Sunday, April 28, 2013

No mist-er, no chilli fertilizer, no seeds, but Sally Melville’s “Knitting Pattern Essentials” did turn up from Amazon in yesterday's post. It’s seriously good. I also watched my next Herzog lesson yesterday, and the sum of the experiences has left me feeling more than a little like Epaminondas.

(I just looked him up, and was surprised to find that he hasn’t been airbrushed out of literature along with Little Black Sambo.)

The point of Epaminondas, as I hope many will remember, is that he faithfully tried to carry out everybody’s instructions and always got it wrong. That’s me.

Melville and Herzog differ on some points, but agree that they want me to knit my next sweater, at least, in four pieces and sew them together. Herzog goes further, and insists on a set-in sleeve for this one. She wants me to knit a boring pattern – she actually uses the word, with a little roll of the eyes. This is going to be my favourite sweater for the next 20 years, my standard for size and fit.

I haven’t got 20 years, lady.

So, do I abandon the Relax, Epaminondas-fashion? 

Probably not. I can see the point about seaming and the structure thereby provided. The Relax pattern itself wants side seams, but I hated the long purl rows on my first attempt. I meant to add Meg’s afterthought seams, but forgot, when it came to the moment. The result seemed fine. The lightweight yarn and droopy design don't demand the structure provided by seams in the way another yarn and pattern might.

Franklin has a recent essay somewhere – no time for link-hunts on Sunday morning – about project vs process knitters. I am solidly in the “project” camp. I can see how any serious designer has to be a “process” knitter with a box full of interesting swatches.

Anyway, I finally mastered his utterly simple (and rather sweet) garter-stitch 6-row edging and have now knit two 8-scallop pieces of it. One more, and I can go on to the next lesson. Nineteenth-century knitters did this all the time, he told us in the first lesson, and stuck the little samples in sample-books.

Swept away by my own prose yesterday, I have ordered some of that Noro sock yarn. There’s one grey-ish colourway I hope my husband might even accept. And I’m nearing the toe of the first Pakokku sock. The yarn is changing its ways somewhat (no change of stitch-number yet) – the stripes getting broader. It’s very exciting.


  1. My more recent projects have been seamed, and I am happier with them than some older seamless ones, mostly due to the fit. I don't mind sewing pieces together, though. And I love how I learn something from you almost every morning , today it was Epaminondas, literal minded child and Theban general.

  2. Anonymous6:06 PM

    The Epaminondas stories have been redone by Coleen Sally as Epossumandas - he's a baby possum in a diaper who gets everything wrong, just like in the classic stories.

  3. "Epanimondas - Watch how you step in dem pies!! " So he did. I've never forgotten that line.

    I think you should knit what calls to you. Never mind the pedagoguic theories. The larger Relax will look good on you, want to both knit and wear it.

  4. Amy Herzog only says the set-in shoulder style and stocking stitch to make altering measurements as easy as possible. But her point about using the correct shoulder size and altering torso length(s), torso width(s) and sleeve length to suit your body are spot on. So make Relax, but if you need some short rows at the back of the neck, or some additional shaping in the body, add them in. What she doesn't say is how much ease you need in your sweater depends partly on what thickness of yarn you're using (and also stitch pattern)- and her recommended values don't have a lot of variation between tight and loose fitting.