dusktreader knits

June 14, 2010

May 21, 2010

Maybe this will get me knitting

Filed under: What I talk about when I talk about knitting — Tags: — dusktreader @ 10:31 pm

I am packing for a business trip, because I am an adult who goes to conferences. An adult who goes to conferences and packs lightly so that she doesn’t have to check her luggage, might I add. And as usual I found myself trying to pack 3 knitting projects, because WHAT IF I FINISH ONE AND HAVE NOTHING TO KNIT. I haven’t been knitting in weeks, but I wouldn’t want to get stuck for 3 days with nothing to do but read and swim (the hotel has a pool) and, I don’t know, attend a conference or something.

I wonder if there will be other knitters? If it were a library or archives conference, there’d be knitters for sure. Are post-secondary web people the knitting type? Will I be able to knit through all the sessions without raising eyebrows? We shall see.

April 23, 2010

April 10, 2010

March 14, 2010

Spring Forward!

Filed under: What I talk about when I talk about knitting — Tags: , , — dusktreader @ 3:34 pm

I am actually not all that excited about the time change today, but in this context it sounds like yarn forward (a knitting term wherein one moves the working yarn from the back of the work to the front, creating a decorative hole, for my non-knitting friends kind enough to be reading), so the exclamation point stands. Yarn forward!

I don’t usually do much knitting in the spring: my post-Christmas excitement has run out and I start being more active outside again. I have no immediate need for warm things, and it seems too early to begin work on my Christmas presents. And I lose a lot of my inspiration! I love seeing everyone’s knitwear: many people have caught me openly staring at their hats, mittens, scarves or sweaters, and I’m not sure if they know that what I’m doing is mentally deconstructing their accessories. Sometimes it turns into a nice moment of connection if I compliment the object. People appreciate it, especially if it’s something they made or that someone made for them.

Halifax has been especially great for this: cold weather, friendly people. It’s starting to get warmer here, but I haven’t stopped wearing my hat in the early morning when I walk to the bus stop. I’m happy it’s spring, but I’ll miss all the wool! Here’s to many lace cardigans on summer nights, mesh market bags, lightweight headbands, and many other fair-weather knits.

March 12, 2010

link: The Knitstory Project

Filed under: What I talk about when I talk about knitting — Tags: , — dusktreader @ 10:00 pm

I love knitting scholars, and I love getting a new perspective on history through everyday activities. My undergraduate degree was in Women’s Studies, and there I learned the significance and value of telling and listening to stories of our everyday lives.

The Knitstory Project, started by a historian, is as site which collects personal knitting histories. The first round has been posted, and I’m looking forward to seeing more. I can relate to this quote from contributor Kathy:

I believe in the significance and value of the small everyday things we do (I also love to cook and garden). Because life is very hard, we need that little bit of joy, calm, centering, everyday. Just looking at yarn makes me happy. And when I am stressed during the day, I pick up my knitting and knit a few rows. Knitting is different from any other activity I do, not sure why, but it is intensely comforting.

March 4, 2010

Knitting “vs” sewing

Filed under: What I talk about when I talk about knitting — Tags: , , — dusktreader @ 10:22 pm

Can't we all just get along? Image by incurable_hippie on flickr.

Does it have to be a competition? No. But I can’t help making comparisons.

I’ve been knitting for 6 years, and I consider myself to be at the intermediate level: I’ve learned a lot, and there are a lot of things I haven’t tried yet. But I’m a newbie at sewing: I just relearned (having not really learned anything in home ec. class except how to ask the teacher what to do next) last Fall. It was time. I’d dragged my mom’s old sewing machine across the country with me when I moved,* so i had to make it worthwhile and actually get around to using it. And now that I’m not in school I have stretches of time–hours even–where I can sit and focus on something fun guilt-free. Can you imagine?

I’ve made a few bags, and a few aprons. I made a skirt about a month ago and that was really exciting. (It fits me! In the waist AND the hips! I’ve worn it several times and received compliments. And it hasn’t even fallen apart!)

I think I like knitting better though. Sewing is more about finished product for me. I’m excited about having a bag that I made rather than being excited to make a bag. When I knit, I enjoy the process. The hats, socks, mitts and gifts are almost a bonus rather than the reason for doing it. I like being able to pick up my knitting anytime and do a few rows without all the elaborate set-up that sewing requires.** In knitting when I make a mistake, I can almost always ignore it with minimal consequences. In sewing, mistakes can ruin large swatches of fabric and can really stand out.

And knitting is portable. I spend a lot of time on busses. I like to knit on my lunch break. Or at the park, or on the plane, or at the beach. (And don’t say anything to me about hand-sewing. Besides the tediousness, I’m nervous about whipping out pokey needles in a public place. Knitting needles can be dangerous when handled improperly, but it takes a lot to get them to puncture your skin.)

I like sewing for things that are impractical or impossible to knit. I’ve always wanted to make a knitted skirt (and I will someday), but it would take months of knitting. I sewed a skirt in about 5 hours. I also like that sewing can enrich my knitting: I’m now a lot less afraid of projects that require sewn-in linings or zippers, and I have a new understanding of garment construction from reading up on sewing techniques.

It’s probably not my passion. But we’ll see. It’s still budding. Maybe in six years I’ll be designing my own sewing patterns.


*Actually, the boy dragged it for me in an extra suitcase I made him take. Thanks boyfriend! I’ll make you that superhero costume someday!

**Perhaps one day when I have a craft room with a sewing machine that I can leave set up and accessories and fabric that are well-organized, it will be easier to sew a little at a time.

February 18, 2010

Thoughts on copyright

Knitting is way older than the concept of copyright. Long before you could own the expression of an idea, knitters were sharing their patterns with each other to survive in cold weather.

