Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Casting off and sewing in

What with Skipnorth and burrowing around in my stash to find things I no longer love for the stash swapI am a bit overwhelmed with how many gorgeous materials I do have in my stash and how I really need to get more productive and take advantage of them.

With that in mind I have really concentrated on finishing my U-necked Back to School Vest by Stephanie Japel. Here is a look at the neckband.

And here is the finished article. I am even wearing it today. It's a great fit although there are always little tweaks that you would make with hindsight but overall it was a pleasure to knit and I'm sure it will become a wardrobe staple. Very peculiar looking without a person inside it though.

I was thinking quite a lot about how well this vest fit and what fun it was to knit despite it looking very odd while I was knitting it. Seems to me that what we are getting with the 'new breed of knitting designers' are knitters who design patterns for other knitters as opposed to generically trained textile professionals who have chosen to specialise in hand knitting.
Now don't get me wrong, I am sure there are good and bad examples of both categories but what I think I am trying to say is that I am increasingly drawn to designers who know how hand knitted fabric works, how techniques can be used to create three dimensional forms in the fabric itself so that garments don't have to be knitted in individual pieces as those trained in traditional pattern cutting are used to. Designers who know that there are clever and novel ways of allowing a garment to grow, be tried on before finishing and come together in an elegant way. These skills are learned by looking at what pioneers like Elizabeth Zimmermann or lateral thinkers like Cat Bordhi have created and not letting the mind be clouded by trying to apply inappropriate templates that might be better suited to the needs of mass production than the hand craftsperson. I am very grateful to people like Stephanie Japel and Wendy Bernard who have gathered their hard won skills in books full of patterns that knitters want to knit, where we will enjoy the whole process, be much more confident that garments will fit and not have all that sewing up to do at the end!
Speaking of elegant construction I have also finished my Diagonal Lace Socks by Wendy Johnson. I learned several lovely techniques in the course of making these from Judy's magic cast on to the toe up flap and gusset and Elizabeth Zimmermann's sewn cast off. Wendy has a book soon to be published which I have already preordered. I think her designs are elegant and well constructed and the patterns clearly and well written.

Speaking of sock pattern books and hugely creative designers I am also very excited that Cookie A's new sock book is due out any day - in fact I am going to her book signing at Loop on Sunday - hope to see you there!


RooKnits said...

I love the vest - see you on Sunday :o)

Arianne said...

Hi, Jane...

I'm SURE it was you who mentioned in a recent post (and at the Lucy Neatby retreat I think?) that you were a fan of Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons?

Well, even if that wasn't you (I'm sure it was!) it prompted me to go and buy the book with a voucher I got for Christmas and I have to say I absolutely loved it! So thanks for the (imaginary?) recommendation!

P.S.- Great vest!

jacqueline said...

my big beef with knitwear designers...and designers in general is that they don't know how to size up for larger women. now i am not a big girl but i am very aware that 'bad' designers will just use ratios to size everything up ...leaving you with shoulders that belong on an american gridiron player.

finding a designer who understands sizing and the behaviour of knitted fabric is truely special.

dreamcatcher said...

Love the U-neck vest, that looks like Rowanspun aran in Hardy if I'm not mistaken :-) I've been umming and ahhing about making this for a while and I will certainly give it a whirl now. I do agree it is so refreshing to find the designers like Stefanie and Wendy who approach construction in different/better ways.

celadon2 said...

Hi Jane,

what yarn did you use for the vest, it's lovely.

picperfic said...

love the shape of your new top....!