What We Leave Behind
By Rachael Herron
My grandmother was a New Zealand farm wife who lived on a sheep farm, which was handy since she was a knitting addict of the highest order. In my mind’s eye, she is always in one spot, even now that she’s been gone thirty years: She sits in her green upholstered rocker, her feet tucked up on the embroidered footrest, a blanket wrapped around her, her needles clicking in her hands. The air smells pleasantly of burnt toast and rose water. Her fingers never slow, never stop.
When I was born, my grandmother knitted a garter-stitch blanket for me. Just the size of a twin bed, it was my constant comfort growing up. Made of long strips in many colors, she used yarn from her local area, Ashburton. That wool has worn like iron, and I’ve always been curious which mill spun it. I’m 45 now. There still isn’t a single hole in the whole thing. As I write on the divan in my office, it rests behind me. I pull it over my legs on chilly afternoons. When I ball it up under my head, it’s a perfect scratchy pillow for naps (scratchy wool is, of course, unbearable unless there’s enough love knitted into it. Love makes everything softer).
I’ve been thinking recently, as friends and family age and get sick and die, about what we leave behind as knitters.
The Bottom Line
By Sandi Rosner
The edges of a sweater can have a huge impact on the look and fit of the finished piece. Designers put a lot of thought into which type of edging will best complement the garment as a whole, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a sweater your own by changing the edging to one that better suits your style.
Textile Travels: Of Sheep and Shetland Wool
By Mary Jane Mucklestone
I fell in love with Shetland long before I visited it. I fell in love with Shetland through its wool, while re-stocking the shelves at the yarn shop in Camden, Maine, where I worked. It formed a glorious wall of color. I liked to sort the skeins, organizing them into color stories and marveling at the depth of color, the artful mix of various hues in the strands, and wondering how anyone could ever come up with such fantastic heathery colors. I loved the bounce of the fiber and its subtle sheen long before I attempted to knit with it. To tell the truth I was afraid to use it. I thought it was too fine, the needles required too thin. I thought that Fair Isle knitting was complicated. But I started to collect the yarn. Any ball in the sale bin, I’d nab. Sometimes I couldn't resist a color and bought it for full price, reasoning that it cost about the same as a fancy coffee. The day I started to knit with Shetland wool, a whole new world opened up and I knew that, someday, I had to visit.
Trick Up Your Sleeve
By Fiona Ellis
A sleeve is more than simply a covering for the arm. It is a complex part of a garment that adds style and interest and can also dramatically change its overall silhouette. A sleeve has several different components each of which can be modified. Combining variations of these components with each other has led to a seemingly endless number of styles.
By Daryl Brower
If you happened to be scrolling through the New York Sheep and Wool Festival website this past fall, one image likely caught your eye: A trio of humans dressed as sheep—complete with bells around their necks and grass in their mouths—and their shepherd dozing off in the distance. The sheep, named Julie, Marie-Louise, Bernadette and César, are the centerpiece of Les Moutons, a “wordless live installation” that’s been performed more than 400 times by the Canadian dance company Corpus in some 25 countries. (Red tape and visa issues kept the group from performing as planned at Rhinebeck in 2016, but hopes are they will perform at the 2017 festival.) In it, the sheep do what sheep do. They’re herded, penned, fed, milked, and sheared. They bleat, eat, and copulate (not too graphically), escape into the audience, let children and adults feed and pet them, or just stand and stare into space as sheep are wont to do. It’s all delightfully weird, funny, intriguing, and hard to define. Is it dance? Performance art? Interactive children’s theater? The Corpus performers aren’t telling. After all, they say, it doesn’t really matter.