Remember Let’s Make a Deal? Remember how behind one of the doors of the Big Deal there was always a fantastic, 4-star vacation in an exotic location? And with the trip you’d get a pair of waterskis and even a boat to pull your skis?
Well, if I ever get to the Big Deal, this is what I’d like to be behind the door I selected. An all-expenses-paid trip to fabulous Neenah, Wisconsin, where I could spend the whole weekend listening and knitting at the feet of
That’s right—Debbie New!
Susan, who lives in Chicago, recently sent me the tantalizing news that she was going to shirk her maternal responsibilities for two entire days and head to Neenah for a series of workshops with Debbie, the author of Unexpected Knitting. Unexpected Knitting is perhaps my favorite knitting book of all time, and it’s certainly my favorite knitting book that I mostly don’t understand. Just before bedtime, I often stare at a single page for a very long time, and then fall asleep. Debbie explains things in a way that assumes that the reader is as smart as she is, that all these ideas she has are fairly obvious, and that it’s okay to skip over the boring parts. I have a tendency to need to hear about the boring parts. But Debbie’s concepts are so exciting that I keep trying to work stuff out. In at least one instance, with a lot of stitch markers and a goodly amount of graph paper and time, I succeeded.
Since Susan is one of the Tragically Blogless who live and knit among us, I will share a few highlights of her Journey to Debbie.
This is not a fishnet with algae hanging on it. This is scribble lace. Don’t stare at it for too long. In my humble opinion, this is the first project a would-be Debbie-ite should attempt. It’s quite easy once you get used to knitting with sewing thread, or ultra-thin yarn, on gigantic needles. The fabric that is thus created is not only really cool looking, but it magically stretches in both directions. You stretch a length of scribble lace in one direction, and it’s a pretty, bobbly scarf. Then, give it a shake, and stretch it in the other direction, and it broadens to become a shawl, light as air on your shoulders, but fairly warm if you use the right yarns.
What else did Susan learn?
This is swirl knitting. You increase, you decrease, it swirls. I think the key skill required is a strong understanding of how to knit a circle. I haven’t tried it yet. I keep thinking what a cool blanket or rug could be made of swirls swirling all over the place. One of the things I most admire about Debbie is that she seems to be be fiercely anti-seam. She will knit pieces onto each other no matter how those pieces are shaped, but she will not sew. I love that.
This is freeform knitting. It looks like it is very fun to do (again, no seaming! wheeeee!), but I worry that in less brilliant hands than Debbie’s, such as my hands for example, something breathtakingly odd might be created. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’. Remember that I came of age in the 70s. I’ve seen some wall-hangings that should never have been hung.
And here’s the best picture, saved for last:
Susan and Debbie. I asked Susan whether Debbie is like a favorite high school teacher, because that’s how she looks to me in pictures: so open, so up for it, so kind. Susan said she’s exactly like that. Susan is ready to go back for more in October, when Debbie will be in Neenah again. (**Edit: Kay is wrong; Debbie will NOT be in Neenah in October. See Susan’s comment about who WILL be there. Not Debbie, but still good, perhaps even ‘magical’.)
Personally, I had been thinking how nice it would be, in October, to visit my brother in Milwaukee (did you know I have a brother in Milwaukee? It’s quite recent, this brother-in-Milwaukee business). We’ll have dinner, we’ll do a quick sibling bond, and then, gimme the car keys! I’m off to Neenah!
Thanks Susan, for the virtual road trip! Can you feel the envy heading in your direction from across the Internet?