into 50g cakes ..
and I'll sort the next book to read .. or finish, 1 down 25 to go ....

na Stella


Suzanne said...

"My mother used to wonder out loud 'who had told me life was fair'" Mine would remark maddeningly that 'nothing in life is fair' - an expression that can still get my hackles up. If there is no hope of justice or fairness, what is the point? I know, I know, I was supposed to outgrow the Polyanna streak many years ago. Didn't happen.

So glad that Bear will get a sock that is to his liking. I had been wondering why he was not getting the socks in the yarn named after him and, after the Halloween rig, was thinking that Frankensocks might suit just fine!

It looks as if all projects are perking along nicely. Take care.

Anonymous said...

I was interested to read your comments about 'The Culture of Knitting' - I have it on my wishlist at the Book Depository and had been unsure how far up that list it should rate. Considering that I have been studying the humantities and sociology over the last few years I thought it might be a way of combining an interest in those things with my interest in knitting....maybe I will end up buying it but perhaps I might first treat myself to something more 'hands on' to do with knitting. Have recently bought a copy of 'The Loving Stitch' about NZ's history of knitting, have you read that?
Anyway, thanks for your comments, I had better stop procrastinating and get back to my last assignment for the year...sigh...

Knitting Linguist said...

Oh, thank you for the book review. I still have not been able to sit down with this one to read it, although I am so looking forward to it. I am rather relieved by your comments, though, as it sounds like there is room for those other books to stand beside this one... I love your description of knitting with cobweb weight -- so true!