Monday, April 12, 2010

Fat Yarn, Fat Needles

Since the day I finished my first lace knit scarf about four and a half years ago I have been in love with skinny yarns and tiny needles. That scarf, an "Old Shale" lace knit in a white mohair/silk blend yarn on US size 6/4.0mm needles sent me on a path where my knitting had never gone before. It's been exceedingly difficult to persuade myself to return to fat yarn and fat needles and to try knitting sweaters again. Let me define "fat" for you. By fat yarn I mean anything worsted wt or heavier and fat needles are anything bigger than a US 7/4.5mm. Such yarn feels more like rope in my hands, the fat needles more like broomsticks.

Returning to the "fat" way of knitting has been a real challenge, but I was determined to give it a go. Besides the added bulk of everything was my fear of knitting sweaters. Me? Afraid? YES!!! Why? Because I have yet to ever knit a sweater than fit well and flattered my curvy self. I've done big-enough-for-two-to-wear-at-the-same-time sweaters, I've done boxy, oversized, drop-shoulder, you-just-gained-20-pounds-by-putting-this-on sweaters. I've done multi-stranded, super chunky, cropped OhMyGosh! sweaters and no-pattern-innovate-falls-off-the-shoulders sweaters. And (oh yeah!) the one it's-kinda-snug sweater (you mean dk wt is different from worsted wt????) that I did wear even though it left marks on my arms where the sleeves were binding (so much for puffed sleeves of the 80's). I have learned that accurate gauge swatches are not only important, they are essential to good sweater knitting. Sigh.....

When the new Spring/Summer 2010 issue of Vogue Knitting showed up at my LYS I picked it up and started to thumb through the pages with my usual skepticism for VK. But wait! This time VK came through with lots of lace and plus-sized sweaters that even I wanted to knit. SHOCK!!! When I came across the lace tunic designed by Project Runway contestant Gordana Gehlhausen I knew I had to knit one for myself. I bought some lovely lavender cotton blend yarn (dk wt. :-) and started in. My gauge was perfect using a size smaller than the pattern calls for needles (sz 8). I couldn't stand the thought of having to heft around sz 9s!

Knitting WW cotton yarn sweaters is physically more taxing than lace shawls, so I have had to pace myself. I found that I can do it in the morning, but not at night. Even still, I am only a few short rows from being finished only a month after starting. This is very good. Once I am done there will be photos to share, so keep tuned. In the meantime I chose another summer cardigan/top from a back issue of VK for my next sweater project. Sweaters are great for my wardrobe. I think I'll try and knit some more :-) Shocking, I know :-)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Rant : TNNA

This evening I received an email asking me to complete an online survey for TNNA, the National Needlearts Association,the professional trade association for "hand needlearts" in the USA. I followed the link and filled out the survey. I willingly indicated the needlearts I practice and how competent I am in each discipline. I counted up and categorized every project I completed last year and summarized my spending for materials and related supplies as queried by the survey. I filled in all the blanks. Fine. Then why the rant? Why am I so irritated???? Because of the narrow vision of TNNA.

The only needlearts TNNA wanted to know if I was either skilled at or practiced last year were: knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, cross-stitch, or hand embroidery. PERIOD!!! What?????? Not once in any of the survey, even when they were asking about "other" things like sewing, quilting, scrapbooking, or beading did they even think to mention a single form of lace making. No tatting. No bobbin lace, no needle lace, NOTHING!!! It's no wonder that only one published needlearts magazine in the USA ever has anything about tatting (Interweave Piecework) and the only company that publishes tatting patterns (Handy Hands excepted) is Annie's Attic...and that ain't much to speak about. If it weren't for Lacis and a very small handful of other retailers (Nordic Needle, etc.) the lacemakers in this country would have practically no industry acknowledgment or support at all! That's pretty shameful considering the last time I checked folks used needles and related hand implements to make lace in its various forms.

I know, I know! I shouldn't be surprised by all this...and I'm not really. Nevertheless, I'm still angry at the narrowness of TNNAs vision in light of how much tatting and lacemaking has grown over the past decade. At the end of the survey was a place for comments. I wasted no time in chastising TNNA for ignoring tatting and lacemaking, both in their survey and in their acknowledgment of what constitutes needlearts in the USA. Shame on them!!!