Friday, January 10, 2014

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Where does your knitting passion turn in January, and is it any different from what drives your stitches in December?

For me, this is the time of year when the holiday knitting is over, the new year has begun, and I find myself dreaming about what lies ahead. I feel motivation to scheme up new projects and rip out old ones, to pore over classic knitting books and stitch dictionaries, and pile into baskets yarns I'm itching to try out. I don't let myself worry about guilt-driven resolutions, and when I do make a commitment I set out knowing I will probably get sidetracked along the way. After all, it is merely knitting. So my Countdown Challenge was successful enough, but that does not mean I finished everything I set out to finish. That's totally fine with me; it helped me prioritize, narrow the playing field to manageable bits. I finished the important stuff, so I'm very pleased.

Two things I'm mulling over, whenever I have days off work:

  • knitting socks with less-common, breed-specific yarn bases - especially bouncy, rustic yarns. I've set aside a Perendale/mohair blend, a cone of alpaca/wool/nylon, and a Targhee/nylon sock flat. I'm also finishing up my own handspun Dorset/silk blend for the same purpose. Ooh, just listing these gets me all excited! These aren't the kinds of yarns you commonly find in a yarn shop, whether online or brick-and-mortar -- unless it's a super-cool one that features locally sourced farm-produced yarns. This is why going to fiber festivals is so valuable for a knitter; it is understandably difficult for yarn retailers to stock and sell such items, and the offerings from farms is often deliciously unique. This is especially true for the large crop of urban knitters out there; city life just doesn't know what to do with rustic yarns.  I think this is because fashion drives the industry and generally focuses on a sleek and consistent aesthetic. Happily, the result is that there are some really brilliant discoveries to be made for city knitters that can get to a festival! I can't wait to feel these yarn bases on my fingers and feet, and watch how they wear over time.
  • sweaters - with the record low temperatures I'm dreaming of plump cables and cozy shawl collars. I'm so over knitting a 'fitted' sweater at the moment, especially from a written pattern. I think this is because I'm not rolling in money to pick a pattern and go purchase the recommended yarn; as a result I'm always trying to modify things, and too many tweaks makes me unhappy (shooting a wickedly satisfied sideways glance at the basket of handspun yarn freshly frogged).  Now I'm thinking of returning to the tutelage of Elizabeth Zimmermann, Barbara Walker, Priscilla Gibson Roberts, and Deborah Robson. Their approaches are different from each other, but they each give a framework for constructing a sweater based on the yarn you have and the basic shape you wish to create. That's much more reasonable, considering I have sweater quantities of yarn in bases that require substituting and special treatment (for instance, handdyed colors that would obscure highly textured patterns).  No doubt I will try to combine methods from several sources, when all is said and done.
So again I ask, where have your knitting thoughts been traveling these days?

If you're in the northern hemisphere, keep warm, and if you're down south, keep cool, and to all, happy knitting!

1 comment:

  1. That is a wonderful basket of fiber goodness. I'm trying to keep focused on handspun yarn right now. But in the back on my mind designing some Spring patterns.