Blank Canvas Complete

Blank Canvas being blocked

I finished knitting my Blank Canvas – I have mixed feelings. This yarn has been around for a long time (I tired to knit the February Fitted Pullover, but it had been in my stash for a long time before that) I wanted it gone. I felt weighted down by it and, as is so often the case, I didn’t like it anymore.

I enjoyed the knitting – coming to terms with LLI and RLI (Left lift increase and Right lift increase) and wrapless short rows.

The neckband was a disaster – the first time (for which I blame Lutherwas too tight and I couldn’t get it over my head, the second version, which is the current version, is all loose and wobbly. There might be a third version, but my enthusiasm is waning and I am wondering if, even if it is perfect, will I wear it? And here is my fundamental conundrum – I have knit something in a colour and yarn weight that I would never choose to wear. This is a common problem – I get seduced by the colours in the yarn store (and fabric store and sometimes clothing store) and buy it only to realise later that I only wear colour in accessories – scarf (maybe socks at a pinch). My wardrobe is full of beautiful prints and colours that languish unworn.

Also, I don’t like 8ply – it seems a bit inelegant and chunky.

I think I wanted this to be quite a simple, structured garment and it is pink(!) and a bit too drapey. I have chosen the wrong yarn and/or the wrong pattern.

On the other hand, this is the first time I have knit a full sized jumper! So I feel that I have crossed some kind of personal rubicon – and as the Yarn Harlot says in Knitting Rules

Don’t expect too much of your first sweater. As a general rule, they get better, and each one can exist simply to teach you something.

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Blank Canvas

Blank Canvas Progress

I have reached the point where I join the sleeves to the body. I am concerned it is about here that things normally go pear-shaped. It is all of the shaping and the ‘doing this while at the same time doing that’. I am trying to stay calm, read all of the instructions (although the bit about wrapless short rows has me worried).

There are a lot of ends to weave in as well and I wonder if I should do a few of those now rather than saving them all for the end?

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Update on Knitting

Two Hats and a Sock

It is school holidays here and we went away for a week – to here

It was a lovely week away.

Anyway, it meant I had a bit of knitting time.

I knitted two more pussyhats (some friends had asked for their own hats) and then I wanted to knit something that wasn’t pink! I have been knitting a very generic sock – although it seems to be a bit saggy despite my reducing my calf measurement by an inch. Swatches lie!

The yarn is Wendy Roam Fusion (Colourway Force).

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The Subversive Stitch – Rozsika Parker

The Subversive Stitch – Rozsika Parker

This is a fabulous book – not for the faint-hearted as it is quite scholarly, but for anyone interested in history, feminism embroidery and social history it is a must read.

Here is the blurb …

Rozsika Parker’s now classic  re-evaluation of the reciprocal relationship between women and  embroidery has brought stitchery out from the private world of female domesticity into the fine arts, created a major breakthrough in art history and criticism, and fostered the emergence of today’s dynamic and expanding crafts movements.

The Subversive Stitch is now available again with a new Introduction that brings the book up to date with exploration of the stitched art of Louise Bourgeois and Tracey Emin, as well as the work of new young female and male embroiderers.  Rozsika Parker uses household accounts, women’s magazines, letters, novels and the works of art themselves to trace through history how the separation of the craft of embroidery from the fine arts came to be a major force in the marginalisation of women’s work. Beautifully illustrated, her book also discusses the contradictory nature of women’s experience of embroidery: how it has inculcated female subservience while providing an immensely pleasurable source of creativity, forging links between women.

Rozsika Parker, sadly she died in 2010, was an art historian, feminist and pyschotherapist who wrote about women, art and women’s place in the art world.

This is how Parker described this book

By mapping the relationships between the history of embroidery and changing notions of what constituted feminine behaviour from the middle ages to the 20th century, we can see how the art became implicated in the creation of femininity across classes and that the development of ideals and feminine behaviour determined the style and iconography of needlework.

The book is divided into eight chapters

The Creation of Femininity

Eternalising the Feminine

Fertility, Chasity and Power

The Domestication of Embroidery

The Inculcation of Femininity

From Milkmaids to Mothers

Femininity as Feeling

A Naturally Revolutionary Art?

This book is essentially about how needlework and femininity became synonymous and then how needlework was used to train and constrain women. However, it is also about how some women used embroidery in subversive ways to make a statement or to pass on a secret message. They took back something that was meant to be oppressive and made it their own (a bit like the recent pussyhat movement).

I wrote down so many quotes while I was reading this book that I could be here for days typing them out – I think it would be much better if you just read the book yourself. Take your time – there is a lot in it. I read it in 30 minute bursts.

I do have two small complaints – I wish the images were in colour (but that would make the whole thing too expensive) and I wish it was in chronological order rather than thematic.

More reviews …

http://significantseams.org.uk/book-review-the-subversive-stitch-embroidery-and-the-making-of-the-feminine-by-rozsika-parker/

>The Subversive Stitch by Rozsika Parker

 

 

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Stranded Colour Work -2

Colour Work Cowl

My colour work cowl is progressing nicely – a bit of unpicking, but it is obvious when the pattern starts to go awry.

The course (see the Online Class Section) is fabulous – definitely recommend it.

It has been much easier than I expected.

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Stranded Colour Work

Stranded Colour Work

A dear friend has decided she knits to learn how to knit, so she has started classes – here – I decided to go too. As I wanted to make the most of the opportunity, I decided to do something I had never done before – colour work. I quick search on Ravelry lead me to Mary Jane Mucklestone’s Crafty class (Definitely worth it if you are considering it).

I have just got to the first colour section and so far so good – I am able to hold the pattern wool in my left hand (I am a thrower so I thought this would be beyond me). Feels odd, but seems to be working OK.

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Blackwork

Front of Piece

Back of Piece

I finished my Blackwork practice piece – the back is not as good as it should be, but having said that it could have been worse.

I do like doing this – thinking about the stitching path, but it does require a bit of concentration and so, therefore, no good when I want something easy and relaxing to do while watching television.

My current plan is that my next piece will be in blackwork. I just need to come up with a design. I ordered Becky Hogg’s blackwork book, but it has gone astray in the post (another one is being sent). I do have a few books I could look at …

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It is OK to change my mind

Little Houses Progress

Blackwork Sampler

I went to the Perth Writers Festival on the weekend and one thing really stuck with me – it is OK to get started on something and then decided it is not really working and to start something else.

I was at a session called New York Dames and Natasha Lester (author of A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald) said she was 85 000 words into her third novel and decided to write a different novel.

I have this thing about finishing what I started, but what really happens is that I finish nothing – I procrastinate on the thing I should be finishing and won’t start anything new.

However, Natasha has inspired me to pack in the Little House (for now at least) and to work on blackwork.

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Blackwork

Blackwork Sampler

I have always been fascinated by the idea of blackwork – particularly the more pictorial versions …

Dodo is from the Royal School of Needlework and Fish from needlenthread.com

but even the samplers appeal to me…

I have done a bit with my machine

Finished Sampler

But never anything by hand. So when it was suggested at my embroidery class I was eager to give it a go.

The tricky bit for me is thinking about the path the stitches should follow before starting (I believe the aim is to have the back similar to the front because you don’t want shadows appearing on the front).

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Another Hat

Another Hat

I have started work on another hat – this will be my fourth.

School is back and it is taking me a while to settle into the new routine. I have finished a sleeve – but interrupt that to work on more pussyhats …

At the end of Friday’s embroidery class I unpicked almost all of the day’s progress… I think things are going to be like that for the next few weeks – not getting much done and then when I do I stuff it up.

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