Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mrs. Ramsey's Stockings

Inspired by the socks Mrs. Ramsey knits in the opening pages of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, I've designed a pattern that honors the English fishing tradition with a gansey-inspired stitch pattern and that uses a traditional yarn--Jamieson and Smith's two-ply Shetland.  This sock is sized for a women's medium, in calf-length with a deep cuff.   The pattern is available in a free pdf link below:
Mrs. Ramsey's Stockings

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Knitter Named Vengeance

In my Ravelings column in the Fall 2011 Interweave Knits, I write about knitters in literature.  This is by way of an addendum.

Les Tricoteuses

Whenever I’m reading a book in an airport, my fellow travelers give me a wide berth.
But when I bring out my knitting, the vibe changes.  Suddenly, the empty seats beside me are occupied by the curious and the sentimental swept up in memories of grandma knitting, Aunt Bee and her crochet, Mama and her quilting.

Women knitting in public did not always invite such happy reveries, however.  In fact, a couple of hundred years ago les tricoteuses, the knitters of Paris, were demonized, condemned as dangerous subversives, handmaids of Lady Guillotine.

The knitters were the first to rebel in the 1780’s when living conditions for the working people of France became unbearably severe.  Marching to the palace at Versailles, the women demanded bread.  When Marie Antoinette suggested they eat cake instead, the French Revolution was ignited, and the brave working-class women of Paris were celebrated as heroines.

During the Reign of Terror, however, with the revolutionaries in power, the market women continued to protest in favor of the poor.  The new regime found them an unwelcome irritant and made it illegal for them to attend government meetings.
In protest, the women gathered at the public site of executions, standing for hours witnessing the beheadings, knitting silently through them all, refusing to disappear from public life.

Some observers of the Revolution claimed les tricoteuses had been hired by the executioners to fill the role of witnesses to their ghastly work, and other accounts described them as gleefully celebrating the deaths of the wealthy and privileged.  That’s the version Dickens relied on when he created his immortal character Madame Defarge who knits implacably through A Tale of Two Cities.

Late in the novel, in a chapter entitled “The Knitting Done” we learn that Thérèse Defarge is a revolutionary spy who eavesdrops on conversations in her wine shop, recording the names of her enemies in her stitches.

The “terrible woman had knitted when he talked with her,” remembers Sydney Carton, “and had looked ominously at him as her fingers moved.” She brings her knitted ledger along as evidence when she testifies against the novel’s hero, Charles Darnay.

Sometimes, when I’m knitting at the dentist’s office near a wheeler-dealer shouting all his financial details into his cell phone, I enjoy a little Madame Defarge fantasy.  What if I recorded all these numbers into my fair isle pattern?  No one would suspect a sweet little grey-haired lady of corporate espionage. As Agatha Christies’s Miss Marple shows, a woman knitting can pick up a lot of information.

In fact, Miss Marple is just another version of the tricoteuse.  Acting as witness, prosecutor, and judge,  she holds court from behind her needles and pink wool.  Listening and observing, she stays out of the mischief going on around her, recording and assembling her evidence until she lays it all out in a scene at the end of the novel, like a lace knitter blocking a shawl, when the tangle of threads opens into a complex geometrical design.

Every time we sit in a coffee shop or a park with our knitting, we bring history with us.  There’s a node of timelessness wherever we station ourselves, and the world, like a kid on a skateboard, sails by, glances at our quiet motions, and careens on its path.  In any setting, the knitter is a silent witness to the moving scene, focused yet open, listening, connecting one strand to another as she contemplates the intricate loops that hold the world together.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hands On Color

A week ago I drove up through northeast Alabama to Monteagle in the mountains of Tennessee.  The sky was clear, and even though twisted billboards and splintered tree trunks gave evidence of the recent deadly tornados that tore through these valleys in April, the road side meadows showe no signs of nature’s abuse.  In fact, Queen-Anne’s-lace, pink bindweed, yellow daisies and purple joe-pye weed bloomed in clumps all along the way.  No landscape designer could have scattered the colors more artfully. 

Cloister at Dubose Conference Center
All this color was a great introduction to my destination, Lynne Vogel’s Hands On Color spinning workshop at the Dubose Conference Center.  Beside the residence hall, the cherry tree was filled with ripe, slightly tart cherries, the rose bushes were in fragrant bloom in the little cloister garden, all presages of a weekend of rich color.

