Saturday, June 30, 2007

Still Life with Zimmermann

Nothing kills creativity faster than too much choice. Nothing inspires creativity more than constraints. If you only knit socks, you find sock options everywhere. If you only knit lace, you are free to play and experiment. Limiting yourself to cotton, silk, or a specific color can be very freeing.

Every now and then, I like to think up ways to inspire creativity by limiting my choice. One of my favorite ideas is to limit my knitting to one book, or one designer, and then going wild with choices of color, interpretation, and fibers.

If I limited myself to only knitting from Elizabeth Zimmermann's books or publications, could I even call it a constraint? There are so many choices. As I gear up to head out to Knitting Camp in Wisconsin, I think I'll go through my EZ book & pattern stash and make a list. If I had unlimited time and materials, what items would I most want to knit?

Let's start with the books. First up, Knitting Without Tears. I'd knit:

  • The Seamless Yoke Sweater using the Fair Isle yoke pattern from the book. (I've made a couple of these using other yoke patterns, but I find this one quite appealing.)
  • The Tomten Jacket, but I might make it with chunky yarn for me rather than for a child. (Explored again in Knitting Workshop and more updated notes are included in The Opinionated Knitter)
  • The Prime Rib hat--Meg goes into more detail about this hat in Opinionated Knitter on Page 30

EZ also introduces some alternative shoulder shapings, but those are explored more thoroughly in Knitting Workshop.

Next up, the Knitter's Almanac.

  • The Aran Sweater. Yup, the cardigan. This is also called the Fishtrap Aran--however, I like the one in Opinionated Knitter better.

  • Everyone wants to make the February Sweater. I'll add it, but it isn't high on my list.

  • I do, however, want to make the double knitted blanket. But either as a dog blanket or a larger afghan out of something wonderful.

  • The Difficult Sweater from March. I love the twisted, stained glass-like pattern

  • The Pi Shawl--the simple version. (This may be my next project using some Silk/Alpaca from Lisa Souza). This is also discussed in Knitting Workshop.

  • Pi Shawl--the more complicated version.

Next on the list of books is Knitting Workshop.

  • The Seamless Yoke Sweater again, but this time with the Hawser yoke pattern. There is a great photograph in this book of variations of the seamless yoke that I particularly like. My favorites include the Aspen, Medusa, but those will get added to the list when I review my stash of Wool Gatherings or Spun Out issues.

  • The Shaded Aspen-Leaf sweater, but I want it as a cardigan.

  • A Raglan Cardigan. Something simple out of a luxurious chunky, kettle-dyed merino like Malabrigo. I want striking buttons on this one.

  • A Saddle Shoulder sweater.

  • Like everyone else, my favorite is probably the seamless hybrid. I see this in a great, tweedy yarn.

  • A Set-In Sleeve Sweater with a V-neck out of a smooth yarn, maybe even a silk/merino blend.

  • The Rorschach Sweater

  • The Epaulet Jacket

  • Maybe, just maybe, a rib warmer. I like the way they look on, so I should probably try one.

  • The Stonington Shetland Shawl. Maybe in some handspun lace.

  • Hand to Hand Aran

We move now to "Knitting Around", first published in 1989. I have no problem skipping the sock patterns. While they may be beautiful and interesting, I already have my hands full with great sock patterns. I've already made one of the fair-isle yoke sweaters from this book, so I'll skip that one.

  • Fair Isle, circular yoke sweater with the henley neck.

  • The garter stitch moebius. I'd rather play with Cat Bohrdi's version, but I'll make this one once out of some luxurious handspun just because it sounds easy and fun.

  • Moebius Jacket. This one has always appealed to me. Shoot! There was some Noro Iro yarn I saw last night. There was only 5 skeins. I couldn't figure out how I could do anything interesting with just 5 skeins. I wonder if I could make this vest from it?

  • Bog Jacket. This one seems very flattering when you include the waist shaping

  • A Three & One Fair Isle cardigan in sage green, olive green, cream, pale lavendar--better instructions are in Opinionated Knitter.

  • Pi Are Square shawl.

  • Norwegian Pullover with all the lovely lice--but probably as a cardigan.

  • Hooded Aran Coat--just the thing a girl needs in southern California. Great pictures and some notes from Meg in Opinionated Knitter

And on to my favorite picture book, Opinionated Knitter, which is really the collection of her newsletters.

  • Scandinavian Ski Sweater--but not right away. It is too warm here to really enjoy this sweater.

  • Classic Brooks Sweater--I think this is just the saddle shoulder, but the photographs in this book are lovely.

  • Norwegian Sweater again, but with a different stranded pattern that I particularly like. It could look very modern with the right color combinations.

  • Circular Aran as shown in Page 38 in a soft cream wool with bobbles down the center front. I love how this sweater has great vertical lines.

  • Some of the hats look fun, but hats don't get worn much around here.

  • The Aran Cardigan as shown on page 68--this is very similar to the fishtrap, but V-necked. This is my favorite.

  • I could probably include the "kangaroo pouch" sweater for a simple boat neck ribbed sweater like the one on page 100.

  • Adult Suprise Jacket. I'm almost done with this one. I might do it again and make some changes using a nice bulky yarn.

I haven't even gotten to my issues of Spun Out and the variations in Meg's books. If I made one a month--an ambitious goal--it would take me 3 years to finish. I'm thinking that's not going to happen. I may actually have to, uh, prioritize. But it is nice to dream.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Token for Forgiveness: Socks for You

Bad bad bad blogger. Bad blogger. I'm not going to offer you any lame excuses for WHY I haven't been blogging. I'm just a bad blogger. But I have gifts to redeem myself. Several of you have asked for a PDF of my chart for the widdershin heel. One lovely reader even created a PDF file of my post for me. Do you have any idea how challenging it is to find a way to "host" pdfs for the blogger impaired? Rather than just give you the chart, I give you this, dear readers. Here's the short form of my basic sock pattern for you to use as you see fit (as long as it isn't to sell). It includes:

- My widdershin chart

- A table of foot lengths based on shoe sizes

- A gauge guesstimater to give you a starting point on how far to increase your toe.

It doesn't tell you which increase to use where. (I tend to use the e-loop everywhere except in the heel flap. I use M1 there. I don't know why.) It isn't particularly detailed. But it is short and you can print it and play with it.

K2Karen's Basic Sock Pattern

Sorry, this is in RTF. If someone wants to convert it to PDF for me (hint, hint), I'll be glad to change it. Here's the pdf of the original post and just the chart:

Original "Widdershin Revisited" post with chart

We'll consider this an experiment in file hosting. If it works, great. If not, I'll keep searching for a better way to host documents. If you hate the service, let me know and I'll see if I can find a better way. If you're a talented blogger and want to offer tips, I'll listen :) I'm also experimenting with Google Docs and Spreadsheets--could be an interesting tool.

(PS: The socks in the photograph were created from this basic pattern: I just used a lace pattern from an old sock pattern instead of stockinette. The possibilities are ENDLESS!!!)

OTN: A Kauni Cardigan (which I should be steeking) and some butterfly socks for my sockapalooza pal.