Sunday, January 30, 2005

Play On!

Yesterday I attended a memorial service for my husband's friend. It was sad, but the people who were there were enjoying their memories of a good man and the talk was lively. Since I knew no one, I sat and talked only when I was introduced to someone. (Anyone who knows me, knows this is an unnatural state for me.) Under the circumstances, knitting would have been inappropriate so I created knits in my mind. When I do that I tend to use garments in my line of sight as inspritation. The turn on a sleeve, the cut of a scarf - all are grist for the mill. As I sat there, sketching designs in my mind, I realized that I was playing at being a designer of sorts.

When we got home in the evening I went immediately to my yarn collection to begin to work out some of my thoughts- and suddenly I felt overwhelmed. The designer was fighting for permission to play, while the practical one wanted to make something useful. I think I'll start by grouping my yarns, I thought. Let's just do swatches, I thought. Only then did the creative side interrupt with this thought: What about making miniature prototypes of those little sketches of yours. Practical reply: How about just tying up the loose ends on the garments in the line marked "Unfinished but knitted" Don't be so frivolous!!!

Guess who won? Miss Practical, of course. When, i could do no more "finishing", I allowed myself the "pleasure" of playing with a cotton yarn and a technique for creating ruffles up the side of a garment. It was gratifying and resulted in a small accomplishment but nothing new was begun - not one of my wonderful ideas was even attempted. It was as if I was rationing my own creativity - and approaching it slowly by trying to build on a solid foundation of practicality.

I will always remember one Tony Awards Presentation when Julie Taymor got up on stage and thanked her parents for giving her permission to "play, play, play". That one comment has stuck with me for years. It's hard to play hard , especially when the play doesn't result in immediate usefulness. Like many others, I was brought up to think of play as something one earned the right to do only after lots of hard "real" work. Work that cleaned a house, work that put clothes on one's back or or a roof over your head. Play could not do that, and therefore was of no real value. The intellectual side of me sees this as fallacy, but the emotional side of me grapples with this constantly. The Puritan ethic of hard work was necessary to physical survival, but survival of the spirit is the ultimate salvation - and for that I need to play.

So play i will - tomorrow, right after i finish an assignment for a client. Right after I attend the Gift Show - looking for more inspiration. Right after I make dinner. Right after I read the last 3 issues of the New Yorker. Right after I pull together those umpteen pictures I've been promising to post. Right!

Friday, January 28, 2005

What is it about socks?

I don't understand my own aversion. Blog after blog, book after book, knitter after knitter, I see the most wonderful patterns and the most wonderful colors for sock yarns. So a few month's back, when my dear friend asked me to teach her, I said, "It will be a pleasure". Dutifully, we went downtown to seaport yarn where we chose our patterns, chose our yarn and came home. Since that day of casting on and beginning, I have never picked it up again, either has she. It's not for lack of knowledge, say I exhibiting pride up the kazoo. It's for pure lack of interest. I don't get it. They're portable, pretty, not overly expensive to produce and said to keep one warm and wear well. I am totally apathetic or sock bored, if you will.

I can only surmise that it cuts too close to the bone. My mom was a very poor farmer's daughter from a very poor area of the midwest which she detested. (Insert picture of scarlet o'hara raising her fist to the heavens and vowing to never go hungry. Then replace her with a little farmer girl who vowed to never make socks, again - In my fantasy, that was my mom) It's the only explanation I can come up with - and, at the end of the day, it's probably not true.

Perhaps it is just that I am afraid that the damn will finally burst and I'll start making socks instead of dinner. In any event, if anyone reads this, perhaps they can share with me their own feelings about socks.

I promise, pictures, soon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I'm Back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Five glorious days, surrounded by yarns of every conceivable weight, color and texture, designers, published books, knitting and fiber fanatics, retailers, and an assortment of thoroughly enjoyable people! I am blessed beyond belief to have such a passion and an interest.

Of course, I spent 4 days indoors (not that I'm complaining) so the lovely weather of southern california was completely lost on me. I didn't really mind. My days were filled with fibers and new discoveries and my nights were filled with company, good food and wine. I have a divine high profile publishing client whose name it is a pleasure to represent and whose employees exhibit generosity of spirit and kindness in their inclusion of me.

Yarn samples are the order of the day as is generosity and i brought plenty home with me. I met women liked Nicky Epstein - as lovely as she is talented - and generous with information and enthusiasm. Melissa Leapman who complimented me on one of the jackets I was wearing - her design - so of course, it was beautiful.
Cat Borghi, who wrote Socks Soar on Two Needles and A treasury of Magical Knitting - who was there to promote her newest book: A second Treasury of Magical Knitting.

