Making fabric is magical, but even more so with chunky, textured yarn. Creating cloth with textured yarn feels like unwrapping a present each time a new warp goes on the loom. You never know what exciting cloth you’re going to get. In this case, Bamboo Pop warp in a Midnight Blue colorway serves as a …
After over five years of toil, 32-year-old Kaitlyn Pearce is no longer sure what the unidentifiable wool garment is that she is knitting.
“I have to finish it,” said Pearce as she continued knitting. “I don’t even know what it is anymore, but I told myself I’d finish so I’m going to finish. Plus I have this whole skein of yarn left.”
“I’d successfully finished dozens of scarves, a bunch of hats, three pairs of mittens – I’d even made a pair of socks,” Pearce explained, her fingers moving quickly and almost automatically, churning out row after confused row of knitted fabric, careening all over her person. “I lost the original pattern about a year in, and ever since, it’s been a game of chicken between me and this scarf-hat with sleeves.”
Ms. Pearce related that when she started this project, whatever it was, she was perhaps feeling overly confident that she could determine what exactly she was knitting. Then life got busy, and she had only been able to work on the mystery project in short spurts over the course of 14 years. “I’m sick of looking at this bag of yarn in my closet, and knowing there’s something in there that I haven’t finished.” said Pearce. “It’s go time now, and there’s no turning back.”
Pearce said she believed that the project had started as another sweater, or maybe some sort of long coat, as she held up the tangle of knitted panels dotted with stitch markers and holding various potential new sleeves, hoods, or god-knows-what. The project blended several different patterns distributed throughout, including stockinette stitch fading into unexplained cable knit portions that then abruptly stopped to make way for uninterrupted flats of seed stitching.
“There’s a hood in here somewhere,” said Ms. Pearce, turning the unnamed project over in her hands to reveal what appeared to be three different sleeves and at least two openings that could qualify as the head hole. “At one point I think a pocket turned into a mitten,” she admitted. “I don’t know what I was thinking. But pockets keep your hands warm, and so do mittens. Same function, different form, that’s all. I’m trying to keep an open mind at this point.”
When asked why she didn’t just unravel the project until she got to a point where she could identify the original intent of the piece, Pearce balked. “I just don’t know what I’m doing anymore.”
“Life is messy, and it definitely isn’t fair,” said Pearce. “But you just gotta keep going. We’re all making it up as we go along. Especially me.”
At time of publication, Ms. Pearce’s knitted mystery project was nearly five feet long, and contained the beginnings of what looked to be a leg portion.
“I thought I was out of yarn, but then I opened another drawer and I found five more balls,” said Pearce. “I don’t know where I’m going with this, and I definitely don’t know when I’m going to finish. But I do know that whatever it is and whenever it’s done, it’s going to be an amazing gift for my niece, Janie.”
The Aspen Mountain Knit Tote is a striking bag knitting pattern made with the double seed stitch. The end result is lovely and quite simple. The sophisticated knit tote is perfect for a lazy Sunday spent at the farmers' market.
I’m not one of those admirable souls who plans ahead. And while I sometimes conceive of a handspun, handwoven project and go from there, more often, I proceed in an impetuous, feely way. This usually begins when I’m exposed to a lot of great fiber. I don’t think ahead at all; I just swoon and …
As Finland is a cold country, you need warm clothing in winter – and sometimes even in summer. Traditionally, grandmas and aunts have been busy knitting woollen socks for Christmas presents, but the approaching centenary year has inspired a large number of others to grab some knitting needles as well.
To describe the importance of knitting to the Finnish people, a new word neulosis has been coined (from the Finnish verb ‘neuloa’ meaning to knit). Neulosis means an obsessive urge to knit, a condition that is affecting a growing number of people in Finland. Some knit all the year round while others get an attack of neulosis when evenings drawn in in the autumn. While knitting is basically an individual pursuit, the centenary year has inspired people to knit together and for the delight of others. Even Pekka Timonen, General Secretary to the Centenary Board, has promised to learn to knit a leg for a sock.
As of today, there are over twenty knitting projects in the centenary year programme. Many of the ideas have been put forward by enthusiastic private individuals, like the project to knit woollen socks for all those born in 1917 and 2017.
Tanja Kanninen, the woman who came up with the idea of Woollen socks for everyone born in the centenary year, was inspired by the socks donated to her firstborn in connection with the 400th anniversary celebration of the City of Oulu. “To my surprise, nobody had yet launched a baby sock collection for the centenary year, so I decided to do so myself,” she says.
Knitting needles are also swinging in other parts of Oulu. Jaana Willman, the founder of the Woollen socks for veterans project, wants to honour the war veterans. The socks knitted are specifically designed for the centenary year in terms of pattern and colour.
In the Kainuu region, there is a project to knit bed covers for all babies born in 2017. In a library project called Novella Knit, the knitters listen to short stories while knitting. Originally launched by the Library of Kuhmo, the project has spread to other libraries in Kainuu.
“The money for the wool was provided by the Kainuu Social and Healthcare Services. Covers are being knitted not only in libraries but also in homes,” says project leader Taina Hyvönen, Director of Kuhmo Library Services.
In Tampere, people have knitted over 900 pairs of socks from baby socks to big socks to be worn with boots in places like Mummon Kammari, a centre for voluntary elderly care, local hotels and in homes. Mummon Kammari volunteers have knitted socks and, when necessary, taught hotel guests how to do the heel.
“There’s no limit to people’s creativity. Some socks are real works of art. On the side, we’ve received fine by-products like miniature hats, felted sheep, decorations, and of course mittens and woollen hats. All blue and white, of course” says Maarit Tammisto, Executive Manager of Mummon Kammari.
Currently people are working on a giant muffler which will be put together from several pieces and hung on display to delight local residents.
“We’ve taken our knitting to senior care homes, knitting societies and the meetings of the Rotaries. Many older men have tried to refresh the skills they have learnt in primary school and managed to produce a stitch or two,” Tammisto says.
Aside from warmth, the voluntary efforts have produced many other good things. At the beginning of the centennial year, the volunteers will visit the old people born in 1917 or earlier and put socks on them. Any extra products will be sold in a sale and the proceeds used for hiring young people to take old people outdoors.
Read more (in Finnish): Woollen sock collection for those born in 2017 Woollen socks for veterans Novella Knit Voluntary efforts in Mummon Kamari elderly care centre
To continue talking about the Stitch Library chapter I’m working on for my book on Lithuanian knitting, I’d like to start with a short overview of symbolism, in general. Folklore and spirituality, or religion, have been tied tightly to the symbols used in weaving in Lithuania, as well as in other forms of folk art, since …
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