Saturday, November 19, 2005


I love presents. Gifts of things you can use, or things you lust after, just magically appearing in your hands. Like, for example, 11 skeins of Artyarns of various types and shades...Regal Silk, Silk Ribbon and UltraMerino8. Enough for two small shawls, two scarves and 3/4 of the vest in Modular Knits by Iris Schreier. I met Iris at Webs last weekend in classes, and loved her methods. No cutting. No picking up. No feeling like it's 1978 and I just crocheted 80 granny squares that now must be assembled. I wanted some of her yarn to play with...the Ultramerino (4, 6, 8...ANY!!) is amazing stuff. Buttery, boing-y, worthy of adoration. And the Regal Silk sings and comes alive with modular knitting. The technique has completely changed my view of variegated yarn. And then suddenly, poof, there in my hands is enough Artyarns to make my heart sing for weeks.

No, I don't have pictures of projects using that yarn in progress. Why are there no pictures? Because I am too busy knitting things for others to knit for myself (this is, alas, the drawback of knitting so you can knit...the time to knit 'just for you' becomes harder and harder to find). At the moment I have, five non-Melissa projects in hand. Four are for Webs, store samples, and one for Annie Modesitt. Ahhhh...Annie's sweater...

We call it The Plaid and it lives in my brain most days. For the past few it has sat, patiently waiting for an arrival of more yarn. The plaid and I have this love hate thing going on. It will be in Men Who Knit and the Dogs Who Love Them. This is an appropriate project for me on a lot of levels.

First and foremost, it is challenging. I love a challenge. Second, it is intarsia which I believe I hate, and slipstitch which I love. Third it has given me an insight into designing on a larger scale. As it stands now, I write a sloppy pattern on notebook paper, I knit it up and make changes as I go. Then I extrapolate the data and add four more sizes and put it into a legible document for proofing (thank you Tamara!!!). Off it goes to Kathy at Webs, and the next time I see it, it is printed, formatted, and lovely. The sample I knit hangs in the store, and all is right with the world. For Annie, that is not the case on this project. You dream it, write it, then send it off to be knitted by's like sending your infant off to camp. For weeks. With no family visits. She's entrusted me with this yarn, this pattern. She can't put her hands on it. She can't see and touch it, spend time with it, all the things that help you see what must be changed and how that change must happen. It's making me think, ruminate on the labor pains involved in design. Til now they've all been within my control.

Now as we head into the final stages of our poor buddy The Plaid, I realize that I love intarsia. Inspired, but lacking time, I plan for the future. Someday, I will knit the map of the world. Or maybe just the cat pillow my daughter wanted.

The intellectual gifts of the week - the unlocking of a new passion, the discovery of the pains of producing garments from afar - may outweigh the physical.

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