Friday, August 27, 2010


I don't like secrets. I don't like having them. Most of the time, I wish I didn't know them. Sometimes, I think if I don't tell them, I'll explode. But, in this case, I have to keep it

For the last 23 days I have been writing the pattern for and knitting a design for a magazine. I originally submitted the idea in the winter of 2009. (Yes, that is not a typo -- '09). My submission book was out there, and I didn't ask for it back until this spring. When I did, they sent it back, but, with my permission, made copies of the sketches and told me that if the ideas were taken by another publication, then, of course, they would understand. Within the next few weeks, they called me to ask about using one of those designs.

I'm really excited about this sweater, in particular because it's the first one I've designed and knit completely from the top down and seamlessly. If you read my post from June 6, 2010, you'll remember that I was doing my own top down work. I was excited, but found it difficult to "think" upside down.

Well, I'm happy to report that it wasn't as hard as I thought. Maybe it's the pressure of a deadline or maybe it's just that I NEEDED to do it, but it really worked out! And, I'm quite pleased with the results. Unfortunately, I can only tease you with this... and this...

I've knitted sweaters seamlessly before, but they've been bottom up. I enjoyed knitting this (even though I only had a few weeks to do it) and can definitely see the advantages of knitting top down. As far as the design process, it still requires the same sets of numbers, and you really need to think about how you want to handle increases before you set out. I think that these were my two stumbling blocks back in June. All in all, I think I learned a lot and I'm happy with the finished piece. I have a funny name for this piece, which I will reveal if the editors choose not to use it.

In other news, I was able to get some help for my Chinaberry pullover in the form of 6 wonderful test knitters. They are a lovely group of women. I am having a lot of fun working with them. I'll be posting more about the whole experience when the pattern is released through Ravelry in late September.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Penmanship Cowl

As an elementary school teacher, the end of August is always a sad and exciting time. Sad because summer is truly the best season of all for me. I love everything about it including this summer's sweltering temperatures. I know that autumn is coming, bit by bit, tiptoeing into our evenings. It's also exciting because I get to begin a new year, with plenty of eager minds to enjoy -- a fresh start, just as the earth is rounding its way toward its final quarter spin around the sun.

In honor of the beginning of school, I have a new (free) pattern on Ravelry - the Penmanship Cowl.

In 4th grade I had what was then known as an "open" classroom. Two teachers, 50 kids, and a huge physical space. I didn't like it, but I liked Mrs. Falsone. She taught us penmanship. By the 4th grade we were eager to write in "script." The curlicues of the cables reminded me of those curved lines we looped all over the page. The openwork is reminiscent of the dots that filled the paper showing you where you were to begin and end each letter and word.

Monday, August 9, 2010

EZ @ 100

Perhaps this has been said thousands of times before but, Elizabeth Zimmermann changed my life for the better. Dover Publishing which published Knitter's Almanac is located in Mineola, Long Island, not far from where I grew up and this book was the first of EZ's that I purchased. I think I drifted into the Dover facility and noticed the "Knitter's" in the title and picked it up. I'd never heard of EZ before. It was (and still is) unlike any other knitting book I had read. It is a novel, with patterns inserted into the narrative. I fell in love with Elizabeth. My maternal grandmother was the only member of my family to knit. She passed away when I was 3, so I never had a chance to learn from her. Elizabeth was the grandmother I was missing -- not only for her knitting talent, but for her spirit, her energy, her sense of humor, and most of all, her attitude -- the "do what you want and see what happens." I felt like she was writing just for me.

I went on to Knitting Without Tears. This book is a liberation of the mind (and needles). Her EPS system is revolutionary -- the Newtonian principles of knitting. Finally when I began designing, I purchased the rest of her titles** -- Knitting Around and Knitting Workshop. The latter is my all-time favorite Zimmermann book. If you have the opportunity to view/purchase the DVD that goes along with this book, DO IT. It is more entertaining than most feature films and you will learn more in those few hours (about knitting, about life, about family) than you will in years of living. I could watch this DVD twice a month and never grow tired of it. I feel like I know her. I miss her -- isn't that strange -- missing someone you've never met?

Anyway, today would have been Elizabeth's 100th birthday. Happy 100th, Elizabeth!

"Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises."

** Also, read "The Opinionated Knitter" -- even though Elizabeth is listed as the author, it is Elizabeth's daughter Meg Swansen's homage to her mother. Wonderful!