Saturday, January 14, 2012

Experimentally Speaking

Over the past few months, downtown Seattle has been the site of a knitbombing of epic proportions.  I'm not just talking about some lamp posts or bike stands wrapped in fiber, I'm talking about an entire park full of trees wearing sweaters.

Two parks in fact!

I stumbled upon the first park whilst driving through downtown & couldn't believe what I was seeing.  I had to get a closer look so I dragged my friend Goldie downtown one day to get some photos.  

I was baffled by these amazing creations because the seams are obviously hand-sewn but the stitches are so perfect I doubted they were hand-knit.  I mean who on earth could hand knit so much stockinette in a reasonable period of time without being struck down by carpal tunnel, arthritis & mind-numbing boredom?

Luckily my fellow Seattle blogger & acquaintance Susan Moskwa wondered the exact same thing & set out to get her questions answered!  She's got a great interview with the fiber artist responsible for these trees & others in the greater Seattle area here.
In other knitting news, between the holiday gift rush & my renewed progress on my Central Park Hoodie, I started to experience some repetitive stress in my left wrist during some marathon knitting sessions last month.  A few times it actually forced me to stop knitting, which did not sit well with me at all.  After suffering through it for a while, I started thinking about how to solve this & remembered hearing that knitting Continental can be gentler on repetitive stress than knitting Western (which is how I learned to knit).  So one Sunday evening before the holidays, after exhausting myself with Western knitting, I threaded the yarn through my left fingers & started experimenting.  Since then, I've been stumbling through my best guesses at how to hold the yarn & control the tension with varying levels of success.  Today, I decided to seek the help of the Internet & lo & behold, I found a really helpful video which might just help me solve these problems.  It clocks in at a whopping 9 minutes & suffers from some unfortunate camera-work (I think it's actually cell-phone work) but it's really detailed & informative & definitely worth watching if you want to learn this method.  After just one row of using the hand positions she explains here, I feel faster & more proficient than I did using my made-up hand positions.  She even addresses the fact that knitting Continental results in a looser gauge, which I'd noticed but thought was due to some mistake I was making.

Finally, I've been wanting to experiment with felting for a while but since I have a front-load washer, which can not be stopped mid-cycle to check progress, I could never quite bring myself to risk the yarn & time.  So imagine my excitement when a visiting friend pulled some 2 1/2 foot long knitted slippers out of her bag & asked if she could felt them in my washing machine!  I've got no problem risking someone else's knitting!  So in they went & after one cycle they were definitely smaller but not small enough.  We sent them through the wash again & after the second cycle, they were perfect!

Now, I'm thinking that there is definitely some giant-slipper-knitting in my future!


V! said...
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CJP said...

I love the sweaters in Pioneer Square, they make me stupidly happy! Great shots from Goldie too.

In other geurilla art news that intersects with knitting, I thought you would appreciate this guy's latest mini garden he installed in London:

Thirdly- even though it sounds like you've put your felting fears to rest with your experiment, you're always more than welcome to come use our top-loader any time you want to, if you need a more controlled environment for felting.

juniperjune said...

those trees are awesome -- i'm sad we didn't get to see them when we were in town! and i'm interested to hear about your experiments with continental knitting -- i've never tried it, but i'd definitely like to hear about how it goes for you. i've heard that it's possible to knit much faster that way, but i've also heard that purling is more difficult!

V! said...

Yay, Erin, you can leave comments again! Fabulous! Purling is more difficult when knitting Continental so right now I knit the right side rows Continental & the wrong side rows English.