A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Little Knitting, Please

First of all, thanks to those dear friends who commented or emailed encouragement to me... I have been drooping over the weekend, but face change more resiliently than ever, and have also had glimmers of things I could do if I had a little extra time this week.

Knitting has helped a bit, but knitting shopping was actually the best therapy I could come up with this weekend. I headed in to Grass Valley early yesterday morning to get my hair trimmed up and do the weekly shopping, and had decided that I wanted to make myself a set of Mrs. Beetons.... why, you might ask? Well, since focusing on treating my ailing hands, I have been pretty faithfully wearing my therapuetic gloves to knit, and have slept better on the nights I wore them - more sleep and less of hands falling asleep and bothering me with tingling.

My chiropractor gave me some exercises to do, and knitting friends recommended several good ideas, including Margene's suggestion of using the Ergocise site. I have added a B6 supplement, and have tried rotating needle-size in my projects, so the Ruffled Shawl has been languishing a bit while I made a worsted-weight hat for myself. I addressed ergonomics at my work computer this summer by getting a ball chair to use faithfully, and have one on order for my home office, but awoke Saturday morning with the thought that keeping my hands warm while on the computer, driving, etc., needed additional attention, which could only be remedied by purchasing suitable yarn and making a pair of wrist warmers.

I stopped by Fibers, which has been in Grass Valley for only two years, and came somewhat close to the called-for yarns. The colors are gentle and gorgeous, and off I went to Beads Galore, the local bead shop, for matching beads.

This photo makes the yarns I chose look darker and a little redder than they really are... the Kidsilk haze is actually a softer shade of rose. The beads were a close match, and I even finally had the lightbulb go on this afternoon while reading the directions for threading beads onto yarn! The Big Eye is a beading needle with a long enough eye so that the nearly-blind, such as myself, can still get the thread through. The instructions explain how to use bead thread as an auxiliary thread to slide the beads from the needle on over to your yarn... Brenda does a great job explaining. As an aside, Brenda is also the captain of Team Wales, another of the many Knitting Olympics teams that have sprung up in response to Stephanie's challenge.

That was not the only shopping, though. I also decided to pick up a kit that Fibers had put together to make a little scarf/shawl gift for my friend, Lee, who has fought so hard in the negotiations for our children's center. I wound up the balls of Berrocco Metallic FX in shiny gold and Softwist in creamy white, and look forward to making this up, but didn't have the needles I thought I did at home, so will have to wait a few days to start.

I had finished my cabled hat on Friday night, only to decide that I didn't like the ribbing I had started it with. Have you ever decided you would pick apart the cast-on edge and re-work something? Well, don't. It was very slow-going and I finally decided where I wanted the new edge to be, cut the yarn, and raveled forward, putting the stitches on a circular needle as I went, and then binding them off this evening ... this must be some sort of heretical, backwards action, but it worked. I forgot to take my hat with me shopping, though, and don't have the ribbon to weave through my cables to finish it off.

While doing all this picking/unraveling, I had some time to ponder a discussion I had with the Fibers shop owner, another former teacher, who came to the yarn shop after the demand for German teachers diminished a few years back. We both have knitted for over 30 years and she was telling me how excited her co-owner's young adult daughter has become about knitting and how she wants to become a knitwear designer. It seems like many of the young, new knitters do. Some of the designs are truly innovative, but often they are clever ideas that I have seen in previous decades of watching fashions (or even from previous centuries). There is a stronger interest and concern about copyrights than I remember in the past, partly as these new designers try to protect and market their work. However, I have the opinion that there is really very little "new under the sun" in the world of knitting, and that we are merely rediscovering and reapplying techniques and stitches that our foremothers used in centuries past. My take on this subject is that if you see a pattern you want to make and someone else is offering it for sale, and you don't want to bother to sit down with pen and calculator, or Sweater Wizard, and make a design from your own measurements, by all means, support the person who did do that work and buy their pattern.

However, you could also take the leap into designing yourself, armed with the works of such knitting luminaries as Elizabeth Zimmerman and Barbara Walker, and figure out how to make the calculations yourself for the type of sleeves, necklines, openings, etc. you want. You could easily begin to mimic the ideas of the classic designers, a neckline here, pocket there, etc, which is how the department stores create knock-off lines from the runway fashions each seasons. Is this copyright infringement, or mere flattery?

I learned these skills as a teenager, and they especially served me well when trying to adapt some yarn I stumbled upon at a thrift store or sale into a garment idea I had. Now, I do a mixture of making other peoples' designs, and seeing something I like and making it. The hat I just finished is my interpretation of some made-up hats I saw at a yarn shop earlier this month. The "innovation" of using ribbon threaded between a row of the cables seemed just a copying of earlier hats that children wore when I was growing up, with I-cord or drawstring to snug them up a bit around the base... although the "designer" of a pattern I saw for sale might claim that s/he was the first one to think of this. I would love to kick off a raucous discussion over what is true design, and what amounts to copyright infringement, so feel free to express your opinions.

My parting shot tonight....these delightful little stitch markers are the handiwork of Jenn, the Knit Wit Momma, who offered to make some Valentine ones for me to send to my Better Pal (who better not be looking), and then threw in a set for me, too... what a sweetie! Jenn's mom owns a yarn shop in Roseville, and she has been knitting lots of small items, but is just starting her first sweater for herself, so drop by with words of encouragement.


Blogger KnitNana said...

Dear Birdsong...
I'm sending you (((hugs))) and very warm thoughts for your ailing paws...
I can't wait to see your Mrs. Beetons (I want to make them, too, but you know my to-do list!). You sound as if you're making progress towards the "new Birdsong" you will be...my thoughts are with you as you move thru the days of change ahead!
Knitting and BEADING! Oh wow...and yes, what IS so new under the sun? Well, not really all that much...

6:57 AM  
Blogger margene said...

Check out Bonne Marie's blog (right side under the Frappr map) as she has some info on copyright there.
Keeping pain at bay is a challenge. Most of my time is spent computing or knitting. Both cause repetitive injuries if not careful. I asked you about Flaxseed, right? Strengthening and stretching are the best way to combat the issue.

You actually sound more relaxed already;-)

8:19 AM  

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