How beautiful is this 1833 Irish book of needlework instruction, created with great skill and thought. I do wonder about the needlewoman who took the time to create it, providing gorgeous miniature examples as a reference -- perhaps to remind herself of how she constructed something, or perhaps to pass on to others seeking to refine their technique. We are so used to seeing these days pattern books in paper with stamped or charted patterns -- but this old school version in needle and thread, in linen and muslim is just so remarkable and materially faithful to the craft.
I am hoping today to finish up this twilled scarf -- the first project of several lined up on my loom in many years. It was a re-learning experience and while I really like it, there was much to learn from it's making. Handwork is always about refining skills, each project a lesson in how things are made -- and then made well. My salvages are not as I would want them, but next time, they will be tidier. I worked in simple colours this time, but next time will be bolder, more confident. I do not assume perfection -- that would be folly and to worry about such would keep me from doing more work -- but it will get easier, more confident, and more I hope adventurous.
Here's the start of sock two -- this time I am going great guns with the magic look technique, though still haven't figured out how to get both socks on the same needle -- oh youtube, help me out please. Love the colors of this subtle self striping. And at least this time, they will both be the same size!
Trying out a new pattern usually means figuring out the "vanilla" version where you test how many rows for the leg length, how many rows for the foot length, whether you should knit it in a small or a medium. Once discovered, such a pattern becomes a good friend and it's a whole lot easier to start a production of the same basic pattern with a variety of yarns and even customised flourishes.
Here's the first pair in two sizes! The left sock is a small, the right sock a medium. Both socks are a wee bit short -- and I will be adding another 5-10 rows to the medium sock. But that both fit more or less, and they are very comfortable. So even though they are not really matching, I'm good for now.
I have begun this new blog because I am intrigued by the tradition among many knitters and weavers to undertake a variety of personal and communal challenges with their handwork. It seems in some ways a better idea than coming with the New Year's resolutions which we seem to abandon all too soon. And I like the idea of creating something -- many somethings -- that will worn, draped, and often times given as gifts. For myself, I want to include in this list of delightful challenges -- the pair of socks a month. I love the idea that I could have 12 pairs of handknitted socks come this time next year. I am also working more and more on the loom now that it is fully functional again.
My study is full of books, cached yarns and cones, storage bins of fabrics, and more toys -- ball winders, new reeds, sley hooks, and bobbins. Handwork and writing are very similiar, each requiring a kind of daily diligence, each intellecutally demanding, and each providing rewards in the doing, not just in the finished work, but in what is learned in the process.
Midori Snyder is the author of nine novels for children and adults. She won the Mythopoeic Award for The Innamorati, a novel inspired by early Roman myth and the Italian "Commedia dell'Arte" tradition. more>>