Saturday, June 25, 2011

Today there has been knitting .....

but I can't really show you, there are now two finished projects, and for two very different reasons neither will appear here today. One is my 2011 Take-back-the-knit Secret swap gift - all finished and ready to go, but that must remain a secret until the actual swapping happens. The other finished project was also a gift and is done, and complete and gifted. I even managed to make photos before the gifting ... but then left the photos on the SD card on my desk at work. Still there is knitting content, I've been working on the double knit mittens, and spinning (a lot), and there is a new sock club - and exciting new yarn and patterns. And I've just signed a contract to write a regular column for a magazine ... so now there are new deadlines.

I have finally made it back to the double knit mittens, these have been on the go since, oh the 1st of April this year and so far I have knit one, realized my gauge had changed as I became more familiar with the double knit method and it was way to large. I then started a second one which will become the first of a pair, if I ever finish the third. This pattern ties me to the chart, so it is 'at-home' knitting, and knitting where I need to focus. This has been pushed aside as I focus on other things .. but now it is back and in progress.

This is when I get to introduce you to Max, super sock yarn. I signed up for the VP Winter 2011 sock yarn club. I didn't need much convincing, as the yarn and colours and patterns and treats are always spectacular, but also as I am not sure I could stand the envy if M brought sock club kits to knit night and I didn't get one to go home with. There is a new sock yarn in her stable, Max, a thicker sock yarn, proper sock yarn with nylon and super wash merino, deliciously dyed, and soft. Max is designed for more than socks, but also for hats, mitts, baby wear and blankets and well ... anything that you would want to knit in soft yarn on 4-5mm needles. In New Zealand this weight is called DK short for Double knit, but elsewhere this would be called Worsted.

Vintage Purls is run by a fountain pen user, and I have tempted her across to pens that you can put ink in. Now that might not sound so outrageous, after all all-pens-have-ink don't they? Well no, not ink like you can get for fountain pens. Long story short, for now M is signing her kit letters with a fountain pen, collecting pens and inks, and this time the ink was an amazing colour ... and my envelope had the ink details recorded as she knew I would ask. Deep Magenta, yummy, I just might have to invest in a bottle for myself sometime, Diamine offer 80 colours, and many of the other brands offer an equal number.

This past three weeks I have been teaching every day on the knitting elective, which is run as a block course so short, sharp and intensive. Over three weeks I managed to take 18 non-knitters from casting on, and off, knitting purling, increasing and decreasing, cabling and eyelets. Some even went further to dying their own yarns, or picking up and edging or working lace within a boarder, and almost all played with adding pom-poms or tassels. I can't claim credit as they were a very bright bunch of motivated students who put the work in, and all designed something to hand in at on Friday, the end of the three week block. One casualty was my own knitting, after a day with knitting in my hands I needed another thing to relax with at home of-an-evening. I turned to my spinning and some of the lovely fibre that Kathy left for me last week. I suspect this is the finest singles I have every spun consistently, all due to the amazing fibre. I divided up the fibre into 6 sections, 2 of each colour and spun it into two bobbins with the same shift in colour. My hope is that I will score a almost lace weight yarn that shifts from cream to chocolate over its length, with some mottled transitions between each tone. My long term aim is a shawl that transitions from pale to dark.

My news this week is that I have signed a contract for an ongoing column in Entangled, which means four columns a year if I remember the fine print correctly. The next deadline looms near so I have been planning and writing and putting the next article on paper. Literally on paper as I am choosing to write the roughs and drafts with a fountain pen. Here I am using a c. 1955 Pelikan pen, with a fine nib filled with Pelikan Edelstein Ink in Saphire (the bottle is amazing and the ink pretty nice as well). Bear bought this pen as he is also a 1955 model, but the nib was too dry for him, luckily I had bought a vintage Lamy that wrote too wet and broad for me. We swapped and both are now happy.

Of course this leads to lots of distraction as I have three pens inked at the moment, and it occurred to me that the words might flow better if I use a different pen and ink. In the middle is a 1950's Burnham button filler with a fine nib, and to the right is a green 1950's Onoto with a lovely flex nib. The Onoto was a gift from a local knitter and I sent it away to England to be restored. The Burnham has my current all time favorite ink, Diamine Damson, a dark mystery plum colour, and the Onoto has Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin - which is a lovely bright fun orange. Mandarin sounds odd for a pen ink but it is brilliant for editing and annotating.

So what am I writing about you ask? Well, repairs, mending, fixing, and darning, activities and ideas that seem old fashioned and yet are totally in keeping with today's messages of recycle, reuse and re-purpose. In my next Entangled article I'm looking at the ideas we have about mending and fixing, and perhaps were those ideas came from. I have done a wee bit on this already for Handmade at Te Papa 2011, but this article will be more formal and look not only at the traditions of darning, a specific form of mending of knitwear, but also at how ideas of repairing and mending have shifted over the past few hundred years. The image shows a cute wee 'vintage' honey pot, we inherited it from Bears family. The pot was almost pristine when we took over its ownership, with only a small chip in the base. Unfortunately two small children meant that over the past 12 years the honey bee has lost first one then the other wing. Both incidents resulted in me reaching for the glue to repair it. A new honey pot wouldn't be a as nice (I know, I've looked) nor would it have the same family connection. As I glued the pot I realized that fixing things had been a constant in my own childhood, pot handles were glued, bikes were mended, elbows patched, rips repaired. My Nana took things way to far when she glued and used broken plates, but mending the honey pot made me aware that for many in the western world mending isn't something they do.
So I'd best head off, pick up those lovely pens and ink and sort more thoughts on repairs and mending, and knit some and spin some .....

take care


Vanda Symon said...

I love that Diamine Deep Magenta, I may have to acquire some too. I'm enjoying the Diamine Monaco Red for editing the current novel draft. I'm still looking for the right shade of green for annotating. If you get new inks does that mean you have to buy new pens to use them?!

You've been rather busy, but it must be very rewarding to see the new knitters coming along so well and being so enthusiastic.

Knitting Linguist said...

Congratulations on the ongoing column! They are lucky to get you, and I know that the readers will enjoy your words (I certainly do!).

The inks are just lovely - I have been sticking pretty religiously to my favorite pen in my lovely brown ink (you know the one I mean), but I must branch out again soon. Good luck with all of your deadlines, knitting and writing!