Once I arrived, I checked into my room, and settled in with nine other spinners to learn new skills and revel in Lynne’s world of rich, complex color spun into art yarn, those amazing skeins of luxurious, textured yarns that are featured in yarn stores like Tiffany jewels, and Lynne’s yarns, displayed near a sunny window, glowed like jewels with their multi-faceted textures in coils, locks, and even beads and fabrics. 

Spinners always turn out to be fascinating people.  Over the course of the weekend, as we got to know each other, I was amused, impressed, and touched by every person in the group.
Art yarn by Lynne Vogel

Some had been spinning for decades, others only for months, but each spinner had a palette of colors all her own, and by the end of the weekend, each had created breathtaking skeins of yarn. 

Lynne introduced us to a wide range of techniques, from spinning thin-and-thick singles to coil wrapping and coilless wrapping, auto-wrapping and introducing diverse fibers by creating “mini-batts.” 
Lynne's art yarns

So many techniques that I have had to go back this week and practice the ones I didn’t get a chance to master during the weekend.

My goal was to learn how to spin fatter yarns and how to introduce texture.  I did learn to do both.  I also had the good fortune to peek over their shoulders at nine other spinners, as well as Lynne, who was generous in demonstrating every technique on her own wheel.  All the workshop skeins were stunning.  Each spinner had a palette of rich hues and tones particular to her own color vision.  Greens and blues like a tropical paradise contrasted with deep, mysterious reds and purples. 

On the last morning of the workshop, Lynne and Jan Quarles laid out an enormous assortment of fibers on a long table.  Each of us selected a “fiber salad” made up of fibers of our choice.  We blended the mix on drum carders and spun up our salad batts.  Amazingly enough, the random salads blended with our other skeins.  Each of us was drawn to the same group of colors. 

This time, my palette was earth tones of pinky, purply browns with pale blue and lilac accents.  Looking at my sample skeins, I recognize a sea-change in my color sense.  I have shifted away from the jewel tones I favored before.  These are more complex, more reflective of the summer season fast approaching, or maybe reflecting some seismic shift inside of me.

After a good fiber workshop, I’m left with the existential question:  how to I integrate all of this into my work?  What kind of yarn do I want to spin?  And why?  And for what kind of final product? 

I have lots of happy spinning ahead of me in the coming months.  Techniques to master, fibers to learn about, yarns to treasure, plans to make for sweaters and scarves, hats and cowls.  I’ll be back next year to see my new spinning friends and revel for two days in hands-on color.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Stitches and Time

When I was nine years old, I was obsessed with an obscure corner in the Detroit Institute of Arts.  In a tiny gallery on the basement level, far from the harsh glare of sunlight, I found a display of needlework made in seventeenth-century Spain.  Pressing my nose to the glass, I loved to study the meticulous loops, the tiny knots, the satin-stitched petals and delicate chain-stitched stamens in white threads on fine white linen, the long stockings knitted in silk at a gauge of at least thirty stitches to the inch.  Thousands of stitches, hundreds of hours.

Later, in college I discovered that these impossibly delicate, almost invisible stitches were made by privileged matrons, spinsters or widows of imperial Spain, women relieved of mundane duties like laundry, housecleaning, and cooking by a fleet of servants. When powerful men were getting educations and conducting wars, their sisters and mothers passed the long hours with meticulous, time-consuming needlework, delicate luxuries for bridal trousseaus and infant layettes. These privileged ladies had hours, weeks, years to fill, and only a few activities to fill them with—music, reading, writing letters, and needlework.   One member of their group would read from poetry or a popular romance while the others quietly stitched away.

Today, we divide our lives into discreet units—the half-hour television show, the ten-minute coffee break.  We expect answers at the click of a keyboard.  We learn of events on the other side of the globe seconds after they occur.  But once in a while, we get a chance to tap into that older experience of time as a kind of quiet pool that expands around us as we enter its depths.  At the end of a workday, when the dishes are loaded in the dishwasher and the laundry is folded and put away, I sit down for a half-hour to knit, and time stills. I count rows and pattern repeats rather then minutes.  My heart rate slows as my hands and eyes focus on the next stitch, the next crossed loop.  As I get into the rhythm, time settles, like the surface of water after a pebble’s dive.

