Cavorting with Clapotis-san

My long-delayed appointment with Mr. Clapotis has come to fruition! Inspiration was finding just the right yarn, in this case Blue Heron Rayon Metallic in the  Leaf/Gold colorway.  The characteristic stitch drops with this smooth, slippy yarn were, as they say, “like buttah!”  Used #5 Addi circular lace needles. I was glad that I checked on Ravelry to get tips because two very good ones made the process and result much better for me. The first was to avoid the many annoying stitchmarkers with a simple hack: purl, rather than knit, the periodic stitch to be dropped. It is entirely clear which stitch to drop and, heck, purl stitches drop just like knit stitches, don’t they? The second was a technique for sharpening up the column edges: knit though the back loops of stitches just before and just after the stitches to be dropped (and also purl through the back loops on the purl rows). It tightens the stitches to give a good crisp line.

What do you think of the results?

Clap Close-up

 

Clap Hanging

 

 

Hope for Pencil Necks!

neutrals

lean and green

Big new idea for summer tees! Are you a pencil-necked geek (like me)? Or, alternately, do you like cotton t-shirts but find that the neckline stretches out in an unattractive and decidely unfashionable way over time. Refresh that neckline with Knit Kneck Tees™. Simply poke holes with a yarn needle at regular intervals along the facing of the neck of your fav droopy tee. Then pick up either complementary or contrasting cotton yarn with a crochet hook and align it correctly onto either one small circs, two circs, or DPNs. Knit around with your fav pattern until neckline has been built up to your liking. Bind off with EZ’s stretchy Sewn Bind Off. Creates a dressy touch for tees. Wanna make it x-tra girly with a built-in necklace? Use metallic cotton or beads for fast bling! Wanna be all macho about it? Go monotone and finish with 2×2 ribs. Super fast and easy. Really. Any idiot can do it … I did!

cream on white

Vest Adaptation Excites Millions

Or, at least, me!

I’m very happy with how this vest came out. It may be the best, most well-fitting vest I’ve made. Especially, I like how the garter-stitch running in different directions gives the heathered Mushishi even more texture and dimension. I’ve said it before, EZ’s generally blocky and dated designs (60s, 70s) can really benefit from a) short-row or other shaping, and b) using zippers rather than buttons for a sleeker, more modern look. Behold my proud creation:

Will try to replicate in another yarn. I took notes as I went and it actually is a pretty simple hack on the EZ ASJ.

Has a bit of an ancient Japanese armor vibe, no?

Adult Surprise . . . Vest?

Many of you have made the Elizabeth Zimmermann Baby Surprise Jacket. Many of you, like me, have gone a step further and made the Adult Surprise Jacket. See my Ravelry page. Love the architectural design and the simple beauty of the garter stitch. I am finishing up my adaptation of this theme with an . . .wait for it . . . Adult Surprise Vest! I wanted the same look as the jacket, knitted in one piece with just shoulder seaming, but without the sleeves.Iin addition, I wanted to emphasize the shoulders (to make mine look broader) and to shape the waist in. My simple adaptation was to increase the angle of double-decrease turns much more sharply (every row) and simply not knit the sleeve stitches. Here is a pic of it almost finished but still on the needles. Have already seamed the shoulders.

Actually, I have now cast off and am installing the zipper. Yes, I have often put zippers on EZ’s sweaters to update the style.

And I like zippers :)..   Stay tuned for the finished product. I think it will look good on me i.e. hide flaws, flatter assets.

Knotty Bits: Knit Crit Essays (or Long Winding Yarns)

New year, new energy, new ideas! Knotty Bits will be a recurring feature of the hAMImono blog focusing on controversies in knitting. Lots of people “preach to the choir” about the joys of knitting. As an ardent choirmember, I sing the praises of fiber and fibre play as well. However, I notice a gap among the community of barmy yarners in addressing knitting as seen and experienced through the eyes of the majority world of non-knitters. The knitting minority lives with and among non-knitters and must, in some way, mediate/negotiate/interpret the craft with them. There are aspects of this which lead to tension, misunderstanding, and in some cases, discrimination. Those issues are what we will address in Knotty Bits.

