Sticks & String
Michele and I decided to swap posts today, but not to talk about writing. She’s right (or write) – that’s what we do all the time and it’s fun to talk about something else.
The other thing I do fairly compulsively – other than write – is knit. I love knitting. I love the feel of yarn, the smell of it, the colours and the textures. I confess to a fascination with yarns that are dyed to self-stripe. I can’t stop knitting, because I need to see what colour will come next!
I love the promise in a skein of beautiful new yarn – it could become so many things. While I hold a skein of yarn in a shop, I can imagine a multitude of possibilities. Will it be mittens? A scarf? A beret? Will I take home lots of its friends (the ones in the same colour and dye lot) to make a sweater? A vest? A cardigan? How is it possible to decide?
Sock yarn is a particularly dangerous temptation for me. No many how many socks anyone knits, someone somewhere always needs a new pair. We walk through socks and wear them out, creating a constant demand for new ones. Fortunately there are thousands of kinds of sock yarn and literally millions of colours – and we haven’t even talked about different patterns for those socks. This is why sock yarn does not count as stash. You just need it, like oxygen, and should feel confident to ensure your supply.
What about texture? Will I work the chosen yarn with plain stitches, either garter or stockinette, maybe to show off its hand-dyed splendor? Will I knit a textured pattern stitch? Will I knit in more than one colour, maybe a jacquard or a fair isle pattern? What about lace? The possibilities are almost overwhelming.
What about lace? Knitting lace is an entirely different compulsion from the urge to knit socks and sweaters, and one that could consume several lifetimes. The fascinating thing about lace is its history. Even though knitting is all variations on a single stitch made with two sticks and a piece of string (even purling is just making that stitch backwards), there are many kinds of lace knitting, which are linked with different locations and histories. Orenburg lace, for example, is very different in style from Shetland lace. Naturally, I want to knit them all.
The final possibility is the fibre itself. Wool and cotton are common options, but there are lots more. You can knit with hemp, with milk fibre (yes, really), with soy, with silk, with alpaca and with – my very favourite fibre – mohair from goats. I love goat mohair. It has spring and bounce and gloss and it takes vibrant colour really well. As a bonus, there’s a farm I can visit (http://www.wellingtonfibres.on.ca/) where they not only raise goats but spin their fleece into yarn. This is a dangerous day trip for me and my credit card!
Maybe all of these possibilities are why the act of knitting opens doors in my mind. When I’m stuck on a plot point or have painted my characters into a corner, invariably I can find the solution by picking up my knitting. Half an hour of knitting away, creating something with my hands, and the solution (or at least the beginning of it) will pop into my thoughts. It’s like magic, the way ideas appear in my imagination.
I don’t think it’s that different from the magic of being able to create so many different stitches and patterns and garments with two sticks and piece of string.
What about you? Do you have a hobby that you find exciting or one that inspires you?
You can find out about my books on one of my websites:
http://www.deborahcooke.com for Dragonfire novels
http://www.delacroix.net for historical romances and future-set romance
http://www.thedragondiaries.com for YA paranormal with dragons
Or find me on Facebook, under either of my writing names:
And there’s my blog, Alive & Knitting, which is right here:
Coming January 2012: