Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Twenty-four: Roundabout Reasoning

I'm making good progress on the Roundabout Leaf Tank: As far as process goes, it's a nifty little pattern - the spiral construction is not particularly difficult, but novel enough to be entertaining, and the directions are clear and well-written. I am not yet convinced that the distinctly ridged, mostly horizontal seam is going to hang in a flattering way. Feeling a bit touchy already regarding the recent development of horizontally oriented bulges about my midriff (too much packing, not enough running), I am hardly inclined to create more out of yarn. I do admire Norah Gaughan, so I'll reserve judgement until the garment is complete and blocked and hanging on my real live moving body.

(One just never knows how much tugging and arranging and hold-perfectly-still-just-like-that goes on to achieve the "naturally" flowing curves on a model. What I'd really like to see in knitting books is the "after" photo, once the model quits holding her breath, sits down, stands up, takes a few steps, bends over to wipe the sticky remains of a PBJ sandwich off the kitchen floor and straightens up again. That would be useful.)

Which brings me to one of my current passions: "wearable art" that is engineered for optimal wearability. I simply don't see the point of putting a beautiful and interesting textile on a human body in a format that's not flattering or practical to move about in. Walls and sofas and all manner of inanimate objects are more then happy to be adorned with big rectangles of fabric, or "interesting" studies in colour and texture. To my mind, garments (including jewellery) demand a far higher level of ingenuity that belies their supposedly utilitarian identity. To create something that not only has artistic merit in its static state, but incorporates movement and the practical requirement for differentially engineered areas of fluidity, support, resilience, elasticity, weight and balance seems to me a lofty goal indeed. (Mobiles fascinate me for exactly the same reason.)

I am also intrigued by the difficulties inherent in writing a commercial pattern to optimally fit the full range of human dimensions. I'm not just talking about "plus sizes", but features like longer than "average" torsos, different than "average" bust to hip ratios, broad shoulders, muscular arms.... Knitters often make those modifications themselves, with mixed results, but what if intriguing and beautiful patterns could be written to facilitate custom sizing from the outset? That's where my mind is heading.