Karie Bookish Dot Net

Category Archives: Purls

On Beauty

When I was at university back in Denmark, I’d walk across the Amager Common from my student halls to the faculty. I’d pass by a huge rose bush with beautiful yellow roses, D.H. Lawrence’s Gloire de Dijon echoing through my head. The roses have long gone, thanks to urban development, but the memory of their beauty remain.

Beauty continues to matter to me. Throughout my life I have discovered beauty and savoured it. Poetry, art, rock formations, landscape, things people have said, music, colours and textures. I mentioned poetry first, not only because it epitomises and distils beauty and I experience the world through words, but also because the etymological root of ‘poetry’ is the Greek ποιητης – poïêtes which means ‘artisan, creator, maker’ (you still find that in the Scottish term ‘makar‘). Beauty is poetry is creation. And this brings me to a new way of experiencing beauty that I have only recently discovered.

I am currently finishing a lovely red cardigan and I find myself getting lost in its beauty. The stitches are slightly uneven and the buttons are a touch wonky, but it is beautiful. I work with wool which is clearly the product of a sheep’s fleece, the colour is stunning and I already have beautiful memories* tied to making the cardigan.

And then I happened across this blog entry which says it so much better than I ever could:

People talk about friendship and community and getting back to the roots of handcraft when they reference [craft] blogging as a movement, but there’s something else about this craft movement that I think is really special and I haven’t seen folks talking about, and that’s beauty. Redefining beauty. Taking beauty BACK from the magazines and the movies and the Botox parties and the red carpet. Taking it back into our own hands.

I have always seemed able to capture beauty, but I had no idea that I could get caught up in its creation too. It is a wonderful, empowering sensation.

* Mags, a good friend now living in London, unexpectedly showed up in Glasgow yesterday whilst I was finishing one sleeve. I will think of her every time I wear this cardigan.

PS. This all links back to ideas I have about feminism, craft and knitting groups, of course.

Weather With You

This is the weather forecast from BBC. As you can see, I need to finish my cardigan and get started on some emergency mittens and hat or I shall die of frostbite.

At the moment I’m monogamously working on a red version of my beloved grey cardi. When I say “version” I really mean “same but different” as I’m only using the basic shape of my grey cardigan and am working with different textures. I have eight more rows of stocking stitch (i.e. glatstrikning) left before I start on the garter stitch (i.e. retstrikning) border. I anticipate doing that tonight and then I just have two sleeves (again in plain stocking stitch) left to do. Shall we say ‘Wednesday night’ or is that too ambitious?

I’m yet to decide which mittens to knit. I re-arranged my Ravelry queue of desired patterns the other night (apologies to anybody on my friends-list – you will have noticed me swamping your friends-view with a gazillion patterns) but I’m still torn. I’m a bit tempted by the Chevalier mittens but the idea behind knitting emergency mittens is not to spend ages labouring over (gorgeous) cable work, but to get warm quickly. I’m also wondering whether I should knit a cute beret or a big chunky hat that’ll keep me warm. You see my dilemma: being chic or not dying of hypothermia.

I have also wondered if I should knit some big, warm, woolly socks for indoor use as Casa Bookish has a nasty draft coming from the closed-off fireplace in the living room. But I’ve ruled out sock-knitting for ages and risk being gently mocked by my lovely knitting friends, so strike that.

After the emergency mittens and the emergency hat, it’s time to look at Christmas knitting. I have been roped into knitting David’s Auntie M. “something green” (apparently a shawl, but we shall see about that – shawls take longer than you’d expect) and I have other sneaky plans involving yarn and people I love. I am also thinking of tackling this cardigan again in a more suitable yarn.

First, though, my red cardigan. Stocking stitch ad nauseam, here we go..

PS. Sorry about title but I’m on a roll, clearly.

St. James

My days are currently packed full of work and sleep. Seriously. Luckily I can also fit in my obsessive knitting as I have a three-hour commute. What you see on the left is the result of the past ten days.

The pattern is St. James from the current issue of MetaPostmodernKnitting. The pattern has a tied bow at the neck but I have a strange aversion to bows, so the top is adorned by a cluster of crocheted flowers instead. The end result is really quite stunning and very vintage-ish. I have enough alpaca-silk yarn left for a dainty shrug/cardigan, so I’m going to look out for a 50s inspired little pattern that would complement St. James. Oh dear, I’m going end up with a twin-set.

PS. can you spot our Fourth Edition sign in the background? It’s juust peeking out. Yes, we are sad, typography-obsessed nerds in this household.

PPS. Comments are very much appreciated but I cannot get back to anyone before the end of this crazy week, sorry. You know I luvs y’all, don’t you?

Drape Happens

I began knitting the Lush and Lacy cardigan a few weeks ago with my lovely alpaca-silk yarn. If you know me, this may surprise you as I am not really a ‘lush and lacy’ person, but I was tempted by the idea of a tomato red silky cardigan in a feminine vintage-ish style. I would wear that, oh yes.

As you can see by the photo, I am no longer knitting a cardigan nor is my work-in-progress particularly lacy. What happened?

Drape happened.

If you are used to working with textiles, you know that drape is important. It is how the fabric falls or hangs. When you are planning a knitting project, you try to match the drape to the pattern. Some patterns call for a rather indiscernible drape while others incorporate drape into the design. When choosing yarn, it is important to remember that silk and cotton drape more than lambswool or merino which both have good stitch memory.

