Sunday, January 06, 2013

Entanglements, Various

I was in the workroom, trying to fit this year's books into last year's bookshelves, when Harry rolled in and asked whether he could have a yarn cave.

"I beg your pardon?"

"I want a yarn cave," he said. "I was just watching that house hunting show with Dolores and the man didn't like the first seventeen houses because there was no space for a man cave where he could watch television without his wife. I want a yarn cave so I can watch television without Dolores."

"Dolores," I shouted, "stop hogging the television! I am not going to have this argument again."

"I couldn't agree with you more," she shouted back.

"It's not fair," said Harry. "I want to watch the new Learning Channel documentary about Yarn Pixies and she keeps putting on Emanuelle Goes to Maryland Sheep and Wool and telling me I have to leave the room."

"You two are really going to have to work this out yourselves."

"I want a yarn cave!" said Harry.

"We don't have space for a yarn cave. This is a big city. It's crowded. We live in an apartment. And it's a pretty nice apartment, as apartments go. Lots of yarn would be happy to have as much room to roll around as you have."

"Yarn cave! Yarn cave!"

"You know who has lots of room?" I said. "Mrs. Teitelbaum. Maybe you would like to go next door and see if she would let you move in with her and Tinkles."

"Maybe I will," said Harry, stomping off. "Then when I am gone, boy will you be sorry."

Hah. He'll be back. Won't he?

I can't blame Harry for feeling overcrowded. Even though I have a work room, the whole apartment has been a carnival of frenzied fiber activity for the past couple of months. It's good to be busy, but busy + yarn = tangles. By Christmas, after four months of near-constant travel, this place looked like the inside of an old sewing basket that had been shaken by a gorilla.  I conceded that it was time to address the mess when I tripped over a stray strand of merino in the kitchen and it knocked over a lamp in the bedroom.

Happily, a lot of works-in-progress are finished and can be tidied away. There's this, for example.


My first sweater design (in Cascade 220 Sport) for publication–the Men's Color Band Pullover from Vogue Knitting Winter 2012/13, which goes on sale the day after this writing.

I had a ball with it. We (the three guy designers in the story) were challenged to come up with a sweater we'd wear ourselves on a casual day at the office.

I only wish I looked like the model, but the sweater truly is something I'd wear.

It has very little ease, because I (and most men) look terrible in baggy sweaters. It tapers from the chest to the waist, because unshaped sweaters make me (and most men) look like they're wearing feed sacks. And though it has a basis in the traditional male palette of brown/earth/gray, I added purple and lavender houndstooth because life is too damned short wear nothing but brown/earth/gray.

There's this, a hat in so-called Bavarian Twisted Stitch. (Twisted, yes. Bavarian, not necessarily.)


It's a model for one of my new classes, d├ębuting at Vogue Knitting Live! New York in just a little while. (That class is sold out, but a few of my other sessions have seats. Do come and play.)

There's also this.


Why, that's not knitting! That's not knitting at all! 

Nope, it's card weaving. Because I needed one more thing to do with string.

I've felt the urge to weave spring up once or twice, but always ran into roadblocks. A lack of space, for one. Also, the insistence of all my weaving friends and acquaintances that I would have to start with a plain dish towel.

I don't want to weave a plain dish towel. I want to make fabric with patterns. My weaving friends insisted that you cannot start out by weaving patterns, you have to start with a plain dish towel. Apparently this commandment is chiseled onto a stone tablet on a mountain near Taos.

I asked about all those unfortunate children who are forced into weaving patterned carpets. The horrors of their situation aside, if a five-year-old can weave patterns, why can't I?

Because you have to start with a plain dish towel, they said. It is written. Or chiseled, or something.

Then I met this guy when we were both teaching at the same event. He was working with tiny looms. So small they would easily fit on a coffee table. His beginning students were weaving bands covered in patterns.

So I said can you teach me, and John said yeah; and now I have a tiny loom and am making my own patterned bootlaces, which I think is hot.

We've become good buddies (he'll also be at Squam, teaching card weaving) and for the ducks of it we've decided to collaborate on a piece of design: a bag, with a knitted body and a woven strap.

Here's the yarn we're using: Cobasi by Hikoo.


Cobasi is a blend of COtton, BAmboo, and SIlk–get it?) distributed by Skacel. It is, in a word, groovy. The impetus was a desire to offer a really good wool-free sock yarn, and what they've come up with works equally well for knitting and card weaving.

Our challenge is to turn out a project that combines weaving and knitting in a beautiful, practical fashion. We're going to chronicle the development of the bag–for better or worse– right here in this space. More to come.