Thursday, February 22, 2007

Gather Ye Rosebud

Once upon a time when the world was young and I was a college student, I had the luxury (which I did not, then, appreciate) of spending hours lying about discussing topics of High Import with my classmates. Imagine Plato's Symposium, only instead of growing drunk on wine we were getting buzzed on chocolate chip cookie dough.

One of my pet themes was whether one can impose a hierarchy of values on the world of art. For example, was it valid to declare, as the French academics did, that history painting was the pinnacle of achievement, with other genres (still life, portraiture, etc.) ranked below. At times I was known to become quite heated about this and say "ergo"-and even, when I'd had too a little too much dough, "quod erat demonstrandum."

(Heh heh. Crazy days. Remind me to tell you some time about the great Schopenhauer Kerfuffle of 1991. Man, I wonder how we didn't all wind up with police records?)

Anyway, without fail I was on the side of those who felt the creation of an absolute hierarchy of either individual works of art, or of media (i.e., oil painting is "higher" than watercolor) was silly. I'm still of the opinion that an artwork itself has no inherent value; it acquires it in the mind of the beholder. The Mona Lisa, for example, is nothing but mineral pigments when there's nobody standing there looking at it.

I feel the same way when it comes to shoving needlework techniques into a caste system. For example, there are those-and they are entitled to their opinion-who hold that knitting is somehow superior to crochet. I don't happen to agree. I think it's not the technique, it's what you do with it. Knitting snobs would do well to remember that nice yarn and two needles do not always result in a work of art...or have you forgotten You Knit What?

By the same token, crochet can be used to create an object so hideous that just looking at it takes seven years off your lifespan, or it can be used to make the rather spectacular filet tablecloths I bought in Greece last summer.

But.

I must admit to certain prejudices. For example, when I was child every household had at least one revolting zig-zag crocheted afghan over the back of the sofa. I hated them. Hated them so much that I can't even stand the Shetland lace "feather-and-fan" pattern because it makes me think of those afghans.

Ditto granny squares. I know, I know. They're hip right now, they're funky, they're vintage. People just love them. They're on the runway, they're in the books, everyone's making them, blah blah blah. I look at them and have unfortunate flashbacks to sitting around watching Lawrence Welk and eating stale cookies while the grown-ups discussed their gall bladders.

However, like a good Buddhist I do my darnedest to avoid Fixed Viewpoints and, on occasion, even my congenital aversion to certain yarn-based atrocities can be overcome.

John Brinegar, over at Yarn Ball Boogie, has just done it. He's come up with a granny-square scarf with which I am in love, to the extent that I may lie in wait outside his door so that I can conk him over the noggin with my copy of Five Little Peppers and How They Grew and steal it.

If you've seen John's work, you know he's good at pushing the boundaries enough to make you look twice at things you've seen so often they're easy to overlook. Rosebud is definitely a pattern like that. I love the metal connecting rings, and I love subtle shifts in color.

It makes me...it makes me wish I could...crochet...granny squares...

Excuse me, please. The room is starting to spin. I think I need some cookie dough.

69 comments:

Sravana said...

Well, that would NOT be your Gramma's granny square.

Totally hip! Now, crochet it in different colors of leather, and you have just the thing for an evening out with the BEARS.

:::wink, wink, nudge, nudge:::

Sravana, who knows about that from reading joe.my.god

marie in florida said...

get ready My Love, i'll be right over and you will spend the night learning. Crochet is my first love. we can't let Delores see the hook though, it might give her flashbacks.

Sean said...

I've always loved Granny Squares! Loved 'em before they were hip and will love them after they've been re-catagorized as passé. Now I'm off to see what you're talking about!

Carol said...

I know exactly what you want to do with those metal connecting rings, you hussy.

And all I have to say is:

Can I watch?

Knit Mongrel said...

You need some of that funny cookie dough. You know.

I was reading a story once (ok, ok - it was in the Uncle John's Bathroom Reader) about some fancy art museum somewhere. The folks showed up in the morning to find a new piece of art hanging on the wall, all framed and everything. They loved it - it was called "genius", and was eventually sold for $10,000.