This week, during my Spring Break, I join a group of knitters who are designing and knitting jackets following Barbara Walker’s top-down method.  As we gather around our hostess’s table decorated for St. Patrick’s Day, in the warm aroma of corned-beef wafting from the kitchen, our jokes and small talk gradually give way to periods of silence.  We are finding our places, picking up the thread of our progress. 

Bright early-spring sun pours into the room through lace curtains.  We knit contently.  The conversation slows, and then, in softened voices, slow-paced, the stories emerge, the ones that are deepest and most urgent, the stories we hold in our hearts, most important but most difficult to share. We are quiet in our sympathy.   There’s no rush to comment or offer solutions.  We knit one stitch after another, together but separately, and we listen and feel together another’s trouble. 

             After a couple of hours, one by one, we fold up our work and wish each other farewell, not because we’re watching a clock, but because we seem to arrive collectively at a moment of closure.  I don’t check the time until I’m back at my car, back to the twenty-first century world of digital displays of minute and seconds.

Who knows what stories were shared on those sun-drenched afternoons in Barcelona or Seville, what tales of wars or shipwrecks, of dropsy or St. Vitus’ Dance, what recipes, what scandals?  Did the Spanish ladies pause one afternoon to gaze at their completed masterpieces, the stockings and handkerchiefs, nightcaps and collars?  Did they tuck each item into a trunk with lavender and their hopes for a young couple’s long and happy life?  Little did they know that their work would travel far from their hands to unfurl across the centuries, the long, patient strands of nameless women who had all the time in the world on their hands, to inspire a little girl growing up in the Motor City searching for something old, something strange and beautiful as her dreams.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

After a long, cold, snowy winter, Alabama is exploding with pent-up color. Carefully tended gardens are brimming with tulips and irises framed in brick-edged beds, but the wild thickets by the side of the road are rioting.  Wild invasive wisteria vines are blooming in huge untended mountains of purple, their pendant blooms spilling over the country roads.  Redbuds that blossom along their trunks and limbs have turned a violent puce, as if they’d been electrified overnight.  Oak-leaf hydrangeas, their blooms the size of soft balls, fill shady corners under the pines.  Park your car anywhere outside and when you return in an hour, it’s covered in lime-green dust.

In all of this profusion, there is one element of Shaker simplicity, one slender note of absolute purity—the wild dogwood.  Deep in the shade of pine and oak, a white glimpse of unglazed porcelain floats in the upper branches.  Beginning in early March as pale green flickers, then a soft fawn, dogwood blossoms finally turn a bright, creamy white, as if a smudged sheet of paper were to turn spotless.  Five flat white petals with a deep red center.   They don’t droop or spill, but float in the air as if resting on long arms.

This spring I’m knitting a cardigan for summer, the Pinnate Cardigan by Amy Christophers (Pinnate Cardigan).  About a month ago, I chose an organic cotton yarn in a pale shade, nearly white, with flecks of what spinners call “vegetal matter.”  It wasn’t until the dogwoods opened this month that I saw the connection.  I’m knitting with the same creamy white I see outside my window.

My pattern has a lacy leaf motif in panels along its length, and as I add leaf after leaf to my sweater, I can see that spring is doing the same.  Every day another bare, grey tree leafs out.  The weeds spring out of the lawn as if to get a headstart on the mower.  The days lengthen, and I see that yet again in my herb garden the mint has survived the winter and is setting up outposts in the future territory of my basil and thyme. 

Thoreau, when spring came to Walden Pond, wrote in his journal, “there is nothing inorganic.”  This year, I think I know what he meant.  The skein of cotton yarn, neatly coiled in my basket, bound by its paper label, comes to life with the dogwood’s petals,  the weeds and wisteria, and like me, at my knitting, hearkening to the mockingbird’s whistle and thrum.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Grannies and Granny Squares

My granny taught me to crochet when I was five or six years old.  Since I am left-handed, she had to transpose the instructions for me.  I don’t know how she did it, but it must have been a gentle, easy process, because I don’t remember any struggle or confusion, just the joy of acquiring a new skill.  I crocheted granny squares, and then I found patterns for doilies and Irish lace and I crocheted lots of things, fascinated by the geometry and the patterning, mathematics dancing before my eyes.

My mother crocheted an ambitious granny-square afghan before she was married.  Large enough to cover a queen-size bed, in dense, three-ply wool in bright, rich colors and bordered in black, the afghan was my childhood sick-room comfort zone, wrapped around anybody recovering from a stomach-ache or a bad cold. 