Real knitters love to knit, appreciate knitting as a structure and art, and have an urge to practice their craft. True knitters will, in the absence of proper materials, knit with sticks and grass, or pens and twine, or shishkabob skewers and kitchen string, or chopsticks and ramen. (Disclosure: guilty on all counts). Once stricken, dedicated knitters are passionate about knitting and will knit when not otherwise engaged. Take me, for example. I am about as far from the demographic of the steretyped grandma-in-a-rocking-chair-knitter-of-gaudy-polyester-potholders as possible. Not old, not female, not sedentary, not devoid of taste. Why do I knit? Fascination with the architecture of the stitch, the evolving structure, process of planning and creating and editing to closure, and the knitting-with-breath zen/meditative aspect of the act itself. I am well aware that I could achieve the same experience with almost any strong interest properly executed but it is knitting that does it best for me. Those who have uttered to cliché that “knitting is the new yoga” are trying, in vain, to verbalize the “zone” of the artist/athlete/thinker in process. Impossible. One might as well try to truly explain ecstasy, or grief, or sublimity. All transcend language.

So. one either “gets it.” Or not. But the “not” is not necessarily a fixed-forever thing. Barring a stereotyped barrier (“Guys don’t knit.” “Knitting is for sedentary couch potatoes.” “It’s a weird granny thing.” “Knitting is boring.” “I can’t do that.”), one can be introduced to knitting and knit-art, or “re-see” them if knitters and knit communities can frame them thoughtfully. Art, fashion, design, and decoration are all ways of expressing emotions for which we have limited vocabulary. Knitting falls into all of these groups, thus is an expression, a language. Unfortunately, it isn’t a language that everyone speaks.

Which brings me to the contemporary street art of “yarn bombing.” Like many young knitters, I revel in a concept of yarn art that is populist, naive, ubiquitous, celebratory, and subversive/inexplicable. I get that the spontaneous eruption of color and “sweatering” of inanimate objects can reframe sites and the art for both knitters and non-knitters. Alternately, I am conflicted. Primarily, I find most of it—- like most, but not all graffitti— ugly: too bright, too random, too slapdash, too unreflective of the site, too susceptible to an even more unattractive degradation in the elements, too divorced from accessible concept. Secondarily, I irrationally bemoan the hours of time and miles of yarn wasted on something that is often kind of pointless. Lest you misunderstand, let me elaborate on my complaints. Bright colors are not bad but there is bright and there is bright. I admit to not being a fan of bright color in general, except for the POC (pop of color) design technique. Rather than whatever-random-yarn-was-available, I would rather there be a palette or color story or some aesthetic that engages with the site or background. Yarn bombs, because they are often applied in unusual conditions, on irregular shapes, in darkness, in a hurry, are often applied crudely, often broadly mattress-stitched together. An example that looks really ugly to meAnother ugh-ly example. And a lesser offender. Don’t mind this one as muchTacky: looked better before. Stupid and pointless. Everything on this page is ugly, inharmonious, and cheap-looking. Really? As for degradation, as a native of New Orleans, I am an afficionado of the elegant decadence of degradation: the mossy tree, the moldy wall, the patina-ed spout, the pitted brick, the faded poster, the tattered flag. Filthy unraveling polyester, on the other hand, looks like none of those things. Concept: is there a goal for this art experience (other than promoting a business or busying the restless fingers of the youth)? Is it one that people can/will access? Will it potentially lead to dialogue and community (transparent, uniting, including), or division and opacity and exclusivity?

Just to let you know I’m not a complete crank, here are what I consider good examples of “point-ful” yarn bombing: decorating a park with items for anyone to use/recycleI love and totally understand and appreciate these,  artful and color-sensible, huge collection of both good and hideous examples here.