I bought sample knits and yarns, got patterns and recommitted myself to finding a way to stay in this community forever. The one thing that continued to strike me was the feeling of camaraderie and great comfort. I worked the booth for my client who is introducing a new trade magazine and the volume of interest was complete and satisfying. The other thing that I was struck by was the fact that the women were all "like me". It didn't matter whether they were yarn company owners, retailers, designers, teachers, publishers or whatever - their enjoyment and their passion fueled every step and bubbled over like water in a fountain.

I am posting pictures of my finds and buys later on - and i will include links (if possible) but I wanted to get this written and off my computer as soon as I could. I am still organizing and re-organizing notes and cards but my enthusiasm is high and my desire to explain it (and perhaps takes it down a notch or two so I can sleep) is strong. Pictures will definitly follow later today.
In the meantime, pls. knit - and think only positive thoughts!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Off to TNNA

It's a dream work assignment for me- I'm off to TNNA - the national nneedeedlework association show. I have a free-lance assignment and I need to attend. You bet I need to - they didn't have to ask me twice! I'm working with a neat group of people on a neat assignment and I'm in the heart of my favorite category - knitting! The fact that it's in California doesn't hurt - either. The cold here would give a eskimo frost-bite, but that's all the damning comments you'll hear from me about NY.

I've been writing, knitting - trying out Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton's book using Nature Wool. The patterns are lovely, the styling is divine, but the accuracy leaves a little to the imagination. Not to worry, it's coming along. Hopefully, by the time I'm back (lord willing) i'll have a few more projects to show off.

Two very well known friends have just finished 2 days of shooting incredible photos of incredible knitware at my house. They were kind enough to give many compliments about our house details, but the truth is, the knitted goods made the house look good. The sheer volume of beautiful work - baby blankets, quilts, nighties (you name it, they knitted it) - is enough to make me feel like i've been asleep in the corner for the past 3 months. I think I'll pack an extra project or two.

Look here for breaking news about their upcoming debut - but I won't steal their thunder and I want them to go first with the details.
I think I'll pack my trusty antique digital camera to take a shot or two in sunny california, so look here for interesting stuff.

Speak to you next week, I hope.

Monday, January 10, 2005

It's not rude - just weird

Cole's new sweater - odyssey yarn

The good, the "weird" and the secretive

Here it is, as promised. The newly finished incredible top down pullover that i just finished for my nephew's second birthday - knitted with reynold's odyssey yarn. If you can find this stuff on sale, scoop it up. I even pay full price and if you knew me, you'd know that's heresy in my world. Knitting with it is a dream. I had to re-do the neck about 4 times - my nephew has a rather large head, all the better to contain his large brain, no doubt. I knew that if he had to struggle with it - or his mom did - it wouldn't be worn. So i frogged and frogged and the yarn held up through every rip out and re-do.

Also pictured is my trigger finger mitten - done in another color of odyssey. It occurs to me that this mitten might look like it's making a rather rude hand gesture. Since I'm from NY, you might think it so but, really, it isn't since you'll notice that it's the index finger that is held up. I was intrigued by this functional mitten and i could not resist. Now that I've finished the first, it's a bore to do the second so i took a little detour for a new project: the secret.

I am currently at work on a Surprise for a pal with a new babe in the house. Since I know she occasionally reads my blog, I'm not going to divulge the work in progress, but it's turning out to be a lot of fun - and i think it will be particularly suitable for her new little girl now that I have met her.

Weather continues to be this side of schizophrenic in the northeast. Two days ago, I was house-bound in Ct., during an ice storm and today I am running around in a short skirt and a poncho. It's a wacko weather world and considering the state of the union, it's no wonder.

Ta-Ta from balmy Manhattan.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Off to a good start

Oh how I love to get up in the morning! - but not at 4:30. That, however, is my lot in life since i tend to suffer from a bit of insomnia. The only good thing about insomnia is that I have knitting to attend to - and one of my projects is better than 10 mgs. of ambien, anyday.

I have just finished my beautiful nephew's sweater for his 2nd birthday - picture coming by the end of the week. I have now used the incredible raglan sweater pattern twice: once for the tallest person I know and once for the smallest and the wonderful thing comes out right every time. If you want to thoroughly enjoy knitting and be successful at it too - not always doable for even the most experienced knitters in the crowd - then take a look at this pattern:
it takes a little bit of math - but even I, the old count on your fingers type, can figure this out without a calculator - and I guarantee you success. I did it in a beautiful shade of denim blue in odyssey by reynolds - a scrumptious yarn that knits up soft and sweet - just like its chubby recipient. I now have 3 more projects going simultaneously - and to think that I used to ration myself and only allow myself to start a new one when I had completely finished an old one. Silly, phylly as my youngest daughter likes to say. I finally gave into my harmless obsession with all things fiber related and gave free rein to my insanity. Other projects in th queue: trigger mittens (one down, one to go), a moebius circle (black and gold lame), a beautiful greenish shawl and one gorgeous flower. Pictures coming, I promise, but the incredible raglan got me so jazzed that I just had to talk about it.
I'll be back, I promise!