Master Knitter?

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I just started a program with The Knitting Guild Association to become a master knitter. It is the strangest sensation to be doing this, and also the most comforting thing I have ever embarked on.  Unfortunately, I do not trust myself.  I know how I am, how I get really into something and then later get bored and move on.  And really this is only the beginning of one step.  Oddly I have tried everything all the way through to the last part of the program, and yet here in the trenches, starting fresh and new, I am learning somethings.  Like how to capture stitches before you rip out to a mistake.  (As you knit so shall you rip).

I have been reading, already, about the history of fiber arts, and about world textiles.  I am absolutely fascinated by the first archeological record of fiber, woven fabrics, knitted string skirts, embroidered and knitted things found in various digs.  I am curious about the way indigenous people create their traditional arts, like Navajo blanket weaving, Mayan (Guatemalan) blackstrap weaving, Thai story cloth,  mud bark paintings from India and parts of Africa, String” fabric from Myanmar and Tapa cloth from Hawaii. I am, and always have been, fascinated by traditional patterning and motifs, going deeper than Fair Isle and looking at the Sammi people.

I was interrupted in my knitting fever, and now am fully in remission.  I went through a phase where I knitted all the time.  I don’t want to always go back to the giant rift in my life, but it had such a significant impact on my life I don’t know what else to talk about.  While I was putting my ex through graduate school, I added 20 hours a week of waitressing to my full time teaching job.  The only thing left that I could do creatively was knit.  And knit I did, I designed several sweaters, failed at a few too.  And I think my ex was disdainful of it, like hanging laundry on a clothesline, I think he viewed my knitting as something loser country people do.  Maybe that is why he left me?  I will never know.

When he left though I mostly stopped and didn’t knit for 8 or 9 years.  There was a brief layover period where a friend and I knitted purses and sold them, and I started a blanket as a wedding gift for a friend I lost in the divorce, I was heartbroken when I wasn’t invited.  And I never finished the afghan.

I did buy a spinning wheel, and I love using it, the rhythm of the wheel, is soothing and calming.  But it is not something that ever drew my interest deeply.  I adore and love weaving, but a large and complicated loom necessary for intricate patterns hold no interest for me.  Warping my little rigid heddle is hours of work and pain in my lower back, makes it hard.  Knitting however has jumped back into my hands, knowing you will never be an expert weaver at this late stage, leaves a prohibitive feeling in you as you work it.

One could say that perhaps I should return to painting, and perhaps I should, in time I might with the same vengeance I am embarking on with knitting.  I have many ideas swarming in my mind.  image

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Tartan Acres

I play it off like I haven’t been creative at all, but I have been.  I have been knitting like crazy for the last two months.  I almost made a whole sweater before I tore it all out and am going to start again.  I have made socks, mittens, and a hat.  Today my knitting pal and I went to visit my co-worker’s alpaca farm.  It was delightful to see the animals, which are stunningly gorgeous with their giant liquid eyes, long eyelashes and thick soft wool.  We loved the Peruvian made articles of clothing that she had for sale in her shop.  She told us that the business they have done with them has greatly improved the cost of living for the whole village, that just rocks!  But in the end it was the yarn for both of us and the roving for me that drew me in.  She chose a marbled dark and light grey yarn, and I chose a gorgeous, luxuriously soft black yarn for new mittens for me.  Both of my mittens are worn enough to have big holes in them, and I realized today that my green mittens are probably 5 years old!  The purple ones less so, but they are not my favorites, they have never fit quite right.  I also bought a small bag of black roving also so soft it is indescribable.  It was a good day for the long drive and we both came away happy with our little purchases.

The artist’s version of writer’s block?

I say I am in a creative lull, but really I am not.  I have written nearly every day for several months, either by blog or by journal.  I have finished a painting that has sat in my studio for 10 years, I painted several other paintings this summer.  I dabbled with watercolor and sold 2 of the 3 paintings.  I have knit several things in the last few weeks.  I have dressed as a pirate and play acted at festivals.  But I have not sewn any dolls, though their spirits whisper in my ear, bring us to life.  I have done a few doodles, but I am bored with them.  Then I discovered someone decided to call the process ZEN Tangles, and I find myself going “doh I coulda done that”.  But I didn’t.  Its all good to me, someone at The Syracuse Peace Council’s Plowshares Arts and Crafts Festival apologized, sorry you are not making art.  But I am.  And for me it is not up to what I want, it is not matching the vision in my artist’s mind.  I fumble, I struggle, I throw things away, I tear things out, I write stuff and then delete it.  This is all good to me.  It is part of being an artist.

