Monday, April 16, 2007

First knitting pix

You've probably noticed that even though I describe myself as a knitter in my profile, this isn't a knitting blog. Knitting is part of the way I get through the day, but it's not really a blog topic for me, and there aren't many knitting blogs I follow. (However, I like hearing about knitting projects my blogging friends are doing, especially if they're new knitters!)

I've been at it nearly 30 years, though the first 9 were sporadic, with knitting being just one of the least frequent ways I messed around with yarn and fiber. My Scottish grandmother taught me how to knit, I taught myself to create stockinette stitch (flat knitting) on my own--first by knitting back and forth and then by teaching myself to purl. Then a 6'3" friend dared me to knit him a sweater for our high school graduation and I've been serious about it ever since. I've also given away more sweaters than I can remember. I was a feral knitter for much of that time, I knit lefty even though I'm a righty, I knit while I read, and watching me knit makes one of my knitting friends dizzy. My interests are largely in technique, tradition, artistry, and color. Debbie New, Alice Starmore, and Mary Walker Phillips are some of my knitting heroes. I never like to sew things that are knit: I find it inelegant.

But here goes, because knitting ties in with what's been going on with me since Helen died. Helen's friend Nikki had the idea of making a memorial tree sculpture for Helen, with leaves contributed by everyone. So I thought, waterproof knitting: fishing line. But fishing line won't show. Glass beads! So I knitted a bunch of leaves for the sculpture. I sent them off without taking pictures--the memory card was full, I was superstitious about emptying it, I just had to send them off, etc.

Doing the leaves opened up a whole new range of possibility for me, like a nudge from Helen to actually do some of the funky things I've been thinking about. Also, not surprisingly, Z. was mesmerized by the beads so for her birthday I made her a suncatcher. It is the most photogenic and unlikely knitted object I've ever made. I've been meaning to take some pictures of it for awhile and when we set it up in Z.'s new bedroom-corner I thought, a-ha, now is the time.

The suncatcher has Z.'s name knit in beads in the middle of it, so you'll have to imagine the full circle. It starts with purple in the center and makes its way out to the edge with blue. I strung it on the inner circle of an old embroidery hoop. I'm happy to go into the technical stuff with anyone who's interested: scallen3 at America Online, or drop a note in the comments.


Magpie said...

That is extraordinary. I knit a tiny bit; I like the idea of it - but I can't imagine doing something like that. Beautiful.

seahorse said...

That really is amazingly beautiful.

wolfa said...

That's lovely -- and very different from the (more standard) kinds I used to make. Do you get to put on the beads as you go, making the decisions when you reach a place? And is this feasible for a very poor knitter? I would love something to catch the sun.

S. said...

Thanks Magpie, and thanks and welcome, Seahorse!

Wolfa, you put all the beads on ahead of time, and if you're doing something like a name you have to be careful of sequence because the first bead you put on the string will be the last bead you knit. I did this particular one in the round starting with eight stitches and building out by adding an average of four new stitches a round (sometimes called medallion knitting.) Eventually it got big enough to transfer to a small circular needle.

I would say not to try a circle until you feel comfortable with socks or mittens knit in the round on double points, but except for some wobbles in the beginning (when you have very few stitches on each needle), it's not harder than either of those projects. If you try it and run into trouble, send me an email!

But! There's no reason you need to do a circle. You could find an empty picture frame to use as a stretcher. A rectangle is very easy to knit, so the only technical thing you'd need to consider is that the fishing line will stretch a LOT, so make sure the dimensions are smaller than your frame.

I just stretched it using heavier fishing line*, threading it through the edge and wrapping it around the hoop--very simple.

(*actually monofilament, which is what they call fishing line when it's too thick to fish with)

Fishing line makes a creaky sound like walking through snow when you knit with it.

liz said...

That is fanstastically beautiful.

Furrow said...


(It took me a while to come up with a unique adjective).

Scrivener said...

That suncatcher is totally amazing! I am generally not so much a fan of the knitted stuff (I know, I know, I'm some sort of heathen) but I really love that.