Archive for February, 2015

“This is not your grandmother’s knitting” is a phrase usually used to evoke the image of knitting as a newly revived craft.  There’s even a cute Etsy shop by this name which currently carries knit pokeballs and bow ties.  It’s usually intended as a craft-positive, creativity positive idea.  Yet, for me, those good intentions are overshadowed by negativity – towards women, towards aging, towards grandmotherhood and (by implication) motherhood.  I know the speaker means well, but…

I’m not the first one to come up with this.  There are some very good commentary on by this phrase on  Abby’s yarns blog and STC Craft, so, yeah, I know it’s been said before.

To me, the phrase conjures images of ‘your grandmother’,  a weak little old lady who was surrounded by fussy bric-a-brack who knit scratchy sweaters which you were embarrassed to wear in public, but you did so out of a sense of duty and forced gratitude.  It sort of sounds like Mrs. Weasley and her her sweaters.  Sweaters which Harry Potter was the only one sensible to appreciate as labors of love and beauty.

Grandmas Sweater

or maybe not so dated. This one actually goes pretty well with my new Malabrigo hat in the Noviembre colorway

My own grandmother was a little old lady, sweet and salty and a little bit fussy, occasionally confused,  surrounded by bric-a-brack. She not only knit me very trendy sweaters (she’s been gone since the late 1980’s so they are very dated now) but she also knit me two freakin’ Doctor Who scarves.  TWO.  Because I was an ungrateful brat and didn’t like the color scheme on the first one.  Show me one of your chic, trendy knitters who is as badass as that, and I’ll show you a lady who has more class than to diss Grandma!

grandma swatch

This one is too small for me to even try to squeeze into. But it’s still a lovely, fun piece.

To me the phrase evokes the picture of a woman who is very loving, and constantly making things, but somehow lacks any humor or playfulness. Loving, but not fully living.  Such a grandmother would faint at the sight of  a bag shaped like a vulva or venture into anatomically correct crafting of any sort.  My own mother (who has been a grandmother for over 20 years now, so she counts) designed, sewed and embroidered a gorgeous female torso which she used to display in her living room.

grandma afgan  My grandmother also did a lot of other crafting.  Here’s a beautiful, vibrant granny square afghan which, in this picture, is helping my cat keep me warm.  She also used to ‘do pottery’, which means she used to glaze bisque pieces and send them off to be fired.  In the ’70’s this seemed to be a ‘fussy old lady thing’, now there are apparently shops devoted to it.

There are two major ways in which I think my knitting differs from grandma’s.  First: she was more skilled at it.  Secondly, I’m much more of a yarn snob.  Part of the second might be due to the fact that it was harder to get good yarn back then.  She opted for inexpensive, washable yarn for just about everything she did, which, given that it was the ’70’s and ’80’s, was often the ‘crunchy’ acrylic stuff.  After 30 some years of washing it has softened up a lot without pilling or fading.  So maybe she was right about that (but I’m going to keep on going as I have been).

I’m in no rush to become a grandmother myself, but I expect it’s going to happen sometime in the next ten to fifteen years.  When it happens I really hope to carry on crafting as my grandmother did – to make things I thing my grandchildren will enjoy, and to do my best to take on large projects for whatever they want, whether or not I get the pop culture references.

I’d be proud to carry on that tradition.  If it’s not your grandmother’s knitting, then let me know what is (or was) and how it’s different.

Blog Contests and Yarn Giveaways

I’ve entered a drawing for a skein of Delicious Yarns Sweet Sport  at Crochet Ever After (2/28) as well as one for a Lion Brand yarn tote and Pelt yarn at All Free Knitting (3/1)

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So the shiny got me, and I just had to cast on with that gorgeous skein of Diadem from the Knitpicks swag bag I told you about. I consulted Ravelry for  one skein projects using this yarn.  One user talked about a change in texture after blocking, so I looked for no block projects which would work.  I found a beautiful (and simple) piece, the Inside Out Cowl by Nicole Dupuis (cocoknits blog)..  The sample photo even has it in similar colored yarn.

First I had to wind it, using that Nostepinne I got at the Sheep and Wool Festival last year.  First I wound a single layer of yarn around the pinne, then began winding at an angle turning, crossing over the yarn.  The idea is to build up a center pull ball (note the strand tied around the tip of the nostepinne).

The problem is that this yarn didn’t want to form a nicely centered ball.  As you can see in the third and fourth pictures, it just didn’t layer well.  What you can’t here is that this yarn produced a lot of ‘fluff’, just from winding it.  Serious lint producter.

