Sunday, April 24, 2011

Something significant happened today: I decided to make a slipper-sock. I chose two yarns-a skinny, self-striping sock yarn (Felicity by KnitPicks) and a light worsted merino (Luxury Merino by After one false start I got the number of stitches right to do a ribbed low ankle cuff. I added a cable on each side just for good measure. When I pulled into heel territory, I decided without much deliberation that I wanted a short-row heel and that I would make one tiny, center short row and then run my short-rows from cable to cable.

The perfect thing was that knowing the construction allowed me to pull this off without big calculations or consultations or any kind of pattern. I knit four pairs of socks two years ago, but I could hardly call myself a sock knitter, so this was a revelation. I could see the three-dimensional shape I wanted to achieve in my head, and I knew how to use the short-rows to make that cupping. This signals my arrival at a level of expertise that I have only reached before in medicine. I have lived with this knitting thing long enough that my understanding has a depth beyond the ability to follow a pattern. It's been integrated with my other knowledge of geometry and engineering, the fiber finding its place and making use of what's already in my head.

As usual, I haven't photographed the thing I'm talking about, but I do have photos of the lace scarf I mentioned last post. It now hangs with the rest of my summer scarves, ready for the Chattanooga Market to open next Sunday. I also have things that I never offered before-linen/cotton hand towels with tiny ruffled borders, organic cotton face cloths, mug cozies. I'm experimenting. We'll see how it is received.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Black Women Do Knit; If I Wasn't Depressed I'd Put it in Caps

Wow, I haven't posted in a while and I forgot that I changed my format. I was excited when I saw the orange swirly background. I came because I learned something today. I was fooling around on Ravelry and found Ebony Elite Sistah Friends group - a large group of primarily African-American women knitters. Yes, we do exist! More than 600 members strong, 26 pages of members, overwhelmingly sistahs, pages of tan, brown, beige, light, bright, almost-white, ebony, near-ebony women who know the joy of craft. Hallelujah. Locations include most of the states, many in the UK, a few in the Caribbean, and at least one in Ireland. Black women knit. Amen.
I looked at every photo/icon, feeling irrationally that if a woman was brown and lived in my time and knitted, I must know her. It probably seems crazy, with all the knitters I know and have as close friends, that race is anywhere in this equation. It's just that I was afraid we were not feeling the joy of this fabulous past-time/obsession/preoccupation. I didn't want it to be some elite, separate activity like tennis or golf, with just a trickle of exposure for Black women.

I am doin' more than just talking about knitting. I'm proud of the lace scarves that I've created lately. I promise photos when they finish blocking. I'm also happy with my "little" things: mostly wash cloths and makeup remover squares knit in organic, undyed cotton. They are sweet little luxuries that make me feel pampered while also saving a lot of waste (disposable makeup pads), and I hope others will feel the same. I hated the super-thin synthetic wash cloths they sold for babies when I was a new mom, and I'm going to encourage them as baby gifts, too.

I've struggled with depression this spring. Nothing seems right-the unsettled weather, the absence of my father, the illness that kept my daughter from finishing her semester, the chaos in some of my relationships...I go from painful, stiff mornings when I wonder if I can keep this up to more active afternoons when I am giddily grateful that my meds have glued me together for one more day. I automatically work to boost my mood, but that constant striving takes lots of energy and concentration. I also try to maintain a stable schedule, which means I've got to stop rambling and go to bed. Rest is a good thing.