Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Little Comforts

This week, so far:
  • the financial world is in free fall,
  • the government of my country can't stop posturing and pontificating long enough to take effective action,
  • the media predicts that by Christmas we shall all be living in old shoeboxes awaiting the Apocalypse, and
  • yesterday when I picked up the long-neglected Wedding Ring Shawl to do a little work, I realized I'd skipped an entire row in the effing chart. Again.
At such a moment, pictures like this go a long way toward keeping me from running mad in the street.

Panopticon Hoodie

Fall has arrived in New England, and Abigail has inaugurated her Panopticon Hoodie (details are in this old entry if you want 'em). Some things are still moving right along, thank you very much. The trees are turning, I am knitting, my little niece is walking and talking and playing and making me happy I'm on the planet.

Panopticon Hoodie

I still look at those buttonholes with a twinge of pride. They weren't hard–I used this variation on Maggie Righetti's one-row method–but they were my first and buttonholes are one of those things in knitting that exude an air of difficultà.

In case you were practical and did not major in Art History whilst in college, difficultà is a term that is used to describe (among other things) the exaggerated, complex, often tortured postures and proportions that characterized (some would say, infected) art created in the Mannerist period that followed the High Renaissance.

Simply put, the Mannerists were a bunch of show-offs. They painted this kind of thing just to prove they could.

Mannerism

Madonna del Collo Lungo (Madonna with the Long Neck) by Parmigianino. Uffizi, Florence. Guess why they call her that.

Here's my off-the-cuff list of some things in knitting that count as difficultà. They're not necessarily difficult, but they look like they must have been. What else should be here?
  • Two-acre lace shawls worked in yarn spun from gnat's eyelashes.
  • About half of the stuff in this glorious book.
  • Aran sweaters with more decorative motifs between the neck and the hem than are found in the entire Book of Kells.
  • All techniques identified as "Japanese"–cast ons, short rows, etc.
  • Garments knit in directions you wouldn't expect, like sweaters that start two inches above the left shoulderblade and grow seamlessly to the right wrist.
  • Pretty much anything cooked up by Kaffe Fassett or Debbie New.
  • Entrelac.
New in the Shop

This year's ornament, the fourth in the series, is ready in the shop, and I hope you'll like it.

2008 Ornament

Joy comes from many sources, I know, but I always find that my joy is amplified when yarn is somehow involved.

52 comments:

Lenox Knits said...

I know that non-knitters are terribly impressed by double pointed needles in tiny sizes. I love the comment knitting with those tooth picks.

TheSockKnitter said...

LOVE the new ornament -- now, just wish I had a tree :(

Your niece is ADORABLE and getting big FAR too quickly!!!

Geek Knitter said...

Oh, would you just look at the eyes on that wee girl!

You're right, yarn is joy.

SJ said...

Frankly, I always thought the real difficulta of the Madonna of the Long Neck was that enormous baby she'd somehow managed to squeeze out.

Your niece is quite possible the cutest little girl ever, too.

Sabine Surlalune said...

Abigail is definitely adorable. Quite like the Panopticon hoodie, and, oh, your comments on the ageing beauty queen.

katilo said...

I don't really understand the upset with the economy right now. I've always been poor and suspect I will be in the future. I don't see how any bail-out plan will help me...but if you find one that frees ME of my mortgage, let me know. *sigh*

Dana said...

Oh Franklin... you totally just made my day. :) I laughed out loud at this post. Just what I needed after the stock market crashed and struggling with putting tiny beads on "gnat eyelash" yarn for a shawl. :) Love it..

turvid said...

Such a cute model! The hoodie looks great too. :)

Nancy K. said...

It's impossible to believe that the world is crumbling when looking at that beautiful child, peaking out of that lovely hoodie!

Thanks for the lift ~ I needed it!

also waiting for the feds to bail ME out....

Jackie said...

Turning a heel, of course, always impresses the uninitiated.

I once had to speed-knit half a sock just so my father could watch me turn the heel. Literally. He sat beside me and watched the entire performance intently.

Kristen said...

So far this art-history PhD student has simply ignored the financial stuff. My thoughts run something like, "Well, welcome to my world of poverty and debt, people!" Of course, I'm supposed to graduate this year and get a job, and we all know which jobs get cut first at institutions of higher learning...