Then the punchline - it was a schematic of the men's room drawn by the janitor. It was framed and hung in the museum as a joke.

So that elicited a slight giggle outta me, but the end of the story is what really soiled my knickers - the buyer of the drawing sued and was not only given his money back but was paid extra for damages.

I'm sorry. So it was art yesterday? But not today? People piss me off.

Good luck with the granny squares. As long as you don't start sending children checks for $10 on their birthdays you're probably safe.

Marie said...

Okay, I too use to pig out with my friends on cookie dough, but we were much more lowbrow - we used to watch "The Breakfast Club" or "Harold and Maude" instead of discussing things of great import (it was high school, but I'm not sure we did much better in high school!)

Marie said...

d'oh! I meant to say:
I'm not sure we did much better in college!
Oy, it just goes to show I shouldn't blog when I'm tired - or maybe I just need some cookie dough to pick me up!

April said...

Time for a trip to WalMart to pick up some of that nice Red Heart yarn!

Mary K. in Rockport said...

"The Five Little Peppers!" Oh, how I loved that book when I was quite young; they were so..so spunky! I picked it up as an adult and discovered that the Peppers were actually unremittingly smarmy. Quel disappointment.

Carson said...

oh dear, that's not a good flashback (i'm not sure exactly who lawrence welk is, but i get the idea)

Paper Tiger said...

Ceci n'est pas un Granny Square...

hugs said...

metal hooks!

janna said...

I like granny squares BECAUSE they remind me of my grandma. But they've got to have a lot of black in them, because Grandma always used lots of black (most likely acrylic) yarn in hers.....

Suzanne said...

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew! I thought I was the only one who remembered that book! Holy cats, Franklin!

Mel said...

Oy, the metal! So bondage-y that it freaks me out.

anne marie in philly said...

"When Harry rolled over to me after work, held up an assemblage of black leather and chrome, and said, "Can you settle a bet? Me and the guys are trying to guess how you're supposed to wear this..."

how is harry going to react after he sees rosebud? (more winkwinknudgenudge)

I am with suzanne; the five little peppers brought flashbacks (not not good ones) - ditto lawrence welk.

"harold and maude" - marie, it's one of my all-time favorites.

is it time for cookie dough yet?

Barb B. said...

I understand perfectly your feeling about granny squares. But they give me that warm fuzzy feeling. It's the memories and the associations. Being sick when I was a kid, and being coddled, wrapped up in one on the couch. Milk and honey, hugs from my Pop...all that good stuff. My kids, and the nieces and nephews, all say, you just can't be sick without one of Granny's afghans to snuggle up in.

Mom said...

I don't think you ever said anything about not liking these things when you were younger. I know that you used to wrap-up in one when you got cold. I know one thing for sure we never watched Lawrence Welk (I disliked that show). Maybe you watched it with your grandmother.

Bridget said...

My only association with granny squares was a vest made of them that some well-meaning church lady gave me as a gift the year that my father died. My mother said, "Oh good God, we're not even giving that to Goodwill!"

The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew - I read another reference to it the other day, hadn't otherwise thought of it in about 30 years ... they were no Bobbsey Twins, though ...

Mary Lynn said...

I can teach you Granny Squares. The advantage to projects like this is that they can be relatively quick and you can do a major de-stashing. My Mom and I made layettes for a NIC Unit of a local hospital and used baby colors and granny squares for the baby afghans. They were lovely, soft and totally washable (LOL).

On the other hand, when I was a child, I never knew we had a granny square afghan. Until we had a fire and the afghan was destroyed. My Mom sobbed. She hated the damn thing but it was the ONLY thing she had that her Mom had made. It is probably why she taught me how to dow them and why we made them for the hospital.

Julie said...

I look at them [granny squares] and have unfortunate flashbacks to sitting around watching Lawrence Welk and eating stale cookies while the grown-ups discussed their gall bladders.

We shared the same childhood! That brings back a strong memory of unnaturally pink cookies. Where do you stand on quilling?

Sheepish Annie said...

Yup...art is about reactions and not where it fits in the hierarchy. If something resonates then the artist hit the mark, at least with that particular pair of eyeballs.

