Archive for September, 2014
This post contains some mild spoilers, of course, so continue at your own risk! Also, I haven’t read the books!
I resisted at first but it wasn’t long before I became one of the many knitters that was devouring Starz’s new series Outlander. I love historical fiction especially of this period but I’m not into historical romance so I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon. But the early reviews all outlined how cool the protagonist, Claire, is and how the show is not your ordinary premium cable television show. I have to say, those reviews were on point (except, Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, that voice over is maddening!) and the show has stuck with me between viewings.
In case you missed the buzz, Claire, a British army nurse, is reconnecting with her husband on a genealogy-themed vacation when she is transported from post-WWII Scotland to the 18th century. Kilts! Brogue! That theme song!
While there’s tons of really adorable knitwear (that I would actually wear in my 21st century life), I’m going to save all of that for another post. I really want to talk about the fifth episode because it really tickled me! While Claire is on the road with Dougal and co, she stumbles on a group of women that are waulking wool.
Waulking (or fulling) is a process of cleaning and thickening new wool cloth. Sure, there was the gross-out, thank-god-I-don’t-live-in-the-olden-days fact that they are using boiled urine (yum!) to clean the oils out of the fabric and then beating it with their hands. (The smell of wet wool alone is bad enough, I can’t even!) But, considering wool is just about everywhere in the daily life of a highlander (tartan short gowns and berets and just the most beautiful blankets), this was an important common chore of the time.
Besides the whole pee blanket thing, it does seem like a pretty fun job and I’m kind of enamored by the community aspect of it. There are some great female characters in Outlander but they don’t really get to bro-out like the dudes do (telling dirty jokes, hunting, playing oldey timey sports, etc). I loved hearing these women sing and enjoy their work together.
Waulking songs are much like folk songs. Different lyrics are set to the same tunes and there is a call and response or a leader sings a verse while everyone else joins in for the chorus. The waulking songs are set to a beat suitable for pounding on the wool. I love old drinking songs and this feels like an especially female version since women were generally the waulkers.
I’m having a lot of fun finding waulking songs and exploring this tradition! Are you watching Outlander?
I’ve been going on and on about making Exeter my dream Rhinebeck sweater (though I’m positive I won’t have time to finish it). But after seeing the Benton that Jen at Grainline Studio made has really got me craving this beautiful sweater. It’s so simple yet really striking and I love how easy it is to wear. Perfect addition to my uniform of skinny jeans/button down/boots. The full post on Jen’s sweater is here. God, she’s talented!
>> A crocheted bowl of Ramen with video instructions.
>> Jon really wants to get a drone. He’s kind of obsessed with the idea which has me rolling my eyes a lot. I hate to say “boys and their toys” (girls like gizmos, too!) but mine seems to REALLY like the gadgets. This video of a ram vs. a drone feels very close to my heart right now.
>> Tips on how to weave in your ends. I’ve been knitting for 10 years and I’m still not happy with my finishing techniques. These photos are going to be very helpful!
>> Amy’s got a GREAT post about how to choose your first sweater pattern. Choosing to tackle your first sweater is a big leap and it can be very daunting. This is solid advice!
>> The cutest Vince star ever is Winter the lamb.
>>This New York Times article stirred things up on Twitter yesterday. I like Josh’s work a lot and it was great to hear more about his work at Fashion Week. It’s just that tired grandma comparison that really gets knitters upset!
So much knitting to do this week! Sweater season is almost upon us! What do you have on the needles?
Stitch N’ Pitch is coming up this weekend! Believe it or not, I’m going to be attending for the first time.
The Mets/Nationals game this Sunday September 14th marks the 8th annual Stitch N’ Pitch. The event is hosted by the New York Mets and Metropolitan Hospitality and sponsored by Lion Brand Yarn Company. Along with a themed Mrs. Mets plush, knitters and crocheters will be given Lion Brand yarn to make squares for Warm Up America. BYO needles and hooks! We’re going to be making for a good cause! Warm Up America collects handmade items for many social services across the country.
Admittedly, I am not a big sports fan but I do love to hang out with knitters while we’re in our element. I’m going to brush up on my baseball lingo! I can’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon!
Pick up your tickets to the ball game here. We’ll be at Citi Field on Sunday! Don’t forget to bring your needles!
Will you join us? Who are you routing for?
I recently wrote about upcoming print-only Knit Wit Magazine and how I’m dying to get my hands on the first issue. The Kickstarter is quickly coming to a close but I was recently able catch up with Zinzi Edmundson, Knit Wit’s Editor. Zinzi (and art director Gigi Jack) come from a magazine background. She was nice enough to do a little interview with me and I’m very excited to share!
