I was delighted to read that denim-style cottons are set to be a feature for this year, since I have the gazillion balls of Rowan Handknit Cotton needed to knit Martin Storey's "Alexus", aka "the lace dress", from Rowan Magazine 57. As you know, I'm not a strict follower of fashion – but it is helpful to have a reminder of projects planned, and knitting a dress on 4mm needles will feel quite the treat after the current Fair Isle version on 3.5mm. Please note that this prompt does not meant that "Alexus" had made it onto the list for 2017 – especially with the news (on page 18) of Kim Hargreaves' new collection, "Grace": Hold the needles!!!
Followers of my blog will know that I have been a long-time fan of Kim's work – in fact, it was her cardigan "Sweet" that got be back into knitting. I love her tailored designs – they always seem to fit so well. And I love her association with Rowan: They too, hold a deep place within my heart. Even after discounting all the patterns with belts (though I know it is possible to add shaping of my own), there are still rather a lot of beautiful options: Might I swap Kim's "Glint", from Rowan restyle No. I Kidsilk Haze, for "Barrett"? Hmmm... "Sentiment" is absolutely stunning too – but see how easily distracted I am!
Back to the magazine: I confess that "The Tapestry Collection" didn't grab me, which was particularly surprising since it includes a design from Mary Henderson and I usually love her colour work. The four-page promotion for "the innocent big knit" was completely lost on me: I'm afraid that I'll never be able to look at a hatted smoothie bottle again having listened to the Knit British podcast on the subject (episode 72, I think). Highlights for me include the review of book "People Knitting: A Century of Photographs" and Penelope Hemmingway's article on "Bringing the past to life" – although I did take umbrage at her comment: "Knitting is, on one level, mundane and domestic". I understand how most preserved artefacts were from the higher classes or specific ways of life (e.g. fishing) and so historical knitwear from us, ordinary folk is a rarity. I also appreciate that historically, knitting was essential to clothe and keep warm and was not considered to be the highly valued craft that it is now. We all know that these days, it is much, much cheaper to buy a jumper – even a wool one – from the high street and so would I guess that knitting purely to meet domestic needs within the UK is close to extinct. And while knitting a one-colour, pattern-free jumper for one's broadly shouldered husband may, at times, be considered "mundane", I would be heart-broken to think this a view shared among many knitters too much of the time. Because our time is precious, and none of us have enough of it to be bored or uninspired by our craft.
You'll note that I've not said that I'm going to knit any of the featured projects – a fact that might lead some to question the need for my continuing subscription (Husband: Don't even go there). However, this does not erode my pleasure – in fact, it can be quite a relief not to fight the temptation to abandon my current WIP for something new. And besides, I'm still in love with Helen Ardley's patchwork blanket from issue 106. That said, the one item missing for me is a light-hearted, chatty last page account from an enthusiastic, personable knitter. The "Meet the Team" is OK, but I find it very formal; it would be nice to end on a smile.
Speaking of smiles, I borrowed "Weekend Knitting" by Melanie Falick, published in 2003, from my local, bricks and mortar library while returning a too-creepy-to-listen-to audio book (after the first CD, I stopped listening; it was clearly well written and the character introduction was brilliant – and when I described it to Husband, he said it sounded a bit like the film "Psycho". Not seen it; don't even want to, nuff said). I love the idea of projects that can be knitted quickly, like over a weekend, and having achieved a couple myself, I'm always interested in discovering more.
Melanie had me at her introduction, a brief description of the journey from knitting and purling, to the whole process and how it enhances the way we live. I love her instructions on how to take a bath and give a hand massage, her suggestions for "A Knitting Film Festival" (anyone up for it?) and a list of books that mention knitting, recipes for butter cookies and hot chocolate and love, love, love her idea for "guest knitting" – not just the notion but the preparation, display and own benefits. The photography is beautiful, the notes comprehensive and there are a lot of patterns that I would like to knit (colour work, lace, texture, brioche; garments, socks and accessories for home and men, women and children). The mobile library will be visiting on Thursday and I have no plans to return it so quickly – in fact, any interested knitters in the Scottish Borders are probably going to have to put in a library request!