Friday, 20 May 2016

My Latest Obsession

Chris' Gansey


In my world it would be fair to say that 2014 was My Year of Lace-Knitting.

I researched, learned, sample and completed a shawl....A (One) shawl. 

Planning for Shawl
Well, there was just one shawl but I did a "Prototype Shawl" before-hand to "learn". This was design story in itself. 

I had turned on my heel out of a Charity Shop when the Baby Blanket I took in was rejected as having too many holes in it. True, the moths had got in and with washing, the fabric had peeled back around said holes. I had been using it as a throw and couch protector. I took the blanket back with a firm jaw and resolved to re-purpose the wool....and so it was the Prototype Shawl was born.

The Prototype Shawl...with Connor

The project was time-consuming but worth the confidence it gave.

Then I took a deep breath, changed the pattern a wee bit, bought a cone of 2ply Alpaca Lace Weight yarn and settled to work. 

Kaipara River Valley Shawl
Lace-knitting is a bit of hurdle for knitters.....and it's one you have to tackle with grit and determination....and muttering!..which I did plenty of. 

It becomes an obsession and you start to see motifs and representations of the natural world in the relief texture created with stitches and gaps. You drool over Shetland Lace books and find that the work in Estonian Lace work is quite understandable; One connects on stitches. 

It's in the blocking that your heart soars to the skies. Once pinned out to stretch you can admire and acknowledge your work....and all that counting...and the un-lady-like language!

Blocking Frame
So, I am now blessed with another obsession, Aran-knitting.

It really has taken over my life.

...and it should.

It is a BIG part of my heritage.

Like lace, I had avoided it, skirted around it, put it off and pretended I couldn't risk it...or at least telling myself that our weather didn't warrant such heavy wool work.

I have nearly all the books.

I know the history.....I know Alice Starmore's work.....I know Michael Pearson's work. I know about the Congested Areas Board in the West of Ireland and how they brought herring fishing families from the North-East of England across to the Aran Islands to develop the fishing industry. The herring industry failed but the Geordie women knitting quayside shared their cabling techniques with the Aran women and the style evolved.

I sample with a child's jersey:

Connor's Aran

I am now in the middle of a jersey in alpaca. The gauge is small. There is good and bad in this decision; 1. Mistakes are more easily absorbed and covered over in small stitches. 2. It takes FOREVER to complete.

I will complete it.....

Chart for Chris' Gansey
But there is still another project in me and it's bugging me.

Cakes of wool at my stall.

I was sitting at the stall at the Hobsonville Point Market looking at my cakes of wool thinking....."That hand-spun 8 ply wool would look gorgeous as a man's jersey...." and the idea WON'T go away, which usually means it has to be followed before it will leave me.

I can talk on and on to anyone who will listen about My Theory On Inspiration and Creativity. 

So I am completing a jersey and dreaming of the next.....TOTAL OBSESSION.

This has been aided and abetted by news and photos from a MacBride Family reunion in Dublin over Easter. There is a strong family link to the 1916 Uprising in Dublin.

This will be an Arts project as much as a garment process......and Exhibition Space might be involved....(cough.)

I am watching Pinterest, Ravelry and am not fainting at the sights......again, a good omen.

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