The ties that bind

Fauna Pullover by Shirley Paden from the Winter issue of Interweave Knits, available late November 2011.

Livingstone Cardigan by Amy Miller from the Winter issue of Interweave Knits, available late November 2011.

Vicarious knitting and spinning

I think of my job, editing Interweave Knits and its accompanying special issues, as the ultimate in vicarious knitting. We work with designers to bring their visions to life, planning colorways to show off that lovely stranded pattern, choosing a yarn that will make those cables pop, watching the commercial fiber world and distilling trends down to individual projects. All the heady fun of planning projects; none of the challenges that go with actually designing them. It's not so bad, as jobs go.

And I've always been a yarn junkie. As a knitter, I'm most interested in the sense of possibility in yarn—I think about and choose yarn carefully, waiting until one tugs at my mind and tells me what it should become. Rugged, toothy wool for heavy, dense texture—and the occasional unexpectedly polished wool for a more delicate take on cables. Silky yarns with cloudy halos of mohair or angora for lace or a slippery-sleek solid fabric. Crisp mercerized cotton for bright, delineated color stripes. Yarns have potentiality imbued in them—knitting is just one process that brings the potential forth.

That's why spinning is so appealing to me—the idea of building the yarn itself, filling it with useful qualities, possibly planning its final destination before you ever start treadling—spinning your yarn as well as knitting with it adds so many interesting layers to the project planning process. I admire spinners, look at their work jealously, bribe the ones dear to me with chocolate and wine for the products of their hands and wheels.

I never became much of a spinner myself, though. I found that when I spun my own yarns, I stopped seeing any potential in them—what need had they to be translated into something else? I thought they were perfectly finished objects just as they were!

You can't, however, wear a hank of yarn and call it a day (in most jurisdictions, anyway). So I'll leave spinning to the people who do it well and keep thinking of ways to use the yarn they make. Spinners and knitters, spinners and crocheters, spinners and weavers, tatters, stitchers—talk about the ties that bind.


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