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September 30, 2006
debunking myths

I'm sure you've heard this before: "75% of knitters not only knit in the same yarn named in the pattern, they knit it in the SAME color as pictured in the book or magazine." I've heard it dozens of times. Naturally enough, with a varying, but invariably high, percentage named.

So how on earth do they collect this data? In theory, you could watch sales of a specific yarn after a pattern is published that uses that yarn AND track the cited yarn versus other colors. But for how long? For the two months until the next issue comes out? One year? Until the book goes out of print, during which time perhaps dozens more patterns using that yarn have come out?

I could also see gathering anecdotal evidence from yarn shop owners, "How often, would you say, do people knit things in the color shown in the pattern?" But I think this is inevitably skewed. Knitters who know what they want will just march in and get what they need. Knitters who need guidance will show the pattern to the yarn shop owner and get advice. The fact that they are less familiar with the yarns available and what they MIGHT use in a pattern, is, I would argue, clearly related to their likelihood to make a conservative choice.

Another by-the-wayside point: The color of yarn chosen by the designer had to do with trends and color availability in general. Maybe it's one of two "good" colors in that yarn. Perhaps robin's egg blue is what's hot this year. But many of the same things that made the designer choose that color will inform the knitters as well.


So, someone, please tell me where these statistics come from! Or, failing that, I propose an empirical test. We track a pattern, say published in Knitty, and the yarns used to knit it. I can't quite conceive of a way to make this a blind study, but when I look around at all the wonderfully various Clapotis (Clapoti? Clafoutis?) out there, I just think knitters are being sold short on their creativity and ability to make choices for themselves.

Either that or I can inflict my will on people more easily than I imagined :)

05:56 PM
September 29, 2006
reflection

Question 1 (from new student in my knitting class): "What do you usually knit?"
Me: "Swatches."

Question 2 (from neighbors, etc.) "What will you do now that the girls are both in school?"
Me: "I'm writing a book."

Yes, I think the time has come that I can finally spill the big news -- over the next 8 months I will be writing a book -- Knitting Patterns for Dummies! The book will contain nearly 50 patterns and lots of explanations of both how and why you knit things the way you do. So while it isn't a how-to knit book (Knitting for Dummies, written by Pam Allen, already covers that nicely.) I hope it will make knitting -- and being a more adventurous knitter -- easier.

How will I write a 312 page book in 8 months? The only answer was really "divide and conquer" and though there are a number of ways to do that, I've decided to take on all the writing and designing, but do as little of the actual knitting as possible. I will be hiring on stunt knitters scattered across North America to knit the samples while I scribble and type and swatch.

06:32 AM
September 28, 2006
heirlooms

So I was looking today at my blog and thinking about knitting blogs in general and waxing nostalgic over the last, umm, four and a half years. My first post was March 25, 2002. I certainly haven't posted with regularity during that time, but, wow, that's a long time! Older than Knitty.

And, the root of my nostalgia, the knit bloggers web ring, started that same month, March 2002. My membership has lapsed, hopelessly out of date, but I will note, for the sake of nostalgia, that my original number was 35 in the webring, assigned, as I recall, by a lottery, as the early numbers are not chronological. And in one of those rocking chair "I remember when..." moments, I remember when one could -- and did -- surf the entire ring each day.

Vive les knitblogs!

06:55 AM
September 21, 2006
on dyeing

So Mary-Kay came by on Monday to dye some roving with me. Now, Mary-Kay has an enthusiasm and ability to jump into things with both feet that is aweing. She started knitting a year ago, I think. One year. In the meantime, she has taken up dyeing, spinning, purchased whole dirty fleeces from Australia... and of course, the knitting. The sad thing (for us) is that I just heard that her house sold, so she'll really be moving to Denver and sooner than later. It's always better when people are hypothetically moving, but this sort of looks like it seals the deal. Even more than preordering your season's ski pass.


Mary-Kay at work. You'll have to go over to her blog to see the results.


A necklace of birthstones my Mom gave me: Zoe's topaz, Eleanor's garnet, mine is aquamarine and Leo is peridot. Anyway, I was wearing it and seized upon it for inspiration. Below it the resulting dye job.


I have to say that I like the gem inspired piece. On the second one (which was really the first one chronologically)I happily daubed and ladled the dye around, seemingly with purpose, but the minute I looked at it after it came out of the microwave, I wondered how those colors came out of my hands... or more importantly out of my brain. I lean very heavily toward warm colors. I have no idea what possessed me to put that blue in there... contrast, maybe? And the yellow is a very sharp and not-so-warm yellow. Actually the word that jumped to the top of my brain is "grell".

Every once in a while a German word is the one that comes to me... I was an exchange student in high school and at the time was reasonably fluent -- reasonably fluent for a 17 year old, which means if you want to talk about rock bands, teenage boys or late 80's pop culture, I can maybe hold my own. Grell I associate with flourescent lighting in train tunnels and other things that set your teeth on edge. The online translator says it means "harsh".

Still, I think it may turn out interesting spun up. I am a firm believer that you should occasionally try things you don't think you like or are not attracted to. How can I make this ugly yarn into something beautiful? What could I juxtapose with it to bring out what is good? Such exercises I think can really spur your creativity in new directions. And just as yarn on the skein is often surprisingly different knit up, I think the roving may be surprisingly different once it's spun into yarn.

07:42 AM
September 14, 2006
entomology

i'm having a bug phase.

06:54 AM
September 12, 2006
guessing game

06:57 AM
coffee table yarn

I couldn't wait to wash and whack my new yarn, wait for it to dry, and knit it. Indeed, I rolled it into a ball and dreamed of various things I could do with it. I consulted Barbara Walker. I swatched a little.

And then I decided that, at least for now, it belongs only in that yarn state of purest potential -- the hank. I can see everything that's going on in the yarn; it's integrity hasn't been diminished by the act of knitting it into the wrong thing. So I ripped out my swatch, unwound the ball, and put it back into it's ideal state.

06:39 AM
heirlooms

So I was looking today at my blog and thinking about knitting blogs in general and waxing nostalgic over the last, umm, four and a half years. My first post was March 25, 2002. I certainly haven't posted with regularity during that time, but, wow, that's a long time! Older than Knitty.

And, the root of my nostalgia, the knit bloggers web ring, started that same month, March 2002. My membership has lapsed, hopelessly out of date, but I will note, for the sake of nostalgia, that my original number was 35 in the webring, assigned, as I recall, by a lottery, as the early numbers are not chronological. And in one of those rocking chair "I remember when..." moments, I remember when one could -- and did -- surf the entire ring each day.

Vive les knitblogs!

06:20 AM
September 10, 2006
it's a little kinky

07:15 AM
September 9, 2006
spinning

my first hand spun yarn -- wool dyed by shannon okey in her dishwasher. spun on a spindle.

09:41 PM
September 8, 2006
the spider and I

05:13 PM
September 5, 2006
more on the first day

I went through the archive to find pictures of Zoe's first day of kindergarten. Wow. You'll remember that Zoe started kindergarten very young -- she didn't turn five until the end of November. Eleanor will turn six this January. My "babies" have grown up so much!

11:20 AM
first day of school

It's Eleanor's first day of kindergarten and Zoe's first day of 4th grade.

The end of some things; the beginning of many others.

11:08 AM