Thursday, May 9, 2013

Telling Tog and Thel - Apart, Knit, And Together

I would like to bring to the sock knitters’ attention a remarkable resource and creative mind I have admired for years. Katherine Misegades and her elegant, small but densely packed booklet The Tongue River Farm Sock Collection is a gem. The designs are timeless, unquestionably unisex (there is an AWWWWwww factor of less than 2.3 on a scale of 10).

As proof of what I say, Meg Swanson to her credit at Schoolhouse Press, labors to preserve our knitting traditions, resources and good ideas with passion and an eye to the future. This booklet, IMHO, is a knitting treasure from the redoubtable Schoolhouse Press catalogue.

Ms. Misegades uses an achingly accurate and detailed graphic designer’s eye to creat charts I wish others were held in comparison. I have learned how to visualize socks in 3D from her charts. However, written techniques with graphic markers are mere centimeters from the chart, giving you a one page tutorial for each new idea. Brilliant!
In addition, her laborious and artful graphs are designed to use…(gasp!) Icelandic Sheep’s wool in their natural, undyed colors, sport weight.
When spun together, the thel, or undercoat, is as soft as cashmere. The tog, or guard hairs in the fleece, are as tough as nylon. Tog can be used as warp thread on a loom…withstanding unbelievable stress, friction and wear. 
Combined together, these fibres makes socks that can oulast the wearer in life. Several collections in Reykjavyk have garments that have been used by a family for generations…not held in a drawer taken out on solar eclipses…worn, repaired and worn again. Great stuff.
Icelandic sheep are gaining popularity in the US as an endangered, forgotten, special breed just for sock yarn addicts such as us!
I highly recommend this booklet…with one priviso…if small gauge needles and two-handed stranded knitting gives you apoplectic symptoms, go no further. For those not so burdened…the patterns are sublime.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cissexual Assumptions By Women

I yearn for more summer-weight knitting projects.

I have gathered a few here, kicking fiber and collecting names.

Got my eye open for others, but warm reality kicks in. I see a techniques book coming out of this…LOL

These are on Ravelry - know to some, unknown to others. I will start looking to yarn manufacturers' sites for more patterns. Then I will list some yarns to consider.

  • Slick Silk by Michael Cooper 
  • Summer Cotton Henly by Drew Emborsky 
  • Simple Summer Tweed Top Down V-Neck by Heidi Kirrmaier
  • Sweetheart Shorts by Knit Picks Design Team 
  • Tweed Polo by Dawn Leeseman 
  • Mike’s Easy-Fit Pullover by Joan McGowan-Michael 
  • Gilgo Pullover by Martha Ann Hoffurann 
  • November10 by ANKESTRICK 
  • Rotation by ANKESTRICK 
  • Men’s Mesh Shorts 2 by Sandi Hagan 
  • Turnstone Pullover by Alexis Winslow 
  • Men’s Swimsuit by Dale Peterson 
  • Trailblazer by Lisa Richardson 
  • Ola Jacket by MillaMia Sweden 

If you leave out the wasp-waist shaping and substitute Chest to Waist shaping, ignore the word bust and substitute chest, shorten the sleeves, ignore the female tag and look for unisex, or get a good book on Knitting Stitches and get EZ’s Knitters Almanac or one of Barbara Walkers Encyclopedias and Knitting From the Top Down, your summer knitting is guaranteed.

 In support of this notion, learn to do a gauge swatch, convert the dimensions of your swatch to the designers’ dimensions, and knit ANYTHING in silk, linen, hemp, cotton, viscose, bast, pineapple fiber, or the latest yarn made from the dregs of winemaking…LOL. Go visit Habu’s studio or website and get busy.

Globally-warmed, summer-weight yarns are HOT right now, so manufacturers are scrambling to adjust, but don’t count on men's patterns increasing in number.

Keep your filthy money,! (Larry's silliest, dressed-in-drag-comeback to Moe, "Don't you call me a You-You!" Years wasted in my youth, sigh!)

If you wait for a publisher to discover your interest, now, after thirty years of “rediscovery”, you ain’t gonna be found.

Publishers make money selling to women. Make your garments from the female-targeted designs that appeal to you, and just…change “em. Become your own designer.

 As in all things out there, cissexual assumption should be avoided in knitting, as well.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Just When You Thought You Had Heard It All

I will be performing in a new work on April 19th in NYC. Composer Jobina Tinnemans' Killing Time for knitters and ensemble (World Premiere MATA commission).
Known for her work with concrete sounds, Dutch-Welsh composer Jobina Tinnemans follows the lead of the late Cornelius Cardew incorporating nonmusicians into a new music context. Her MATA commission, a concerto grosso for solo knitters, instrumental ensemble and a ripieno orchestra of knitters, visualizes the passage of time through its trace in fibre.

