Thursday, February 02, 2006

design and conquer


First of all I want to give mad props to my girl Saun for her gorgeous shawl design in the current issue of MagKnits! Now this is not one of those shawls that's all lacy and spiderwebby that makes you burn with want, and knit and curse and then never, ever find a thing to wear with it. THIS is a shawl that you will enjoy knitting and wear with all kinds of clothes, and love forever. Go Saun! I am so impressed. The girl is crafty like ice is cold. (Aren't I all old-skool today?)

I might also mention that this particular issue of MagKnits has a pattern for knitted sushi. Ahem. Click on over there, Gwen, it's okay - you can come back later.

So last night I couldn't go to Stitch & Bitch and see Saun and Flems and everyone and their fabulous projects because I was glued to the couch, at home, enraptured by the writing of Barbara C. Walker and drowning in a redisovered love of yarn. LOVE! I feel it!

I loved knitting right from the git-go, but Walker is drawing out something deep in me. Not like the hot passion I have for Addi Turbos, which will probably burn out after the 50th pair of socks, but a rock-solid, sustaining, empowering kind of love... like the love between Mulder and Scully.

The book that wouldn't let me leave the house last night, and that I had to bring with me to work today just in case, is Knitting from the Top. I had seen it a few times in the back pages of the Patternworks catalog but my LYS didn't carry it, so I finally broke down and paid for shipping and all that, and... well, it's a new world at my house.

I've only knit a top-down-all-in-one-piece sweater a couple of times, but I knew in my gut that it was far superior garment construction to this "sew up" stuff. I don't like sewing up, not just because it's tedious work, but because things have to line up exactly right, there's so much room for error, slight differences in tension can create all kinds of problems, etc. But according to Walker, it's not just a pain to sew up knitted clothes, it's entirely the wrong framework. Sewing is for woven cloth! It ignores the inherent three-dimensional flexibility of knitting.
Knitting can be used to make sewable cut-outs like those of a dress pattern, and is so used, more often than not. But it can also be used much more cleverly than that. ... Another great virtue of knitting is that it can alter the very pattern of its fabric in different portions of the same garment, to suit different widths and angles of the figure beneath. Sewing cannot duplicate such refinements. They belong to knitting alone. Therefore, when we knit from the top, we forget about sewing and its methods of putting garments together. We do not shape our clothes the dressmaker's way, nor the tailor's way, but the knitter's way - which, when intelligently handled, is unlike any other method of covering and ornamenting the human figure. (Walker, Knitting from the Top Down, Schoolhouse Press 1972).
I know some folks think they don't want to knit top-down because they don't want raglan sleeves. Fair enough. But Walker teaches you how to knit all kinds of sleeves & shapes top-down, and even the raglan sleeves don't have to have the little holes or the prominent ridge - she shows you ten - TEN! - different ways to do double-increases, from big openwork-type holes to tight & invisible raglan seams.

Okay, now this is the part that made me feel so free and alive last night (and still today): patterns are really just a knitwear designer conspiracy to keep you from understanding garment construction and designing your own stuff - stuff that fits you perfectly and does exactly what you want it to do. She doesn't actually use the word "conspiracy," but after reading this book, the scales fell from my eyes and I could see that the Knitting Pattern Matrix was all a sham! A sham, I tell you! And I immediately picked up the luscious Queensland Collection Silk Road aran that's been gracing my stash since October, and started knitting myself a sweater. With no pattern. And it's going to fit me perfectly. I brought it to work with me today - you know, just in case.

The feeling of liberation is incredible. If only I could spend the rest of my life on the couch...

3 comments:

  1. I'm still holding out on my top-down sweater. Hoping and praying that the blocking job (still up for helping me?) will do wonders. Because, right now? With only one sleeve left to do (same state it's been for weeks)? I'm not so sure. And it's all about the fit. Maybe I should have red that book of yours before I started ;-)

    Alas, it's my *first*. I shouldn't be so hard on myself.

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  2. Can't wait to see your finished sweater! I'll have to keep that book in mind (when I'm buying books). The main reason I've never knitted a sweater is all that putting together stuff.

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  3. oh god, oh god, oh god sushi des ka!!!

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