Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Occasional Knitter

I recall when Kristen, having seen several of us sitting around the TA office knitting, decided that she might give the whole thing a try. She has since become a devotee, and while I know my mother thinks I have a lot of yarn out in the shed waiting to be used, there is no question that Kristen has much more. Unlike Kristen, and unlike the countless knitting bloggers, I am an occasional rather than an obsessive knitter. I learned the basics when I was seven and finally, twenty years later, took some classes so that I could make actual useful objects. From that followed the cable-knit sweater, the intarsia sweater, the fair-isle sweater, the lace vest, and at least two sweaters for other people. Obviously this was during a time in my life when I had a certain amount of leisure, although it must be said that I did a considerable amount of knitting on public transit and at my writing group. I also made a couple of brightly colored cotton throws, one of which was actually finished not long after the baby shower for which it was intended.
In more recent years, I have mostly stayed away from sweater-making (how many sweaters can one person really wear? I'm still wearing all but one of the original lot). After all, it is so easy to get distracted and forget what it was all about. But before I left Pittsburgh, Kristen and I did visit a yarn store, so I was tempted into starting another sweater. Normally, if I don't finish a sweater in a couple of months or so, there is probably not much hope for it, but this one has seen scattered activity over nearly two years, so I feel confident that it will get finished on the plane back to the US, if not before. The front pieces (see left) and one sleeve are done, and the back and the other sleeve are each half done. Therefore, another longish train ride or the like will certainly result in much progress. Whether I'll be entirely happy with the decision to use three colors on a pattern intended for one is another question, but I think it will look good enough to wear. It has a very appealing cable pattern, after all. I like cables; they're easy to do and look so impressive. (Although there is the constant problem of dropping and often permanently losing one's cable needle, as happened to me on the bus to Budapest last fall.)
Most of what I make now are scarves. While they aren't very stimulating to make, they progress very quickly when one is sitting at a conference or hanging out with people over the holidays. If the needle size is large enough, I can make two or three scarves in a day of sufficiently intense conference-sitting. (The kind where most of the day is spent in one seat, not the kind where one is constantly moving from room to room and looking at tables of new art books.) My friends are probably hoping that I'll go to lots of conferences so that I can give them more scarves.
I do not make socks, and it astonishes me that Kristen or anyone else would find socks worth the time and trouble. The results can be very handsome, I admit, but how long does the average sock last and how often is much of it visible?
Below, one can see the fair-isle sweater I made long ago. Kristen will have to avert her eyes from the dreaded fair-isleness of it, just as I avert my eyes from the upholstery under it. The sweater's colors are more intense in real life. While it is a bit big for me, I expect to wear it for another twenty or thirty years.


Blogger P'tit-Loup said...

Wow! I am impressed by your talent. When you return to the bay area you must show me how to do cables. I have never mastered them.

March 14, 2007 6:27 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

I wouldn't exactly call it talent (I didn't design any of the patterns), and I'd say a lot of people have me beat on skill. But I have yet to do a cable that was really hard. Basically all you're doing is putting one or more stitches onto the cable needle and holding that in front or in back for a few more stitches, so that the ones on the cable needle change place with the other stitches. I'll show you when I get back if you haven't gotten it by then.

March 14, 2007 8:28 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

Well, I'm glad to see you are still knitting periodically! And your FI sweater isn't the kind that gives me epileptic fits--it's the ones that are entirely covered in minute patterns that cause synapse misfires.

p'tit-loup: Yes, Karla is very right--cables are much easier than they appear. There are many good tutorials out there.

March 14, 2007 11:50 PM  

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