Learn how to crawl: the New York City Yarn CrawlΒ is on through Sunday, September 25.

Still At It

Dear Ann,
I am in a flow state about knitting Sean Scully paintings. My condition can only be described as Cara-esque. Over the weekend, reader pal Kelly fed the flames by sending me a booklet from a recent Scully show at Dartmouth in which the painter comments on a series of paintings going back to the beginning of his 30-year plus focus on stripes. I like to think that as a knitter with a strong (ahem) “focus” on garter stitch, stripes and blocks, I can appreciate an in-depth, 30-year plus devotion to “the stripe”. I hear you Mr. Scully! The tenderness of the edges! The surface? –Don’t get me started on the surface! I could go on for days about the surface. Let’s do lunch!
Although I do not deny thinking about sending Sean Scully a tribute blanket, I have read just enough of his commentary on his own work to know that he probably wouldn’t approve of what I’m doing–which is essentially looking at his paintings as graphic design–as pattern. (Similarly, I’m not sure Klimt is thrilled about those needlepoint cushions.) I can’t help it, though. One thing you don’t find a lot of, in knitting, is paint. I’ve seen some of the paintings in the museum, and can appreciate that the colors are not ordinary colors, but layers and layers of pigment applied laboriously by hand. You can’t do that with knitting. (No, Ann, not even with shetland wool.) (No, Belinda, not even with denim.) But here I am. A knitter in love with paintings. I can’t think of anything else to do but knit them. (Well, I have thought of quilting them. I just don’t have the stash of hand-dyed solids.) (Yet.) (Kidding!) (Not dyeing fabrics in the kitchen sink!) (Yet.)
And now, some instructions for my imaginary friends who are knitting the Wall of Linen blanket. (I love you guys!) Everybody else (i.e., actual people), skip the next few paragraphs.
Wall of Linen Square 4
Instrux: Cast on 48 in navy. Work 10 garter ridges and knit the next (RS) row.
On the next row (WS), change to cream and work 4 rows, ending with a RS row.
On the next row (WS), change to navy and work one row. Work 9 garter ridges and knit the next (RS) row in navy.
On the next row (WS), change to cream and work 6 rows, ending with a RS row. On the next row (WS), change to navy and work 1 row. Work 7 garter ridges and knit the next (RS) row.
On the next row (WS), change to cream and work 4 rows, ending with a RS row. On the next row (WS), change to navy and work 1 row. Work 5 garter ridges and knit the next (RS) row.
On the next row (WS), change to cream and work 8 rows, ending with a RS row. On the next row (WS), change to navy and work 1 row. Work 15 garter ridges. Bind off on the RS but do not cut the navy yarn.
Turn the work one quarter-turn to the right. Pick up 60 stitches, one in each of the garter ridges on this edge. Work 12 garter ridges and bind off on the RS. Finish the square by cro-Kaying all the way around the edge (if desired).
Wall of Linen Square 5
Let us join hands together and rejoice that we are done with navy, for the time being. We like navy, but we are glad to say hello to Euroflax’s Aqua shade, which to my eye is less of an aqua and more of a robin’s egg blue.
Instrux: Using cream, cast on 25. (Yes it’s shocking! Not a multiple of 15! I’m messing with you!) Work garter-stitch stripes as follows:
12 ridges cream
12 ridges aqua
6 ridges cream
6 ridges aqua
6 ridges cream
12 ridges aqua
6 ridges cream
Bind off on the RS. Finish the square(tangle) by cro-Kaying all the way around the edge (if desired).
Nose Under (Striped) Tent
When I was picking up yarn for the Wall of Linen, 2 skeins of Claudia’s Handpainted Euroflax, in blues and browns, gave me the ol’ “hey, wanna party?” This has happened to me before. Claudia is like that with the handpainting. But as in the past, I had no idea what to do with it when I got it home.
Luckily Veronik Avery was driving by in her bandwagon, pulled into the driveway and honked the horn (infuriating my dad). I jumped on, and cast on this addictive little pattern. (Can 779 Ravelers be wrong? Can I get a “moo”?) I think this scarf is for me, but if, as has happened before, a variegated yarn breaks my heart by being less compelling knitted up than it was in the skein, I know someone who will love it. As much as I like the yarn, I’ve already had a few sneaky thoughts about how I would love to have several scarves, in each of these saturated, eat-em-up colors, instead of one scarf in all of them together. I never learn this about myself. But I need this project right now, to spell me from the Wall of Linen garter stitch.
Our young friend Ben had a solo in his very first opera Saturday night. It was the first performance ever of a new opera, Korczak’s Orphans, about a doctor who took care of 200 orphans in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. After creating the role of Marek, a boy who forgives his teacher for boxing his ears, Ben was greeted backstage by many tulips and Carrie (whose talents lie more in the area of wearing hats all the time.) It’s a hard-knock life.

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  1. The scarf is going to beautiful, even if you decide that it is not for you! The colors make me think of birds in summer; we have towhees and chickadees and finches crowding our feeder right now. The squares look great too!

  2. now you’ve got me thinking about painting yarn. and not the usual way.

  3. The linen tribute is fantastic. It is one of the things I’ve always loved about the knitting you do – you find inspiration in fabulous places. And I think that Mr. Scully would do well to embrace the near-fanatic devotion of a knitter.
    Speaking of orphans, I’m knitting hats for orphans in the Ukraine (you can read about it on my blog). The next time you need a break from the blanket of linen, would you like to knit a hat?
    P.S. Any word on the tour for the new book? Are ya’ll really for real going to make it to the west coast this time?

