Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Original Knitting Inspiration

Today I suddenly remembered what set me on the path to knitting.

To set the stage: I attended high school in a coastal Northern California town in the 1970's. During that difficult period of adolescence when I was trying to find my identity, I developed a deep admiration for a girl in my class named Jody. Jody had a unique and very cool sense of style and self-assurance that seemed beyond her years. She didn't fit into any of the typical social groups or cliques. She was a star tennis player, but not part of the "jock group." She was intelligent and made good grades, but was definitely not a "nerd." And with her white blond hair and blue eyes she was strikingly pretty but was not a cheerleader type or a "surfer chick." Jody just seemed to float above the typical and banal social dramas that set the stage for life in high school. She had that mysterious aura of charisma one associates with movie stars.

One chilly winter morning she came to school in a beautiful, very colorful turtleneck sweater that she wore with great panache. I imagined that she looked as though she'd just stepped off the ski slopes of Austria (think Audrey Hepburn in the opening scene of Charade). Anyway, I overheard her telling someone that she'd knit the sweater herself from yarn scraps in her mother's knitting basket. It had turned out to be much too big for her, so, (she continued nonchalantly) she'd thrown it into the washing machine to felt it. Now keep in mind, teenagers in the '70s did not exactly view knitting as the coolest of hobbies. And yet, at that moment, I felt inspired to go home and create my own unique knitted fashions. Thirty years later, I'm still at it!

BTW, the last I heard Jody had become a renowned sculptor / painter living in Soho who sells her art to wealthy connoisseurs from around the world. (Wouldn't you know it?)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

An Orchid for Nancy

I pushed myself to finish this sweater yesterday and, after 6 hours of non-stop sewing, here is the final result:

It's a Kim Hargreaves' design called "Orchid" from her Nectar collection. (Also the same design as "Beatrix" in her Thrown Together collection and "Darcy" in the Heartfelt collection). This one is made up in Rowan purelife organic cotton naturally dyed in the Logwood colorway.

In this close-up of the neckline you can see the array of buttons used.

My friend Nancy (the giftee) picked up these vintage buttons at a crafts fair and asked that I use a random assortment. No two buttons are alike on this sweater!

Because this was a gift, I tried my very hardest to do a perfect job, but of course there were mistakes.

1. I messed up on the broken rib pattern while working the short row shaping on the back peplum. Did not go back and rip it out.

2. The buttonholes are a bit sloppy. I don't like the method of yo, k2tog -- I much prefer to cast off two stitches, then cast back on, then work the cast-ons the following row. Much neater looking.


Lessons learned:

1. I learned how to do mattress stitch. For me, I have to leave the loops small and pull the seam closed every few stitches or the yarn gets hopelessly stuck.

2. My bind-off is usually too tight, but I learned it's also possible to make it too loose. The neckline is bordeline floppy. Sigh.

3. I am a huge devotee of the single crocheted seam. I know, I know, it's bulky. But, it's quick! By the time I'm piecing together a sweater, I'm ready for quick!

Casting off until next time ....