What drew you to the magazine world?
It’s unclear. I wanted to work in magazines from such an early age that it’s a little hard to pin point (around middle school, I wrote a letter to Anna Wintour. Unreturned, naturally). As a kid pre-blog, I would take all my favorite parts of other magazine (mostly photos + some headlines) and create my own Zinzi-themed magazines in sketchbooks. I’d even write stories around the images.
You come from a magazine background so what is it about textiles that you find interesting?
I’ve been a knitter since I was 8, but I have to admit that the current mega-surge in textile interest is really what hooked my attention. I love the limitless ability for expression and the cultural specificity that gets woven, stitched, knit, printed or dyes into fabrics. It’s really romantic and it’s so, so interesting. But, because we’re still in discovery mode (and this is our personalities anyway), the magazine will never be written from the point of view of an authority or some austere perspective from on high. It’s an honest curiosity and readers can come along for the ride (and chime in via social, too!).
Most (if not all) knitting magazines provide patterns but Knit Wit has none. What made you turn away from that format?
I think including patterns makes it a different kind of magazine and I wanted to introduce Knit Wit as an alternative to what’s already out there. That’s not to say that we’ll never include projects, but it’s just not exactly the idea. I have these grand visions of people who aren’t crafters or who never picked up knitting needles to be swept away by the stories and the incredible people so much so that they decide to dig deeper and start making stuff themselves. And that hardcore knitters or weavers or what have you (if they aren’t totally pissed that there aren’t patterns!) will discover something new or hear a story about something they already knew about, but from a different perspective. So for our purposes, it’s always been more about the people, places and objects than it is about DIY aspect. Call it a jumping off point or something.
What do you make of the contemporary knitting/textile scene?
This is a tough one. It’s so enormous—there are so many different people, all of whom relate to it in a completely different way. I was thinking recently about how fiber and textiles is considered a niche, which it definitely is, but it’s so weird given that there are millions of people participating in these activities, whether they’re just fucking around or upholding a grand tradition. So yeah, I guess I have to say that I think its vast and dynamic and just so chock full of stories. I think what’s interesting about Knit Wit is that it can be technically about something so specific, but it’s secretly very, very broad. We’ll never run out of material.
What do you see for the next issue and the future of Knit Wit?
OMG, good question. Now that we’re funded and most people signed up for a subscription, we’ve got to make good on that! Ha! In the future, I hope to continue to put as much care and love into future issues as there is in this one. And on a more literal note, Gigi and I are looking to expand into hosted workshops with fun lunches and awesome guest instructors. Coming soon…
I’m so pumped that Knit Wit was fully funded long before their deadline but tomorrow is the last day to back Knit Wit Magazine on Kickstarter! I hope you are all looking forward to the first issue as much as I am. Thanks for sharing with us, Zinzi!
Have you backed Knit Wit yet?
There are a few things I won’t do. I won’t dye and I won’t spin. I don’t quilt. And, as of right now, I don’t crochet. It’s not that I’m against other crafts, I love even the ones I can’t understand. I just can’t allow myself to have other hobbies. My yarn stash is out of control and, since I started sewing at the beginning of the year, I’m having trouble finding places to store the new yardage I’ve been collecting. One day, when I am a grown up, I will have a house with a craft room and there will be a closet full of yarn and a cabinet of fabric and a sewing machine, serger, floor loom, spinning wheel, and maybe even a knitting machine. But right now, in my one-bedroom, I am bursting at the seams (craft pun) with bobbins, tapestry needles, cross stitch canvasses, etc.
But if I could have a new hobby, if I did allow myself to learn something new, to take time away from that mile-long queue of sweaters and hats and socks, if it were possible to store a little frame under my bed between the sewing patterns and bags of yarn, that hobby would be weaving.
To be honest, I know how to weave. I have a small table top loom that I received as a gift years ago and I made lots of little patterned ribbons with linen thread. When I saw these woven wall hangings coming back into style (they’re really 70’s, huh?) I tried to ignore it. But now it’s too late. The pastel, textured beauties have caught me and I want one of my own.
I’ve considered taking a class (maybe one at the Textile Arts Center or this one at Makeshift Society Brooklyn) but I am the most stubborn kind of DIY-er. I like to think that I can figure out how to do anything on my own. Pickling? Sewing buttonholes? Weaving? I’m sure I can make it work. Besides, I have the internet to help me. Some resources I’ve found for DIY weaving frame, the anatomy of a loom, and a tapestry tutorial. So I might go for it. I mean, it would be a good way to use up my stash, right?
Do you limit your hobbies? Have you caught the weaving craze? How are you learning?