First of all...
CONGRATULATIONS To our August KOTOTW and Yarny Goodness Giveaway Winners!
An autographed copy of Knitting On Top of the World by our own Nicky Epstein goes TO...
And our August yarny goodness giveaway, to make a pair of Black Forest Mitts (or whatever you wish, actually) goes TO...
If both of you would be so kind as to send me your mailing addresses to maryp55124 'at' yahoo 'dot' com, I will get your goodies in the mail to you!
Progress (Well, a Little)...
I have the back, fronts, and collar of La Belle Cardigan done:
And I'm working on the first sleeve - they have long, lacy cuffs just like the bottom of the cardigan, and then have pouffy bits separated by ribbing, to which ribbons will be attached eventually. But I didn't get too much done this week, as I had company!
Unfortunately, my sister's visit was such a whirlwind, it appears that I:
a) Neglected to take pictures of our trip to visit the Mill Ruins Park and the Guthrie Theater (darnit);
b) Neglected to take pictures of my nephew modelling the latest in KOTOTW creations (although, honestly, I don't know that I could have fitted his massive shoulders into most of those sweaters...)... and
c) Neglected to take any pictures, period!
Suffice it to say, their visit seemed to go in a flash; my plans of taking half of Thursday off fizzled, and I managed to take Friday off only by working all day on Saturday. Sigh. When you work as a lawyer, though, them's the breaks -- you have to take the work when it comes, to make up for the weeks when you are sloooowwww.
Mostly we ate really wonderful summer foods; BLT's with Nueske's bacon and fresh tomatoes, sweet corn right from the farmer's market, and my sister-in-law Mary's barbecued pulled pork, mmmm. Mary also made this blueberry cobbler (apparently a Mark Bittman recipe) that will live in my dreams. Her cherry pie is already on my death row dinner menu, but I told her she will need to make me some blueberry cobbler, too! (Remind me to arrange to be executed when both cherries and blueberries are in season...)
My nephew Eric is halfway through college already, which shocks me almost as much as realizing my own son, Nathan, starts high school next Tuesday. We go to orientation this Wednesday evening, which I am hoping will answer many of his questions and help reduce the pre-school jitters. (Mine, not his. He is fine, I'm freaking out... NOT helpful.)
So, How Did We Learn to Knit?
Our informal survey, gleaned from the comments to my last post, seem to indicate that the great majority of us learned knitting from our moms; just one of the many reasons we probably love her so (!) Other sources for learning knitting skills were: pamphlets, books, school teachers, neighbors, Grandma, and the Internet! It was wonderful to read your stories about how and when you learned. As someone who picked up certain aspects of knitting from sources as diverse as my Mom, books in the public library, magazines in England, fellow students on trips abroad in Germany, and a neighbor lady, I identified with so many of your experiences. And today, I am still learning, frequently from watching great YouTube videos to refresh my memory of how, exactly, you do a knitted-on I-cord edging, or a Moebius cast on, etc. What a wonderful technological advance for teaching knitting! I still marvel that nowadays you can just go online and actually watch a teacher's hands in motion, instead of trying to interpret those motionless drawings and guess where the yarn or the needle tips or your fingers are supposed to be...
It is heartening to know that, while some of us were lucky enough to learn to knit as kids, others enjoy the thrill of discovering knitting much later in life; still others of us re-engaged with knitting after a brief trial run in childhood. I also found it so reassuring to read that some of you find knitting an engrossing and comforting a part of your lives; knitting has saved me from despair many a time, and has given me a sense of self-esteem, as well as something fun and interesting to do when I'm blue, as well as a means to create something soft, useful, colorful and pleasing. Thank you so much for sharing your stories, too.
Other Responses to Posts:
Typo: Yes, it is indeed the Fall 2011 Vogue Knitting that has the story about the KOTOTW journey to date, and not Fall 2001 - thanks, Lori Elle!
Minnesota State Fair: Tifanne asked if I entered any of my knits in this year's Minnesota State Fair; but as a matter of fact, my heart just wasn't in it. I will confess, dear readers, that I felt kinda sad about the overall experience last year, and didn't want to repeat it. It isn't that I was expecting to carry away blue ribbons or anything, but I was disheartened when I received comments on my garments about design choices that I had made which assumed that I had either been careless or made a mistake, when in fact my choices were the result of careful deliberation.
