Monday, December 29, 2008

At the Other End of the Year

This blog is not dead yet!

It's been a busy year, mostly involving non-fiber projects and commitments. And thus, the blog went quiet.

I don't think I knit any major doilies this year. I do have one or two that I'm in the middle of. I'm hoping they'll get finished next year.

I did knit some socks. Here are photos of a few of them. I'm trying to get through the self-patterned sock yarn stash. It would help if I'd stop buying self-patterned sock yarn. I keep getting tempted. I think I'm mostly going with simple stripes now instead of these more complicated patterns. That way, I can double-strand the sock yarn if I want to and still come out with nice socks.

I knit most of a sweater, then unraveled it and started over. I did some small projects that I can't remember right now -- a scarf or two, maybe some mittens and hats. I'm in the middle of several spinning projects. So it's been enjoyable, but not as productive as some years are. I didn't have much I felt like blogging about, so I didn't blog about it.

I did a fair amount of spindle spinning. I taught my oldest how to spindle spin in a ski lodge one cold winter afternoon.

I did do some crocheting. I decided that crocheting made for better travel projects than knitting. There's only one hook, inexpensive to replace. I didn't want the TSA to take a dislike to my expensive steel dpn's or circular needles, nor did I want to drop a think dpn on a crowded airplane or car. So I crocheted.

Crocheting doilies is different from knitting, but it's still fun. Here are a few. As you can tell, I haven't blocked any of them yet. The patterns are from online sources and from old pattern booklets. Dover has reprinted some, and I've collected some over the years. Not all were in English. Some were charted, some in text. As with knitted doilies, I'm OK either way.

As I wandered through the world of vintage crochet patterns, I wondered how and why the pineapple got to be such a popular motif. Does anyone know? It's fun and easy and attractive, but why this motif? And why is it called a pineapple?

I've also done some crocheting with yarn and not just thread this year. Right now, I'm in the middle of a simple square granny square afghan. One does a classic granny square. Change colors whenever you want. That's it. I will stop when I run out of ambition. Hopefully the thing will be big enough to be useful when I'm done.

Granny squares are also a very old motif. I was reading a book from the library which claimed that the pattern can be found in patterns from the mid-nineteenth century (1860's, specifically). I know that crocheting isn't all that old. So the granny square is quite a venerable pattern, not unlike some of our favorite lace knitting stitches.

I have some of Niebling's delta crochet patterns. No doubt I'll do some of them, too, as long as I'm crocheting. But first I have to recover from the most recent crocheted snowflake binge.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Perfunctory January Post (with doily photo)

As I wrote in my very first week of blogging, this blog would go dormant when Real Life got too busy.

It's been busy.

Some of the busy-ness may be of mild interest to others. However, I think I'm going to keep this blog mostly concentrated on my fiber interests for now.

I have finished one sock since the last post, and started on its mate. I don't have any photos of it yet. It looks like a sock, in case anyone was wondering. A photo of it in progress was in my last post to this blog.

I've also done a bit of spinning. Fuzzy brown singles on a bobbin do not make for interesting photos, even if I had any.

Here's a photo of a doily I knit a while back. It's a Marianne Kinzel design. I'm sure many of you will recognize it. It's the center portion of Kinzel's Sunray pattern, from the First Book of Modern Lace Knitting.

I was looking for a pattern that would look like a chrysanthemum, with several layers of overlapping petals. This is not it. However, it is very cute. It was fun enough to knit, tedious like many Kinzel patterns but not overwhelmingly so. (Unlike the Azalea doily, which is still sitting undone on my needles because it's so boring to knit.) I like the way Kinzel uses constant stitch counts in places to make the motifs spread out a bit as the doily grows.

This was also an experiment in seeing how the center would look as a standalone doily. I think it's a success. Dunno if I'll ever want to do the entire Sunray pattern. Probably not. If I'm going to do a large doily, it's going to have to be by some other designer. Kinzel patterns are lovely and straightforward to knit, but they tend to be rather tedious. I can take that for several dozen rounds of knitting, but not for several hundred.

I've thought about taking this center motif and modifying it a bit. The innermost part is very simple, just some eyelet rounds until the stitch count is where one wants it to be. The next part, the ladder motif, is also simple and easily modified. One can do fewer rounds or more, depending on how many stitches you have compared to the diameter.

The outer leaves are interesting. How many overlapping layers can one do? The leaves on each level could (and should) be taller and wider so accommodate the extra circumference. The leaves would have to grow even after the previous level had finished, in order to add more stitches to the overall pattern. The leaves could be changed to petals by changing the placement of the increases and possibly the decreases.

Someday, I'll write some thoughts about Marianne Kinzel's design methods. Her designs are an aesthetic success. And yet, they are simple in construction, especially compared to many of Niebling's more famous designs. Her lifetime output is not as prolific as his is, but she didn't publish any clunkers. Niebling's work is uneven, ranging from clumsy or undistinguished designs to the amazingly complex and gorgeous works we all drool after. It's possible that Kinzel published a lot more than I'm aware of, of course, and that some of it is clunky. However, even the simplest doilies of hers that I've seen are graceful and well-proportioned.