Friday, January 18, 2008

Enablers, the lot of you

If you read the comments on the last couple of posts, you'll notice that not one single person said anything resembling, "Oh, no! No, you don't want to spin. No fun at all. You'll hate owning a wheel. Yup, yup, hate it. Better to just quite while you're ahead." No one. Not one single soul.

See why I love all of you? Rick laughed when I told him how much fun I'd had trying out the Ashford Joy. I don't think he quite understood how serious I was. I tried a couple of places around here to see if they rent (thanks for the idea, Willow!), but so far, no luck. The shop up in Temecula will let me try their wheels, which I will do at some point.

However, in the meantime, I busted a move on The Stockinette Slot, and it's done! Just in time for the start of the semester next week. (In fact, some people might suggest that my time would have been better spent busting a move on my syllabi. Those people would not be knitters.) I wet-blocked it last night, and then as usual, spent the rest of the evening and early morning wandering by it chanting "dry dry dry". I continue to do this in spite of a rather convincing body of evidence that it makes no difference in the speed of drying. What does this say about me?
Not so many good pictures, as it's me, myself, and I with the camera, but here:
As you can see, it has 3/4 sleeves, and is open in the front except for the clasp. This is intended to mitigate the warming effects of the alpaca. As is the little ventilation lace insets at the raglan decrease lines.
I am very happy with the way this turned out. It's simple, and it fits well, and I think it's going to go with a lot of what I wear. I'm a bit worried about the 3/4 sleeves with short sleeved shirts; I'm wondering how I'll feel about having my forearms just hanging out there for all the world to see. Is that weird?

So, to recap. This is the Vines Cardigan by Amy King, from The Knitter's Book of Yarn, size medium. I used Kraemer Yarns Alpaca DK yarn on US size 5 needles (Addis for the body and wood dpns for the sleeves). I used all of four skeins, and perhaps half of a fifth. The color of the yarn was Dark Gray, although I have to say that it looks like more of a dark heathered brown to me. The clasp I got at Schoolhouse Press; it's pewter.

Meanwhile, I am well on my way to finishing the first half of the last of my monogamous projects. This one is for the Loopy Swap, so I won't be sharing pictures (no spoilers here!), but I'll try to get through it quickly, and then my next two projects are going to be all about me! Mitts and socks, here I come.

This brings me to a question. I was reading lately on someone's blog (I could have sworn it was Stell 's, but when I went back to verify, I couldn't find it; am I delusional? was this an email conversation?) that she often knits things for herself, and that she'd met up with a woman who (as I recall, correct me if I'm wrong) was in a knitting group with some Americans who seemed to think that knitting regularly for oneself was in some way selfish. I realized as I was reading what she wrote that there is some part of me that feels that I am supposed to alternate projects for me with projects for other people. I'm not saying I always do that, just that the sense is there. Is this just me? If it isn't just me, is this a backlash among American knitters against a consumption-oriented society? Or is it the fact that many knitters are women and women are so frequently socialized to think that doing things for themselves is bad? Is it something else entirely? So my question to you is, what percentage of your projects are for you (I'm asking in percentages in case there are any of you out there who are embarrassed by the number of projects currently on your needles)? If you do tend to knit for others, what's the motivation? I confess that, for me, at least some of the motivation is simply that I live in a very warm climate and it pays to spread the wool-wear around.

We're in for a busy weekend, full of social events. Tonight we're having dinner with Rick's cousins who just moved here from Indianapolis. Tomorrow, I'm heading to the farmer's market in the morning -- I heard that there's now a woman there selling and spinning fiber. Then I'm taking a free yoga class at a studio that just opened nearby, after which I'll head home and grab Older Daughter to take her to a roller-skating rink for a birthday party. She's staying the night afterwards, so her friend's mom will bring her home. Then, we're having the younger sister of another girl who's going to the party come to stay the night here (her mother was worried that she'd feel left out), so Younger Daughter is excited about that. On Sunday, we're off to another joint birthday party that some close friends are having for their daughters (turning 7 and 13). Whew! Time to haul out the espresso machine!

P.S. Pam: Another linguist! You've definitely got me thinking about the [ch] vs [t] word-initial consonant on words for tea. Time to hit the OED (as if I needed an excuse). Thanks for the stockinette-stitch amusement!


Anonymous said...

Great sweater! You made it! I think drying knits with words works - you're moving a bit of air every time.

Sleeve length - think of it as having your sleeves rolled up already. I've been biased against 3/4 sleeves in shirts, but now that I have a few I'm not particularly bothered when I wear them. Still don't seek them out usually.


Kelley said...

Well, up until Christmas most of my knitting was for myself. I'd made myself several scarves and a pair of socks. Of course there were a handful of other scarves I did give away and I made socks for my husband but I tend to buy yarn with myself in mind...then if I give it away I hope they like the same colors I do.

