by Clara Parkes
Can we talk about lace for a moment?
In the realm of "traditional" lace projects, we tend to think of diaphanous sheets of tiny stitches that have been blocked open to reveal a hidden world of soaring buttresses and swooping arcs, twined vines, rosettes, and petals. It's stunning stuff.
But then you have projects like Dorothy Winn's Eyebright shawl, which combines elements of that so-called "traditional" lace with non-lacy things. Her design employs some of the most intriguing and challenging components of lace—the acrobatic K3tog, for example—with clustered "dots" and, up top, a smooth band of stockinette. And, whereas a traditional lace project does one thing to yarn, here each stitch family does different things. Which means you'll have to choose your yarn based on which "thing," or effect, you want to be the loudest.
Let me show you what I mean.
If you've ever experienced the unmatched look and feel of a piece of bogolanfini cloth (also called bogolan or mudcloth) up close, you're sure to understand its worldwide appeal. Made by the Bamana women of Mali in West Africa, using a technique traditionally passed on from mother to daughter, bogolan was primarily worn to mark important stages in the lives of women. Wrapped garments made from bogolan were worn in the rite of passage from young girl to young woman, prior to the consummation of marriage, and after childbirth. The cloth was equally important to hunters and considered a protection from malevolent forces. Like other authentic African textiles, bogolan’s bold designs are inspired by everyday objects as well as proverbs and historical events.
The name bogolan derives from bogolanfini, a Bamana word combining bogo, which means earth (mud) and fini, which means cloth. It’s also possible that the term mudcloth arose from a misunderstanding of the labor-intensive process that creates the fabric. Some believe that when traders from other regions saw the cloth being made, they mistook the iron-rich clay used in the process for mud. But whatever its name origin, bogolan is a beautiful textile with many modern uses.
By Lee Ann Dalton
We’ve all been there: knitter meets wool, knitter falls in love, knitter yells at everyone to “shut up, I’m counting,” knitter insists on “just one more row,” and it feels like the passion for the craft will always be that intense. Patterns pile up so fast in our Ravelry libraries that we can’t tell which ones we bought and which ones we just put there because someday we might buy them. They fill up folders on the computer, the cellphone, and the tablet, and let’s not talk about the boxes of loose patterns and knitting magazines stashed in you-name-the-weird-storage-area-no-one-will-ever-find (possibly including you, clever knitter, which is enormously frustrating but oh, so true).
And then, the romance was gone. For some of us, it left slowly, or at least it felt like it, because if you’re still downloading patterns, you’re still kind of knitting, right? Some of us even continued to knit through the loss of mojo, though it felt more like just making something that needed to be made, rather than the thing one would most like to be doing, given the choice.
By Fiona Ellis
In Greek mythology Helios, the sun god, rode across the heavens on a golden chariot pulled by four fiery horses. Our modern day associations with the color yellow, and its close cousin, orange, are equally positive—if slightly less dramatic or romantic. Both makes us think of bright sunshine, fresh citrus, and the abundance of fields at harvest time. But there’s a harsher side to the shades: in the animal world, yellow (often combined with black) signals the danger of an animal or insect likely to sting or bite. Yellow can also bring to mind dry deserts or withered leaves, which in turn have come to symbolize declining power. In Buddhist and Hindu teachings orange, the midpoint between yellow and red, signifies the point of balance between libido and spirit. But Christianity once took a differing view of the color, associating it with greed or gluttony.
By Sandi Rosner
When drape-front cardigans without closures came into fashion, a collective sigh of relief was heard throughout the knitting community. No more need for buttonholes, an element that’s stymied knitters for years. But I personally don’t enjoy fussing with a cardigan that flaps in the breeze, and I can’t be bothered with pinning my sweater shut. I like buttons, and that means making friends with buttonholes. So if, like me, you’d like to find a better way to secure your sweater fronts, read on.
Buttonholes are a lot like air conditioning vents— rarely attractive, but functionally essential. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Let’s start by talking about what makes a good buttonhole:
In most cases, I buy the buttons to fit the hole rather than making the hole to fit the button. Of course, exceptions must be made for those occasions when you’ve come under the spell of a special button and want to make it a design feature. For everyday buttons, I take my swatch or nearly finished sweater to the store and play with the options until I find buttons that look great and fit my buttonholes well.