Le Poste Noir

Scout thanks you for sending her all your best wishes dear readers.

still from outtake of Marcel Carne's forgotten classic Le Chien 1938

Some notes on Clessidra so far:

It may have been because of the clear ineptitude that was inherent in my initial questions about modifications to the pattern that kept Gabriella from responding,or her email may have been on the fritz.
I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt because let's face it, struggling with this beautiful design is worth it.
And I am now thankful... yes, thankful! that I was forced to really engage with it and work it out myself.

Adding stitches: for some strange reason I have muscley calves (strange because I'm the oppostite of athletic..must be a genetic throwback) and so I heeded Gabiella's advice for the more amply calved amongst us and duly cast on an additional eight stitches.
The decreasing modifications are all worked out for you if you go with this option but the the instructions are written in such a way as to make it a tad (for me) confusing how to accomodate those extra stitches into the actual pattern.

Now that I'm about half way through it seems so obvious but starting out?
A bit baffling.
I'm also reminded of similar bafflement with a baby bonnet and a certain notorious felted slipper

Which brings me to thinking about how patterns are traditionally written.

Similar to modelmaking, the kind of instruction or plan I respond to is almost an axonometric sketch showing how all the bits go together with some notes.
I do this for myself to figure patterns out before I cast on.
The convention of a slavish narrative of what to put on which needle is just too abstract, divorced mentally from the final shape.

I read shapes, and how they fit together like sculpture: the stitches just fall into line after that.

I wonder if anyone else knits this way?

Bloody hell she's off on another tangent you're thinking, what does this all relate to Clessidra?

Things I'm liking a lot:
The fact that I bought 20cm bamboo dpns for these.
Despite the fact that my working one repeatedly catches in my sleeve to the point where I'm developing a strange knitting tic, they are long and flexible enough for me to try this baby on every few inches.
Consequently a perfect fit thus far, unlike my previous sock (which I plan to
donate to Bozo the Clown).

Things I'm not liking so much:

Apart from the forementioned, this is not 'sit in front of the telly & veg out' knitting. This is broad-daylight, full concentration territory.

Things I'm amivalent about:

The yarn, so soft but so tightly spun -which I know will make them durable- but makes it liable to sproing-oing off the end of a cable needle at the slightest provocation and run like a scared meerkat down its hole never to be found again, we're talking digging around with the crochet hook back four/five rows...in cables...fun!

Gave up on the instructions for decreasing the twin travelling cables into a single cable just above the ankle and I'm doing a lot of improvising here. But it flows and I think it will be fine.

the foreshortening on this photo makes it seem rather short, but I'm actually almost to the ankle!

Learning to live with mistakes.
So far I've counted five in the hourglass cable alone. Have I gone back and fixed them? Nope.
I figure this is a gestalt knit and no one is going to be examing them with a magnifying glass.

Finally a tip for the beginner:

Don’t place your outdoor knitting chair in long unmown grass at a table which is basically wire, in a spot which is prone to gusts of wind.

You will most likely lose your cable needle and row counter in said long grass and your dog will not be able to help you find them.

Or if she does, she will surely eat the evidence.


Blogger Rose Red said...

I understand what you mean about knitting instructions - if you are a more visual person (as I am), the words and even sometimes the charts don't help much. I think that's why knitting books with clear "how-to" pictures (as well as internet knitting videos!) are great!
And I love your tip for the beginner - I think we'll all had similar experiences!

1 June 2007 at 3:48 pm  
Blogger Pikku- Kettu said...

I love the black and white photography. I've also felt drawn to old photos or old-looking photos.

I sometimes also struggle with visualizing how instructions should be realized into actual knitting. And sometimes the only thing you can do is try and fail and then try again. Practice may not make perfect (I suspect nothing will) but it will make for a lot of experience. An it's all the more better if you share that experience. So thank you. :)

1 June 2007 at 5:09 pm  
Blogger Jesse said...

Yep, charts are essential. With knitting I find I need to know where I'm heading to, and how a pattern works. Because I WILL make mistakes!

1 June 2007 at 5:29 pm  
Blogger shula said...


You're SO Arthouse.

2 June 2007 at 12:42 am  
Blogger Madge said...

La belle Scout dit: Mmm, crunchy dpn lying here in the grass. Thanks, Mom, for the treat.

2 June 2007 at 4:14 pm  
Blogger AmberCake said...

I find the nature of traditionally written patterns equally frustrating (whatever with your *inc1, turn* nonsense, where is this GOING!?!). However, having taught several architects to knit, I found that they, who have slaved over models, who know how to type in the instructions into AutoCAD, they canNOT work with conceptual or structural instructions, they absolutely insist on line-by-line, stitch-by-stitch instructions.

On the other hand, I've been doing for them something that I'm starting to do for myself. Drawing diagrams from the instructions. I'm talking really horrible, down and dirty diagrams, but we're together when I draw them and go through the parts, and we go line by line through the instructions and see where things begin and where they change, where things are added and left on stitch holders and what the stitch markers are marking and all the whatevers.

It's so hard to have faith in written instructions that look like several lines of computer code, but it really is less ambiguous to write it that way, and with faith in the written and concentration in following it, my pattern brain quickly picks up and interprets what's going on (and in fact, I sometimes have to be careful to keep it from taking over). On the other side, when I attempt to write out what my pattern brain has figured out about the pattern, it's even weirder than the traditional technical writing, and far too open to interpretation/confusion.

But dude, I think EVERY pattern should come with a schematic. I should NOT have to calculate what the claimed gauge is and the number of rows to figure out the measurements of the pieces (especially when the given gauge and the given dimensions don't match - but that's another novel).

5 June 2007 at 7:55 am  
Blogger Flea-Bites said...

Hi Carson, You said
"I read shapes, and how they fit together like sculpture: the stitches just fall into line after that." and you wondered if any other people knit like that ... I'm here to tell you that while some people do, I don't - not only don't, CAN'T. That's why, although I love knitting, I'm not a good knitter.

That's also why you're a designer, and I have to whinge in the ear of the local interior designer's ear, on the rare occasions that I need to re-blind or re-carpet (like now that we're moving). I can't visualise things, yet when I study I need to read what I want to understand, not just hear it.

My spatial ability is not good and I have been known to draw incredibly (inaccurate!) complex things trying to see how it all fits together. I envy those who are, what I call "intuitive" knitters - and you are obviously one of these - accept my envy as a compliment!

5 June 2007 at 5:42 pm  

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