  4. I love varigated yarn, and also, am sad at how it usually turns out. But it makes lovely gifts….

  5. West Coast, West Coast, West Coast
    Specifically Northern California
    St. Helena would be grand
    I’ll drive!

  6. Gasp! I love that scarf!! The colors are gorgeous. I’ve been seeing more and more linen lately. Must…resist…until UFO’s…are caught up…(right!)

  7. Oh my sweet baby Jesus.
    I buy this beautiful Shibui Sock yarn in Orchid because I love it, and then I decide I can use it to do my own version of the Crest of the Wave Scarf because I love that well.
    I may be kicking myself right now and wanting to do this scarf instead. I think it will do the yarn so much more justice, and I do like the pattern a whole lot.
    Seeing yours created quite an epiphany. My creative energy was that of a nuclear power plant.
    (This is getting a bit dramatic)

  8. Moooooo.

  9. oooh..I really want to make that scarf now, too..And I am thinking of adapting the Wall of Linen into the Pillow of (Probably not) Linen, but I think I’m going to wait a little longer. I really love how it’s coming along! Way to go, Ben! (I love Carrie’s hat)

  10. That scarf is on my things-to-do list too! But I have to wait until I finish the scarf I’m working on… and the scarf that I cast on when I got tired of the scarf I’m working on. πŸ™‚ Yours is beautiful. It seems to be one of those patterns that lends itself to either a solid or varigated interpretation.
    And I second (or third) a west coast tour. Seattle is lovely… really! πŸ™‚

  11. Tee hee, I understand. I am the proud owner of Klimt Blue (the needlepoint version).

  12. And I find myself thinking “but maybe I could create those layers of color in my handspun….” Okay, maybe -I- couldn’t, but a better spinner than I might be able to.
    Just a thought.

  13. “Can I get a moo?” Can I just say YOU CRACK ME UP? Truly, you never fail to give me a laugh and brighten the old day. I’ve never commented before, but I just had to say.

  14. Are you SURE not even denim? Not even if you start off with the very darkest of dark and do layers of wishy-washy bleach?
    Should I try this, just to see? Or do I never learn? x x x

  15. Hey, I just read about that doctor in a book about Warsaw during WWII, The Zookeeper’s Wife. Fascinating story!

  16. Yay for Lace Ribbon Scarf. I’m one of the 779, knitting it on a deadline (read: gift) in Smooshy.

  17. Carry on! Since I can’t do anything obsessively anymore (except breastfeed) I can live vicariously! YAY!
    And oy – still with the hats? πŸ˜‰

  18. And if you must go to California and Washington, you might as well swing through Tucson en route. It’ll be fall or winter when the book comes out, right? So it’ll be lovely here, and we’ll be whining about how cold we are when the weather dips into the low 60s. Think about it…

  19. Not that there is anything wrong with the scarf, but i am grooving on the stripes. even my husband now wants sean scully’s book and keeps asking when I will do a stripe pillow. or blanket. or something. the stripes are very compelling. i wish i could knit as quickly as these new ideas pop into my head…

  20. “the colors are not ordinary colors, but layers and layers of pigment applied laboriously by hand. You can’t do that with knitting.”
    Perhaps not, but you can with spinning! Yum!

  21. Cari wears her signature look very well. Will she persist in July and August ? I barely remember those youthful days when I was prepared to suffer for a “look”.
    The scarf is just another aspect of your linear obsessions. it is lovely.

  22. Where is Ann? Is she still lying on that hillside? Maybe somebody should go check on her…
    Minnesota is a gorgeous destination, especially in the fall. *hint *hint

  23. “…a variegated yarn breaks my heart by being less compelling knitted up than it was in the skein…”
    That describes my experience(s) perfectly! I have frogged an entire Baby Haiku jacket and So-Called Scarf because in both cases the product was less than the sum of its variegated parts, so to speak. I’m now trying a new approach: using variegated yarn AS the embellishment, in quite plain knitting. I’ve just knit my first Baby Surprise Jacket, and instead of adding stripes I used a variegated yarn throughout. And I’ve used variegated for baby socks, too – again, in a plain stitch pattern – and had pleasing results. (Of course baby socks are pretty pleasing regardless. Awwww!)
    So far I haven’t found the perfect pattern/variegated combo, but can’t resist those skeins or hanks that are SO beautiful, and SO entertaining to knit!

  24. I’m with Rhonda, where is Ann and what have you done with her?

  25. Ann just can’t get a word in edgeways….!

  26. I love the aqua-robins egg colour. Took a detour from an aran sweater in cotton for my first sock in a variegated yarn that I loved on the skein and am not so sure about in a sock, but heck, it’s my first one (and it is quite broad striped, unexpectedly) so if I hate it, I can give it away.

  27. OK, OK, I understand the “not having enough of a stash of solids–yet” position. In the meantime, just for pretend you understand, how about some (a dash, a smidge, a soupcon) of material that is already striped? Colors and stripe widths vary. This can be fun.
    And solids can be obtained from “preowned/gently used” 100% cotton dresses, shirts, blouses, ascots, whatever. For eons, I saved this light blue and white striped shirtwaist summer dress (rarely worn) for a similar purpose–well,I understand if you’re not into the “Walton’s Mountain” scene.
    By the by, it’s a little known fact that the subjects of Klimpt’s paintings were actually ‘reproduced’ from the needlepoint pillows that he found in his mother’s attic…FYI πŸ˜‰
    Happy stitching, whatever the modality.

  28. The weirdest thing is that I’m wondering if I can knit a linen/denim stripe argosy blanket–to be my new car blanket. Cause a new car deserves a new blanket, right? Is this knit-stalking?

  29. that scarf pattern is fantastic. and sounds like ben the soloist was too. boy, did i love those theatre days (even if i was somewhat delusional).


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