Believe it or not, copyright was created as an incentive for creators to share their work, because it gave them the opportunity to make money from it for a fixed period of time. It was meant to balance the rights of users and creators. Today, that fixed period of time has steadily increased, and updates to copyright laws have failed when it comes to including users’ rights. (For more information, see the works of Lawrence Lessig and Cory Doctorow.)

Nothing in this world is new: everything is inspired by or built upon something else. It’s how creativity works. People mash up existing songs to create new ones: they juxtapose music and images to make cultural criticism. Knitters take stitch patterns which have existed for centuries, combine them with different ways of constructing garments, borrow a thumb gusset from one mitten and a braid from another. It’s something I’m fascinated by, and I believe strongly in a culture of sharing that also supports creators who in turn share their innovations.

In fact, if you’ll direct your eyes to the righthand* sidebar of my blog, you will see that I have licensed the contents under a Non-Commercial Attribution Share-Alike license. This means you can copy any of my work here for non-commercial purposes, as long as you attribute it to me. If you are going to modify it in any way, you must make it available for copying under the same license. When I get to the point where I’m making my knitting patterns available (the Crazy Cat Cave is coming!), I’ll use the same license for them.

This doesn’t mean I don’t believe in selling or paying for patterns. I often use free patterns, either from sites like Knitty where the bills are paid by advertisers, or from patterns that other knitters make available on the internet. Part of my reason for starting this blog was to give back to that community of people who have shared their work with me over the years. But I also buy patterns, particularly when they are unique, or when the designer has done something that will make the knitting easier: charts that simplify a written-out design, explanations of difficult techniques or recipes which allow for endless modifications.

I actually think the knitting world does a pretty good job of of balancing the rights of users and creators. Free patterns and patterns you pay for coexist in the knitting world, and most designers offer both. You can make as many copies of a knitted object from someone else’s pattern for personal use (for yourself or as a gift), but you can’t sell these objects without the designer’s permission.** Knitters can choose to share their work with others via sites like Ravelry or their personal blogs, and they can choose to sell them through the same means, or by publishing them in print and online magazines. Knitters share. They also support each other. It’s a community I’m proud to be a part of.


*pause while I make the little backwards L with my hand (“righthand? yes righthand”) because I don’t think I’ll be able to confidently tell left from right on the first try

**At least, that’s the license that most designers print on their pattern. I am not actually sure whether this holds up in court (if anyone knows of any case law regarding personal use of knitting patterns, please direct me to it. I except most indie designers don’t have the resources to take legal action, so there probably isn’t a lot). Copyright law doesn’t cover the items you make from someone else’s pattern, only the pattern itself. Regardless, it seems to be the accepted norm in the knitting community.

January 11, 2010

January 10, 2010

In which knitting is TOO EXCITING to do before bed

Filed under: What I talk about when I talk about knitting — Tags: , , , — dusktreader @ 7:46 pm

I recently realized that I’ve been knitting for about 6 years. After a few false starts, I bought my copy of Debbie Stoller’s Stitch ‘n Bitch at a boxing day sale in December 2003, and from it to learned all the basics of knitting, purling, increasing and decreasing.

The first scarf I ever knit.

This was the first scarf I ever made. Look how proud I am! Photo by my sister Sherri.

I’d originally wanted to learn so that I would have something to do while watching TV. (By the time I did learn, though, I no longer lived in a household with TV.) I soon found that what was supposed to be a relaxing hobby was not one that I could do before bed. Not because I found it frustrating (although sometimes, I did), but because it was just TOO EXCITING. Especially when I was starting a new project and I went from the point between knitting a few cast-on stitches in blind faith to the point where what I had done looked like exactly like the beginning of what was in the pattern. It was going to work! I could see it taking shape before my eyes! TOO EXCITING.

Anyway, I learned not to do it before bed because I always wanted to do just one more row. Which, just as it had with pages of the books I used to beg my mom to let me stay up to read, turned into another and another, and another…

Knitting has done a lot for me in those six years, in addition to the cute, warm accessories. It gave me a different way to exercise my brain for the latter part of my 9-year post-secondary stint. It got me through some of the longest, dryest classes during grad school. When my partner was travelling in Southeast Asia for 4 months last winter, one way I dealt with missing him was by making a picnic blanket for the two of us to have picnics on when he returned in the summer. If I was missing him, I’d knit a bit on our blanket and imagine the picnics we’d be having soon.

The picnic blanket I made last winter

Here's me stitching up the blanket. Confession: I still haven't woven in all the ends. But we have taken it out for a picnic. Photo by my cousin Megan.

I’m proud of all I’ve learned and accomplished in those six years. I don’t know everything, and that’s one of the things I like about knitting: there will always be something new to learn, when I’m ready. And right now I’m ready for my biggest challenge since I learned to knit: designing my own patterns. I’ve been able to make modifications to patterns I’ve been knitting to suit my tastes and needs from the time I looked at the ribbed scarf in Stitch n’ Bitch and decided to make it in elongated chevron stitch instead. But now I want to be able to come up with things all on my own. I want to invent my own stitches. I want to be able to picture something in my head, and translate it onto needles. It’s a process that seems full of both mystery and potential.

When I started knitting, I kept a journal to keep track of all of my projects and everything that I was learning. It was useful for keeping track of my needle sizes and pattern notes. It’s also a record of my early enthusiasm, wonder, and respect for the craft I was learning. I would take a picture of everything I knitted and tape it into the journal. After awhile, I got lazy about keeping up with it. And then I joined Ravelry, which is just about the neatest thing on the Internet and fulfilled most of the functions my journal had. But I miss having a place to record all the other observations and excitement and challenges, something that’s especially useful for me at the beginning of a new challenge like designing.

And so: a blog!

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