Archive for September 2010

Fine, fresh, fierce, we got it on lock

September 28, 2010

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Pattern: Graphic Design Scarf by Meow Miinemost
Yarn: Moda Dea Washable Wool (100% superwash wool, discontinued), colorway Lake Blue
Needles: U.S. 10 Signature straights

Texture. It calls to me. “Smooth and straight is fine …” it whispers. “But don’t you want to stand out from the crowd?”

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“You remember the way this yarn popped in gorgeous relief when you were knitting that cabled hoodie with it. Look at these all-over cabled scarves in your favorites. I know you had another yarn in mind for them. But you loved knitting with this yarn for the hoodie, and you have several balls left. Don’t you want to keep going with it? How about this sculptural, open-ended cable — so different from the twined braids of the hoodie, yet so wavy and evocative?”

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“Oh, you made the right choice. That blue — look how it brings out her eyes. Those cables — so soft, so thick. Some lucky person at the silent auction is going to get the ultimate scarf thanks to your work over the last month. And you still have one ball left! Now I’ve got my eye on some fingerless gloves …”

And so the songs are way down low

September 19, 2010

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Pattern: Baktus scarf by Strikkeleise
Yarn: Crystal Palace Mini Mochi (80% superwash merino, 20% nylon), colorway Fern Rainbow
Needles: U.S. 5 Harmony wood Options circulars (knit flat)

This is the story of a lost scarf.

I took out a special skein of yarn for our family trip to Tennessee this year. Knowing I would have a lot of time to knit, I started a fingering-weight lace scarf in a beautiful veil-dyed green with a silver thread running through it. It grew slowly during the lazy days and firefly-lit nights at our cabin in the woods. I thought the verdant scarf would always remind me of that summer.

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During that same trip I visited a yarn store and bought two balls of Mini Mochi, a yarn I’d long wanted to try. Again I was drawn to the green, but this time shaded with woodsy browns and darker pines. I came home and put the Mini Mochi in my stash, thinking I’d use it for one of those triangular scarves knit end to end, the better to show the slowly changing colors.

And then one day I lost the scarf in progress, somewhere between a doctor appointment and home, and no amount of searching would locate it. In the blink of an eye, those vacation hours of stitching, and the memento I had planned, were gone.

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I pulled the Mini Mochi out and began immediately — a replacement scarf, not the same pattern nor color nor sparkle, not even the same shape, but connected to the vacation and family and that cabin and those woods and that sun-dappled field where we played whiffle ball every morning. And now it’s done. Just the way I imagined it, but for a different reason. One lost, one gained. The green of oak leaves, the chartreuse of unmown hay, the brown of forest loam. As light as a memory, as the scarf that disappeared, resting lightly on my shoulders, mine for a season only. Nothing gold can stay.

There was something in the air that night

September 8, 2010

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Pattern: Clamshell Scarf by Vanessa Hailey
Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver (100% acrylic), colorways Cherry Red and White
Hook: U.S. J/6.0mm

I can’t claim to have mastered crochet. I’ve just started that journey. But with four crochet scarves for the Special Olympics Winter Games in Washington State under my belt, I feel I’ve got a good grasp on basic technique.

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As a neophyte still, I’m not claiming that I proceed with confidence in situations calling for only basic knowledge. With each scarf I’ve crocheted, my ability has grown. But each one has brought on several moments where I had to feel my way, trying to understand what was being asked of me, squinting at my work in an attempt to perceive the stitches, dithering about whether I was starting and ending in the right place. As I made stabs at it, sometimes correct and sometimes harbingers of temporary failure, I learned.

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The learning’s not over. It never is, for these skills of manipulation that combine hand and head. Knowing what to do doesn’t always amount to being able to do it; having the right physical movements doesn’t always amount to understanding what is being done. Maybe it’s telling that I tend to choose projects that will force me to attempt a new technique. If I had a solid grasp on the whole process before I began, going through the exercise would be less significant. Instead, I find myself stretching for something slightly beyond my grasp. I know from experience that I can’t wait to do it until I understand it, since I will never understand without doing. And further, coming to that understanding means hesitating, screwing up, proceeding when my comprehension is murky, making a stab, seeing how it comes out, being willing to go back and try again if it goes wrong.

Learning crochet this summer has sent me down that road again and again, and I’m grateful to be reminded of the virtues of this trial-and-error method. I can’t help wondering whether it would serve as well in areas of my practice beyond craft and the material world.