Swatch it! Spring Summer 2013
by Clara Parkes
I have a confession to make. The day I picked the project for this column, it was so grey and dreary that even my solar-powered Queen Elizabeth wouldn’t wave. I saw Janine LeCras’ Wavelettes shawl and thought, “hey, now there’s a candidate for cashmere.”
Never mind that the shawlette is already knit in a Merino/cashmere/silk blend that’s probably the most appropriate and affordable cashmere combination for this project. No, I’d find others, come up with a vaguely plausible story about why they were somehow different, and spend a week playing with cashmere. Not for any technical reasons that could make you a better knitter, but simply because I was in a bad mood.
The Error of Our Ways: A Knitter's Guide to Fixing Mistakes
Part One: Minor Blunders
by Robin Melanson
If there is one thing a knitter can be certain of, it’s that mistakes will happen. No one is immune to the occasional dropped stich, wrong-slanting cable, or other error and you will never stop making mistakes like these as long as you knit. Why? Because knitters don't just sit there and stitch (not most of the time, anyhow). We knit while driving a forklift, while training our monkey butlers, or while operating the Tilt-a-Whirl at the circus. Or, you know, while watching television (but let's pretend we can do that without messing up the knitting). In other words, our attention is usually divided when we are knitting, we are not always looking at the instructions, and we pick up our WIP and put it down again a million times.
Tips and Tricks for Working with Lace
by Sandi Rosner
Spring is the time when we turn to light and airy knitting. The delicate openwork of lace is what many of us crave with the return of warm weather and as a result many of the designs in this issue feature lace as an all-over pattern or focal point.
But knitting lace can be tricky. Most patterns rely on charts. Troubleshooting mistakes can be a challenge. And ripping back hours of work to fix a problem can send the most intrepid knitter screaming from the room.
In this issue, we'll share some simple techniques that will keep you happily knitting lace all summer long.
In the Weeds
What to love (and do) about plant fibers
By Leslie Petrovski
During research trips to the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains in 2007 and 2008, archeologists discovered fragments of what appear to be the oldest textiles ever found: wild flax fibers dating back 30,000 or more years that had been twisted and dyed, most likely for cords or basket making.
That processed flax outlasted the millennia in a Georgian cave is hardly surprising if you know something about fiber. Plants are tough. Even soft-as-a-bunny’s-bum cotton is stronger than wool. And flax and hemp? Stronger still.
Plant fibers have their place in a knitter’s armamentarium. With summer approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, flora tend to be cooler to work with than fauna. They’re also absorbent, comfortable and machine washable. And you will never accidently full a cotton sweater.
by Franklin Habit
There’s a box under my bed where I keep certain things I’m slightly ashamed of. No, not that box. Another one. A larger one. The one with all the swatches in it.
I like to swatch. I swatch all the time. Even when I’m not planning to make anything in particular, I put yarn on needles and play with it. I swatch for the sake of swatching.
“What are you making?” somebody will ask me. “A hat,” I reply. Or, “A scarf.” I never say it’s a swatch, because the next question is always, “A swatch for what?” And admitting that you swatch for the sheer pleasure of it is like admitting that you feel slightly aroused whenever the office photocopier develops a paper jam.
Let ’Er Rip
by Franklin Habit
When I was but a lambkin of a knitter, treading timidly across the time-honored beginner’s obstacle course of scarf-then-hat-then-mittens, I had exactly one way of dealing with mistakes: I hoped very much not to make any. We all know how well that works.
I was teaching myself from books. They were not good books. They were flimsy, ugly things, sprinkled with advice as useful and reliable as a kindergartener’s schoolyard lecture on How Babies Are Made. Yet they did, in the end, lead me forward from knitting to purling to shaping to binding off.
But knitting isn’t always about going forward. It’s often, especially if you are me, about going backwards. It’s about undoing as much as doing. Yet the books were entirely mum about what do if your mitten went awry, or if you simply didn’t like the way part of it was turning out. What did you do then? Grit your teeth and soldier on? Throw it away and take up petit point or archery?