Saturday, September 9, 2023

A stitch by any other name

Today I'm determined to tackle a paint-stripping project I've been putting off since April, but I wanted to spare you that (at least for now - if it goes well you are totally seeing pictures next week!) Instead, I am inviting you on a memory lane walk through my collection of stitch dictionaries.


I feel like I talked about this before, but does the subject ever really get old? I mean, the stitch is what every knitter working the same pattern, regardless of gauge or yarn selection, has in common. And many of us pursue new-to-us stitches through different patterns.

When I was designing hats, I was constantly hunting for interesting stitches to use. The easiest to work, and sometimes the hardest to find, were stitch patterns I could repeat in whatever number was necessary to create three sizes without having to adjust the decreases too much in the last section of the instructions. Nine decrease points at the crown makes a perfectly rounded hat - three is too pointed, eighteen, too boxy! The art, for me, was marrying a stitch to a gauge to ensure that perfect union. 

All these books were my tools.


Barbara Walker worked a miracle, sourcing a zillion different stitches and working up samples of each one for her stitch dictionaries. I am far from alone in being forever indebted. 

I used to love attending the Toronto Knitter's Frolic for all the obvious reasons, plus the easy access to Japanese stitch dictionaries. I'm sure they present a lot of overlap in stitches across my library, but I loved the glossy paper, the full-colour photographs, and the charting that overcame the language barrier.

But I was also fascinated by reversible knitting. I pounced on Lynne Barr's Reversible Knitting, and couldn't believe my luck when my local library released its copy of Reversible Two-Color Knitting for sale. 

In the end, I didn't incorporate any of the stitches from either of these books into my patterns, but it was pure pleasure to curl up with them and think through the pages.

An unexpected source of ideas was Knitting Counterpanes, by Mary Walker Phillips.

I had never considered knitting a whole blanket, but as with crocheted afghans or sewn quilts, they can be worked in squares that are stitched together later. I thought I might break down an individual stitch I found interesting and use that in a pattern. I didn't have the energy I guess. What really gave me ideas was seeing how different patterns could be combined into one square. Each pattern is also shown assembled, so you can see the bigger picture. Here's an example using a different pattern.


These days it's all I can do to get through a plain sock, but I relished the winter nights when I quickly swatched a stitch, then fell into knitting it with an audiobook for company. I know more of those are in my future, even if the current priority is writing. Or, you know, stripping the paint off a bedside table for our tiny home.

Hope your week's been great and that you have something more fun than furniture lined up for the weekend. So glad you dropped by! See you next Saturday.

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