Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Just My Humble Opinion

In my book reviews that I posted yesterday, I mentioned that I wasn’t overly enamoured of the garment patterns in either of the two books I talked about. I really hope that people don’t get upset about my saying things that might not be totally positive! I’ve heard some discussion about actually not reviewing a book or pattern unless you feel it is totally wonderful. Only good things can ever be mentioned. I have a problem with that — it’s not very helpful for starters. And it’s also not very realistic and rather patronizing! Everybody has opinions and you should be able to express them without hurt feelings. Otherwise how will we decide what really is good or bad or indifferent? How will things improve if everything is already perfect? Criticism can be constructive, not necessarily destructive. Do we throw Honesty out the window when we let Political Correctness in the door? Questions to ponder. Meanwhile, I am opinionated but hopefully not nasty about it. Do let me know if I step over the edge.

I’ve read most of the Dyeing to Knit book today and discovered that the dye section is very thorough. Not exactly how I do things, but very good information on acid dyes and the many ways to apply them. The author’s colour palette is very bright compared to mine. The middle section on designing is also very inspiring though I was disappointed that several intriguing swatches in the photos weren’t accompanied by a written or diagrammed pattern. The section on using works by some famous painters (or your kids!) for inspiration is thought-provoking. The actual pattern section doesn’t start until page 78, two-thirds of the way into the book. Some of the yarns called for are specific brands and some are generic yarn types. As a handspinner I learned strategies for substituting yarns decades ago but it’s nice to have as much information about the yarn as possible. There are no schematics (which I’m very fond of) for the garments and none of the stitch patterns are graphed out. The styles seem a bit clunky and dated with an oversized bulky fit. There are several scarves which are just long swatches to me. All in all, I like this book but if you buy a knitting book for the patterns, you’ll likely be disappointed. Luckily, I rarely buy a knitting book for the patterns!

While we’re discussing knitting, I’ve been working on my Little Squares swatch/collar that I first mentioned on my May 25th post. It’s most definitely not coming out to gauge but I’m totally loving the feel of the fabric with the handspun yarn (as fine as sock yarn) and the wide nylon ribbon yarn as accent. I pressed a section to see how it blocked and it’s even nicer. It’s relatively light and drapey because I’m knitting it on much larger needles than the wool yarn would indicate and it has a nice crunchy feel from the ribbon. The purl side is designated as the public side because the “dip” pattern stitch is even more interesting on that side. I folded the piece in the photo with the knit side at the top near the needle and the purl side out at the bottom. It's way nicer in real life! I still haven’t decided if I’m going to re-work the pattern to fit the gauge or completely redesign it to something a bit more close-fitting. Meanwhile I need to spin more yarn! I ran out of the one little spindle-full that I had. I’m tempted to prove that you can make a whole garment with a handspindle but I think I’ll use the spinning wheel for a bit more speed. I prefer to ply on the wheel anyway. More anon.

I also spent several hours working on my beaded art doll, Mu Ni. She’s almost got her whole front beaded now. Then I start on the back, which is going to be dark except for the word Dream on the back of her dress so it should go relatively quickly. My neck is somewhat sore today after the physio did a number on it yesterday. I’m hoping that it means that it’s improving and not the opposite. I’m trying to sit up the way she showed me to align my spine better while I'm typing and stitching.

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