MATA was founded by Philip Glass, Eleonor Sandresky, and Lisa Bielawa in 1996. MATA presents a week-long festival of music by composers under age forty each spring in New York City.

The composer uses electronic pickups and enhanced sound processing to create a performance piece that is based on the actual movement, contact, fiber passage and growth of a knitted object using conductivity sensors to create work accompanied by musicians on traditional musical instruments.

The show will be at Roulette in Brooklyn, a theater near BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), that presents new works by contemporay composers, performers and musicians.

 I will be knitting 009 Fisherman Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky on 10.5 needles, basso profundo. How butch is that? 

Young Turks Concert, Killing Time Perfomance.

My Next Project

I no longer assume that the social knitting sites like Ravelry have the best or largest selection of patterns or ideas. The trend is moving against them.
Increasingly, websites for the manufacturers are devoting memory space on their servers for third-party designs using their yarn. Why, you may ask?

  • Hiring in-house designers is expensive and difficult to market directly. 
  • Social sites will never stop jumping to the latest glittering generality. 
  • The number of them grows daily, fracturing the number of eyes for advertisers, making lots of information and little knowledge, and narrowing the audience for each. 
  • Independents are discovering how their business is truly "dependent" on fickle and manipulated Google heuristics, or buried in so called "maker direct marketer" sites, like Etsy. 
  • Online reputations can be created and destroyed in one or two clicks by benevolent or malicious people. 

 The manufacturers are quickly discovering how to reliably direct traffic to their yarn with little directing you to a designer.

Like pie crusts, these linkages are easily made, and easily broken, if needed. Have will probably find tons of ideas and patterns not on knitting social sites.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Cossacks Are Coming! The Cossacks Are Coming!

In my knitting re-enactments of exciting but destructive events in history, I am hard at work uncovering under-explored hand-knit garments and accoutrements of victors and victims.

My latest...the Steppes of Asia. Mongol patterns are so hard to find! 

Vicki Square's Folk Hats book is a well-developed resource...I will be dipping into it periodically for your entertainment, elevation and edification...oh, yeah...and to keep my head warm with another signature hat.

I have now 14 hats...worn from my days as an events producer.

"Why so?", you may ask. Cuz, when out-of-doors at a mile-long parade, or upon acres of fields devoted to a temporary festival or crafts fair, inevitably someone arrives, looking for the troublemaking King Asparagus of the event.

Rather than respond with a shrug and a doleful "Oh, he's out-of-season.", the responder would helpfully offer, "Look for the guy with the hat!"

 Thanks to John F. Kennedy, no one wore hats anymore. But I did...and now, am found!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Love That Dare Not Speak It's Name

Imagine, if you will, the case of the sick souls who have to hide their secret passions from the light of ordinary examination. These twisted, bent practitioners of activities so "abnormal" they shun the gaze of others, must be tortured with The Love That Dare Not Speak It's Name.

Their "love" so offensive to others, they live as marginalized outsiders, blending into the background, keeping their feelings hidden, passive and unspoken...except to their secret admirers. In order to hide their passions, they surround themselves with "normals" who act as barriers and normalizers for those unknowing...yet can act as heralds for those who are inflamed with this shared desire.

Yet, they pay taxes, rear children, have jobs, live in our communities and make great and small contributions to the public weal.

Are these serial killers? Child molesters? Ponzi schemers? No, Dear Reader...they are us.

Male knitters, crocheters, textile artisans, craftsmen, artists.

If memory serves me, in Sally Melville's book The Purl Stitch, there are several copy inches invested entreating male knitters to come out, be seen and be part of the community. That Sally...a true Rag Hag for us male knitters.

The problem working against this poor woman's entreaty is that advertisers drive fibers needing attention see women as their audience. After all, we men have so little economic power here, don't we? Or not.

I believe we have enormous power and influence. I'd love to test it. A male knitters magazine? Not required, but a few more pages added to address my interests would be appreciated.

I know. I know. A new shrug for Tyffany-Amber made from the latest fibre derived from South African grass clipping and the final, final sludge of wine-making will sell miles of yarn. The latest baby accessory with an AWWWWWW factor of 7.6 sells lots of lint. But these men...don't think they buy anything. Or do we?

“There are those that do and those that don’t”
“Those that will and those that won’t”

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Summer, tomatoes, new work

This Fall, the opening of the new Textie Arts Center space in Manhattan gives me a new opportunity. Despite some remaining issues with my arthritis, I will be teaching a course in seamless top-down garments. I have a ton of material to sift through, but I love being a resource to a new group of students.

I love seeing the light bulbs over their heads go on when they "see" a new idea or can envision something they did not know before. That moment is pure energy for me and spur me on to try new things.

In addition, I discovered a web site devoted to new materials for artists, inventors and designers, I want to try knitting with the stainless steel yarn they have sourced. It sounds like great stuff.