Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Heroes 3KCBWDAY3

How could anyone have just a single hero in such a diverse craft as knitting, practised by so many different types of people?  There are cutting edge knitters, knitters whose interests lie in structure, those who love vintage and those who just love the comfort of knitting and knitted clothes.  My knitting heroes divide into three groups, family, stars and the experts

Family? two people, one who taught and encouraged me to knit,  and one who wrapped me and mine in the warmth of her knitting love.  Beginning with my grandmother, because you have to start with your first teacher don't you? I remember red, some old red yarn and a pair of short red plastic needles with black button ends and Gran repeating 'in, over, off' into my left ear.

Apart from a brief flirtation with Phildar yarns in the middle 70s when, living in France, I did not pick up the pointy sticks again until expecting my first baby, and encouraged by the frenzy of knitting the news pitched my mother in law into, I made a few tiny hats. But MIL did so much more. She made a perfect shetland shawl, every sort of baby clothing (and ne'er a lemon yellow lacy matinee jacket in sight) and she went on to supply jumpers, cardigans, dresses and even a toddlers coat! But it's the shawl that I remember her for, I tell the full story here

I'm sorry there is no photographic evidence of the 'red thing'

Stars?  About the same time as I was knitting baby hats Kaffe Fassett burst on the scene.

All that colour and pattern (and knots and leftovers!) At the same time my mother was learning to spin and experimenting with vegetable dyes. I asked her to spin and dye the yarn for a sweater with an all over design of poppies, cream with two shades of red and two of green. I'm afraid to say neither of us was up to this particular challenge and the half knitted sweater languished in my craft basket for years and eventually got thrown out (much to my regret now)

Lastly the Experts and this brings me to about three years ago. A new interest in knitting and a discovery. There are serious crafts women out there! The Yarn Harlot who writes so wittily and sensitively, Erica Knight who deigns such elegant and contemporary things (that cause squeals of delight when given as presents). Then there is the queen, Elizabeth Zimmerman

What can I say? A woman who can see a garment in rows and stitches. I have just finished my first baby surprise jacket, every stitch, every increase and decrease a marvel. And once done, flip the thing you have made over (it looks like a giant flatfish) and voila! It's a baby jacket. And i-cord (does this really mean idiot cord or did Ez get there before Steve Jobs?) I intend to finish off as many of my future projects with an i-cord.

She writes so well too, sometimes with an acid tongue (perhaps she did mean idiot cord!). She died in 1999 but her books and work live on through the work of The School House Press. Now that's true immortality

'Pass by the synthetic department, then, with your nose in the air’
Elizabeth Zimmermann not sparing her contempt for synthetic yarns in The Knitters Almanac 1972



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