Friday, August 30, 2013

OK, knitting: 1) Princeling's pullover.

The other morning, Tom woke quite tired from a rather busy dream, which went thus.  We were travelling through the world, and were encumbered by a large old fashioned wooden boat, which we had to pull along with us over both land and water.  Then we were in hospital building, I was sitting up in bed looking very happy, and the boat was alongside the bed, filled with straw as it were a Nativity crib.  When he looked inside it, nestled there was a pile of balls of wool.

I’m not entirely sure I should be sharing these rather intimate and bizarre details of the workings of Tom’s night-time imagination, but I cannot help but wonder if it doesn’t say something about the place that yarn is occupying in our life…

Anyway, I’ve been saying I would post something about what I’ve been making, but having started to do so, the post began to run away with me, to get over-long and to become a rather dull catalogue of projects. One of the interesting things about knitting, I’m discovering, is the associations, thoughts and memories that it evokes as I do it, connected, directly or indirectly, with colours, textures and actions, or with what I’m reading or listening to at the time.  These are scarcely intellectually puissant or profound, but sometimes vivid or surprising, and it seems to me including them might give more point to writing about it. So better perhaps to write a series of shorter more frequent posts about individual projects with whatever tangential meanderings come to mind. This may also serve to exercise my atrophying blogging muscles and bring me in sight of the thousand published posts in seven years which I said earlier I was aiming to achieve by the beginning of November.

So here goes.

I finished Princeling's pullover back in early July, even though his birthday isn't till October, since I was concerned it would be a hopelessly bad fit, and I might prefer to make something else in the meanwhile. The sleeves sounded very short in the pattern so I lengthened them, then they seemed very long compared to the body, which I tried to redress a bit with blocking.

I met up with Iso alone and handed it over, suggesting she hold it against another jumper that fitted him and see how it compared, but she said, no she'd try it on him.  OK, I said, it's not like the surprise matters much for something like that, I'll send him a book or something else anyway...

'No no, I'll make him close his eyes while we do it,' she replied.
'He'll peep, surely?'

But she assured me he wouldn't, and later sent me a series of photos of him wearing it, all with eyes tight shut, as I'm told they were throughout, which amused me greatly, as well as making me whimper over what a little shrimp he was and how utterly drowned he looked in the pullover.

I'm still not convinced that he won't outgrow the body before the sleeves ever fit him, but Iso says she'll just roll them up.

The tweedy background wool contained rather a lot of bottle green, a colour I'm never fully content with since it was that of the school uniform I had to wear in my secondary school years.  Does school uniform inevitably predispose us to disliking that colour for ever more, I wonder?  But it also had a rich strand of purple in it, and looked much better in daylight than indoors.  It seemed a little unoriginal to resort to stripes too, even somewhat unusually distributed ones.  One Ravelry group for knitting for boys lamented how it was difficult to find anything other than trucks and stripes.  I know boys often do like things like trucks and tractors, generally more than girls do, though not always, and why not indeed? And if a boy, or anyone else, has a penchant for trucks or tractors, or anything else, why not let him have them in pictures anywhere he wants? I'm sure if I owned a boy I'd find it quite difficult to put him in pink or in flowers, and I really don't worry too much about this kind of thing any more, but I think it would be nice to find some other motifs that weren't quite so gender-skewed.  Animals, I suppose, are a possibility, and houses, and boats and fish and whales and dolphins and watery things in general are often loved by all, and one could try abstract shapes and patterns that were more varied than simple stripes.  I did see one pattern for a dear little baby hat which had a girl's version with pink hearts  and a boy's with skulls on.  Am I alone in finding this slightly depressing, creepy even? Though certainly ripe with possibilities for socio-psychological deconstruction...

Having said that, I notice Princeling, along with tractors and farm animals and a carpet with a town layout on it, has a pirate ship on his wall, complete with skull and cross bones, so I suppose that's where the skull thing comes from.  Though whether we should quite be romanticising pirates is another matter again.  But as I said, I don't worry too much about that kind of thing any more.



Nimble said...

What a handsome sweater! As the mother of two scrawny children I didn't mind when clothes were too big. Roll up those sleeves and they can wear it twice as long.

I was remembering knitting last year at this time even though the weather was hot. I was hooked. I'm on a hiatus now. I'm sure I'll have something on the needles when it gets cooler out.

Zhoen said...

Really rich colors. Dunno, I loved overlong arms when I was little, mostly brother's rare hand-me-downs. Snug and expansive at the same time.

Love a kid who plays along with the surprize honestly. That's a good'un you got there.

Boys can like anything, really. I think girls are just as boxed in to cute and pink. Go with what they like in books, cartoons, sciences. I agree about the skulls, unless it comes from the kid unprompted.

Catalyst said...

Oh, Princeling's new garment is perfection indeed and, because he will grow into and eventually out of it, he can wear it twice as long. Good job, Lucy.

Anonymous said...

He looks dear in it! Picking up on Bruce's comment, I gave my daughter a tee shirt when she was five with a college's name on it, which also happens to be her name. It started as a nightgown and, fifteen years later, remains in her wardrobe as a tee.

Roderick Robinson said...

