Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Come Knit with Me

Since I don't already have enough to do*, when Tricky Tricot asked if I might be open to co-hosting a knitalong based on Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac, I considered it for a good five or six minutes before I said yeah, sure, whatthehell.

I can hear you snickering out there, some of you. I know knitalongs have a reputation for being somewhat...Comment dit-on en anglais?...wussy.

It is my hope–nay, my intent–that this knitalong will be distinctly non-wussy.

The Spirit of Our Knitalong

Without wishing to be idolatrous, I will say this. Elizabeth Zimmermann managed to convey her idiosyncratic and occasionally revolutionary ideas about knitting using some of the finest English prose written in the twentieth century. If she had devoted herself only to the writing of memoirs, she would have been a second M.F.K. Fisher.

Elizabeth's knitting books always seem to boil the process of handknitting down to three questions:
  • Are your projects turning out as you wish them to?
  • As you create them, are you enjoying the process?
  • If not, is there a better way to do what you're doing?
As we knit through the twelve months of 2006, I'm hoping participants will keep these three things in mind. The point, as far as I am concerned, is not to wind up with 12 projects knitted exactly according to Elizabeth's pithy directions. The point is to expand your mind and flex your knitting muscles. If something in a given chapter inspires you to try a pattern of your own, join us and keep us posted on the progress.

This will be a knitalong where process has as much to do with it (if not more) than product. This means it's open to everybody, the newbie and the expert, because nobody knows everything there is to know about knitting.

The Almanac Along Blog

To keep things tidy, I've created a second blog for my own writing and photos related to the knitalong. When something new goes up there, I'll note it here, but otherwise this blog and its comments will be for non-knitalong content. More information about the knitalong is already posted over there.

We've also got a button, of course. If you wish to use it as a link, please be sure you link from it to http://almanacalong.blogspot.com.

Where to Get the Book

Knitter's Almanac is easy to find in a serviceable Dover edition at a reasonable cost, even when new. You can buy directly from Schoolhouse Press, Elizabeth's own company (now in the capable hands of her daughter Meg, a pillar of the knitting world in her own right). You will also likely find it on the shelves at your local bookseller's.

Other Knitting News

I can't close without drawing your attention to a fine finished object my sister managed to deliver on schedule in spite of great odds. It's an adaptation of a pattern, and I think a good one. A stubborn refusal to stick to directions may well be a family trait.



Unknown said...

Sigh. You know how I feel about knitalongs, so I will not repeat it.

The Almanac was the first EZ book I ever owned and although I couldn't for the life of me figure out who'd want to knit some of that stuff, it was and still is a great read. I'll have to pull mine out to refresh my memory.

However, I ain't knitting along. But I'll enjoy reading about it on the other blog. Get your Advil/Tylenol/aspirin out. You're gonna need it.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to The Panopticon. Got here from a link on Fautus M.D.'s blog. Between the two of you, you have inspired me to once again take up the needles. I've already started the same sweater over 3 times.

Here'a a link to a story in the Houston Press, our local alternative news paper that I think you'll all enjoy. It's about a whole new aspect of knitting.


Anonymous said...

My well-worn copy of Knitter's Alamac has the saddest words in the English language stamped in the front of it--DISCARD--.

Thankfully, my sister-in-law rescued it from the El Paso Public Library, Westside Branch and mailed it to me.

The price stamped on back? $3.50.

I think this knit-along sounds like a way to apply EZ's technical "unventions" to individual projects, rather than making each project as presented.

I'm with Marilyn on some of the projects--a knitted polo shirt? Having lived through both the 80's and a painful stint at Panera Bread (polos were the uniform of choice), I hope to never wear a polo shirt again.

On the other hand, a whack of women at my school are having babies, so a lot of the projects will work for me.

Franklin said...

Actually, I agree with Michelene and Marilyn about some of the projects - hence the "spirit, not letter" approach. For example, there's no way I'm spending time knitting long underwear. No.

What I'll be doing instead is either a) using Michelene's approach and applying a technique to something of my own or b) just doing something else by EZ or Meg that I can relate to the month.

As far as your warning about KAL's Marilyn...I know. I hear you. But this is me in Joe mode. I gotta touch the stove to see if it's hot.

You can do the I-told-you-so dance when I'm begging for mercy.

Unknown said...


We NEED to see the long underwear, with you modeling them.

Besides, at your height, it won't take that long....just saying.

goblinbox said...

Knitalongs are not wussy. Whoever gave you that impression?

Also, you're a total EZ groupie. It's adorable. If she were a rock star on tour, you'd totally be wearing something tight and trying to crash the after-party in her hotel suite. LOL!

Anonymous said...

Don't write off the longies just yet, Franklin. They're remarkably useful in cold weather.

Anonymous said...

Franklin, I love your blog. Wonderful!!!

Lady Wyvern said...

I've always wanted to "do" the almanac and revise the patterns to more suit myself... Ok, so I had to dig it out...
I am like Marilyn in the regard of KAL's, but ok, I'm in. Check your email Franklin LOL !

Unknown said...

I can see knitting the long underwear if you live in Chi.

Besides, sooner or later some "designer" is going to put together a Guys Who Knit beefcake calendar.

You know it's gonna happen. I scare myself sometimes with these thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Mar, I proposed the Knitting Studs Calender to a list a couple of years ago. (I think my mind was foggy from cleaning the oven with some kind of noxious chemicals.) We practically had the whole thing set up, with sales proceeds going to a charity. I think a photographer had volunteered to do the pictures, even. The idea fizzled out, but not before becoming (IMO) surprisingly political. And people have the strangest ideas about what to do with I-cord.

Shunra said...

Oh, yeah, EZ certainly did do it in the best prose.

She captured my heart whole when I read Knitting Around (borrowed from my local library). This year's first-to-be-opened Christmas present was the Opinionated Knitter. And even though I knew the end, when I got to the part where she died, yeah, I broke down and cried.

Anonymous said...

Knitter's Almanac: The best,and cheapest, knitting book out there! I read it cover to cover and then sat down and knit a pair of perfectly fitting gloves, thanks to EZ's inspiration. I was just lamenting about being too attached to patterns recently. Time for a re-read.
Oh, and I KNIT THE NETHER GARMENT, with feet, one chilly spring about 12 years ago while living in a tent in the mountains of Colorado. You won't see it on my blog, though, as it lives deep at the bottom af a trunk full of stash yarn, right next to a misguided attempt at a Fassett-esque vest.

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