Fiber jazz

Test scrumbles
Test scrumbles

So I survived the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat, and had a wonderful time learning and hanging out with friends. Both brain and fingers have gotten a real workout. This event is somewhat like a convention or technical conference of the sort I’m used to, but with an overtly social purpose, and attendees sign up for specific classes, rather than floating from track to track at will.

The language of knitting and crocheting has really gotten under my skin. I took Creative Crochet Lace with Myra Wood, and found that the class — along with the companion book — was filled with delicious words and phrases. For starters, there’s scrumble, a piece of lace created in a freeform fashion (when you stitch these pieces you’re scrumbling). Makes me want to crochet up a fruit-themed work just so I can call it an “apple scrumble”. (Hmm, plenty of Google hits for this one referring to recipes, though it does ask the fateful question “Did you mean apple crumble?”) The book casually invokes the phrase fiber jazz to describe a particular style of freeform lace. Lovely.

The past tense of knit became something of an irritant to me every time I heard it in the “Market” (what I would have called the huckster room had I been at an SF con…). If knitting isn’t a pastime of yours, I bet you’d say it should be knitted. I guess I’m revealing my newbie status in agreeing with you. But it turns out the past tense all the cool knitters use is knit, as in “I knit four sweaters and three hats last year.” I found a source that defends the irregularity of this verb and in the process earned myself a whack across the knuckles: I do use the American English past tense of fit, which is of course fit. Then again, I also say “day-tah” for data but “statt-us” for status, so sue me.

In another class on charting written patterns (and conversely writing out charted patterns) with Karen Alfke, I learned sweater-knitting tricks that I probably won’t be ready to try out for a year or so — haven’t made my bones on sweaters yet. She has an honest-to-goodness methodology (with paper-form tools!) for the multitasking involved in knitting a main pattern with (say) cables running up it, an armhole decrease, and a neckline decrease so that it all lines up properly at the top. One way she put it was that you’re fileting the pattern. Nice. (The term filet also shows up in the context of a totally different crochet technique, lest you get confused.)

With the help of my very experienced and talented knitting friends, I’m planning to tackle a lace shawl soon. Next lessons up: new stitches, circular needles, and teeny weeny yarn…

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6 Comments to “Fiber jazz”

  1. John Cowan 19 February 2008 at 8:43 pm #

    Different senses of verbs do sometimes carry different inflections. “The sun shone brightly yesterday” (with no object) sounds fine, but “Harold shone his shoes yesterday” sounds stupid, and vice versa. So like the rest of us you probably talk about “fitted clothes” but you say “It used to fit”.

    I too say “day-ta” and “stat-us”, and I’m a Hiberno-Deutsch goombah (in a purely spiritual sense, of course) from Jersey.

  2. Eve 19 February 2008 at 9:32 pm #

    Yeah, the source I linked does point out that talking about someone’s “knitted brow” is still correct. But I have a feeling it’ll be hard to break the habit of saying “I knitted that piece last month”. Maybe I’ll just have to resort to saying “I finished knitting…” in the fashion of the guy who didn’t know the plural of “goose”, writing to the butcher to buy two of them. (“Please send me a goose. p.s. Please send me another goose.” :-) )

  3. Ian Clark 20 February 2008 at 9:43 am #

    Well, I’m giving up. The trend towards slovenly speech seems unstoppable. Is the past tense of “fit” not “fitted?” Can one say “I fit right in” less ambiguosly regarding tense. Is it the present or the past?

    I read the other day, a newspaper report that said “Hilary Clinton found herself.” It caused me to reflect upon the use of the past continuous and wonder whether it was more correct to say “Hilary Clinton has found herself.”

    While we’re at it, how do you construct a sentence which ends in a quote? Chicago Manual of Style dictates one should say ‘The password is “abc.$def.”‘ There is some ambiguity whether the password ends with “f” or “..” I mean a single “.,” but was constrained by having to include the punctuation mark. Dammit, I’ve done it again.

    The ideal statement, or question, should identify an event with as little ambiguity as possible. “Fit” to describe events in the past does not, whereas an insistence on injecting punctuation BEFORE an ending quote creates confusion.

    Regarding ambiguity, I just loved the notice that appeared in my village grocers…”Please do not sit your children on the counter by the bacon slicer as we are getting behind with our orders”.

  4. dwhite 20 February 2008 at 10:48 am #

    And here I thought Fiber Jazz was going to be about a diet of T. Monk and Flax Seed. How’s the CD coming?

  5. Eve 20 February 2008 at 11:05 am #

    Ian: I hate to tell you, but “fit” as the past tense of “fit” is perfectly good American English! I feel your pain as you try to squeeze ambiguity out of language, but I suspect it’s impossible to get all the way there… As a former technical editor I always use the series (“Harvard”) comma for this reason, but a fair number of other people who review my writing keep trying to rip it out again. Sigh.

    Dave: It’s done! I haven’t seen the actual duplicated items yet myself, but we’ve got ‘em. Sorry to disappoint on the fiber/jazz combination. (Just remembered this: One of my teachers, Karen, also referred to “whole-wheat love” and “high-fiber knitting”, but what she meant was the act of signing up for a knitting course because you thought it would be good for you, not just because you thought you’d enjoy it. :) )

  6. […] gives her take on our fiberrific outing (or would that be “fibriffic” spelled her way?). I guess I needn’t have been so […]