(I agree with sj on the Madonna, BTW)

Katy said...

As someone who just conquered her first buttonholes, I agree that there's nothing like a first buttonhole or a turned heel to make you feel accomplished!

Your niece is absolutely adorable!

Anonymous said...

Bubbles of memory surface from strange depths. 40 years ago I helped my Art History major roommate study for finals, which is the only way I know that Madonna of the Long Neck was painted in 1535. Thanks for jogging that neuron.

And we Baby Boomers are used to disasters striking our major life milestones. (Happy Graduation! Welcome to Viet Nam and price freezes) (Ready to settle down and buy a house? 16% mortgage rates) and now as retirement beckons, fiscal collapse combined with global warming.

Keeping writing the blog! You are the silver lining in the dark clouds.

Anonymous said...

The neck doesn't really strike me as long but the legs have me wondering. Is she 8 feet tall? Is that only because I spent too much time in the sciences and not in art? Nothing so refined as difficulta in the sciences. We had things like, "man, that's a tough one." Doesn't have the same elegance.

Nice to see the sweet photos.

Gerrie in St Paul

KellyD said...

Your niece is precious! And the sweater is pretty good too.

Kathleen said...

Joy is one of those things that I have long wished to everyone on their birthdays and at the holidays, and yarn sure makes me more joyful!

Abigail looks lovely. Ellen (Purl Diva) mentioned that she was hoping you would come to a book signing at the shop. Oh please, oh please! After living in Boston and Chicago it would tickle my funny bone to finally meet you in Maine.

Anonymous said...

Darling hoodie on a sweet model. Perfect timing on the buttonhole link. I need it for tonight's knitting.

As far as knitting, most people think cables are harder than they are.

Maureen

Anonymous said...

You have the cutest niece in the world. She made me smile too. Thank you.

meezermeowmy said...

But Uncle Franklin, Abigail was christened, wasn't it, yesterday? She can't have grown so fast! Thank goodness her dear uncle foresaw the growth and knit lovely things for her!

no-blog-rachel said...

Damn Franklin, that Exceptional Abigail of yours is just adorable!

Alwen said...

Teh Abigail, so cute! I just want to snorfle her!

Fortunately I recently got my own snorfle-able niece.

Riin said...

I'm not spinning yarn from gnat's eyelashes and you can't make me.

I figured out years ago I'll probably never be able to retire, and I already buy most of my clothes at thrift shops and don't have a car, so...why am I supposed to think the sky is falling now?

knititch said...

all the first things are so awful and we are bombarded with this apocalyptic feeling all over the western world.

forgetting a whole row of a chart in a wedding shawl sounds horrid. but good that knitting and yarn can make you happy too.

and i love the little fairy and understand exactly what you mean by being happy about being on this planet when seeing her. this is how my great niece makes me feel. exactly. i recognise everything you say. that is so nice.

anne marie in philly said...

abigail...such a delicious little bundle of joy! AND growing up into quite a young lady!

consider this year's ornament already in my hands (well, until I purchase it tomorrow...)

smooches!

=Tamar said...

Vertical intarsia Fair Isle, for the genuinely difficult. Somebody did it to win prizes in Shetland knitting contests.

And another vote for tiny dpns impressing both non-knitters and new knitters. Size 00000 especially.

toni in florida said...

And joy is multiplied again when kittens are involved!

Abigail looks snug and adorable in that sweater, with no difficulta at all. She's a natural.

Anonymous said...

I like the Uffizi. I particularly liked Titians Venus. There is a story that says it was commissioned by some Duke as an instructional painting for his much younger bride but its probably just a story. Mark Twain described it as “fill upon the foulest, the vilest, the obscenest picture the world possesses” Don’t you love Renaissance.

Donna Lee said...

Abigail continues to grow into an adorable little girl (wasn't she a baby yesterday?) and the sweater looks perfect on her. And yes, Joy can be found everywhere but a little yarn always makes it sweeter.

LittleWit said...

Your niece is adorable. I hope my nieces look as adorable in their knitwear. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the picture of Abigail. I needed it too.

Helen said...

A whole effing row? Oh god.