The last project that resonated for me was a simple crocheted scarf made from Lorna's Laces. Although I did send a few die-hard sock knitters into cardiac arrest and intense therapy for having done so...

=Tamar said...

It isn't the zigzag, it's the awful colors that made those afghans tacky. Imagine one with those subtle shifts in color, done in that fine textured top-quality yarn, with occasional metal rings almost-randomly placed, or in a design that only shows if you deliberately spread it out.

"Rosebud": Are you sure it isn't just the model? Imagine if the squares were tiny, tiny filet crochet, perhaps using designs from those Greek tablecloths.

The Peppers were much better than the B*bbs*y (identical fraternal) Tw*ns.

Debbie said...

Yesssssss, come, my pet. Come over to the granny side.

Actually, granny squares are the perfect way to combine colors and watch them play together. Just promise me you'll stop before you end up wearing a pantsuit made of them, otherwise you know what has to happen . . .

junior_goddess said...

Not seeing the passion, but whatever. I liked the jump rings as links.

Check out http://www.melodysarts.com/index.html

SHE makes me want to pick up the hook.

Lizbon said...

Heh, I think I had the same college experience you had, albeit at a less schmancy institution. And I pine for it now. Our own Kerfuffle had to do with Schroedinger's Cat, I believe. But what's a Sch among friends?

Couldn't agree more regarding: a) usual reaction to granny squares, and b) Rosebud. When I saw it yesterday, I thought, Whoa. And the hot model didn't hurt either.

Oh, the Five Little Peppers; it's like the junior version of Little Women. Thanks for the double time-travel in one fell post. You must be packing a whole crate of madeleines.

knitnzu said...

Rosebud IS a good looking granny square item, especially with those metal links! (I have no idea how to crochet more than a chain). Or maybe it's the wonderful dark colors on that wonderful dark model that's getting to you? You want something to dip your cookie dough in? Melt a tbs or 2 of butter. Take it off the burner and toss in some choc chips, stir it up. It's also good on ice cream if you like hardish fudgy sauces.

pacalaga said...

OMG, now I know why I dislike feather and fan so much! YAAAAAHHHHH.

Jax said...

Oh, my, Lizbon is right--there's something to that Sch- thing! In my college days, I knew a guy with a pet snake named Schleiermacher. But I digress...

Forget the Peppers. A hardback copy of Little Women is far more effective. You get better leverage if you slip the book into the case alongside the pillow before swinging. Don't ask me how I know.

roggey said...

Hated them so much that I can't even stand the Shetland lace "feather-and-fan" pattern because it makes me think of those afghans.

A-fucking-men!

And crochet? It ain't no big thing, love. I've started it and I rather like it for those things that drive me batshit in knitting (lace - ach mein gott! is that crazy-making for me).

Go on, go get a hook and try it out....

Ellen said...

I feel your pain, Franklin. Our feather and fans were all crocheted in avocado, orange, and harvest gold.

Still gives me nightmares.

mbirn said...

You need to check out the blog Yarnstorm. She's been working on the most fabulous Wavy Afghans that will totally make you change your mind about the media - it changed my mind. Here's the link:

http://yarnstorm.blogs.com/knitblog/crochet/index.html

You need to check out her blog anyways, because she the some of the best photos of any knit blogger. And she discusses a huge range of design, art, and domesticity topics, all in her droll British way.

Holly Bernice Cox said...

That is different and very simple yet who would have thought of those link .That Noro vest would have Mum's head spinning too.It looks like "Siler Thaw" and she has a bag of that colour It looks like I might get a tank.

Kristen said...

Well I'll be damned! I never thought I'd see a granny square suitable for an outing to a leather bar!

Steve in Harbor City, CA said...

...as my other half and I slowly slip into the "mid-life-crisis" aka 50ish (plus or minus) age...we actually now watch Lawrence Welk (well obviously reruns ;-) at dinner time on Sunday evenings...the show now brings back old memories, mostly fond, with the parents, as we contemplate having no parents.

My, how times change.

...you have a wonderful site Franklin...I think Buddha would approve.

PICAdrienne said...

