Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Autumn Syllabus

I don't know about you, but around my way it feels like summer is drawing to a close even before it's started. There's a definite 'Back to school' feel to the air which has set my mind to wandering. When I started this blog I wanted to use it to track the things that I have learned and the way that I have developed as a fibre artist. I've been looking at my recent posts and feel that I've got stuck in a bit of a rut, largely populated by socks and mittens. I've made brief forays into the land of lace and big baggy jumpers but if you have a look at my list of finished objects it is dominated by the small stuff.

And here we have a good example. Despite my Spring Forward socks being the very last thing I cast on recently I have already finished the first one.There is something so comfortable about a delicious yarn and an intuitive pattern which makes round after round fall from the needles and before you know it there's a sock!

The interesting texture belies the simplicity of the stitch pattern.

Having all my knitting books in one place has meant that I have had a golden opportunity to sit down and think about a few projects that I would like to get under my belt during the rest of the year which will take me out of my comfort zone and build on my existing skills. Here is a range of projects which have made my short list.

I have been thinking about having another go at felting for some time.I have a nice stash of very feltable wool upstairs and need to start using it. After I saw Kathryn's beautiful felted bag while I was teaching the sock class I just had to have this book.

And this is the bag in question...

If I can felt to a decent standard the family may be able to look forward to felted slippers for Christmas...

I have become very attached to my drop spindles recently but think it's time to apply a bit of theory to my practice before I get fixed in potentially bad habits. Who else to use as my guide than Priscilla Gibson Roberts who is a passionate advocate for the use of the hand spindle. She also meets my needs for looking at social history as her work is very much grounded in traditional techniques.

How could any serious knitting syllabus not include spending some time with Elizabeth Zimmermann? My garment knitting is currently confined to cosy but not particularly elegant or fitted top down raglan snuggling jumpers. These are fine but I think it's time I learned to move on to something more interesting. Learning from Elizabeth Zimmermann isn't just about how to follow a pattern and practice complex techniques, she encourages knitters to think for themselves - although she makes no apologies for being very opinionated!

I am particularly drawn to the elegant construction of her hybrid sweater.

Diving once more into the historical side of knitting I'd really like to knit myself a proper traditional gansey. As you may recall if you have read this blog for some time I made a gansey with traditional Cornish motifs on it for my friend Leon in Australia. He loves this garment and wears it day in day out in the winter. I am very proud of it but have to admit that I knitted it when I was a much less well informed knitter and made it in the flat, in pieces, without the underarm gussets. This time I want to make one in the traditional way, in the round using all the right traditional techniques.

I do now, however, that I don't find crew necks particularly comfortable so I am planning to take a pattern from this wonderful book. I love the photographs. Doesn't this little ragged band look like they are just about to start a jolly good playground scuffle?

Rather than a round necked, long sleeved navy gansey I plan to adapt mine in the style of the Herring Girls whose ganseys would be of non traditional colours, often buttoned at the neck and with elbow length sleeves.

Here's another photo from the book for good measure.

You just don't get faces like that any more do you? This man was the sole survivor of a lifeboat tragedy where the other 12 of the crew died. I fancy I can see it written in his expression.

Moving on, I really want to try to incorporate techniques such as cabling into my knitting but am definitely not the shape that would look good in an aran jumper.

Enter More Big Girl Knits - patterns that work for the curvy girl who wants to knit interesting things that fit.

Not only is there loads of good technical information about how to knit to fit your body shape,whatever size you may be, it also has gorgeous projects like this which I hear calling my name!
Finally, there are very few days in London when really warm knitwear is called for so I want to start making pieces that are wearable without suffocating myself so I thought I might try a waistcoat or two. In the US I understand they are called vests which as we Brits know is a piece of gentleman's' underwear that the prudent man is chary of shedding any time before the end of May.
To suit me, a waistcoat has to have a strong vertical line which I think this Japanese inspired design does quite well.
I think I have probably planned my knitting life for the next year as I know that between all these projects I will be wanting to continue to knit socks and mittens and maybe even gloves... As a designer I know that this is my niche and I have plans for more designs for submission to publications or to publish myself. I am developing a reasonably full programme of teaching too which means that one way or another life is going to be very full and interesting!

Tomorrow I am off to Wales for my nephew's 9th birthday. I am going to try to be good and take only works in progress.

I'll fess up on how I got on when I get back!


stash haus said...

Wow, you've got quite a list of projects. It will be fun to follow your progress.

Mrs J said...

OMG you mentioned the dreaded 'BTS'! I am a teacher & I know that work this term is going to seriously interfere with my knitting! I too have accumulated a range of books that dive into the traditions of knitting -Arctic Lace, Scandinavian Knitting & Folk Mitts. It will be interesting to see what we produce! Have fun in Wales.

from lilly lane said...

Wonderful books and projects.
I love spinning but I must find out more about knitting too.Well, maybe I should improve my knitting first...

K. said...

There are ways to use cables in shaping your garment, but I've not tried that yet. I don't think an Aran sweater improves any figure! I am currently swatching for a gansey I am planning to start this fall. I will be interested in what you come up with!

stitchwort said...

There must be something in the air - I just bought that Mary Wright book!

And I have considered the kimono vest from Folk Vests, but have read on Ravelry some comments about the fit; it might be worth reading them before you cast on.

Lin said...

The felting looks grand, i look forward to seeing what you make. Have a nice time in Wales.