Language / Stitching · 2008-02-19

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…