Marianne said...

I DO love that cardi, and yes, it looks to be a heathery brown and lovely. I like 3/4 sleeves, as I'm always pushing the longer ones up and they never want to stay there and then I'll roll them up and of course at that point I'm looking quite dorky :^)

I knit a LOT for others, way more than for me... I want to knit more for me..

Bea said...

The sweater is absolutely fabulous. It turned out really well and looks great on you.

I think that I have done 6 scarves that were for people I know, a shawl for my mom and now two pairs of socks for Chris. The scarves because we were going somewhere cold for New Years and socks for Chris because he deserves something for putting up with the knitting don't you think? I have one other not for me project, but I can't tell you about that on a blog. I don't want to give it away in case someone reads your blogs, since we run in the same circles. You know how it is...

Rabbitch said...

Truth? I knit for others because I don't believe I deserve things.

Alisha said...

I lost my comment...darn.

Okay try agaiin.

I love the sweater. The clasp is awesome.

I went to see if my local library had that book and apperently I have already requested it LOL

As far as knitting for me. I don't do enough knitting for me. I am finally finishing up a sweater I started last summer.

I have got more selfish as I have got older. I work darn hard raising my girls. My oldest has c.p and her needs can be exhausting and I deserve to be selfish in fact to survive I need to be somewhat selfish.

In the past year I have been the happiest and come to the happiest point in my life because I am selfish and try to do things for me. As crazy as that sounds.

I do think women are lead into a mind set that they need to do for everyone...make sure everyone is happy and in the process we can lose ourselves and stop being good to ourselves.

I believe that being a little selfish is an okay thing and healthy. So lets hear it for knitting for ourselves!!!

Anonymous said...

Aside from a few scarves and hats, I knit mostly for me. I don't like the pressure of feeling something MUST get finished. A toddler sweater for my DGD, which for most knitters is a simple thing, turned out to be barely big enough by the time I finished! For myself, if the socks or shawl are finished later rather then sooner - ok.

As for spinning - if you are in Solvang don't miss Village Spinning and Weaving. They have Majacraft wheels, and the Rose is my special favorite...

Beverly near Yosemite, CA

Anonymous said...

One - speaking to your blocking knits does dry them faster. I have a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and can bore you to tears on convective mass transfer if you'd like. Of course, being able to wear them all of a few microseconds earlier may not be what you are looking for, but hey, at least your theory is good.

Two - I used to think knitting for myself was a bit selfish, especially when surrounded by a bunch of people knitting for others. Now I couldn't disagree more. I see it as an act of radical anti-consumerism, to actually craft your own garments. I think I started to shift in my viewpoint as I started to eat more locally. I don't feel selfish when I cook for myself - why should it be selfish when I knit for myself? And I still buy finished clothing and processed food - they both have their place - but it is a spiritual act for me to make it myself when I can.

That said, if I follow my heart in knitting and not obligations imposed by others, I find that I cycle back and forth - 4 projects for others and suddenly 3 in a row for myself.

Finally - the sweater rocks. Brava!

Stell said...

Very nice, I love the 3/4 sleeves, a detail I have not used yet. And the leaves on the raglan decreases - magic!

This is the post that I remembered reading about knitting for ones self (But we also attend the same knit night, when we can)

Me- I knit for me, When I knit for others its a gift of sorts, and if possible I control it, the colour the choice the garment. I knit for relaxation and when I let others pick the item and yarn, well they don't choose what I want to knit. Then there is the added stress of knitting to a deadline, thats not relaxing. I like to knit things that are a technical 'treat' which dosn't always translate into what others want to wear. I come from a long line of makers, crafts-folk, professionally and in a hobby sense, I can't sit still and watch tv, ever, I need to work my hands. I will and do however give the gift of knitting in other ways, teaching and enabling as much as I can.

Unknown said...

What a beautiful job on the sweater! And I love your choice of yarn. Wonderful work!

Anonymous said...

Your sweater is just beautiful! I love 3/4-length sleeves myself--I'm always pushing my sleeves up anyway, so 3/4-length sleeves just save me the trouble (and they never fall back down!).

As for the question about knitting for others versus knitting for oneself is concerned, I definitely fall into the selfish knitter category. I will occasionally knit small items for others, but I find that life is just better if I knit primarily for myself. I stopped knitting large objects for others when my eldest son dismissed the sweater that I had not only knit for him but also designed myself as "that ITCHY sweater"--despite the fact that I had him test all the wool for the itch factor before I even started knitting. No, it's just not worth the heartache! I KNOW I'll appreciate everything I make, so maybe I should just keep it that way...

Willow said...

The clasp is just perfect with the yarn. Lovely sweater. I know what you mean about alpaca being so warm and a more open front helps with the generated heat (or is it captured?) being able to escape in our warmer climate. So your choice of yarn and pattern are a good fit.

