Those who have known me for any length of time know that since about 2006, knitting has been a huge part of my self-identity and a regular recharging activity for me in between building my business, doing social justice work, and writing and playing video games. Knitting after the Trumpocalypse Since the Trumpocalypse of November 8, 2016, I can’t knit. I can try, but ten minutes or so in, I’m done. I’m prone to self-reflection, so I’ve thought about this a lot. I don’t have the words for the feeling I get when I think about knitting, but “dread” comes close. And I’m not sure I understand why. Knitting has a long history of being a radical act. Women (predominantly) who knit have been at the forefront of women’s rights movements, civil rights movements, and other radical movements. So I should be more motivated, not less, right? To be (overly) fair to Trump, it’s not like he grabbed my knitting. He didn’t. And Trump isn’t the only factor. But his election definitely broke the camel’s back. I look at the socks I’ve been frogging and re-knitting since summer and shake my head. The gift blanket that was supposed to be
After all my gift knitting this year (sorry I didn’t blog it), I had a ton of extra yarn to use up, so I thought I’d make a blanket. You know, a cozy little lap blanket. And I decided I’d use the entrelac technique, a technique I had only used before on the pockets for a scarf I made for my son’s girlfriend. Then I decided that I really need a new bedspread. Because, reasons. So I had a couple of cancellations at work, and spent a couple of hours adapting a basic entrelac pattern to get what I want, which is large squares made out of two joined colors, with color shifts of one color (through six shifts) every row of blocks, and the other color (through four colors) every four rows of blocks.
My sister in law Ann lives in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, China, where she teaches English at a University. Baotau is mountainous and extremely cold in the winter, so when she comes home in the summer, I always try to knit one thing she can take back with her and use. Last year it was a pair of houndstooth fingerless gloves (pattern here, which I adapted for three colors, with green and red repeating on a gray background). This year I decided to make a houndstooth scarf to go with it. Because Baotau is really, really cold, I made the scarf double knit, out of a wool and silk blend from KnitPicks called Gloss DK. If you are on a budget, Lion Brand Wool Ease (bonus: it’s washable!) is a perfectly acceptable substitute. The Scarlet color in the original has been discontinued by Knitpicks. This was not an easy project. It was in some ways the hardest I have ever done. This is the sort of project that benefits from stitch markers and some way to count rows, as the most common mistake I made was to knit one too many row of the pattern, skip a row, or get
It’s gift knitting season again, especially for those of us who never start early enough (raise your hand if you have far more gifts in mind than you can possibly knit before the end of the year). Big Bang Theory had a recent episode that centered around Leonard wearing a sweater his grandmother had knitted him that was so itchy that he was literally covered in red welts by the time he took it off. It was horrible, and too many of us have had that experience. Thank goodness it was fiction. As a knitter, I know that episode only worked because the premise was that Leonard had found the sweater in a box and it was at least a couple of decades old. You see, superwash wool (wool that has been treated so that it doesn’t shrink) has come a long way in the last twenty years.
Building Happiness Through Knitting? Everyone builds happiness in their lives in different ways, and of course your way is probably different from mine. However, some activities, once learned, have multiple benefits for building happiness. Knitting is one of those. Crochet is another and many of the reasons below apply to it as well. I learned to knit (badly, and only a bit), before I started kindergarten. I then dropped it for forty years and picked it up again in about 2007 or 2008. Why would a professional woman, a geek and a feminist take up a hobby so tied to traditional ‘women’s work’? Let me count the reasons: 13 Ways Knitting Contributes to Happiness When you are waiting for a doctor or some other professional, you can keep a knitting project in your bag so you always have something to do that doesn’t rely on electricity and sometimes leads to interesting conversations with strangers. Which would you rather do, knit something and get absorbed in doing it, or get aggravated because your doctor or hairdresser is behind schedule AGAIN? When you are ‘done’ knitting (truth is, you’re never done) you have something that you can wear or give away, usually
My ideal creative weekend: Wake up sometime around 9 am each day, after having cleaned the house (or having it cleaned) to spotlessness on Friday, and having all the laundry completely finished, too. Do 20 minutes of yoga. Eat a breakfast of homemade fruit smoothie and a coffee. Fill all my planters with planting mix and plant all my herbs/planter veggies. Cut out pattern pieces (same design) for four cute little summer tops. Knit about six inches of my sweater. Catch up on this season of Mad Men. Catch up on this season of Once Upon a Time. Read The Phantom of Pemberley by Regina Jeffers. Read The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi. Go to Hancock Fabrics (online because I don’t want to go to the store) and order some fabric for window quilts for my office. Actually work up the “pattern” for my window quilts including hardware and share it with y’all. Do all that nifty alteration work I’ve been planning to change boring old clothes into cool new clothes. Eat amazing foods in good quantities and not gain an ounce. Order more yarn from Alpaca Direct, because there is no such thing as ‘enough yarn’. Go for a Zombie,