Perfect Handknit: Onward!
October 10, 2005
Dear Kay, and the Style Council,
My apologies for the delay in corresponding, but between the submarine-style blog disaster and the shocking realization that they didn’t put glasses on those cowgirls on the book cover, well. I’ve been a little shaky. I mean, we are myopic, have been myopic, and shall forevermore be myopic. The lie! The utter deceit of it all. I can hardly look at the thing.
A Brief Knitting Moment
Before we return to the Future Search, I’ve got to report some serious Lost Weekend knitting. On Sunday, the fellas burned stuff in the fireplace for three hours while I occasionally offered Smokey the Bear advice along the lines of “No you can’t burn all the catalogs like you did last time.” As every twig and stick in the yard turned to ash, I knitted and knitted, around and around and around.
The way I see it, this sort of knitting became popular on the North Atlantic island of Fair Isle because it is so fiercely addictive that people don’t notice that the sun has not shone for 29 days, that there are no trees, that there are only 64 other people on the island. It just doesn’t matter.
For those just joining us, this is Keava, one of Alice Starmore’s least-popular patterns, from In the Hebrides, a book published in 1995. Keava has been scorned for its lack of technical complexity and for its insane colourway. Those are, of course, are the very reasons I chose to start it back in 2004 when I was trying to overcome an all-gray knitting habit. What better way to learn how to Fair Isle than by doing a measly 18-stitch repeat, and by doing it in the loudest colors possible?
This is a steek. It’s how those Fair Islanders figured out how to continue knitting their kooky patterns in the round while making a place for armholes. The checkerboard of 8 stitches will be cut right down the middle, four stitches on each side. The Velcro-like Shetland yarns really will cling together and it’ll be just a piece of cake to chop into the stitches. (She said in a high, nervous voice.) Once the shoulders are sewn together, the armhole stitches will be picked up, and off goes another tube of Fair Isle for the sleeves. You trim down and overstitch the steeks, and there you go: seam-free knitting.
This is the even weirder neckhole steek. It’s hard to see what the deal is, but basically the stitches off the needle are the front of the neckhole. By making this 8-stitch steek above those stitches, it’s possible to continue knitting in the round to make the left and right front shoulders. This will be a two-inch or so steek, with decreases on either side of the steek. Snip snip and the neckhole opens up, with shaping along the front of the neck. I find this very amazing. See what happens when you have 29 days of clouds, no trees, and only 64 people to talk to?
The insides are so cool, so woven looking, that I may just wear the thing inside out.
Future Search: Days of Awe
When last we polled, the question was how to proceed. Do we continue voting our way to a perfect pattern, with consensus all the way? Do we use an existing pattern and simply modify it on our own–keeping ourselves busy? Do we simply pick a rilly pretty sweater, the Serene Highness of handknits, and call it a day? Do we call it a day, period, and retire to the lounge? The results:
At this point, the option I like best is the
Consensus All the Way Option. 44% 188
Keep Ourselves Busy Option. 24.1% 103
Retire to the Lounge Option. 15.9% 68
Serene Highness Option. 14.3% 61
Other [leave a comment with your idea] 1.6% 7
total votes: 427
So, the consensus is . . . consensus. With a healthy dose of agreeing to disagree, live and let live, and Can We Just Call It a Day?
I think I see a via media, as our Episcopalian friends say, a middle road that may allow us to keep the Keep Ourselves Busy folks happy. (I’m not worried about the Retire to the Lounge folks; they’re already happy.) Ponder this: It may be that the Consensus sweater ends up being something that the Keep Ourselves Busyists will then be able to modify.
Whoa. It might just work out?
At this point we have a welter of small votes to make, having to do with the details of sweater construction. In order to keep this process efficient, and to have a conclusion before 2008, I’m going to provide a bunch of polls, based on this mind map:
[click for the big picture]
We may end up with some inconsistences, but we’ll worry about that later. I personally would like to make a cableknit Fair Isle short-sleeved coat and plan to vote that way.
Finally, Words to Ponder
Honest moment of the week comes from Mary Neal: “This is about stretching ourselves for collective joy instead of selfish pleasure. I’m not good at that, but I’ll try.” See, Mary Neal? Didn’t that feel good?
Mary B: “Maybe the title needs to be changed. Maybe instead of ‘The Perfect Handknit,’ we agree to agree on ‘One Perfect Sweater,’ given that in the universe there can be many perfect sweaters.”
Kymm has learned how to kvell, which is going to serve her well the rest of her life.
Laura: “I’m going to rebel and make a shawl.”
Come back tomorrow–there’s work to do.