Saturday, June 27, 2009

Knits of the Living Dead

"I knit, I like cats, and I collect dolls, but it's not what you think." I found myself thinking this as I bound off the neck opening of a tiny little sweater last night. My cat was sitting next to me, and I was home on a Friday night (which is unusual for me) watching The Listener on

The sweater in question was for the little guy in the pic above. Wolfgang is a Living Dead Doll*, which I started collecting a year ago or so. As I mentioned before, I only buy dolls that I fall in love with immediately. Looking at Wolfgang, I knew that I could love him if only his sweater wasn't so frigging hideous. Fortunately, I have a craft that empowered me to change the thing that was bothering me about this situation.

Seriously, how can you not love a face like that!? Conversely, how can you love a boat-necked monstrosity like that? It took me a while to actually get to the knitting (being the non-monogamous knitter that I am), but it totally flew once I did!

Pattern: Seamless Yoke Sweater by Elizabeth Zimmerman/ Cobblestone by Jared Flood
Yarn: Koigu KPM in Maroon
Needles: Addi Turbo Circulars, size US3

I based the measurements for this sweater off of Jacob's hoodie (see below), which told me it would have a 6" chest circumference (42 stitches, if I remember). The sleeves (according to Liz Z's percentage system) should have had 14 sts, but when I used that number, I got a sleeve that was more snug than I would have liked, so I used 16 sts. As recommended for sweaters for toddlers and children, I cast on the number of stitches that you'd use for the upper arm and knit a straight tube (rather than casting on fewer and increasing to the amount needed for the upper arm, as you would w/most sweaters for people over the age of, perhaps 8 or 10). I used the Magic Loop technique for knitting this tiny jumper. Can I just tell you that casting on and knitting the first row of a 16 stitch sleeve will teach you the meaning of the word "fiddly"? Yeah, it will. I now have a Master's Certificate in fiddly knitting. I love it!

I fudged the "Yoke Sweater" directions a bit for the yoke, too (Elizabeth would be proud!). Or maybe not, it's hard to tell w/such a small piece of work, since I believe Liz's directions were only ever tested by her on people-sized garments. Anyway, it was mostly guesswork, and, as mentioned before, I re-started the sleeves once. I also ripped the yoke back once (last night, actually), when I decided that I wanted the garter stitch to start earlier and that my decrease rows were too close together (the shoulders were too 'square'). This yarn, though? Effing DELICIOUS!!! Super -soft merino wool that I don't believe to be superwash (the ball band didn't say so, and I spit-spliced a couple of ends together, which I don't think superwash would do, but let me know if that's not the case). I want my own sweater knit from it, but not from the fingering weight. I'm going to be checking to see if Koigu makes a similar yarn in DK weight. Or I suppose I could buy a poop-tonne of the fingering weight and hold it double...hmmm....

Here's Wolfgang with his pal Jacob (on the left in the red hoodie). You can pretty well appreciate the subtlety of the semisolid shading in the yarn in this pic and the one above. It's really lovely! Jacob very graciously served as a fit model for the sweater, as he had been liberated from his box when I started the sweater and Wolfgang had not. Wolfgang really likes his new sweater, though--doesn't he look much happier now? He tells me that Jacob should have his own handknit sweater, since he was such a good sport about helping to make Wolfgang's sweater a reality (I had to pop Jacob's head off in order to remove his hoodie and try on the new sweater. Ouch!).

While shooting the other pic by the window, I noticed Wolfie's reflection in the window. The Horror Film lover in me thought it would be unforgivable to snap a super-creepy shot like this one! Add this to the list of things you don't wanna see in your window at night, eh? ;oD

I knit wiff Jacob, I knit wiff Homero, now I wanna knit wiff youuuuuu......!

Ok, kids, I'm off to work on something less absurd and creepy....or am I? ;o)

*If you're unfamiliar with Living Dead Dolls and would like to know more, you can visit the official website by clicking here. Once you enter the page, you can view the Archive/Morgue to see the various series of dolls. Wolfgang is from Series 10, and Jacob is from Series 13. :o)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Process Behind the Process

Do what you love.

There are many times when this uber-simple piece of advice really is the best guide. I once gave this advice to a new collector of dolls (on a message board) when they asked which dolls they "should" buy from a particular doll-maker. "Get the ones that make your heart stop when you first see them, forget about the rest. There's no way to know what will happen to a doll's 'value', and if it it never appreciates, at least you know you'll have a doll that you love."

Santogold, L.E.S. Artistes

"I hope it will be worth what I give up...suddenly I find myself an innovator...change, change, I wanna get up outta my skin. Tell you what, if I can shake it I'm gonna make this something worth dreaming of."

The same is true with knitting--or any craft, really. A very good friend of mine decided that she wanted to make socks for her 2nd (ever) knitting project. I helped her pick yarn and needles and got her started. Sort of. She abandoned the socks for a less 'fiddly' 2nd project and wanted to know why I let her choose something so complicated when she had just learned. 1) I'm not one to stifle a person's creative energy. 2) I believe that the best projects to work on are the one's you're really excited about--the ones you're in love with.

Bjork, Alarm Call

"You can't say 'no' to hope, can't say 'no' to happiness....I want to go on a mountaintop w/a radio and good batteries and play a joyous tune and save the human race from suffering...the less room you give me, the more space I've got. Today has never happened and it doesn't frighten me. It doesn't scare me at all..."

And so it is with design...for me, anyway. When I actually picked up knitting sticks and yarn and learned how to knit, it was because I wanted a 'Harry Potter' scarf (Ravelry link) and had a hard time finding one in a shop. While working on that project, it occurred to me that there were lots of other things I could (and would love to) knit. My mind started turning over ideas of sweaters I'd like to have, more scarves, and so on. Yep, I'm a selfish knitter (because 95% of what I knit is for me and me alone), but I also tend to want designs that are not what I see available from other designers. Modifying a hat pattern here, making something up completely there, taking an idea from the construction of one project and using it in something not quite the same....and that's just where it starts.

Santogold, Creator

"I'm a creator, the rules I break got me a place up on the radar..."

That's a rough sketch of the 'how', but there's also the 'what' and the 'why', and lately the answers to both of those have come from music I've been listening to. Sometimes--oftentimes--it's in the lyrics. Sometimes it's the art direction of the video, or just the overall style of the musician. The few videos I've posted here are examples of what I'm looking at as reference points for what's rolling over in my mind lately. Where the lyrics are inspirational to me, I've noted my favorite lines below the video, but sometimes it's just the overall sound, or maybe the style of the video.

Bjork, Declare Independence

"Don't let them do that to you...raise your flag...ignore their patronizing, tear off your blindfold, declare independence!"

I have a sense for where/how I want these designs to go, but I know they could end up somewhere else entirely. That's another part of the process, no? Following it to see where it takes you? We'll see where they go, but for now the process is exhilirating and a little scary, but I know I'm on the right track when I feel my heart stop.

Keep on knitting. Do what you love.