Saturday, 22 November 2008

In praise of remarkable men

When knitting alone proves an inadequate refuge from the working week I like to pack a bag and head off to the Isle of Wight to spend a weekend with my dad. We eat, we chat, we watch undemanding television, solve crosswords and watch the birds and animals that visit his garden in great abundance.

Coming back to my childhood home, albeit briefly to enjoy the small things in life which are, paradoxically also the most important parts of being a human being is a really restorative process. I am reminded that I am amongst the very luckiest, to have such a warm and secure family base from which to tackle the more challenging tasks that life throws up.

I also got plenty of time to knit. I am extremely proud to be able to show you my finished Selbuvotter. I think that these are amongst the most impressive things I have ever knitted. I keep having to pinch myself to be convinced that I actually made them myself. There are one or two errors but over all I love the colours, the pattern and the fit of them. I am delighted to hear that we are expecting some cold weather very soon.

My brain is sometimes not up to the challenge of complex colour work so I took along a plain sock project. These are man size socks in Regia Kaffe Fassett which I think is a particularly good ordinary sock yarn. It has great, well chosen, saturated colours on a good, sturdy, comfortable base yarn that machine washes beautifully.

I also managed to rescue the Jolly Waves socks which were languishing after a needle size issue ruined the stripe pattern. As you can see, I resurrected the striping on the leg by going up a needle size but there is still a distinct difference in the width of the stripes from one sock to another. As far as I'm concerned it's good enough though...

The more time I spend with my dad the more I realise where I get my enthusiasm for growing and making things. He also reminds me how much I have yet to learn. Here he is admiring the last of his aubergine crop before cutting them to make one of the best vegetarian moussakas I have ever had.
As a lifelong reuser and recycler, dad teaches me how important it is to treat the things we have with respect and to repair rather than replace. He does sometimes take this to somewhat eccentric extremes.
On Sunday morning he greeted me thus; 'I was laying in bed this morning thinking about how to repair my nutcrackers'.

I wouldn't have him any other way and to be honest I'd been lying there thinking about a colour scheme for a pair of mitts so we both have our idiosyncracies...
On the subject of remarkable men, I was lucky enough to drop into Iknit the other evening to join a standing room only crowd enjoying readings from Franklin Habit's new book of essays and cartoons called 'It Itches'. I have enjoyed Franklin's knitting blog ' The Panopticon' for many years. He has the rare gift of being able to write seriously and humorously with the same deft touch as well as being a very clever cartoonist.

Unfortunately, there weren't enough copies of the book for us all to buy and have signed so the very generous Justine who had the foresight to pre order asked the very obliging but slightly baffled Franklin to make the following dedication in her book:

Sally and I can paste copies of the dedication in our books when they arrive!
Speaking of books, I found this little gem in a charity shop near work recently. It is of 1970s vintage, translated from Danish and is written with the wonderful naive optimism so characteristic of the time. The author notes how important it is for the knitter not to be tied to published patterns but to learn basic methods, particularly knit in the round as a framework for the knitter's own creativity. In this respect the book coincides greatly with the values of great knitters such as Elizabeth Zimmermann.
However, it has to be admitted that the patterns lack the stylish, timeless qualities of Zimmermann.
In my last reference to remarkable men I offer you this, just to prove that one can be remarkable for all the wrong reasons.

Oh dear....

8 comments:

knit nurse said...

I hope your dad managed to mend his nutcrackers, and that they didn't keep him awake for too many nights :-)

Interesting to see the Regia yarn on a larger sock, I used the same for socks for myself and the stripes are quite different (also I have a short row heel/toe which of course disrupts the stripes a bit)

Karen said...

Your mittens are wonderful, and your dad's aubergines pretty impressive, too. A talented family!

Harriet said...

I love your mittens - I'm not surprised that you are so pleased with them. I chose the Duke sanquhar glove pattern in the end and have been beavering away on my 1.5mm needles. Needless to say they are a slow knit - I'm just up to the first thumb gusset - but a satisfying one. I'm using navy and cream Regia sock yarn that I bought for the purpose years ago when I got the patterns.
I think that book is a hoot. I bought a second-hand copy about ten years ago because it made me smile.

LynS said...

Well done with the mittens. Love the colour choice. Almost makes me regret that Sydney is never cold enough to warrent mittens.

RooKnits said...

Spectacular mittens! I have never managed to grow aubergines successfully, they always succumb to white fly.
The regia socks are wonderful too and congrats for rescuing the YY socks.
The photograph of the knitted swimwear made my bf smile!

Lin said...

The mittens are beautiful and that sounds like such a great weekend.

Rosie said...

Hooray for family and wonderful men. I've had that book since the early 80s, must explain a lot about my reluctance to knit from patterns!

LittleBerry said...

Those mittens get better everytime I see them and think the colour combo is brilliant.....

Well KF landscape is a classic pattern and such lovely colours....

I'm looking forward to seeing gloves ;o)