I still treasure that afghan; I still haul it out to comfort the couch-bound.  Though it’s seen many years of hard use, its colors are still bright and fresh.  The heavy, bright wool is comforting to the cold and feverish.  The wool seems to press down on you, to embrace you, it seems stronger than you are, firmer, more solid.   It seems to stand guard over your shivering frame until you recover and kick it off, when, folded back into its place in the linen closet, it awaits its next call to service.
The granny squares make the perfect entertainment for the convalescent eye.  Edged in a deep, warm, glossy black, each square is made up of one, two, or three bright colors, sometimes a whole square in one color, just to soak in its richness, a scarlet or emerald green or a bright yellow.  Other squares join complements—green and red, or blue and orange, while others show more thoughtful experiments:  a line of pink around a tiny square of red, a row of yellow shading into orange, then burnt umber.

I look at those squares now and I see my mother in her twenties, the youngest child and only girl, last to leave home, living with her parents in their newly-built house in the outskirts of the city.  I think about the faded color photograph where she holds a dinner-plate-sized dahlia up to her face so her dad could beat his neighbor in their annual dahlia competition.   Their new garden produced giant tomatoes, rosebushes with huge, round creamy blossoms, massive peonies, six-feet-tall sunflowers.  All of the garden’s richness and color, along with my mother’s dreams for her future life, seemed to migrate into my mother’s afghan.

Granny squares also remind me of  the 1970’s when they suddenly became hip.  My high-school classmate Judith Killeen started a business making granny-square purses. She earned enough money so that she could hire a dressmaker to sew her clothes.  I was deeply impressed with her enterprise, and not surprised at all when Judith went on to engineering school, one of the first women to enroll in the early 1970’s.  Her innovative spirit was easy to spot even in high school, as she found a way to exploit the possibilities of the humble granny square.

Crossing Central Park West in New York City one spring day a few years ago, I passed a woman in a scarf made of tiny granny squares, crocheted in a yarn finer than lace-weight, in a bouquet of soft pastels.  I was smitten, and ever since, I’ve thought about making a similar scarf, even though I know I couldn’t match the delicacy of the one I glimpsed on the street.  I’ve thought about using up all of my crewel yarns, perhaps, or using Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze for a soft effect.  So far, I have amassed a few of the squares.  Much crocheting is still ahead. 
But every square takes me back to my sixth year, sitting beside my granny on the side of her bed in her sunny bedroom on a side street in Detroit, watching her skilled hands, fingers bent inward with arthritis, gently moving her crochet hook in and out, as I hold mine, our heads bent over our work, until I tire of concentrating and rest my cheek against the starched rick-rack at the top of her apron strap, watching as she finishes one more square.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day Boot Socks

As a Valentine my readers, I'm offering a free sock pattern for these cushy boot socks.  Just click the link below for the pdf. document.  Happy Knitting!

Valentine's Day Boot Socks

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Knitting is Small

For one thing, knitting rarely exceeds the dimensions of the human body, and we humans are pretty small.  Knitting usually covers even less space than that.  Half a body for a cardigan, a sixth of a body for a hat, a pair of socks or mittens.  So knitting is pretty small.

Large-scale knitting, like a sweater for an SUV, is automatically parodic, an ironic comment on the essential smallness of knitting.

The tools are small, light, and cheap.  Sticks made of wood or metal or plastic, sometimes connected by a plastic cable.  Yarn, no larger in diameter than a pencil and usually much smaller.  A few even tinier accessories like a tape measure, sewing-up needles, a small pair of scissors.  That’s it. 

And the motions are small, almost imperceptible tugs and twirls of a finger or wrist, repeated again and again.

There are only two of these motions called stitches:  knit and purl.  You can twist them around each other for cables, throw the yarn over your needle to make a lace eyelet, but once you know knit and purl, you know all there is to know about stitches.

Doesn’t take long to learn.  Twenty minutes to learn the knit stitch, twenty more to learn how to cast on, bind off, and purl.  Now you’re started.

Cast on, knit a row, purl a row, repeat.

But the number of repetitions—those are massive.  Hundreds of stitches repeated thousands of times.  Something prayerful about those tiny motions, over and over again, like turning a prayer wheel or saying a rosary.

