Monday, January 16, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Nothing is less instructive than a machine.--Simone Weil

Unless you apply logic to them. I understand computers, most of the time, because I'm pretty logical. I am the mistress of the machine, which is why I get obeyed. The machine seldom wins.

Carriage Days
Once upon a time, in 1979, a friend and I went to look at knitting machines.

And we each bought a Passap DM-80, state of the art at the time. My friend sold hers within three months. I struggled for six months to learn it and finally, after a rather large expenditure of money, much reading and practicing, and many swatches dropped from the needles, became fairly proficient.

So much so that I bought another machine, a Knitking (or Brother, same thing) 910, the first Japanese electronic machine. And got very good at knitting things on that. Then came the Brother 230, a bulky punchcard machine.

So throughout the 1980s and into the early '90s, I machine knit and learned an enormous amount about knitting. Like how to do cut-and-sew necklines, how to block properly, how to mattress-stitch seams, how to rip out a cable and rework it within the fabric, how to fit my knitted garments.

I taught the 910 at seminars. I was the knitting editor for a machine-knitting magazine, long since gone down the tubes. I got to know Susanna Lewis, met Sasha Kagan, John Allen, and yes, even Mr. Big X-man himself, Alexis. I wrote articles about machine knitting for various magazines.

And then I gave it all up and got rid of my machines. Why? Because knitting on a machine, for me, was soulless. There was not much handling of the yarn at all, until you were finished the pieces and sewing them up. I was running a carriage threaded with yarn across a bed of latch hooks and even though it takes a fair amount of skill to do so without dropping every stitch from the hooks, I was never quite satisfied. Skill is not everything, for sure.

You might think that weaving is similar to machine knitting in that there is less handling of the fiber. That's not at all true. I've found that there's plenty of fiber handling, be it in sleying the reed or throwing the shuttle. Weaving truly is hands-on, in every sense of the word. And spinning even more so.

When you combine these three activities--hand knitting, spinning and weaving--you've got the ultimate feel-up. Machine knitting taught me much that I've applied to all of these crafts. But it never left me feeling joyous.

Winter VK
Flipped through it at Barnes & Noble the other day. I really liked Brandon Mably's sweater. That's it. At first glance, I thought the issue might be salvageable, what with all the cabled stuff. But upon closer evaluation, I was underwhelmed. Still, it's a hair better than it has been. A hair. I'm not going to buy it so I guess I'll miss out on the articles.

Other Fiber Stuff
Not much. That's why there are no pictures this time. Almost done with the second hoodie sleeve. Did more Starry Night plying to empty some bobbins. Now it's back to spinning singles again.

I did get a copy of Warping All By Yourself, which is a very good book and if I could remember which reader recommended it, I'd thank them by name. Time to get back to weaving. Loopy's about to weave some chair covers. I'm looking at kitchen towels. Somehow, weaving kitchen towels seems more worthwhile than knitting warshcloths. Certainly a lot more to the set-up.

There's something rare and handy about weaving when it's 17 deg. F outside.

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