I got home from work at 9 p.m. last night to find all those comments and reminders to me of previous stories I had posted about Vincent -- stories that I didn't even remember, but you did. Well, let me just say that the disappointment of coming to the door and not having my little guy there to greet me was (almost) made up for by the memories you brought up. I keep shaking my head at the wonder of the blog. You people are gems. Goddamnit, y'all make it hard to be a hater.
I am going to be away for three days, but I'm sure I'll find an email signal somewhere to check up on things, and I've got the blog fires pretty well stoked. Today I offer you the following:
When I posted the "ask me questions" post, Mike Strauss, the artist and chemist I introduced in the blog once before, asked the following set of questions via email, which I am posting with his permission. It's such a bonus to have non-knitting -- and male! -- readers! Who have questions! We must encourage this! (and not by posting more pictures of me in SL,UT t-shirts, either)
My quick answer to him follows. I'd like to invite you all to weigh in on this. Mike is an academic and an artist, and I think he would really like to learn more about our craft in a serious sense, and we all know I can only be serious for a limited time, right? [my editorial comments to Mike's email are in red]
OK, I have a question which I really am curious about, though I'm
asking it via email and not via your web site.
I belong to a writing group which meets monthly to eat meals and
critique manuscripts. One of the people there is a rug hooker (she
MAKES rugs) [clearly Mike's been following along with the blog and knows what trouble he could get in around here by calling someone a hooker -- in more ways than one; see below, Mike] and we had a conversation about composition (as in composing a design.) It came up because one of the classes I teach this spring -"Drawing for the Terrified" - deals in significant ways with composition in painting and drawing.
As a Nobel prize knitter [hahahahahahahaha! is he KIDDING?], is composition (maybe it's called pattern) a significant area that knitters deal with all the time? Are you always keeping track, as you knit, of color, focal points, 2D and 3D space, how to lead the eye over the surface with line and shape, etc.? Or are you following a design, pattern or composition that has already been created by someone else? Or do you do both?
If this question is as naive as my "court reporter" comment [The first time we met, Mike asked about court reporters, "Why don't they just tape it?" and immediately incurred my wrath, but I have since forgiven him.], my
apologies. I'm really far afield. But I'm curious. There are some
similarities in composing a painting, a musical score, a sculpture, a
drawing and/or other artistic endeavors. I'm wondering how much
these similarities impinge upon what you do. It seems likely that
Here is, in part, my email answer to Mike:
Actually, I'm a dumb-follower type of knitter (although some
experienced knitters tell me I'm just the opposite, and I'm just not
realizing it or acknowledging it), but there are some who fit all of
your questions. There are some phenomenal designers whose current
works are coming out all the time -- and they use color and spatial
techniques. Many superb knitters are superb mathematicians,
architects, biologists, chemists -- and some are just plain artists.
It's quite the craft.
Many patterns are written by these people and they can be frustrating to the "dumb follower" type like me. They'll say something like, "repeat 4X while at the same time decreasing an even number on each side" where the "repeat the pattern" part is both latitudinal and longitudinal in the piece. Or knit Chart A followed by Chart B twice, then repeat Chart A, also all the while working on the shaping on the sides. Often rows of cables in an Aran-style sweater will have their twists at different numbers of rows, so you're keeping track of that, as well.
And there are shaping (to
make the piece fit a body, which is multi-dimensional) and gauge issues
-- the right number of stitches per inch in both directions. There is
a LOT going on all at once that one has to keep in mind. And I'm not
even talking about the stranded colorwork -- that's a whole OTHER
dimension! Because my work as a court reporter and CART provider has
so much going on all at one time, you'd think I'd be a natural at this
kind of knitting. I rather shy away from it, though, I think mainly
because my work uses those brain cells to such a degree that I want easy-peasy stuff, since my knitting is meant to be relaxing. For some
people, though, the more
challenge in their knitting the better.
I'm under the gun to get a transcript done, but I'll try to answer your questions more fully at some later time. I'd also love to pose this question to my blog readers if you'll permit.
Mike said yes, please. I'm going to be away from the blog for most or all of today, so, please have at it, folks! Answer his questions....explore topics of space, color, technique, design, composition, fitting, etc. etc. etc. Talk to him about charts and panels and shawls and the historical and ethnic and regional significance of knitting and fibers. Someone find the link to that phenomenal photograph of millions of Latvian (?)mittens for....what was it, the U.N.? Something like that. I know someone knows what I'm talking about. He'd love to see that, I know.
Remember, he's both an artist and a chemist. He wants the meaty stuff. Also explain the difference between knitters and hookers. (Mike, we refer to crocheters as "hookers." It's not a bad thing, just different. Heh.)
Ain't we got fun?!