1/11/2011

Kids’ Knits, Figs. 1 – 3

Figure 1

When I was a kid, I imagined that one of the features of the afterlife was a Statistics Room. In this room, you could learn any figure or number from the recently departed life. How many times did you sneeze? How many pairs of shoes did you wear? How much total time did you spend kissing your partner? How many times did you say or write the word “the”? I now know that the notion of the Statistics Room stemmed from a childhood anxiety that even though these numbers existed, no one was keeping track of them. My personal anxieties are a little different these days, but there are still a few numbers that I’m really wondering about. For example: how many total yards of yarn in the world are devoted to hand-knit items for people under five years old?

Before my kids were born, I expected my contribution to this number to be much greater than it actually is. Little Ms. M. and Mr. S., who are now just over two years old, spent the first year of their lives growing at an alarming rate. For all of the baby items I knit for my then-pregnant friends, I had no idea that baby-sized knits are rarely worn for more than, oh, about five minutes. The Fibonacci Sweaters you see in Fig. 1 above were designed and knit for Knit Picks’s Independent Designer Program, which means I sent the sweaters off to Knit Picks not long after that picture was taken. When the sweaters came back—only a few weeks later—M. and S. couldn’t get them over their heads.

It’s much more fun to knit for the twins now that they’re older and not expanding at quite the same rate. The items Z and I knit for them are worn for almost two months now! That said, Z is far outstripping me in the knits-for-kids department. See Fig. 2 below.

Figure 2: Items knit for M&S during the period 6/1/10 – 12/31/11
By Z By Me

The issue here is obvious, and mostly attributable to Z’s uncanny ability to knit and read at the same time, a superpower which I can’t even hope to attain (see Fig. 3 below). The only thing I can do while I’m knitting is . . . um, knit. I can’t even walk and talk at the same time without running into a parking meter. But I’m working on filling in my column in Figure 2, along with balancing out the recipient ratio. As you can see, M has been getting way more stuff than S. Luckily for us, they’re still too young to notice. For now.

Figure 3

1/5/2011

Skewed!

I am a mediocre designer. This isn’t a matter of self-deprecation or dishonest humility—there are plenty of things at which I am totally awesome, and I’m happy to list them1. It’s not that my designs aren’t good, but by my own assessment, they are syntheses of other designs. For example, let’s take a close look at Avast:

I get a lot of compliments on this design, mostly because it’s hard to find a sweater design for men that isn’t all-stockinette and also isn’t competing with Comcast for sheer number of cables. But although I did design the cabled band itself, I shamelessly borrowed the overall construction from here:

Seamus taught me to knit a cabled band the circumference of the sweater, and then pick up stitches along the edge for the body. It’s a brilliant way to get that horizontal aspect to a cable. So brilliant that I decided to use it myself. The rest of the sweater is standard-issue bottom-up raglan, except for the collar. The idea for knitting twice the length of the collar with a turning ridge in the middle and then flipping the top half over came from here:

That’s the zippered cardigan from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson, which I wrote about a ways back. The pattern as written is a bit of a boondoggle, but that flipped collar was a smart trick. It gives the collar enough heft and stability to keep from flopping over, and also means that the bound-off edge is hidden away inside the sweater, giving the collar a more finished look. It takes a certain kind of brain to put all these things together, and there’s no doubt that I have that kind of brain, but the kind of brain I don’t have is the Innovator’s Brain. For the Innovator’s Brain, you have to go here:

These are Skew from Knitty’s Winter 2009 issue, which I’m currently knitting for Z. It’s no exaggeration to say that the design of this sock is pure genius. The designer’s bio boasts two math degrees, which is probably the minimum requirement to pull off a stunt like this. Each time I complete a section of this pattern, I wonder (out loud, at times) what on earth is going to happen in the next section; something I do with really good books, but never with knitting patterns. Lana didn’t simply create a cool new sock design, she totally upended, destroyed, and reconstructed the way socks get knit.

None of my patterns have done this. Which is fine with me. Innovation is a tall order. I’m happy to be the lucky recipient of someone else’s genius.

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1 Eating, sleeping, drinking homebrew, messing up the kitchen, shoving too much stuff into my closet, accidentally hitting my head, losing my keys, making fun of hipsters, and getting my twins to go to bed. That’s about it, really.