Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Deborah Newton has done it again!

Knitters who swear by Deborah Newton's classic  Designing Knitwear, a reference so useful it's been in print since 1992, can now pre-order her latest fount of knitting wisdom, Finishing School, due out on October 4th from Sixth and Spring Books.

Lucky me, I've been devouring an advance copy, and can attest that

  • whether you use the book selectively, to trouble-shoot a problem or inform yourself about a particular aspect of knitwear post-production, or-
  • read it from cover to cover for both edification and enjoyment...

you will become ever-more sensitized to the nuances of fit and finish, and gain a wealth of practical advice for making the most of your knitted labors of love. This dual result springs from the book's main question:  How do you accomplish good finishing--and enjoy it?

I'm one who doesn't mind finishing projects, but I realize finishing's the bane of many knitters' existences. The other day, standing in line to pay for some LYS purchases, I noticed a display of business cards from people who specialize in FINISHING the knitted work of others. On the topic of unfinished knitting, more shall be written at a later date, but if enough knitters get their hands on Finishing School, there will be far fewer UFOs lurking about, and perhaps less to say.

Deborah's very own notions tin

I had the great good fortune to chat with Deborah recently, and asked her two questions.

SMW: The organization of the book takes the knitter from blocking--the beginning of the finishing process--through various stages, like seaming, edging, closures, etc. Within each chapter are sidebars of problem-specific tutorials and "cheat-sheets" that provide short cuts or tips about finishing. Is this the way you initially conceived the book? How did it develop in your mind?

DN: In a book like this, the organization pretty much takes care of itself.  The book completely reflects MY process--having done the finishing for as many sweaters as I have over the years...I have encountered almost every kind of situation possible. The book is TOTAL EXPERIENCE, no conjecture. I am expressing what works so well for me.

SMW: What do you want the book to do for knitters?

DN: My goal is to show knitters that there is a thought process, and a way to prepare, that make finishing less daunting, more approachable, and more rewarding in and of itself.

Gentle readers, one more thing: Deborah Newton will be at VK Live in LA next weekend, lecturing, workshopping, and book-signing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Swiftly, turning

My yarn swift doing its thing.
One of the greater pleasures of knitting is its unchanging technology. Needles, yarn, an umbrella swift (admittedly new-fangled, harking back to the 18th century), hands--essentially unaltered over time.

Next week is the autumn equinox.

Roving, hand-dyed by Neuroknitter, recently appeared in the garden.

As did this strange fruit.  Correctly identify it before September 22nd, and I'll send you my personal copy of  Woolly Thoughts:  How to Unlock Your Creative Genius, by Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Season of mists and melancholy

New England's at the verge of autumn, the season I love most for so many reasons, not the least of which is the pleasure of knitting wool when it isn't blazingly hot. We had a miserable summer in terms of high humidity and temperatures, followed by the destructive rain and winds of Hurricane Irene, and now Tropical Storm Lee, which seems to be providing an entire week of rain and gloom. Autumn is yet two weeks away, but already there are signs...tinged foliage, browned leaves in the driveway, migrating birds, cooler evenings, dusty blue and pink asters and burgeoning goldenrod. School is again in session and yellow school buses incessantly rumble down the road. Everything is moving on.

There is an elegiac feel in the environment, bred from the turning of the seasons, the messy weather and the pervasive bad news churned out by the media, by politics, by unemployment statistics, by the impending tenth anniversary of 9/11. The other day I visited a LYS in Westerly that's going out of business on the 15th of September. It is a decent little shop, and I wrote about it in this blog two years ago, but the downtrodden economy apparently delivered the coup de grace. Inside the shop knitters pawed through discounted yarns and notions, and the owner was putting on a brave face, yet it was impossible not to feel the sadness. I asked her what she would do next and she said, "Maybe I'll be a waitress! I love working with people....but I will also do something creative; I have to keep that alive."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cloudy, with a chance of healing

Dr. Monchik eyeballed my x-rays today and, pointing to the break said,  "You see how cloudy it is there?  That's good.  It means the bone's filling in and it's healing well."

Three more weeks in the boot. On Saturday, when we fly to Rochester, NY, to attend the wedding of two wonderful people, I will be wheelchaired from ticket counter to boarding gate to plane. But I wouldn't miss this event for anything!

Meanwhile, I have had so much more time to knit, now that I can't walk Miss Lola or stomp around in the garden.  Gentle readers, I'm sure you recall the second mystery of July's "What IS it?" blog post, yes? Several of you hazarded guesses...but alas, you were wrong. So now for the revelation:

The off-white cup on dpns would eventually become Bunny's head. This charming pattern is from Susan B. Anderson's Itty-Bitty Toys (Artisan Press, 2009). I modified it a bit, mainly because I hadn't enough off-white yarn for the entire body, so I gave Bunny a permanent sweater with another ball of Blue Sky Alpaca's "Worsted Cotton." The book features many adorable patterns for toys, and I plan to try a few more of them. Perhaps I'm entering my second childhood--hurray!