So when I removed the ball (picture 5) there was a little layer hanging back.  It ended up with the bottom of the skein looking like this: problemNot only was it not terribly attractive, it was also damaged, snarling yarn.  I ended up cutting off a moderate amount while casting on. It should be fine, the pattern won’t use anything like the whole skein, but it’s a pity, and it colors my perception of the yarn.  It’s beautiful, it’s delightfully soft, but it’s fussy.  Fussy to the ‘no frog’ point – I can’t count on reclaiming this yarn if I make any mistakes.

I still love this yarn, but I wouldn’t want to knit a sweater from it.

On the other hand, now that the cast on is done, it’s going pretty smoothly.  True, there’s a distinctly unpleasant ‘crunchy’ sensation if I happen to split a stitch.  The yarn is put-up without any plying, it’s basically unspun fibers lying parallel to each other.  But look at the color and stitch definition –

Inside Out WIP

I’m developing a love-hate relationship with this yarn…

Yarn Contests and Giveaways

The Knitting Pipeline is giving away a copy of Home by Pam Allen.  Post a comment to the Ravelry thread saying which project you’d knit first for a chance to win.

I entered to with the Expression Fiber Arts $1000 February Yarn Giveaway (February 28).

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Not Dead Yet

There are lots of excuses I could make about why I haven’t posted in so very, very long.  It all comes down to two things – stuff happened, and I got out of the habit of posting.  I apologize, and will try to get back on track with it.

So something happened in particular that I really felt I should post about, and rather than trying to catch up on everything I missed I’m just going to jump in with today’s topic.

Cool thing:  I got a delightful swag bag from Knitpicks!

Knitpicks Swag

They sent it to me as a ‘thank you’ for answering their question on the Knitpicks podcast.  Speaking of which…

Cool thing: I got a spot in the Knitpicks Podcast (episode 249 – the Newbie) almost to the end of the episode.  They called for an answer to the question of what one thing you would tell new knitters, I touched on gauge swatch, and ended up with permission to frog.  Recording it convinced me to make t ‘frogging mohair’ my Ravelry favorite swear word…

brava sportSo, the swag bag – first of all, a nice little project bag (always useful).  Then lots of yarn…  Yummy, Knitpicks yarn.

This is Brava Sport in Mint.   Between the lovely delicate color and the fact that it’s 100% acrylic it’s definitely going to be part of the whole baby parade thing.  No, not in my own family, but enough friends are about to be new parents/grandparents that I am going to just constantly knit/crochet precious little thingies and expect that they’ll be gifted somewhere.

LindyI also got Lindy Chain in the Ivy colorway.  It’s a linen/cotton fingering weight, with a curious ‘chained’ construction.  The color is so deep that it almost looks black.  I’m not sure just yet what it screams out to be, but it’s definitely interesting.  I think I’ll do some reading on the qualities of linen fibers before I decide.  Off the top all I can think of is that everyone says it just gets better the more that it’s washed.  Intriguing, but I don’t know just where it will lead me.

Next is Swish DK superwash in the Dusk and Bark colorways.  swish

It’s always good to have superwash, and DK is a nice, serviceable weight.  What I find most intriguing about these at the moment is that the ball band styles vary between the two skeins.  I’ll definitely find something worth making out of these, but no immediate inspiration.

Billow Gloss Lace

I’ve actually been thinking of picking up more cotton.  I really do need dishcloths.  But I just can’t see using this Tea Rose Billow as dishcloth material.  It’s just got a softer, squishier feel to it.

Of course, it does feel substantial enough to work well as a cloth.  Maybe a face cloth, because the color is so pretty?  It’s also got a really nice shine about it.    I think I might want a cleaning cloth made from this, but it’s very possible I will want something else more.  Time will tell.

Then there’s the Rouge colored Gloss Lace.  This is a Merino laceweight with 30% silk mixed in.  I’m not a great lover of pink, but I have a skein of wool/silk blue laceweight which may just have been waiting for this one to partner with.  The new Ravelry search feature which lets you key in on numbers of colors in a project will be getting lots of use here.  So many decisions, so little time!

Which brings us to –

Argent Diadem

Diadem Fingering in Argent Solid.  It’s 50% baby alpaca, 50% mulberry silk, this amazing pewter color, and I’m having a hard time finding anything to say about it other than mine!

So, yeah.  Working through a couple of projects with deadlines, but I’ll be better at sharing them with you, and I’ll definitely come back here and let you know what I do with these beauties.

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