Thank you all very much for your enthusiastic responses to the unveiling of the finished Acorn Sweater. Your comments mean a lot to me. I don't generally talk about my background or my psychological makeup, but I will tell a story that illustrates where I come from: Last weekend my mother was over for brunch and she saw me knitting the final inches of Acorn. She asked me what I was working on, so I told her it was a sweater I had designed for John. Her sole comment was, "That's a heavy sweater."
Let's just say I didn't grow up with a lot of praise....
And for the record, this men's extra-large sweater weighs almost exactly 1 pound. I love Shetland jumperweight wool for it's light-weight warmth!
Several people have asked if I plan to write up this pattern. My dearest dream is to write a book about designing Fair Isle-type garments, but my priority now is to develop workshops. In fact, the Acorn Sweater is the prototype for the Design Your Own Fair Isle Sweater workshop that I will be teaching May 18-20th at Suzanne Pedersen's lodge-like home near Seattle. Suzanne is accomplished at hosting workshops--I expect to spend the days in teaching and hands-on activities, while the evenings will be spent knitting and chatting and problem solving around the living room. A few spaces are still available--contact Suzanne (email@example.com) if you want more information.
Book Review: Selbuvotter
I purchased a copy of Terri Shea's book on Selbu mittens, Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition, and I can recommend it enthusiastically. In the process of cataloging the mitten collection at Seattle's Nordic Heritage Museum, Terri became intrigued by the patterned mittens from Selbu. She graphed out some 30 patterns, researched the history, and created a lovely book. (Annemor Sundbo contributed some mittens from her collection as well.) I was especially taken by Terri's comments in the Technique section:
The greatest discovery I made in studying the old mittens is how the old knitters were not necessarily any more talented than we are. They followed patterns, made mistakes, corrected -- or didn't. Their stithces were occasionally too loose or too tight. Their thumb bases have holes in them. The lines between the fingers don't match up.
What they did seem to do better than we do is to accept the mistakes that they made....
A hallmark of folk art is the small mistakes and inconsistencies; they are what give a piece its life and liveliness, compared to the sleek perfection of Fine Art and mechanized production. I found a glaring mistake on the fingertip of one of my mittens, and I decided not to repair it. I think that our obsession with perfection is unhealthy, and I want knitters to feel comfortable, and to be happy with the work they do, and not criticize themselves for being imperfect. We are all imperfect, and it is our faults and flaws that make us unique and beautiful.
Clearly, Terri is a feral knitter at heart! Although she lives in Seattle, I've never (yet) met her--but she is teaching at the upcoming Nordic Knitting Conference in October (details coming soon, I'm told). Now, I am not enamored of mitten or glove knitting, but these motifs could be used to create hats, vests, or sweaters. I think I will make a Christmas stocking....
Title: Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition
Author: Terri Shea
paperback; black&white; 127 pages