Sunday, 31 March 2013

Vile Worm (or 'A Warning')

It happens. You’ve been knitting a few years, you think you know a thing or two about colour choice, about the particular qualities of different fibres, about the behaviour of stitch patterns. You know all about gauge, about swatching; you are familiar with the inner workings of Ravelry; you can cable without a cable needles like it ain’t no thang; you are so confident in your ability to matchmake a pattern and a yarn that you occasionally daydream about setting up an internet dating service for the two (‘more couples happily knit together than any other site!’). So you choose a hat pattern, choose two contrasting colours, choose to unfurl your knitting smugly on public transport.

If you recognise yourself in any of the above, then Reader, BEWARE, because if my example is anything to go by, your knitterly pride is heading for a nasty fall. These are the perfect set of circumstances for you to create a TERRIFYING CYBER-CARNIVAL-SPACE WORM HEAD-EATER!


Now, I don’t mean to denigrate the pattern: the designer’s photos of the hat look perfectly lovely, and Saz’s version of it (ravlink) is beautiful, but my version of it sucks! Oh my goodness, I can’t remember the last time I created anything so vile.  The sturdy garter stitch means it doesn’t slouch down like you’d hope a beanie would, but stands straight up, for a cone-head effect (seen above); my colour choice, which I envisaged looking cool and urban, somehow turned out garish and childish: in short, it’s just a vortex of wrong. I acknowledge that the lack of slouch might get better with blocking, but I’m not going to block it. If Sci-Fi has taught me anything, it is that when a mad stripy space-worm tries to eat your head, you do not give it a scented bath and leave it to repose upon a towel, you DESTROY IT, screaming ‘DIE, VILE WORM, DIE!'.

So knitters, have a happy, but vigilant, Easter. Make sure that hubris does not creep into your stitches. Check yo selves before you wreck yo selves.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


Despite my mother's early attempts to encourage me in the art, I never could see the appeal of cross-stitch. The patterns available were unfailingly twee - kittens frolicking amid damask roses and the like - and the end results seemed a bit, well, pointless. Making things, any things, takes a lot of time, but at least with knitting or sewing that labour is directed towards a practical purpose: this thing that I'm making will keep me warm, save me money, make me less dependent on flimsy shop garments, etc. Cross-stitch seemed to have no such purpose to recommend it. I mean, what could you DO with a bit of cross-stitch? If you like to think that you're too young to be tricking out your lavender sachets with natty needlework, what other options are there? Make a teeny tiny cushion for fairies to lean against? Frame it? Somehow a mass-produced cross-stitch design didn't seem worthy of the high honour of a frame - it would be like framing a paint-by-numbers painting, or a completed jigsaw puzzle. 

I think, though, that I may have been missing out, and missing the point. The point is that needlepoint doesn't need a point. There is a quiet beauty in pulling lengths of different coloured thread through fabric that doesn't require a functional end result to justify the doing. And, I have to admit, following one of the mass-produced patterns I was so sniffy about is pretty satisfying. I took the above photo in Yumchaa, Soho, and I could barely put it down to finish a tasty apple and apricot cake. I think I might get back to it right now, in fact!
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