January 23, 2006


ChallengeProject 001.jpg
Those Feral Fair Isle Knitters will meet again tonight. Since this is our meeting closest to the grand Scottish holiday of the anniversary of Robert Burns's birth, this is the deadline for those of us who are participating in the Challenge Project to show what we've knitted. (Lest that sound like a non sequitur, let me explain that we chose Robert Burns's birthday as our Project deadline because Fair Isle knitting is so closely associated with Scotland -- and, at the time we challenged ourselves, January seemed like a decent interval into the future.)

I spent some time over the weekend working on my Challenge Project. The challenge is to see how much Fair Isle knitting you can get from two 25-gram hanks of Shetland jumperweight wool. What you see in the photo above is what I've done so far. It's about 5-3/4 inches tall; the ribbing is 136 stitches around and knitted on size 2 needles, and the main part is 160 stitches around and knitted on size 3s. All stitch patterns are from The Complete Book of Traditional Fair Isle Knitting; the yarn is Jamieson's Spindrift in the colors Sapphire and Black.

You can see by the size of the balls of yarn at left that I've got some knitting to do today in advance of tonight's meeting.

The other project I spent time on this weekend was the clearing out of the garage, with an eye toward the goal of turning the space into a studio for my weaving and other creative projects. Since we've moved into this house, 2-plus years ago, the garage has been full of boxes of books, old toys, various kitchen items that rather obviously don't get used very often, and more books. (When we first moved in, Scott had stacked all of these boxes all very neatly, with a path on either side down a center stack of boxes, and more boxes against either wall; as time has passed and we've from time to time rummaged through boxes, anything resembling order has been lost. With no small sense of irony, I will confess that there's been, sitting askew on top of some opened and shoved aside boxes on top of my weaving bench, a book on Feng Shui. Ah, yes, the art of placement -- I must learn that, some day.) So over the weekend I did some unpacking, tossed out some things, identified some things that can be donated to charity, culled some books to sell or donate to the library. Converting the garage into a studio is not a one-day or even a one-weekend project.

I was re-inspired to work on the garage last Thursday. That was the day that Laura-Lee and I went to see the Bellevue Art Museum to see the exhibit by local bead artist David Chatt. (This exhibit has been so popular, it's been held over into February at BAM. Read a review of the exhibit here. In the Chatt exhibit, Laura-Lee's favorite piece was the Wisteria Vessel, while I liked the Ivory Tower. We both were amused by the piece called Confrontation in the Green Room. )

The first thing you see, entering this exhibit, is an installation piece -- it's the bead artist's studio. And it literally is his studio, dismantled from his old house, waiting to be moved into his new house, and in the meantime installed in the museum. Take a look at David Chatt's home page, and you'll see what I'm talking about: the shelving and countertop with beads and various small trinkets were installed in the museum. What you don't see in the photo but what was there in the museum were also his purple chair, side table, lamp, his current-work-in-progress draped over the purple chair. He has a very neat and orderly studio, with the beads all arranged by color.

And I thought, I can do that, too -- have my studio with my yarns arranged by color.

More motivation for this project came from seeing a few woven pieces at the Bellevue Art Museum (not part of the Chatt exhibit, but other textiles that were on display), and having conversation with Laura-Lee, who is not only a knitter, but also a weaver, and just in general, an all-around creative and artistic person. Turned out that Laura-Lee has the same goal of clearing out her garage to turn it into a studio. And we made a date to go to the Seattle Weavers Guild, whose January meeting is coming up this week.

In Two Swans news, I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new book, Nicky Epstein's Fabulous Felted Bags, and kits for the projects in this book. I received in advance two kits for two of the bags so that I could make shop samples. So here's a preview:

Abbondanza, the Italian word for abundance. The leaves, stems, and berries on this bag are knitted and felted separately, and appliqued onto the bag. The bag has a small flap and a one-button closure.

Tropicana, a large tote adorned with parrots. The branches that the birds are sitting on wrap around onto the back side of the bag. This one is knitted using the intarsia technique.

Don't be misled by the size of these two large bags. The book also has several smaller projects, for use as an evening bag, or for a kid's bag. There's also a bag called 'Swanderful, which has a swan on it -- can't wait to see it! The book and the kits will be arriving any day now.

Now, back to finishing up my Challenge Project before tonight's meeting!

Posted by Karen at January 23, 2006 09:10 AM

Love your fair isle! I still have boxes in the garage from moving almost 4 years ago, but life intervened... (Here we go Steelers!...(duck!))

Posted by: Nancy J at January 23, 2006 09:51 AM

The hat is just gorgeous. Love the colors, love the patterns. You will be a sensation at the meeting! The felted bags are very impressive, but- boy- they look like a lot of work!

Posted by: Anne at January 23, 2006 10:32 AM

Uhm, Nancy, I'm *sure* you meant, GO SEAHAWKS! (Not that I follow football, but, even I kind of had to notice their significant win yesterday.)

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Anne. I've had a lot of fun picking colors and stitch patterns. Only wish I would'a gotten started a little sooner.

Posted by: Karen at January 23, 2006 10:52 AM

The hat is just beautiful! Great choice of colors!

Posted by: Jewel at January 23, 2006 11:14 AM

love the fair isle, esp. the vining motif. those bags are gorgeous!

Posted by: vanessa at January 25, 2006 03:49 AM

Ooooh...purtyful! That hat is gorgeous!

Posted by: KnittnChick at January 25, 2006 07:14 AM

I think your hat is absolutely gorgeous! You can't tell me that isn't "FUN" knitting!!! I'm on the road to Tucson, but please save me a Nicky Epstein book as soon as they come in.

I never thought you could get a pair of mittens from 50g of yarn either. I am now inspired to go crazy with all the yarn left from the Fair Isle Glove project.

I can't wait to see your hat finished. Is it for you?
Cheers, Abby

Posted by: Abby Cohen at January 26, 2006 05:59 AM