Over a lifetime of knitting, millions of stitches, and more repetitions accumulate:  scores of sweaters, hundreds of socks, thousands of cast-ons and bind-offs, and you begin to understand how knitting works.

How it is small but elegant.  Like no other craft, knitting follows the contours of the body.  Its discipline is kinetic, following the arch of the foot, the clamp of the thumb against the palm, the raising and lowering of an arm, the narrowing of a waist, broadening at the shoulders. 

Knitting follows the soft contours around a baby’s chin as well as it traces the girth of a fisherman’s torso.  Unlike tailoring that fits a flat textile to human curves, knitting produces a three-dimensional, curved fabric that stretches and clings, expands and contracts.

It takes decades of practice, watching and learning from the skills of other knitters to become a good knitter, a real knitter.   

There’s nothing to it.   

But I'll never get to the end of it. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Art is Everywhere

Today at the Birmingham fiber guild meeting, we talked about keeping journals for fiber art work.  One very gifted weaver commented that she never thought about her weaving logs as a journal; others said they never thought of keeping a record of their knitting, even though they kept other kinds of journals. 

Some of us are meticulous, using a standard format to record every project, dating and measuring each finished product, while others (like me) reach for the nearest notebook when inspiration strikes, open to a random page, and sketch, paste, write, figure.  I have index cards, notes on the backs of envelopes and receipts, all kinds of little bits of paper tucked into my fiber journals.  That’s how I know that I’m a non-linear person to the max.

But we are all artists.  It took me a long time to realize that “art is made by ordinary people,” as Ted Ormond and David Bayles write in their invaluable book, Art and Fear.
I had grown up with a skewed idea about art and artists, an idea that prevented me from accessing my creativity for a long time.

Like many conservative, well-educated midwesterners in the fifties and sixties, my parents respected art and artists, especially old masters like Shakespeare, Rembrandt, and Michelangelo.  But they became very uncomfortable around twentieth-century art like the Socialist murals of Diego Rivera in the Detroit Art Institute, and they assumed that artists live chaotic lives filled with substance abuse, unstable relationships, and even insanity.  As a child, I was presented with a double-bind:  art is admirable and worthy of veneration, but only if it has been made by people a long time ago and safely housed in a museum for at least a hundred years.

Now I know that art is everywhere. 

The occasions for it and examples of it are everywhere.  Today at the guild meeting I saw beautiful hand-woven scarves, I saw women knitting beautiful socks, I looked at an artist’s journals containing scores of visually striking compositions.  And all of these women look just like me, and pass unremarked at the mall or the grocery store.  Except that we all have a kind of glow when we’re making beautiful things. 

One of my resolutions this year is to keep art alive in my life and introduce it in a place I’ve been afraid to let it out.  For me, that’s my office at the college where I teach.  This year, I resolve to make my work environment more colorful, more inspiring. 

How do you personalize your work space?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

It’s been a long, drawn-out winter for Alabama. The trees in the woods behind my house are stripped down to their architecture—all gray verticals and lichen-spotted diagonals.  It’s quiet.  Anna’s at the beach with her friends, Kieran and David have driven to Oxford, Mississippi to visit Faulkner sites, and I’m home alone.
            I’m reading a favorite book.  My copy of Knitter’s Almanac must be at least twenty years old.  There’s a whole archeology of signs in it.  An address in Fort Collins penciled into the flyleaf tells me that I was living in Colorado, in graduate school, when I first owned it, but beneath the address is one of Anna’s two-year-old scrawls from when she systematically marked every book in our house in Alabama.  Stuck to the back cover is a heart stamp that dates from a long-ago Valentine’s Day gone a bit wild. 
The price on the back is $2.95.  On the back pages, a “Catalog of Selected Dover Books in All Fields of Interest” lists Dover’s eclectic collection at $3.00 or less, including Enrico Fermi’s THERMODYNAMICS, TEN BOOKS ON ARCHITECTURE by Vetruvius, and CUT & FOLD EXTRATERRESTRIAL INVADERS THAT FLY by M. Grater.
I’ve opened my copy countless times in the past twenty years, most often to find the classic Practically Seamless Baby Sweater, the one that suits every baby, and gladdens the heart of every expectant mother.  This time, I’ve decided to really read the Almanac and learn what I can from it. 
I’ve been knitting since I was a teenager, designing my own sweaters since college when I had no time to shop for patterns.  Knitting has accompanied me through graduate school, my first college teaching job in Wisconsin, through divorce, remarriage, the birth and growing up of my children, and nursing my mother through a long illness to her death.  Knitting has introduced me to dear friends and to wonderful yarn stores all over the world.  Knitting helps me to appreciate the work of human hands.  Knitting is a meditative practice and a delight that never fails.  I hold my knitting in my hands, but my knitting also holds me together, focusing me in the present moment, connecting me to the stitches I’ve made in the past, to the stitches I will make in the future, as I plan my next project, the one that will include none of the mistakes I’ve made before or the ones I’m making now. 
My eye is always distracted by the hand-knit garment in a room.  Every issue of a new knitting magazine contains a project I can’t wait to try in a new yarn that looks rich and lustrous.  I’m always ready to believe the next scarf, the next sweater, will be the perfect one, and even though it never is quite perfect, each one gets a little bit better than the one before.
I’m starting in the beginning, with January, when Elizabeth Zimmermann’s project is an Aran Sweater.  She writes, “most Aran patterns are forms of cable, and all Aran sweaters contain several different ones.”  Cables—how appropriate for January, those monochrome arches and angles, the caves of a honeycomb stitch, the knotty roughage of moss stitch climbing slowly up the side of a heavy sweater fit for “keeping out the wind,” as EZ says.
Cables that snake and wind and twist across the landscape of a sweater create a fabric of deep texture, a texture deep enough to bury a fingertip in, deeper than any other fabric texture I can think of. 

