A few years ago, I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology to hear our cutest knitting heroes, Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably, speak. As you know, one of Kaffe and Brandon’s super powers is Intarsia. During the Q & A, someone asked Brandon whether he used bobbins when working with so many colors at once. With a blitheness that can only have come from decades working with Kaffe, Brandon said that his technique was to “pull from the tangle.” I sat there smug as hell, because that is my own “technique” for bobbin management: no bobbins. Pull from the tangle.
Ever since, it has struck me that Pull From The Tangle has application beyond intarsia or Fair Isle, or even knitting. Just keep all the strands of whatever it is you’re managing ready to hand, and pull out what you need, when you need it. Keep going. Pull gently, pull hard, shake loose what you’ve got to shake loose, cut something if you must, but KEEP GOING. It may look like a mess just now, but in time you’ll have a magnificent chrysanthemum, in 3 weights of yarn and 17 shades, to show for your efforts.
The last 2 months of December, I was in Pull From The Tangle mode as never before. Bar Mitzvah prep/boy management/party planning cooking on all burners, abnormally high activity levels in Real Job, etc. etc.; I’m getting anxious just thinking about all the strands in that tangle. I just kept pulling, once in a while stirring in dollops of overambitious knitting. And on December 17, the tangle yielded up a glorious chrysanthemum: my boy, bookended by kindly rabbis, tunefully chanting the sorry tale of Judah and Tamar. While also looking splendid in his new suit and his first proper necktie, which he had tied himself with the aid of a YouTube video. Hair freshly (but not too freshly) shorn. Mother in the front row, rivulets of mascara plopping onto her neck in joyful fashion.
Kind of a great day. Followed by Hanukkah, Christmas in Nebraska, New Year’s, and in two days I’m off on a TBT (tedious business trip) to the Land o’ Luther, specifically Ulm, Germany.
I don’t know how to catch up with my blogging, so I’ll just pull some random threads out of the tangle.
Knitting Is Not the New Yoga
Between Christmas and New Year’s, it seemed like a good idea to knit 7 of Kirsten Kapur’s raffish Thorpe hats, for the 7 kids who would be New Year’s-ing at our house for the weekend. I started on Boxing Day, having nobody to box, but soon got distracted by a new Noro blanket, such that by December 30, the count was a rather anemic 2 Thorpes. Enter my sister-in-law, Aunt Kathy. In 2 days we knit the other 5, using a Henry Ford-inspired modified sweatshop system. I’d do the fiddly moment where you start with 4 stitches on DPNs, knit the crown increases, and then pass it over to Kathy for the straightaway. She’d knit until it was time to bind off for the brim, and pass it back to me for flaps assembly. Meanwhile, I’d have gotten another Thorpe to the straightaway phase and I’d pass that over to her. It did not trouble either of us that the DPNs were not all the same size, that we only had one (slightly-too-long) circ, or that 5-7 children were clamoring for grilled cheese at any given time. PULL FROM THE DANG TANGLE. GIT ‘R DONE!
(Aunt Kathy also finished hooking that rug I started after Rhinebeck 2009. She likes to keep busy.)
On January 1, I crocheted the edging on Thorpe the Seventh as Aunt Kathy drove me and a carload of teens to the beach to take the photo that got me started on this idea in the first place.
Seven Thorpes on the Beach. (What the hell is wrong with me.) (Rhetorical question.)
In retrospect, I don’t know why I was so hellbent on knitting all those hats when I had a houseful of hostessing. It puts the lie to that whole “restful and meditative” reputation of knitting. It was not restful, it was not meditative. It was manic. But it was fun, it ate up a few pellets of my pallet of Lamb’s Pride Bulky, and it amused Aunt Kathy. I think.
I also knit a dress.
Still waiting for the modelled photoshoot op. Nobody puts Baby in the corner, or Allegheny in a bathroom mirror shot.
I also knit a Schmatta (or two), as did Amy Chicken. Amy and I are conspiring to cook up a knockoff of an Eileen Fisher knockoff of a Martha Stewart knockoff of a public domain chestnut from the mid-20th century, early mimeograph period. It is so fun to have Amy on the knitting team!
Almost forgot: also helped my friend Diana finish her first knitted blanket, a magnificent Fussy Cuts. Diana did narrow borders in Berrocco Ultra Alpaca. It’s all done but the end-weaving. Everybody should have a Fussy Cuts on their TV-cave sofa.
The Quality of Mercy
As the new year begins, there is one thing I want to mention with bowed head. Last year, thanks to generous knitters purchasing the Mitered Crosses Blanket pattern, we sent $18,500 to Mercy Corps to support its relief efforts in Japan in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster there. Now that 2011 is over, we will still send all proceeds of sales of this pattern to Mercy Corps, but these contributions will not be designated for any specific purpose. Working on the Mitered Crosses Blanket pattern, and seeing knitters take it to heart and make so many beautiful versions, to benefit such an amazing organization, was one of the highlights of my year. I’m very grateful to everyone who purchased it, knitted it, blogged it, tweeted it, Ravelry’d it, hosted a yarn shop event for it, or sent supportive thoughts our way.
This is starting to feel like a really long tweet.