Wednesday, February 10, 2010

As Amerique and Jeanne have mentioned, our team had our first (well, since I've been here) knit-night and, thanks to Jeanne and Sandy, I now know how to knit! Seeing so many different and delightful patterns floating around this store, I've been wanting to expand my basic fiber-twistin' knowledge for some time now since, unfortunately, there aren't too many crochet ones out there for us homely "hookers". To my surprise, our shipment of new Rowan books and yarn came in the very next day and one book specifically was just calling me right back to the one handed hook art.
I always flip through the pages of new books that I check in-you know, to be familiar with the product and all (at least that's what we'll tell Laura...)-and when I opened up Rowan's new summer patten book: "Summer Crochet" I almost wanted to walk out of work right then and there to go home to start the projects right away (let's not tell Laura about that one either)!! In my months of being here, I don't think I've ever looked through a pattern book and wanted to do every pattern in it, too. Sandy and I have already picked out our projects and I just can't wait to make these absolutely stunning summer outfits. I've actually never made anything bigger than a scarf or a hat but these gorgeous patterns gave me the extra push to start planning my course of action and get over my "big-project" anxiety. Besides, just the thought of summer almost makes me as warm as any hand-knit scarf or hat (I said almost!).

I have to admit that there is another reason why I love this book, as well as the new Rowan Knitting Magazine (#47) that also arrived, and that is the fit of nostalgia that settled upon me the moment I set eyes on where the photo shoots were held for both books (reading the newsletter that just came out, I guess there is a lot of that going around). :) For their summer collection, Rowan decided to photograph their fiber magic in the Mediterranean island of Malta, a place I had the immense pleasure of visiting three summers ago for a cultural anthropology field school that I attended for a month. It was like a big Mediterranean breeze wafted in through our frost-covered windows (okay...maybe they're aren't frost covered but they might as well be!) to conjure up for me once again all of the sights, smells, and-best of all-colors that this small but stunning country has to offer. Looking through each carefully crafted crocheted piece and admiring the beautiful colors that each piece offered in and of itself and also in contrast to the landscape, I got to thinking about color-the one thing I think it's safe to assume that all of us fiber extraordinaires love.

So, after work, I decided to indulge in my nostalgic trip down memory lane and look through old pictures of my visit to Malta. I quickly came to the conclusion that Malta was quite possibly the spark that ignited my ever-growing infatuation with color. At first glance, Malta doesn't seem like a very colorful country (especially in comparison to the last country I traveled in, India, which I have now deemed as the empress of bright colors). The limestone buildings blend in with the muted browns of the dry landscape, creating an enduring look of aridness and dreariness. But, if you take the time to look closer, you'll find the beauty that is inherent in the landscape (and why I think Rowan chose this place to show off their spring/summer line): how the cerulean sky (the kind of blue that Goethe called the "enchanted nothingness"-if I ever designed a yarn color, that would be its name) stands out against the fierce browns of the landscape and how the certain style of Mediterranean cultures involves splashing the doors of houses and sterns of boats with the brightest colors imaginable. If you visit Malta in the summertime, it is the season of "festas" which are religious festivals honoring different patron saints. It is also when all the towns and villages decorate their streets, churches, and houses with lights-making everything even more brimming with color and light, like this:












I also have to mention that most of the patterns in the Summer Crochet book are lace-like garments which seem to reflect an important aspect of Maltese culture: Maltese lace! I don't want to go into it too much as I feel like I've been too verbose already..but here are some pictures to demonstrate how the Maltese make lace!













Now, you may be asking at this point: "well, that sounds great and everything but what does this all have to do with knitting?" which I must emphatically reply, "Everything!" I believe that color is intricately tied to culture and thereby who we are (I also believe knitting is a direct expression of both of these). It is how we express not only our personality and our tastes (likes and dislikes), but where we come from and who we are. I think one of my favorite authors, Ellen Meloy, summarized brilliantly what I'm trying to say in her book Anthropology of Turquoise:

"Intoxication with color, sometimes subliminal, often fierce, may express itself as a profound attachment to landscape. It has been rightly said: Color is the first principle of place."

Pulling and shipping orders, I see a lot of yarn go through here everyday and, considering this post, I now have to wonder: What do these color choices say about you-the wonderfully creative people who order them? Do certain colors just reach out to you, reflecting or perhaps reinvigorating a personal attachment for a certain place, person, or even animal (Lorna's Laces' "My Favorite Fellas" being a great example)? Why are we attracted to certain colors and shades and not others? Does my fascination with different combinations of pale blues, pinks, and purples originate from the fact that I live in the desert and see (and love) those colors every day? All valid questions to consider but, for now, I must urge you to try to think about the colors that surround yourself and perhaps recreate a piece that accurately reflects your beloved landscape and home.

Well, I have picked my first project from this book which is coincidentally named, "Gozo", the
tinier island off of Malta which is where I spent the bulk of my time. It is a poncho (shown to the left) and, with the help of Sandy (and her seemingly infinite knitting wisdom and patience), I have chosen to substitute the Cotton Glace with Rowan's Cotton Jeans. Not only is it on sale, but the combinations of tans and browns-for me, at least-reflect the landscape of Malta, as well as the desert that surrounds Reno. It reminds me of the jagged limestone carvings of Malta, while in the same vein, it hearkens back to the sagebrush and creosote bushes of my enchanted desert home! All in all, philosophical rambling aside, I can't wait to get started on this project!


Well, thanks for reading these silly ramblings!
And, as always, Happy knitting (and crocheting!!!)
Shevawn








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