When I first learned to make a cable twist by holding stitches, knitting those behind them, then knitting the held stitches, I felt as if I’d seen through a magician’s trick.  What seem to be coiled ropes on the surface of a sweater were really twists on the surface—the back was flat.  It was like finding out that the actor hanging by his thumbs from the roof of a skyscraper was just crawling on his stomach along a painted flat making convincing grimacing expressions.  But the magic returns when I step away from my cable stitches and see how they seem to climb and twist across the surface of the garment.
“I have heard that the Aran family-patterns helped to identify the man washed up drowned.  A sobering thought,” writes EZ.   Whether or not that legend is true, cable patterns seem connected to hard lives, working fishermen’s lives, from Ireland’s western islands to Brittany, wherever cable patterns are found, even in the Baltic and Mediterranean.
Covering one’s torso with twisted ropes seems almost shamanistic for a sailor, as if the knitted cables could hold one together in a storm.  
Although cabling uses up almost twice as much yarn as flat knitting, the twists and floats create air pockets, an insulated, double-thick fabric.  Even a fine yarn could be cabled and twisted into a thick, padded garment.  And once she (or he, since fishermen are reknowned knitters) started introducing twists and cables, intricate patterns evolved.  And the patterns become metaphors:  blackberries, honeycombs, chains, fishtraps, waves, ropes, the garment a kind of poem whose language is the stitch taken out of its sequence and picked up later, in a different place.
Not all cables convey the “perturable toughness” of the cables in Shakespeare’a metaphor for friendship.  In fact, a fat cable knitted in a soft merino or cashmere, like those in Patricia Robert’s sweaters of the 1980’s, creates a sensuous rhythm of compression and release, soft puffs and squeezes of lush fiber.  So, it’s all in the nature of the fiber, the needle size, and of course, the way we interpret a technique.
I’ve been experimenting with cables and searching through my pattern books, swatching with my chosen yarn in 5-ply Rittenhouse Merino by Manos, hand-dyed in Uruguay.  My yarn is a deep teal blue, because I remember a teal-blue Aran sweater one of my high-school students was wearing in 1985, and I’ve always wanted an Aran sweater that color.  But my sweater won’t be a traditional Aran, I’ve decided.  I’m going to cluster the cables at the top of the bodice like a yoke, and release their tension below the bustline for an A-line profile, better suited to my pear-shaped figure.
This afternoon I passed through Walmart’s garden section, looking for a larger pot for a root-bound ivy.  Passing the seed display, I saw an elderly man in a fawn-colored cabled  cardigan fanning through an array of seed envelopes, selecting carefully the summer’s tomatoes, melons and peppers.  In this bare-bones month, he sees beyond appearances to the time when the tips of these grey branches will lighten and tightly wrapped buds will open.
Let me check—yes, that was a red-bud on that branch deep in the woods.  Compression and release—the rhythm of the year.
What knitting project are you planning for 2011?