You are mixing my grandparents, my Mom's side had Five Little Peppers and How they Grew (and a couple of more, which I now possess) and my Dad's parents watched Lawrence Welk, and had the granny squares and the zig zag afghans. Although, I can't say it was gall bladders being discussed, it was the "Itus" brothers, Arthur and Burs.

(In college we were discussing The Dhamapada and drinking wine.)

Anonymous said...

It's red. It's made from granny squares. I've a feeling that once it's taken out into the sunlight, it's going to look exactly like your granny's granny squares.

Kit said...

I came to terms with my dislike for crochet, and admit to why I have it: Crocheting is harder than knitting. Knitting has an anchor, crocheting is off in space. I can't do it, so I don't like it. Kind of like ice skating.

New Jersey Laura said...

Love to knit, but love crochet, too. I have some crocheted tablecloths and bedspreads that are to die for. Who would do that with thread today (and no ott light, either!)? Not me!

Cassie said...

Kit, I'm in the same boat with knitting. I keep meaning to learn, but I don't have the time, and if I want to spend hours playing with yarn, I'd rather have it end in a scarf or something. Crocheting makes sense to me, I'm quick at it, and while it uses more yarn, it's... it makes sense to me. Make a loop, pull yarn through it, pull yarn through that loop, and repeat until you have one big knot.

Anonymous said...

Funny but those crocheted chevrons imprinted on me an automatic dislike of feather and fan ... but, I am actually knitting a scarf in Fleece Artist Lady Godiva in that pattern and this I can take.

There are a lot of reasons why I still don't like granny squares -anything made of them seems to buckle at the joins. There's absolutely no illusion of "whole cloth," which somehow I aspire to.

That said, I really like crochet as well as knitting and I long to see someone make cool and stylish things using other motifs and techniques (not granny, not chevron) and *light*, very *light* yarn.

Five Little Peppers - huh, I had a copy of that book on my shelf all through my childhood and never could make myself read it. I'm not sure why.
Sherri

Debbie said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one that doesn't like Granny Squares. Didn't way back in the 70's and it is now worse. Augh when will the madness end?

Ilana said...

Show me the empirical scale for art and I'll apologize for calling Bono a pompous ass when he said that kids shouldn't be allowed to listen to "crappy" pop music. I've learned that there's just art, music, literature (and needlecrafts) that I like and that I don't like, no good or bad, right or wrong.

But wouldn't it be funny if there WERE an empirical scale for art, and at its pinnacle were paintings of kids with gigantic eyes, Britney Spears, harlequin romance novels and granny squares?

Musclemom said...

Admit it -- what really made the scarf for you was the model. I know that's what did it for me. At least what I could see of him.

Heather said...

That scarf rocks! The Five Little Peppers also rock. I still have one of those books from when I was a kid.

I tried crocheting this year after looking at The Happy Hooker in my LYS. I saw a sweater I had to have and the rest is history. The cool thing about crochet is that it goes so fast compared to knitting (for me anyway) Much more in the way of instant gratification. I hope you do learn to crochet, and if you do be sure to use a good hook, like an Addi or Clover that has a nice fat handle. It saves your hand from cramping into a gnarled little claw.

Heather

Heather said...

omg omg omg! I just saw the photo of the scarf model omg! I have never needed a cold shower after looking at a crochet pattern before now. Hot damn.

FiberQat said...

Honey, I'm coming to Chicago to do an intervention. Don't cross over to granny squares. Freeform crochet maybe or filet, but not granny squares. Remember how your toes would get stuck in the holes?

Then again, if he did it in black leather strips, then my interest would be piqued.

Schopenhauer? Try explaining Kierkegaard in one sentence.

Janice in GA said...

Huh. On my monitor the picture was so dark I couldn't tell what the little shiny bits were. Beads? LEDs? When folks started talking about rings, I downloaded the picture and did a little gamma correction on it.

Ah, I see them now.

Pattern and/or model don't do a thing for me, but that's ok. I'm pretty boring. :)

Rabbitch said...

I think the only way that pattern would do anything for me would be if the model were actually pierced with the jump rings.

But that's just me.

Lorna said...

Just popping in to say a very belated thanks for your help with the finishing of my bear. He's done, and I think he's lovely!

celerman said...