Nieces are wonderful, and when they grow up they have babies, some of whom are Great Nieces, who are even better. I have one who's three, and when I was talking to her mother on the telephone the other day she asked to speak to me. We chatted; I asked her if she had a good day at nursery and she told me she had a new Jasmine doll, and then she said 'K, BAI' and as she passed the phone back to her mother I heard her say, 'Who was that?'

Mary Ellen said...

Oh man, Abigail is cute!

I was all sorts of pleased with myself at the Common Cod Fiber Guild meeting, because my entrelac stole in progress was admired by several fellow knitters.And knitting socks on the subway always gets compliments.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I took a test that covered Mannerism and that painting. Crazy.

Gail said...

Your pictures cheered me up, too. thanks! I have regained my equanimity about the economy.

Anonymous said...

Well I know someone who gives ME joy ;)

BFD

IRV said...

She's sooo adorable!

Anonymous said...

she!
is!
so!
cute!

danielle in pei

Anonymous said...

Whenever I see this painting (Madonna del Collo Lungo by Parmigianino) I think--or sometimes scream out loud--"YOU'RE GOING TO DROP BABY JESUS!" Now, I'm not Catholic, but I'm sure that is a mortal sin, dropping baby Jesus on His head.

Knitting Painter Woman said...

I got to definite my own major... in the 60's no less. It was sort of art history post Renaissance. I never learned the term difficulta, but always liked the mannerist tone of L. Cranach. Yay pot bellies!
And beads and gnats eyelashes.
Will you be at the opening of Religulous?

Anonymous said...

I just bought this yarn!!
My last day (for a while) in the US, and I found Franklin yarn - woohoo!
(and yes, I'm registered to vote absentee - tell Dolores not to worry)

So glad to see the inspiration that made me want the colorway in the first place. I'm going to knit for a cute little joyful bumpkin, too.

And thrilled to see the sliding sausage baby painting. Much nostalgia for art history class...

Tracy in Qatar (almost)

Anne said...

Awww, what a cutie pie! Abigail looks adorable in her hoodie.

String Bean said...

That's an adorable hoodie and an adorable niece!
Oh come on, entrelac isn't hard.
Yarn is joy. Fiber, too.

Mary the Digital Knitter said...

Your niece is really growing. She's adorable and the hoodie looks great.

I just bought that book, thinking it was more about design and less about difficultà patterns. That cover sweater, with three fat cables at the wrists, is definitely in the "more cables than the Book of Kells" category. Oh, well....

dale-harriet said...

O for petessakes, Franklin, don't you know what that painting does to a Jewish mother???? I want to shout at her "OY VEY, woman, that child is SKINNY! Feed him something right NOW! If he's that tall he probably has teeth, a little brisket would be nice, and some chicken soup, maybe a nice pastrami on rye? Corned beef?" (And yes, Abigail is nothing less than a stunner.)

Shannon said...

You reminded me - I did a hemlock blanket in your colorway. Check it out at Ravelry - I'm skathstring. Using the leftovers to make a koolhas hat, but I'm not done yet.

My cat likes the blanket, as do my sons, but they're not quite as cute as your neice!

Kathy said...

Well, damn my garters, I majored in art history and the word difficultà was never mentioned. Let this be a lesson to all future art history majors: shun the Big Ten schools. They may be fine for chemical engineers and health professionals and elementary teachers, but they suck at art history. (I do know what Mannerism is, though.)

In case you were wondering, my BA in art history was worth squat in the real world. I went back to school, got a BS in business, and passed the CPA exam; I now happily crunch numbers while appreciating art and fine yarn.

Seanna Lea said...

Ah, the economy. I just keep telling myself that moving my small amounts of money around would just make it worse, so I think I will concentrate on joy: yarn, good friends, a warm home cooked meal, and a nice apple crisp for dessert (or brownie with ice cream). It's good to keep the perspective.

My difficulta still includes fair isle, because I haven't tried it yet. I'm sure that is what really makes something difficult - lack of experience.

laura gayle said...

LOVE "It Itches." My copy came today and it's just wonderful. You've outdone yourself, Franklin. My MIL might even enjoy a copy...!

Rocky Moreno said...

I totally agree with you on the difficultà of many things in knitting. Throughout this whole year I've been running into projects like that.
Panopticon is just too cute!

Pat said...

I hope I don't offend anyone but am I the only one who looked at the 2008 ornament and thought "dick in a box"?

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