Fern: The Art of, Um, Process
June 1, 2005
We’re friends, right? I show you the crummy knitting, you get all supportive and pretend it hasn’t been blocked, right? We’re all about process, yes?
Well, here’s some process for you–the swatch I mentioned yesterday, my first ponderings about my Tennessee State Fair entry. So much to be humble about here.
Yarn. I try out all the yarns to see how they knit up, a mix of Rowan Donegal Lambswool and Alice Starmore Scottish Campion, knitted on size 3/3.25 mms.
Observation 1: I am eternally surprised at how different a yarn can look when it’s no longer in its skein. Those long, smooth strands can change utterly when they’re broken up into stitches.
Observation 2: Color is relative. I mean totally. I keep thinking about Josef Albers, the artist about whom I know very little except that he spent a lot of his career contemplating the way a color changes depending on what colors are next to it. In my swatch, see that strip of blue? By itself, it is jade green, no fooling.
Conclusion: I decided to go with A, B, C, and D as the major colors for this little coat. But stay tuned. Everything’s relative, right?
The Pain and Itch of Intarsia. Take a peek. Look at all those ferny shoots coiling up there. THAT is what I’m talking about, along the hem and the cuffs of the Fern coat. See how smooth and elegant they are?
Now, see the strange, lumpy areas on the right of my swatch? Test 1 is actual intarsia. I defy anyone to do an intarsia fiddlehead that doesn’t look like it’s been pixellated all to hell. Even Sasha Kagan couldn’t whoopsydoodle her way through it. (Using cotton chenille doesn’t help, by the way. And being a terrible intarsia knitter may a problem, too.) Test 2 is duplicate stitch, something I have done boatloads of yet looks terrible here. At this point I abandon the notion of following the knitted grid and move on to embroidery, which allows a curve, for heaven’s sake. Test 3 abandons chenille for a nice smooth wool, shows some potential. Test 4 is that stitch where you lay down a long piece of yarn, then stitch it down all around it. Test 3 may work, I dunno. One conclusion: I promise, you’ll be seeing no intarsia on this thing.
The Pattern. Everybody please go out and support Ann Budd, whose Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns is pure workhorse genius. I am imagining an old-fashioned little jacket with a yoke, a collar, and set-in sleeves. Do I want to crank the numbers to figure out those little set-in sleeves? Nope. Has Ann Budd already done it for me? Yay! I’ll draw a pitcher of what I’m envisioning.
I started another swatch, to start figuring out how to use all the colors. But before I knew it, that Grundy County fresh air addled my brain and I was halfway up the back, randomizing the stripes and having a fine old time. I cannot for the life of me capture the color of this thing. (How I wish She Shoots Sheep Shots Gale lived next door.) Neither of these is accurate–the thing is just a deep, browny green loamy forestfest, what with the moss stitch moss along the edge.
Seaweed, Bark, Heath, Leaf, Leprechaun, and Eau de Nil. The colors will get lighter toward the top, sort of the way the forest does. Or something.
Advice/suggestions/comments welcome. My State Fair honor is on the line.