Friday, June 06, 2008

Fruits Circa 1988

Hi Knitters,
Let me take you back for a moment, waaaay back, about 20 years ago to be exact. I was 23 years-old and in graduate school and I was already crazed by knitting. Now, let me set the scene for you. No one knitted at that time, no one. I was a lone fish swimming in uncharted waters with no help by my side. Dramatic, no?

I found this book at the new Borders bookstore here in town. It was a big deal. There were 3 knitting books available, one by Debbie Bliss, one by Kaffe Fassett and one by Susan Duckworth. I bought them all. Susan Duckworth's book sent me realing. I got shivers when I opened this book. I poured over the pages of spectacular knitting, detailed texture and colorwork and design. I couldn't believe my eyes. I finally landed on this pattern called, Fruits. Yes, Fruits. I had no business knitting this sweater, none at all. I did it anyway.

I took the book to a local yarn shop run by a couple of older ladies. I am sure they just shook their heads when I left. Those ladies intimidated me to no end, I never would have asked them for help. I have no idea what that yarn is for the main color but it is some kind of fine wool. The accent colors for the fruits and leaves were all carefully selected wool embroidery yarns. That was all they could do for me.

I knitted this on US size 2 and US size 3 needles. Yes, I just said 2's and 3's at a gauge of 8 stitches per inch. Can you even believe the nerve of that? Naivete is truly a gift at times. The 1 by 1 ribbing on the bottom is at least 10-inches long and extra snug to get that blouson effect just over the top of it. I bobbled, I moss stitched, I intarsia-ed, I basket weaved, I crocheted edging, I had bobbins swinging left and right. Phew, that's exhausting. This thing came with me everywhere I went. What a smart on-the-go knitting project for a young college-aged woman. I wonder what people thought of me. Goof.

Guess what? I got a little burned out. I ended up with a lonely bunch of grapes on the upper-center back and plain stockinette stitch sleeves. The fruits were supposed to be all over the sleeves and back, too. I think this took me a couple of years to really finish because I remember sneaking it out to knit on during lunch at my first teaching job which was in 1990. My husband was in law school and I would knit on this while he studied at night.

I can't believe I actually finished. I will never get rid of Fruits because it taught me so much about knitting. I am still surprised by my courage with my knitting early on. You couldn't pay me to knit something like this, I mean tedious like this, today. No way, no how, period. Never.

Do I resemble the glamorous English model just a little? Nah, not in my dreams. I must say for a girl who had no idea what she was doing and with poor materials my sweater looks pretty darn close. It is all pretty funny.

Here is the cover of Susan Duckworth's Knitting, so English and beautiful. The book is a feast of color and design and gloriousness. I will save it forever. Simply paging through here brings me back to a time where I was game to try anything and I realized that knitting made me catch my breath with excitement. It became my life's calling and it all began with another Susan by my side.

It's 20 years later, it is crazy hair day at school. I have a great tip for you crazy hair designers, like myself, braid pipe cleaners into your daughter's braids and you have an instant Pippi Longstocking look or maybe Medusa (perfect for Halloween). We did four braids and I used 2 pipe cleaners, brown to match, in each braid. 

My daughter had a poetry coffee house with her class this morning. We walked into a dimly lit stage area and were served coffee on the way to our seats. We were instructed to snap instead of clap, very hipster. The kids were told to wear black. They read their poetry with utter confidence and pride. I loved it all. What a teacher she has, simply outstanding. I am indebted forever to good teachers and she is one of them.
Have a good Friday, Knitters.
best, susie