Sunday, February 21, 2010

Why do I knit? An Existential Inquiry

Lately I've been downloading patterns for knitted toys, most recently this, pictured above, last night: instructions from Bernat Yarns to make a "Topsy Turvy Doll, " which is somewhat like Siamese twins except usually only one is visible at a time. (For your very own copy, click on this link: )

Immediately I mentally started designing variations on Topsy-Turvy--e.g. Ego and Id dolls, Jane Eyre/Bertha Mason, Jekyll/Hyde, Estella/Miss Havisham, etc. The literary themes prompted by this contemplation reminded me that I own a book called Knitted Historical Figures by Jane Messent (Search Press, 1992), including patterns for biblical personages, Queen Elizabeth I, Mme. de Pompadour, and a Gibson Girl. I've never been tempted to make any of these because a lot of the highly labor-intensive knitting is done on scarily super-small needles, but the patterns are quite interesting to consider, as they include words like "oddments," "sprig," "waistcoat," "leg o' mutton," and "crochet hook."

But I digress.

The disturbing fact is that I have become somewhat obsessed with knitting patterns for non-wearable items. I just purchased Susan B. Anderson's book Itty-Bitty Toys (Artisan, 2009) which also features designs for a number of reversible toys à la the Topsy-Turvy doll, I follow the Fuzzy Mitten blog ( filled with insanely cute knitted animals, and I recently downloaded patterns for knitting Percy the Pigeon, and a small acorn.

In my blissfully few idle moments, I wonder: what is going on? With me, I mean.

Frankly, I have no idea. If any one of my gentle readers has a theory, please suggest. My children are full-fledged adults, unmarried, with no families in the offing (that I know about), so I'm definitely not thinking about future grandchildren.

Meanwhile, I must draw your attention yet again to the extraordinary design work of Deborah Newton. Her pattern for an ingeniously-knitted "Tissue Cardigan" is in the just-released issue of Interweave Knits Magazine (Spring 2010, pp. 97-99), and the upcoming Vogue Knitting (Spring/Summer 2010) features her amazing back-buttoned sweater that is positively swoon-inducing!

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