I am so ready for the big reveal of my Kaffe Fassett Big Flower Jacket, but even with powerful motivation and hours of steady work, I’m not quite there. I’ve made progress though, with the help of kind friends, and I’m now officially at the point of feeling a touch of pre-nostalgia for the experience of making this giant, challenging, rewarding project.
One unexpected and delightful bit of motivation is so incredible that I still don’t quite believe it. Last Tuesday, two days before you and I were supposed to be driving up to Saugerties for Indie Untangled, I got on a plane headed in the opposite direction. I went to Nashville to join you, Elizabeth Doherty of Free Spirit Fabrics, and Anna Maria Horner for dinner with Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably, who were in town to teach their famous quilt workshops at Anna Maria’s shop, Craft South.
I know! I still can’t believe it! I’m so so grateful to Anna Maria for her generous invitation. Your Nashville has quite a craft community.
In preparation for this mountaintop moment, I sewed in ends on my jacket even faster than before, but deep down I knew all along that I wouldn’t make it. Luckily I had another Kaffe FO in reserve, my Smoulder from years ago. I wore it. Kaffe noticed. All was well. I told him about Clara Parkes’s gift of the vintage Big Flower kit, and what an adventure it has been. We had a great natter about the illustrious, lustrous Rowan Chunky Chenille, which happens to be the yarn that brought Kaffe together with Stephen Sheard, founder of Rowan, fifty years ago.
There are some things that can only be shared between knitters who have worked with chunky chenille yarn on a very deep level. Like Kaffe and me.
Thanks to this experience, I am now slightly less mad at chenille yarn. Slightly. (It’s difficult stuff. Not gonna lie.)
People have been telling me that Kaffe himself does not weave in ends, and advising me to knot them like he does. I’m weaving them anyway (or getting other people to do it), because otherwise the edifice of this garment is at risk of coming undone. Weaving really seems to be stabilizing my loose and loopy chenille-tarsia. I don’t mind weaving in ends, but it does take time, daylight, and eyesight, which are not always available at the same time.
Here’s the state of play:
Back. (I’ve left the tails a bit longer than I usually do, and will assess whether to trim them after blocking.)
Left front. Halfway up the flower.
Right front. Chenille peeking through the tangle.
Right side view of the back, the mint glowing against the deep blues and browns. Can’t wait to see what blocking does to it.
The vessel that preserves the ends for the historical record. (Yes it’s a Southwest Airlines barf bag. Not used or anything!)
The trouble with chenille is that it does not want to slide very easily into position.
This detail shot shows why I decided that weaving was my best bet. See the background stitches between the green chenille petals of the flower? According to the pattern, these in-between stitches change according to the background stripes surrounding the flower. I didn’t realize until halfway through the flower that this was not a good plan, as it was making spots where only a single stitch of a color was hanging there in the chenille, without support. One yank on either end of that stitch, and a big hole could form.
You can see in the top right of the flower where I decided to work one color up the background rows, without regard to the frequent color changes of the side stripes. Things got a lot more stable then.
That wobbly bottom half of the big flower is the main reason I’m weaving in the ends. The other reason: habit. I always weave in ends. That’s how I was raised.
When Oh When?
The new and improved, now with more realistic-ness goalpost for this project: Vogue Knitting Live in New York in January 2019, which will be here in barely a minute. Watch me walk the Rowan fashion show runway, flinging and flapping my swing coat-modified Big Flower Jacket. Swoosh!
Our Friend Annie
Yesterday I got the awful news that Annie Modesitt’s husband Gerry Landy died this past weekend. Gerry had been ill for many years with a blood cancer, but his death on Sunday was unexpected. Annie herself is undergoing grueling treatment right now for a recently diagnosed and serious case of lymphoma. What a deep and shocking loss for Annie and their two grown kids, Andy and Max. I am worried for her. This is so much to bear.
Like so many knitters, I have learned a ton from from Annie over the years. I always find myself laughing in her big-hearted company. I will never forget that she showed up for me after Peter died. I’m in awe when I think how hard it must have been to sit with me when her own husband was terribly sick. She came over for lunch, toting gluten-free food so that I wouldn’t fuss for her. She tolerated Olive’s “welcome” (barking and snarling) with serenity. Somehow we ended up on a bench on the High Line, talking about something beautiful with tears in our eyes. Good times.
I’m rooting for Annie. Money can’t ease sorrow, but it’s good for relieving anxiety about necessities. Annie’s donation button is here.