For instance, on the Londonderry Rose Coat:
. . . I made a conscious, intentional choice to backstitch the shoulder seams, as I wanted this seam to have the reinforced strength of the backstitching (just as you would sew in a strip of seam tape in a tailored jacket), to help keep the shoulder seam from stretching out from the weight of the heavy, bulky long sleeve. But I apparently missed points for this; my reviewer said that I should have used a 3 needle bindoff to reduce the bulk of this seam. But if I had done so, that unreinforced, loose seam would have stretched out way of shape each time I wore the coat, ruining the stability of it and making the sleeves too long. Besides, I am not bothered by the bulk of a seam sitting along the top of my shoulder... sigh.
Finally, the sweater was displayed at the Fair in such a way that the collar was hanging down the back of the mannequin, so it looked ill-fitting and you couldn't even see the roses! And I know it doesn't readjust itself like this automatically because it is hanging in my closet just fine. (And why it is OK to hang this hand-knitted coat on a padded hanger??? Well, because the knitter decided to carefully reinforce the shoulder seams . . . )
Then, in reviewing this Evening Gala Aran:
1) It was too heavy from all the pearls (!) (so I guess I should have used cheaper plastic hollow ones???)
2) I should have used cream thread rather than blue to sew on the pearls; however, I made a conscious, intentional choice to use the same blue as the background, as the little "legs" on either side of the pearl would otherwise be visible like little white dashes against the sweater's background color. The reviewer didn't like the visible blue lines on the bottom sides of each pearl. This, I guess, is a matter of taste, but I decided they were less noticeable than the bright cream thread would have been against the relatively dark background color.
3) Finally, they deemed the neckline too large. However, this is in fact meant to be an off-the-shoulder sweater. Ahem...).
I also was surprised that this sweater was mostly hidden under a stack of other sweaters, less than a quarter of it visible. Double sigh.
The other item that I entered was the Princess Bride Mittens:
I looked on a couple of visits, and so did friends of mine, but couldn't find them anywhere in the display cases. A friend eventually located them in an obscure spot. The negative comment on these was that I left floats behind the stitches that the reviewers deemed too long and likely to catch on fingers, although none of the floats went over more than 3 stitches, and the gauge was so fine that even my pinky isn't small enough to get caught... oh well. Triple sigh.
So, there you have it. I fear I will regret sharing this with you, and that you will think I'm a big, whiny baby. It took me a year just to tell you about these comments, after all, which might help convey my mixed feelings about the whole experience. I know I'm overly sensitive to criticism; this is definitely NOT a trait of which I'm proud. And I am also well aware that I can always learn and improve my knitting technique and skills.
However, I just didn't find the reviewers' comments helpful or illuminating, and didn't find the overall experience positive enough to repeat. (Or, maybe it is just because I'm a lawyer, and it annoyed me that I didn't get to argue my case before judgment was rendered, so to speak...)
The learning that I took away from this experience, was to remind myself of the fact that I don't knit for competitive purposes; I knit for my own personal reasons, for the pleasure I have in making things with my hands, and for the comfort of wearing something that I "grew" from some yarn and two needles. Sometimes, the only true validation has to come from within.
On the Bummer Newsfront...
I have had to cancel my September trip to NYC; unfortunately a major project blew in today, that involves doing all of the due diligence (background research) on a client's acquisition of over 500 separate parcels of real estate, with the closing to occur by the end of the month. There just isn't any way to complete this additional workload, on top of other pending projects with tight deadlines, if I take that much time away from the office. I should have known better than to schedule something so close to school starting, as well; I could tell that my son was relieved to hear I wasn't going to go out of town this month.
I'll see if Nicky maybe has some time next spring for a little visit instead. Several of you out there in the NYC area were kind enough to ask if Nicky and I could schedule an event while I'm out there, perhaps at Brand Studio again. I'll work with Nicky to see if we can get an event together; it would be lovely to meet with you all again!
Enjoy the first cool days of fall, my FAVORITE of all the seasons. I love crunchy leaves, and cooler evenings, and best of all, the chance to wear my handknits again!