Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Portable and adaptable

One of the many reasons that knitting is such a great craft to practise is its portability. I've been travelling around a lot over the last month or so and have generally just been busy, so it's been great to have knitting that I can easily carry from place to place - provided, that is, that I've remembered to assemble needles and patterns and yarn that are largely compatible. I'm also appreciative of knitting's capacity to easily adapt to the circumstances I've found myself in. When I've wanted a challenge, or I've wanted to distract myself from even greater challenges in my everyday life I've been able to choose a detailed, complicated project. But if, as has recently been the case, life is busy and distracting, I've been able to take on small, repetitive, routine knitting projects.

The scarf I knitted using Heidi Kirrmaier's Windward pattern has been perfect travel knitting.


Lots of stocking and reverse stocking stitch; a bit of garter stitch, and regular increases and decreases. A well-written pattern. A project that was very easy to put down and take up without losing my place - though I did use the added prompts of a row counter and stitch marker to mark the right side of the work. What's been a added bonus is that I'm very happy with the outcome. It's had lots of outings, and lots of compliments already.

Windward 4

It's a very modern scarf with with its asymmetry and its reliance on texture, rather than stitch patterning for its interest. It's the kind of simple, structural design that perfectly showcases the intense, saturated colours of Wollmeise yarn. I wouldn't usually choose to wear mustard yellow. But I think this colour is so wonderful that you just decide to wear it anyway, regardless of whether it suits you. The yarn also produced an ideal drape for this scarf that makes it just so easy to wear. Altogether a very successful project - both the process and the product.

Windward 2

I've also been knitting some hats during these last busy, disrupted weeks. I've been using perfect, simple, easily trackable patterns (Brooklyntweed's Turn a Square and Mustavillaa's Garter Stripe Beanie) that are both portable and adaptable. They were also ideal for using small amounts of yarn I already had in my collection.

Homeless hats

One of my knitting friends annually collects knitted warm hats to be distributed in winter to homeless people in Sydney who are served by a mobile soup kitchen. The hats are for this purpose. I suspect I've written before about my approach to 'charity knitting'. Actually, the very adjective 'charity' makes me feel quite uncomfortable. I have a deep commitment to an egalitarian society where there is ready access for all citizens to the necessities of life. But I don't want to achieve this goal through a mechanism of kindness on one side and expected gratitude on the other. So, I've set myself some rules for such knitting. The first is that there's no particular virtue in 'charity' knitting. I'm doing it mainly because the knitting gives me pleasure. If it benefits someone else that's an added benefit. There's no expectation of gratitude. The second rule is that I like to have a reasonably direct link between the knitting and the person who receives it. I'm not sure that this is a very justifiable rule, but it's good to think the item can be easily and cheaply distributed and used. And thirdly, I'll only knit something 'for charity' that I'd be happy to wear myself or give as a gift to friends or family. Consequently, I like to use good yarn and attractive, modern patterns that the recipients might be happy to choose to wear.

Homeless hats 1

Like my scarf, the hats have been perfect projects for the last few weeks.


Rose Red said...

I agree with you entirely on charity knitting, especially the last point. I dislike intensely the attitude that some charity knitters seem to have ("I wouldn't wear it, but they should be grateful to be warm" etc). Not that all are like that, of course.

I love the Windward pattern! I am very tempted to cast one on RIGHT NOW! You temptress!

Emily said...

Uh-oh, just had to buy the whole ebook - love Windward, but also Circumnavigate and Cartographer (great names as well as patterns).
And I agree about the charitable knitting.

DrK said...

yes that kind of paternalistic attitude makes me cringe. do it because you think its the right thing to do or dont do it at all, and dont be expecting any halos for it either. the hats are beautiful too. and that scarf, well what can i say, it is just stunning. you really have a knack for picking patterns and colours that suit you perfectly!

Ruby Girl said...

I agree with you on the charity knitting, I only knit with pure wool or other good quality yarn, not acrylic, and knit patterns I would be happy to wear myself. The Windward pattern is a lovely pattern and it is knit so nicely.

1funkyknitwit said...

You have to realise you've set a high benchmark for me now with your Windward, because after seeing yours in that FABULOUS colour I have to come up with an equally gorgeous colour. I am in love with your version!.. just perfect!

Brendaknits said...

Your descriptiion of charity knitting echoes my sentiments exactly. So many knitters want a pat on the back for knititng for charity but at the same time opeconda ouricase excuse their choice of cheap yarn by saying 'it's just for charity'.