Best to take what Iso says as gospel: her acronymic name stands for International Standards Organisation and her criteria must surely be beyond reproach. My mind wanders... one of the ISO's functions has been to accord scientists the greatest honour their trade can offer - to turn their surname into a unit of measurement. Something that lasts and is inarguably significant.

You can see what I'm up to. In recognition of her services to worldwide knitting the IKF has decided that from now on the stitch combination of knit one, purl two shall be known not as a Lucy (despite a strong faction in favour) but as a Luce since the christening committee - a group capable of owning up to an aesthetic - felt that the metaphorical resonances with light were both felicitous and inescapable. This pleases me since I may be the only one of your commenters who has dared to address you this way, usually on occasions when the imperative seemed necessary (ie, not very often).

But that is not the gravamen of this comment. I need to know, as a matter of urgency, what mode of thought your mind adopts when you take up the needles. Also are you able to listen to music and read philosophy as you knit? I am still not sure whether VR can combine these functions. And, of course, think. I mustn't forget that.

Lucy said...

Thanks chaps.

Nimble - scrawny kids rock! A lot of people say they can't knit in warmer weather, but it hasn't made any difference to me, sitting outside in the shade with knitting has been lovely. I hope I don't go off knitting in the foreseeable, there's still so much I want to learn and make, though I'm missing reading a bit. Audio-books provide some solution to this but rather an expensive one, and radio of course.

Zhoen - yes, I always liked big jumpers too. I'm just afraid he'll shoot up in the body and that'll be too short before he ever fits the arms and shoulders! I think the pink and pretty thing for girls may have got worse in recent times, it used to be that it was often easier for girls to be tomboys and interested in boy's stuff than for boys to risk looking like sissies, though this didn't of course transfer to equal career opportunities when they grew up. It depends on the family and immediate culture too, I guess. I've heard of more than one girl whose gone through a rabid pink and frothy phase, much to her mother's disappointment, but then rejected it equally intensely. The symbolism of skulls and hearts is all a bit weird, though interesting, when you come to think; but of course if the kid wants skulls why not? This was a hat for a very young baby though. I think I'd rather knit skulls into things than Disney motifs anyway!

Bruce - thanks. It was lovely soft snuggly wool, and washable, and his mum really liked it, so let's hope he gets some wear out of it!

Peter - lovely to see you. I bet she's really fond of it, clothes that go on forever are great.

RR - I think Bruce, above, might have been known to call me Luce before now too. I don't mind it. Music is good when knitting, reading anything while knitting isn't really that easy though I can do it, and reading philosophy isn't that easy for me at any time. I have, however, been enjoying the philosophy, as well as the religion and culture but alas not the science, archives of the 'In Our Time' podcasts. I'm now thinking of looking up the Desert Island Discs archive, which contains every edition ever made, it seems.

Ellena said...

Well done Lucy. Princeling looks grown up and strong wearing your masterpiece and that's what boys want.
There was no need for you and Tom to fret as to correct sizing. You could have seen the world while sailing calmly.
The last time I was asked to close my eyes while trying something on it was a dark blue coat with a furry collar that Mom was sewing for me and I was 10 years old and never peeked.

Anil P said...

He looks rather dear in it.

Warli motifs might be interesting to try out. The Warli people used their style on their homes to illustrate the lives they lived.

Now, it's caught on elsewhere in India as a theme to try in any art possible.

HKatz said...

" I did see one pattern for a dear little baby hat which had a girl's version with pink hearts and a boy's with skulls on."

Toy stores in the U.S. seem to be getting more rigid in how they divide things up by gender, and what's deemed a girl's toy is almost always pink. So the girl's aisle will be a wall of indistinguishable pink. It's gone a little crazy. The skulls, not sure what to say to that, only that I've seen boy's birthday cards that have skull and crossbones for pirates; but why you'd want skulls on a baby's hat, I don't know...

If you're looking for "gender-neutral" designs, musical instruments might be another fun motif, especially if the kid likes music.

Lucy said...

Thanks again.

Ellena - who knows why we didn't just get in the boat, these things are not susceptible to logic! Though Tom's dreams almost always have a much stronger and clearer narrative than mine ever do, which I rather envy. You were obviously a good sport about trying on your coat as Princeling was.

Anil - Thanks for introducing me to the Warli art, it's fascinating! I especially like the trees and spirals. The figures are a little too detailed and dynamic for my knitting skills, better for embroidery perhaps, but they're really cool designs. Interesting how folk art from more remote corners gets taken up by the mainstream, like Fair Isle and Aran knitting here.

HKatz - lovely to see you, how I've been neglecting good friends. The tyranny of pink, it does seem to have gone a bit wild. Once, nto that long ago, apparently it was seen simply as a lighter shade of red and considered perfectly appropriate for boys. From the point of view of making things, at least there are plenty of other interesting colours available these days, and nobody insists that babies are only put into bland pastels. Pirates do give a lot of opportunity for active and varied imagination and play, and kids do sometimes like things which are a bit horrid or scary like skulls. Musical instruments are a really good idea, the shapes are so clear and attractive...

Lyse said...

Bravo Lucy, c'est un joli pull-over. J'aime des tons qui s'harmonisent bien. Il pourra le mettre longtemps, quoique à cet âge les enfants grandissent vite..
Bonne journée

Francesca said...

He looks delightful - and how GOOD, not to open his eyes! The colours are great.