When I chose my yarn, I knew it would have a lot of drape. The cardigan would put the drape to good effect. Perfect. Except when I had pretty much finished knitting the back of the cardigan, I was looking at the floppiest flap of fabric that had ever flupped. And I still had to knit the two fronts, two sleeves, sew it all together and pick up stitches to knit details. I knew it wasn’t going to happened because the end product would look like a giant tomato had just coughed up a dead alpaca goat on top of me. Not exactly a stylish vintage-ish knit.

So I ripped it all out and started over. This time I am knitting a very, very simple top-down raglan* top as you can see in my photo. It is knit in one piece and because the pattern is so minimalistic, the drape will be able to work to its advantage. I’m using St. James as my template although I am going to modify the pattern slightly. The sleeves will be much longer (because I live in Scotland) and the neckline a tiny bit different. And I’m very happy with how it all looks thus far.

And in related knitting news, my knitting group was filmed by Scottish TV last night because we are so damn hip. I was goaded into being interviewed by TangledFrog but I think I managed to sabotage the interview by mentioning astrophysics. I am not sure if the programme will air outside Scotland but I will keep you posted. Unless I feature heavily, of course.

I Have Four DPNs And Know How To Use Them

Yes, I’m a process knitter – not a product knitter.

I finished my take on the ubiquitous February Lady Sweater earlier today. I had been weaving in ends as I went along and the buttons were already fastened, so all I had to do was steam-block the cardigan. And so by the middle of the afternoon I was wearing my warm (organic) cardigan to the supermarket. I was chuffed, I was.

Then it dawned on me that I no longer had my project in process and that I could either a) pick up that Lilac Top O’Doom that has been in hibernation longer than I care to remember, b) work on a Christmas gift or c) cast on for a new project. I ruled out the Lilac Top O’Doom (because it pretty much means trying it on, figuring out that, yes, it does not fit and then ripping it out to start all over). The Christmas gift is nearly finished and I’m now trying not to work on it too much since it’s so enjoyable I don’t want the process to end too soon (see, PROCESS knitter!).

So I tried to cast on for a new project.

Actually I cast on two new projects and ripped them both out within ten rows. They just didn’t feel right (plus I couldn’t find my 5.00mm DPNs). And now I’m in a really, really foul mood because I’m between projects and I need to find the next process that I’ll really enjoy.

PS. This shawl is no more. Hallelujah.

Where To Go From Here

When I was a teenager, I had to rely on the local library for instructions on how to knit sweaters. I never did make one, although I crocheted a rainbow coloured top out of granny squares. Nowadays there are a plethora of sources, both on the internet and in my local magazine pusher.

Knitty is the mother of all free pattern sites. It features young designers and designs that are both versatile, wearable and fairly easy. Clapotis has become ubiquitous, it seems.

MetaPostModernKnitting is quite new and I love it. I love how they have a clear fashion editorial style, how they think about emerging trends and how they pull it all together in trend reports. It’s clever, it’s fashion forward and it’s very cool. I’m seriously considering their Prism sweater although the construction is unlike anything I’ve attempted before. The designer kindly mailed me to say that a) she liked my projects file on Ravelry (!) and b) she knew I could pull it off. Thank you, Caroline.

Knotions is a UK-based site designed to replace an earlier one called Magknits which was inexplicably pulled down one day in an apparent hissy fit by its Hipknits owners – I quickly decided never to deal with the Hipknits people after seeing how poorly they handled that situation (as well as other situations). not associated with anybody but itself. US-based but feeling international, Knotions is currently on its second issue. I’m considering making Autumn Leaves in red grey with a few modifications.

Popknits is a completely new site with vintage inspired garments. I’m waiting to see where they take this ‘vintage inspired’ site before deciding whether or not I like them. Yes, I’m on the fence.

The Twist Collective does not offer free patterns, but it offers some very, very nice patterns. Little Birds is gorgeous (although I probably wouldn’t be able to wear it).

Any I have missed?

Ripping Back..

Word to the wise: never knit whilst talking to your mother over Skype. You may think you’ll be able to easily knit the gull lace pattern of your cardigan whilst going “Mmm..” and “Oh, really?” but afterwards you’ll need to rip back your three rows.

But other than that, my cardigan is coming along nicely and I’m still ignoring that fateful row on my Tracks & Trails shawl.

Tracks, Trails and Tribulations.

Let’s be frank: I am a process knitter. When I choose to knit something I go for patterns that will a) challenge me, b) make me count every single stitch and c) see me collapse into a broken heap at some point. And so I enjoy knitting lace shawls even if I rarely wear them.

My current pet peeve/project is Evelyn C. Clark’s Heartland Shawl (link goes to another knitter’s version). I’ve nicknamed my version “Tracks and Trails” to reflect the patterns used. I am about halfway through the repeats of the second lace charts and I’m yet to find my rhythm. Usually I have my ‘collapse into a broken heap’ moment fairly early on and then I come out on the other side to work the stitches in a fairly fluent manner. But this? I still need to shut out the world and count, count, count. I’m using Design.club.dk’s Duo merino in a petrol colourway. And I’m not sure about this yarn either as it compares unfavourably to other fingering weight merinos I’ve used. It is splitty and rather stiff.

Could this be the project that will make me become a project knitter instead? Seeing as my other project is an actual wearable garment – the ubiquitous February Lady Sweater in nice, tweedy Scottish organic wool – I fear this might just be the case. Will I ever knit another lace shawl? Ask me once I’ve completed the Heartland/Tracks & Trails shawl.