Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Lives We Weave

Our life is composed greatly from dreams, from the unconscious, and they must be brought into connection with action.  They must be woven together.
-Anais Nin

In my last post I talked about how my Mom planted seeds in me that have been growing for quite a while now.  My love of knitting has only grown over the years and I suspect it always will be a huge part of me. I believe that it reaches down into my DNA since my ancestors knitted too.  When I visited my Great-Aunt I saw my first glimpse of a stash.  She housed more yarn then most stores I had visited.  She knit every spare moment she had and I was told by a visitor that one cannot leave her house without being gifted a pair of slippers.

So this love of knitting is woven within me; the past and present come together in this beautiful tapestry of fiber, creativity and family.  In my life I seem to be drawn to other crafters who help to weave another row into my life that bring friendship, diversity and community.  My students add another layer that allows me to push myself to learn new things that I can share and to be patient as my students teach me.  Each row, every layer creates an even more beautiful fabric then I could have ever imagined.  Each day offers me new opportunities to learn, to grow and to teach.

In the fiber that I work with surges the elements; air, fire, water and earth.  The sheep eat grasses that have been kissed by the sun, blessed by rain and nurtured by gentle winds.  It seeps into their wool binding them to nature's dance.  That wool is harvested by people, carded, spun and made into fiber.  That fiber is packaged and distributed and somehow ends up in my hands.

The wool I knit with now, like every strand of fiber I have, has a story and people, creatures and elements weave that story into what I now hold.  As I hold this fiber my life intertwines with theirs and I feel the tug of community through my craft.  This is one reason I really like MD Sheep and Wool festival; I love to see the people who are making the yarn that I will be using.  I like to talk to them about their sheep, goats, alpacas, angoras...etc.  I love to hear the care and love that they have for their creatures; it endears them to me and I can feel that love every time I knit a stitch.

I've always wanted to knit some Cormo.  I love a good Merino and the Cormo is in the same fiber family.  It is a cross between the Corriedale and Saxon Merino. This year Bijou Basin Ranch was there to make my dreams come true.  I got Bijou Bliss which is 50 yak and 50 Cormo and feels soft like a dream but full of bounce so I know it will drape beautifully.

Then I found a pure Cormo skein from Lavender Hill Farm and I bought that too.  Note:  I couldn't find any Cormo on their web page right now but they said that they would be carrying it in the future.  They have a ton of other wonderful yarns in a myriad of fibers.  I found out that they are more or less local too, so that was nice to know.  The Cormo is so squishable; I just adore it.  So thank you to the universe for allowing me to experience this wonderful fiber in two different ways!  :)

In other news I'm working on something new.  This is the linen stitch.  A knit stitch that is very deceptive.  It looks and feels like a fabric that has been woven.  Really, I wish you could feel this swatch.  It feels smooth on the right side and would feel fabulous on the skin.  The other side is full of little bumps that you can feel in the fabric.  It is an interesting stitch.

As you can see, I have been playing around with color to see what would happen.  Changing the colors every two rows makes a kind of checkerboard effect; which I think would be really lovely with a solid and variegated yarn alternated throughout the fabric.

Linen stitch is really, really easy IMHO.  Once you memorize where the yarn should be held for the slips, it flows like any other stitch.  This stitch tends to be tight so you might find going up a needle size or two will be helpful in stopping it from pulling too tight and curling.  Also, this stitch is awesome with pooling yarns as it breaks up the colorway and disperses it throughout the rows.

Linen stitch is just two rows over and over.  This is the pattern for knitting on straights.  An even number of stitches have been loosely cast on.

Row #1:     *K1, sl1 with the yarn held in front (WYIF)* repeat ** to end of row
Row #2:     *P1, sl1 with the yarn held in back (WYIB)* repeat ** to end of row

All slips are done purlwise regardless of whether the yarn is in the front or the back.  Each row will end with a slipped stitch and the yarn will have to be returned to the front (purl) or the back (knit) for the next stitch.

On circulars it becomes easier since your purl row is now a knit stitch. Again this pattern is for an even number of stitches.

Row #1:     *sl1 (WYIF), K1* repeat ** to end of round
Row #2:     *K1, sl1  (WYIF)* repeat ** to end of round

All slips are still done purlwise when circulars are used.

And that's it!

There are many ways to bind off linen stitch.

Some people use a knit two stitches pass the 2nd stitch over the first stitch bind off; yet there is many complaints about this edge being too tight.  I find sometimes this can be alleviated by using a needle that is one or two sizes up from the current one used to knit the fabric.

Some knit 2 stitches together and put that stitch back on the needle.  Then the process is repeated until the last stitch.  This will make a looser bind off; but there are still complaints about that as well.

My personal loose bind-off  is to knit two stitches move them from the right-hand needle to the left, slipping them tip to tip and knit them through the back loops.  Move the resulting stitch back to the left-hand needle and knit the next two stitches through the back loops.  Continue in this manner until all stitches are bound off.  This is a really stretchy bind off.   This is what I used in the swatch photo.

Some people bind off in pattern by slipping a stitch, then knitting a stitch and then passing the slip stitch over the knit stitch on the right-hand needle.  Then you would slip the next stitch and pass the 2nd stitch on the right-hand needle over that one and so forth until you had bound off all stitches.  This is said to produce a lovely bind off that helps keep the flow of the linen stitch.

I read a blog of a Russian knitter who found the original bind off she used unsettling and created her own.  Her post on it is here.

In the end it what you prefer; so experiment and find what you like.  I think I will put in a life-line before I start trying the different methods so I don't rip back and make a mess.  :)

Happy crafting!
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