As to knitting for myself vs others: I usually knit for others, mostly babies lately. There has been a regular popping out of babies in my acquaintance and I always knit a sweater for them. What I have been knitting for myself for the past couple of years are mostly not wearable items but swatches and samples for The Knitting Guild Association master hand knitting program (I'm at the tail end of the third and final level). I started a sweater for myself in the spring and put it aside when we moved. It's there in the bedroom on the cedar chest waiting patiently for me to pick it up again and work on it.

Oh and why would we ever want to deprive you of the discoveries, experiences and joys of spinning that we have experienced? We're just hoping that you will get sucked in up to your nose in this exciting pool of spinning so we will have more company in the deep end. We really can't help ourselves out of it.

Mary the Digital Knitter said...

I love knitting, particularly lace shawls. How many lace shawls can one woman wear? So I give some of them away. I knit them because I love knitting, so that part is for me.

Besides, I live in SoCal and I don't need winter scarves or wool socks or sweaters or hats. I send them to relatives in colder states. Again, the knitting is for me. The product is for whoever I can give it to.

I don't knit for people I don't know. No charity knitting. I give checks to charity, mostly to Direct Aid.

EGunn said...

I love the sweater. Oh, to be wrapped in Alpaca!

I think I do feel a bit guilty if I am knitting just for myself. Sometimes it happens by accident, but then I feel like I need to make stuff for other people to make up for it. One project for me...three for other people...
I'm actually battling with that at this very moment. I'm just finishing a sweater for me, and I have another that I want to cast on for, but I feel like I should (and I really do want to...) make another one for my husband, and that it should come first, since I just got a new one. I also have a much harder time buying nice yarn for a project for's fine to spend a lot for a gift, but not for something for me. Thankfully, my husband is very good at talking me out of being cheap on projects for myself. =)

Oh, and I got my spinning wheel used on Craigslist (, if you aren't already familiar with it). It depends on how big the CL community is in your area, but you can find almost anything on there, and it's cheaper (i.e. less guilt) than buying new right away. I figured I'd buy a used one now, and upgrade later if I really stick with the spinning thing (if!).

Rachael said...

The sweater looks great!!

As far as knitting for oneself or for others - here's my take:

It's not selfish to knit for oneself, it's time well spent. The majority of people in this country use their free time to sit and watch tv, if I sit and watch tv AND knit something, or sit and knit while listening to a book, I'm being productive - just b/c my hobby turns out wearable objects doesn't mean I should feel obligated to give them to other people.

I DO knit for other people, I will knit things on request or if I see something that just screams 'KNIT ME FOR SO & SO', but I would say my ratio is more like 1:3.

I have gone through bouts of what I would call 'obligation knitting' and y'know what? It makes me not want to knit. The minute I start to feel like I HAVE to do something, I start to resent it, and I don't want to feel that way about knitting.

Anonymous said...

So far I've mostly knitted for others. Big exception is my sweater knit from Briar Rose Yarn. :-)

Your spinning is coming along very nicely. Take your time and try lots of wheels so you know what you really want. If you're in too big of a hurry then I echo another's person suggestion of the Majacraft Rose - that's what I'd buy if I were seriously getting into more production and didn't mind a bigger wheel taking up space. For now I'm happy with my small, portable Louet Victoria. But nothing beats the portability and control factor of my spindles. :-)

Anonymous said...

I knit for people I love, especially ones who live far away. The tagline for the socks I send my best friend (600+ miles away) are "I can't hug you every day, but I can hug your feet."

However, I knit for myself too. I tend to alternate projects. 1 for me, 1 for someone else, etc. That being said, I am often more diligent about finishing ones for other people.

I don't know why that is, but I would guess it's that ingrained take-care-of-others brainwashing.

I like your sweater very much. Very pretty. Where did you get the clasps?


Anonymous said...

Cute sweater! The fastening is perfect. I dislike 3/4 sleeves in theory but I'm always pushing up my long sleeves to 3/4 length.

I'm supposed to alternate kniting for me with knitting for someone else? Uh oh.

Nana Sadie said...

I get on a bent. Usually I knit for me. I justify that I am constantly sewing for others (much like the cobbler's children have no shoes, I have only old editions of my handbags!), so knitting is mine. But. Then Christmas (or some crisis for C4C) comes along and I knit for everyone BUT me.
I would agree that women tend to do for everyone else first, and I don't think that has changed in my lifetime (drat it all).

So yes, socialization, and yes, a tendency to put ourselves last in the order of what needs to get done. But then I think it also depends on how long someone has been knitting? Is everyone on your list covered in handknits? Including you? Well...knit for charity, b/c we MUST knit!
LOVE the sweater!