Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Practically Knit

The little fall jacket has a (mostly) complete sleeve, waiting now for a fitting. I'm not sure my present approach to the cuff is going to work - the tried and true method would have been to decrease abruptly on the first round, for a gathered effect above snug ribbing. I was afraid that with such thick fabric, the effect might be a little stiff, and opted instead to decrease within the cuff along the seam line, and drop down several needle sizes to tighten the gauge. I'm not positive it's going to be snug enough - although, since DD is highly opinionated, it could well be just right. (I was advised in no uncertain terms at the last fitting that there were "too many strings inside" - I couldn't agree more.)

Though I continue to like the design, working it has become a chore. Normally I would relegate it to the time-out pile, and indulge myself with a newer and more exciting project - but this time I can't. This is practical knitting - a warm jacket for my own child in an increasingly cold season, and since we have presently chosen a way of life that necessitates a very tight monthly budget, knitting it from the stash was the responsible thing to do.

I wouldn't begin to suggest that we are suffering real hardship here, only that knitting for purposes of thrift and practical need throws a very different light on a traditional craft which has been overtaken by impulsive acquisition and luxury consumption. I have been working my way through Ann Feitleson's "The Art of Fair Isle Knitting", and was particularly struck by the hardship expressed in the personal interviews. Knitting is certainly about creative expression and visual and tactile pleasure, but it is also about discipline, persistence, and self-sufficiency, and it doesn't hurt to connect with the latter.

Crafting protection from a harsh climate with our own hands restores a sense of immediacy in our relationship with the natural world - and by extension, creates a greater awareness of the fragility of life without push-button climate controlled dwellings. I think that's why projects like Dulaan benefit both the recipients and the knitters.


On a completely different (and far less philosophical) note: I plan to tackle the somewhat daunting business of switching to the new Blogger platform, and checking out Haloscan for comment hosting. Quite possibly it will involve some weirdness and/or republishing, so apologies in advance to any Bloglines subscribers who get multiple copies of this post over the next couple of days.