In summary, I like the idea of yarn-bombing. In practice, I want the knit-work to be well and thoughtfully placed and executed for maximum engagement. I don’t want it to be a) pointless and b) uglier than what was there to begin with. I want non-knitters and knitters to have a conceptual and aesthetic bridge to Knit-iopia!

Do I have a point? Am I knit-picking? Am I just stitch-bitching?

Whaddayathink?

Keep a Good Thought for Japan Tonight

I haven’t posted in so long here. Have been busy with so many projects but I was moved to say a few words about the devastating earthquake that has hit us here in Japan on Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm (3/11/11).

My family and I are OK but it was a HUGE scary event! The fifth largest earthquake in recorded history (8.9 on the Richter Scale), we in the Tokyo/Yokohama area had wide train stoppage (voluntarily, to check the rails) and cell/land phone outages but are otherwise just shaken up. The situation in northeastern Japan is the footage you have seen on the news: towns leveled, tsunami water and salt damage, thousands dead and missing.

We are in a tentative state, with hourly tremblors/aftershocks and a 70% chance of another big quake (3/12- 3/15).

There have been explosions of nuclear facilities, with limited radiation leakage, but I think they will largely be able to contain and limit that damage.

Yet, already, I can say that no place on Earth is better equipped to handle this catastrophe than Japan. People have been orderly, organized, generous,  other-directed, well-prepared, and civic-minded. I have not heard of one incident of looting or panic or disorder. This whole high-tech society has opened up to care for each other and, despite all the pain and suffering, that is a life-affirming thing to see.

If you are knitter who sees knitting as a meditation (kind of like a rosary), then knit a row— or 50— of kind thoughts/prayers for the people who are cold and hungry and sad in Japan tonight. They are the most deserving of that universal healing at this moment.

Or visit Knit for Japan and knit your bit for displaced evacuees.

In-Vested!

Whoa! Long slack-off. School began, in hospital for a couple of weeks. Yada, yada. No excuses.

Anyway, with summer looming, I’m on a cotton kick. Not that I’ve completed all my previous wooly projects but I’m just jonesin’ to crank on the cotton. Scored the requisite second skein of Katia Jamaica (#4000) from my fav LYS Puppy Yarn in funky recycle shop and student theatre district Shimokitazawa. Here’s what it looks the front looks like (already finished the back):

Cool and island-y

Cool and island-y

Couldn’t help myself. Also cast on the same vest pattern but in my colors and according to Symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) ‘s Vowel poem. You know, the one where he associates vowels with colors (basically launching the Symbolist poetry movement and the psychedelic study of synesthesia)?
Goes like this:
A Black, (E white), I red, U green, O blue : vowels,
I shall tell, one day, of your mysterious origins:
A, black velvety jacket of brilliant flies
Which buzz around cruel smells,Gulfs of shadow; (E), whiteness of vapours and of tents,
Lances of proud glaciers, (white) kings, shivers of cow-parsley;
I, purples, spat blood, smile of beautiful lips
In anger or in the raptures of penitence;U, waves, divine shudderings of viridian seas,
The peace of pastures dotted with animals, the peace of the furrows
Which alchemy prints on broad studious foreheads;O, sublime Trumpet full of strange piercing sounds,
Silences crossed by Worlds and by Angels:
O the Omega, the violet ray of Her Eyes!

– As translated by Oliver Bernard: Arthur Rimbaud, Collected Poems (1962) 

Scary and trippy right? I’m off on a tear now to incorporate those colors into the linen and cotten summer top I’m knitting up for myself. Looks like this:
Rimbaud Vowel Vest

Rimbaud Vowel Vest

Rimbaud Vowel Vest

Rimbaud Vowel Vest

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, I got very inspired by the origami mind of Elizabeth Zimmermann to knit the extremely simple but fun Moebius Vest with built-in i-cord (yarn forward then slip (purl-wise) last three stitches of each row).  So far, I’ve done this:

so cool and green

so cool and green

 Against the sour global economy, I’m busy in-vesting!    

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