Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Where did that gaping chasim come from?

The one between many of us knitters out here in the Knitterverse, and the folk who work at The Knitter, or for that matter, lots of other knitting magazines? At knit night last week a copy of issue 14 was brought to share, and was puzzled by a response the editor gave to a a letter to the editor, I'll explain a little more but as well I've been reading more knitting magazines, and admiring the latest Vintage Purls Sock Club kit, and have finally started the second swatch for my Green Sweater. Following on from last week I did sew in those last fish, so the blanket has been set aside for now.

So .. the letter that sparked it all was sent to the editor of The Knitter and asked for thoughts about why The Knitter didn't include patterns worked in her favorite way, top down and in the round, and asked if they had plans or thoughts in that direction. The writer also pointed out that seamless and top down were much more common in American magazines than in British ones. I'd guess a great many knitters like me had the same question but had not bothered to email and ask. What floored me was the response, 'Our garments have largely been made this way because the majority of our designers have trained design backgrounds from the UK fashion colleges, who traditionally favor more classical construction methods'. Oh wow - what a polite put down, and misinformed as in the round is more traditional if that is what them mean by classic. of They do go on to say they are looking at including some top-down, and ones that use other interesting techniques in future issues (my italics). What confuses me most is that when I read the bios of most of the designers I don't often see that they trained in fashion, and because I teach fashion believe me I would remember that fact about a designer, that they had studied and where. I'm also confused because if that is true, then those colleges who teach design and fashion and all the unspoken innovation and creativity that goes implicit with that - well they would be teaching it with a very limited and restricted tool set. Just for the record, over here - I'm armed for teaching with much wider tool set, top down, bottom up, inside outside in, starting students with in the round and working out to components and graphs and calculations as well as total free form. I suspect that the UK colleges are not nearly as restrictive as the magazine suggests .. and that perhaps the pattern editor and technical spec person are a little conservative about estimating the skills and wants of their knitting public - but that is my own view.

During the week two new issues of magazines arrived in my letter box. Piecework historical knitting issue ... yum. I suspect The Mitts with tongues will be on my needles soon, I might not use them in church .. but I will use them while working on a computer. Vogue Knitting has a neat wee short row - no wraps knit the stitch twice - trick that I will be trying sometime. I've not got my head fully around how it works - but I am intrigued.

Then the sock club, The 2010 Summer Vintage Purls Sock club. While away I learned that this is a very desirable club to be in, I met so many knitters who missed out because it sold out so fast - sales opened on December 11th and sold out the same day, so now I feel doubly lucky to have my sock club kit. The is nothing more you could want for in a kit, yummy merino nylon sock yarn (no holes in my hand knit socks), indie dyed soft almost lavender warm grey, chocolate (3 kinds!), beads, the pattern and the cutest knitterly post it notes. My personal challenge will be to use the post it notes, not save them for looking at. And the sock, as usual toe up, and one I want to knit, it is pretty.

Lastly the second swatch for the Green Sweater has begun, this time on 5mm needles, and this time I'm knitting the swatch with the hem shaping so I can have a play with working the hem in this yarn, and I will work a steek in this yarn as well. I figure if I'm knitting another swatch to get gauge - I may as well check techniques at the same time. I'm only four rows in, so its tiny so far, and open - I'm not sure I like the yarn at this looser gauge - but I will reserve judgment until after its blocked.

Work is full, this is the last 2 weeks of preparation before the students arrive, and we have almost back to back planning meetings (we re-jigged the courses a little - its better but means more work to set things up the first run thru). The cubs are at school, they started today and seem happy and confident and relaxed, and its still all good here.

na Stella


KathyR said...

Hmmm, Knitter's magazine. Our spinning group had a subscription (I'm not sure if we'll be renewing it, or not) - the designs in this mag have always been, ummm, interesting. The editorial comment doesn't really surprise me although it does rather disappoint me considering how far knitting has come in recent years.

I love your Sock Club yarn and pattern! When knitting my beaded shawl, I found out just how useful post-it notes are when knitting and now I use them all the time. A really great gift in your Club mail-out!

I hope that you have a better time with your second swatch for the Green Sweater. Blocking can work wonders, so I'm told!

Knitting Linguist said...

Oh, very interesting. Was it Knitter's with that letter, or The Knitter? Either way, it's an odd excuse for not ensuring some kind of diversity in their designs. There does seem to be a sense that pieced garments are somehow "more" designed, I think (I'm guessing that there's a much more technical way to put that, and probably a very different perspective among non-lay folks in this area), or at least that's how I've heard people talk. I knit pieced garments, but am much more intrigued (as you know) by the possibilities of also considering what knitting has to offer in working something three-dimensionally, instead of constructing the dimensions out of pieces afterwards.