I knit not, but I was looking for a link to "panopticon" to put on my site.I found you and yours. Your explanation of the panopticon and its analogy to blogging was perfect, thanks

celerman

=Tamar said...

By the way, your link to String Or Nothing is way out of date; it goes to the old blog. So far there's still a link there to Wiseneedle, from which it is possible to get to S.o.N., but that may not last.

Bev in TN said...

Wll I still loathe granny squares and ripple afghans and the feather and fan lace patterns, but Thanks, once again, your words have made me recognize my dreadful wimpy tendencies to outwardly go with the flow (as in thinking of crochet as the lesser craft compared to knitting)while inwardly thinking it has great potential. Me, I love tunisian and filet crochet. BTW, for some reason I missed the Regicide scarf when you blogged it; Loving it now.

pdxWoman said...

Granny Squares? There were granny squares in those pictures? Are you sure?

DK said...

Honey, you throw one of granny's nasty zig-zag afghans on that man and it'd look passable. Presentation remains everything. I do like the jump rings, though, very clever. Have you checked out Nikol Lohr's Naughty Needles yet? She has some delightful uses for D-rings...

Kate

Puttermeister said...

The Laurence Welk reference in conjunction with those afghan visuals brought back too many visceral sense memories of the Anderson sisters and enforced "quality" entertainment that I had to spring out of lurk-dom to say, "Omigod. Me too."

Interestingly, our grandparents justified forcing us to watch LW with the assertion that it was "good" music, when my sister and I knew that, in fact, The Muppet Show was much higher in the Hierarchy of Artistic Achievements. Preferences and prejudices do seem to start at an early age, indeed.

Helen said...

Hullo,

I just heard a story that I'm sure stars Delores (though the teller didn't know her name). I'd like to share it with you so that you can check its veracity ... how can I email you....

Puttermeister said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anneonymousone said...

I'm with FiberQat; I crochet some, though not as much as I did before learning to knit. I have done my damnedest to never crochet something that terrorizes toes.

i believe you know said...

I have this memory of eating cookies and watching Lawrence Welk with you. I don't think gall bladders were discussed, though. It's a happy memory, anyway. Other than you, I may be the only person who thinks "cookies and milk" when mention is made of the French Quarter.

Carol said...

I barely noticed the scarf in his photo! But on second take, yes, it makes me want to do granny squares too.

linda in Waterloo said...

Right on topic re: the 'French'ranking art ,a book called, "The Judgement of Paris:
the Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism" by Ross King , was 1 of 3 finalists for the Charles Taylor prize in Toronto. I heard the author speak and it was amusing to hear his stories about Meissonier.

maryse said...

ok so i went and looked at the granny square scarf. and um ... i don't think you're reacting to the scarf. i know i'm not.

Mary Lynn said...

Well duh, after some of the comments, I had to go back and look at the pics. I must not have had my computer glasses on . . .

badmommy said...

Hi Franklin - I sent you an email about two weeks ago to the address on your franklinhabit.com website & having not heard from you am wondering if perhaps your spam filter ate it and I need to resend or send to an alternate address? Thanks for checking! Sue

Marie said...

Who made the cookie dough?

It was Heidigger and dialectic in my day. I read Mallarme and Beaudelaire in the original just to be different. Now when I see the young undergraduates, I just laugh because I know they know only two poems, red wine or no.

evelyn said...

Holy Mother of Pearl. That granny square link is smoking. I've never been a fan of granny squares either, but I do like the bookmark on the Martha of the Stewart website. I can't find the exact project (I know I printed out a copy and have it at home if someone is really interested I'll go find it), but here's a tutorial on how to create a granny square and you can see the bookmark on this page:
www.marthastewart.com/page.jhtml
?type=content&id=channel172176&
contentGroup=MSL&site=living&
rsc=ns2006_m4
Your blog is fabulous. Thanks so much for all the work you put into it.

Adele said...

That's the least horrible use of granny squares I've ever seen.

Sorry John & Franklin but I remain unconverted - the best part about the design is the seminaked model.

Liz said...

Oh, fuck. All these years I've been saying "quod erat demonstratum." I hide my head in shame.