A very happy New Year to all of you! Here's to a wonderful 2008 filled with peace and a resolution to the many conflicts plaguing the world.
Once again, thank you for all the comments you left on the last few posts. I have one of them that I want to address.
"I wonder how long it will take knitters using the current trendy crop of expensive merino yarns to find out how badly those yarns can pill when knit too loosely. What a waste.
I used to have faith that the yarns companies knew their products, but over the past couple of years have come to agree with you."
Rima, I hope you are right in that the yarn companies are doing this out of ignorance. I think it is being done deliberately so that knitters are tempted into thinking that the project will be completed quicker and therefore they buy the yarn to begin the project. I also think knitters buy into the delusion because they want to complete things more quickly. Sadly, they don't realize that the few days/weeks of time they save knitting will be lost in the years of wear they won't have. Maybe it is a result of the societal values we have: to acquire quickly and to discard quickly. We buy on impulse and toss indiscriminately when we are tired of things without regard to the resources, effort and time it takes to create and eventually to dispose of each item.
I took this photo last week of my next project but it is almost done already. Talk about instant gratification. I made the bag on the right last summer out of Lopi and Lopi look-alikes. But as you can see, the bottom of the bag is sadly defective. It is concave as I made mistakes on the mitering calculations. But it received a lot of interest at the LYS and made me realize that a felted bag is a great way to learn fair-isle. It is quick to knit (especially in Lopi), you don't have to weave in ends and mistakes vanish in the felting. So I proposed a FI felted bag class and needed to create a sample. I picked two patterns out of Sheila McGregor's Fair Isle book (after looking through Ann Feitelson, Alice Starmore and Sarah Don) and the bag is almost done after a day and a half of knitting. I just have to find the right handles for it (or decide what I want to knit as a handle) and then do the appropriate finishing. I did it right this time. I bought my bag bottom reinforcement and then made the bag to match and I plan on doing the same with the handles. The yarns on the left are the colors in the bag. The main color is the olive (top right-hand 4 balls) and the others are the contrast. I did the patterning in the olive as I wanted a brighter bag and changed the background colors from the green (bottom) to the blue, then the magenta and used the gold as the center accent of the motif before reversing the colors. It looks nice and bright but I'm not sure the FI pattern stands out the way it does in the first bag. Time will tell once it is felted.
I know Alice Starmore's Book of Fair-Isle Knitting is out-of-print and hard to find but it has one lovely section in it missing from the others I looked at. It shows one how to adjust the width of a motif to suit one's needs. I have often done this (along with adjusting the height) but it is nice to see it described. McGregor's book is one of the best and most accessible references for traditional motifs to design one's own. Many of the same designs are in Starmore's book and organized the same way. Feitelson has the best discussion on the use of color. But both McGregor and Don have traditional FI garments pictured and I fell in love with some of the paneled ganseys in McGregor's book.