But I did by a book that encourages one to envision the life they want through art.  And since then I have been attempting the first task, which is to spend 15 minutes a day doing what gives me joy.  Today I started knitting a mitten using Ukrainian patterns, and the colors of the Ukrainian flag, bright blue and yellow.  Yesterday I looked for my pattern book and gave up, today I found it.  When I say pattern book, I don’t mean for the mitten itself but rather for the color work that is truly the joy of knitting for me.

And while I was at Plowshares I spoke to several artisans, felt inspired, looked at what other people are doing, and came home feeling okay that I didn’t apply this year.  It just wasn’t right for me.  I have this thing brewing, or else I am closing off a door, I don’t know which, I just feel as though there is potential energy and I just have not tapped it yet.  And I am all good with it.

I know other artists struggle with creative lulls, what are some ways that they overcome this, and figure out a way to bring all that stuff back up to the surface?

Knitting Today

I discovered a new knitting magazine the other day while at Barnes and Nobles.  I actually bought it which is truly unusual.  I was really impressed with Knitting Today mostly because they had an article about subversive knitting, a sheep shaped music box cozy, an article about dying wool (not just a knitting magazine I hope they are planning a spinning story too!) and a great article about Scottish designer Ysolda Teague. Okay admission there were lots of things I liked in the magazine besides these.  And since it is a new magazine I think I will subscribe, I hope they keep it up.  I get bored with endless sweaters that are increasingly odd (or frumpy) on emaciated women.  I guess what I like best about Ysolda’s designs are her adorable little animals. No surprise there.   She also keeps a blog so check out her link. IYAI

New socks for an old friend

Socks

I love knitting color patterns into socks.  I use these lovely size 3 bamboo needles from the Clover company.  The variegated yarn is from Hot Socks Sockenwolle, and the other yarn, I have no idea but it is good quality yarn store sock yarn.   I used a pattern book from Philosopher’s Wool to create some of the patterns but the checkerboard pattern is one I love to incorporate into my designs, whether they are are wool or if it is just printed fabric in my animals.  I personally cannot stand “check” designs in clothing but love to see it added to a pattern.  I just discovered a remaining ball of green that I though I had had when making these socks, but couldn’t find.  It was of course right on top of the other yarns in the sock yarn drawer.  Alas the socks are happy being purple with that accent of yellow, white and the variegated.  I have another pair of these socks and they are warm and comfy.  One thing I do with all of my wool socks is double knit the toe.  I do this by knitting two yarns at the same time, knitting alternating stitches which carries the yarn between each stitch thus creating a smooth inner surface and this striped outer pattern.  I knit it for one inch before beginning my decreases which makes for a good long toe surface.  I think it looks pretty, but in the end, in snow country it is all about the warmth.

Art Mania

I am thinking of changing the title of this blog to art mania.  This morning I went to the Regional Market and happened upon a woman selling meat, from Sweet Grass Farms, meadow raised meats.   She was also selling lambs wool.  So I purchased about a 1/3 of a pound of natural colored wool to ply with my bright green wool.  Later I went to the Zen Center of Syracuse and helped my friend and fellow Zen-ie, hang the tags and clipboards and general assistance with the Silent Art Auction.  While I was there I watched the Tibetan monks working on an intricate and beautiful mandala made from sand.  There was also a dedication ceremony in collaboration with the Haudenosaunee people, a local stone sculptor has made a beautiful sculpture for the garden.  What a delightful blending of Zen, Tibet, and Original People.  I bought a prayer flag to hang outside on my porch, and I also bought a beautiful wall hanging that says basically that even in the smallest of families it is loving kindness, deep respect, and a good heart which is most important.  Love it.  I knit 7 inches on a baby sweater today too.  A good day for art.

Two projects to go

I have the rest of a sock to knit and that purple silk and cotton blend skirt and I am done.  I finished the baby sweater, all it needs are buttons, four to be exact, unfortunately I only have three of each of all the good ones in my button box. 

Acrylic baby sweater Baby Softee
Acrylic baby sweater Baby Softee

I also completed and wore the linen or more accurately flax sweater.

Embroidered Flax T-shirt handknit
Embroidered Flax T-shirt handknit

I also have a very small glittery gold evening bag to finish knitting.  Then Oh yes the finish line is so very very close, then I will be done with my summer project of knitting off all of my needles.