A Love Knit Up

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Knitting Journals

I'm getting really frustrated with the available knitting journals out there. I would think that it wouldn't be that difficult to design a knitting journal: make a notebook with each page having a couple of inches devoted to data (gauge, yarn, pattern location...), and a large section devoted to notes on the pattern. Have the opposite page have a large blank area; either all white, or half white half knitter's graph paper. Sounds pretty obvious, no?

But there are no knitting journals out there that are like that. They're all stuffed with reference materials (which is great, but what is the knitter's companion for? and most of the time I don't need the references in my journal; I only need the notes on the pattern I'm making), have LOTS of space devoted to vital statistics, and almost nothing to notes on the pattern. In 5 years I likely won't care that I managed to knit pattern X and have a photograph of what resulted; I'd rather know that the shaping on the shoulders was nearly impossible to accomplish and that I ended up changing it, or that the pattern was completely incomprehensible until I swatched several times and finally understood it, or that I couldn't seem to get gauge and so ended up modifying the pattern to fit my gauge. That information is more important than the fact that the sweater had a 20 inch back length, no? (I agree that yarn information is important. But you don't need 2 inches of page reserved for it.)

I own two knitting journals: one really cheap one I got from Joann, and the Stitch 'n Bitch journal. The first one has pages that look like this:

(The vital statistics section is marked in blue, the comments area in red.)
Problems: Not enough room for comments, no places reserved for sketching and notes on the pattern stitch. This journal doesn't close when you open it (because of the spiral binding), but it does have a hard cover over the binding, which means that it doesn't lie flat and can't be wrapped back on itself. It's small, but it isn't really something you'd carry around with you.

The Stitch 'n Bitch journal, on the other hand, has some absolutely brilliant ideas which are unfortunately ruined by other unfortunate design choices. On the plus side, it has these great design pages,

which have graph paper (although not knitters graph paper) and a sketch of a person that you can put clothes on. Which I think is cool. (It also has some knitters graph paper later in the book, but I didn't take a picture of it.) In addition, the project pages actually have a much larger space reserved for comments:

(The area for comments is marked in red, the vital statistics in blue. The green section is the amount of room reserved for the yarn type, which I think is greatly overkill.) It also has a nice area for writing down your measurements, and an explanation of what to measure. However, the book has some very striking defects. First off, it doesn't stay open; it ha a glued binding, which makes it stiff until you break the binding, and then it becomes floppy. Secodly, it only hasroom to record 12 projects. 12! Who only has 12 projects? (It also has 14 pages for "things I want to make". If I started recording everything I want to make, it would take much more than this notebook.) It also has room to record 30 kinds of yarn I have in my stash. This is silly because as far as I know there are only two kinds of knitters: those who buy yarn for one project, make it, and then go on to another one (and so have no stash, and don't need this), and those who have a huge stash, don't even try to remember everything they have, and trying to make them record only 30 kinds of yarn they have is silly.

This journal has 200 pages. The first 120 are the design pages and the knitters graph paper pages, which are just great. The last 80 have the above things, a few references on stitches, and a few pages on how to design sweaters. All of these could be removed and only make the journal better. Technically, it is supposed to be a "design journal"; but in that case, why put in all of the pages about "things I want to knit"?

Anyway, enough ranting about journals. (I'm trying to design my own, but I'll post about that when I've developed my ideas a little more.) An update on what I'm knitting:

I've finished the gene scarf. (This is incredible for me, because I hated the pattern by the end (even after I found the mistake in the chart and fixed it), it was going very slowly, and I kept wanting to throw it out the window. But now it's done, it looks great, and here it is:

(A note for people making this: it curls unstoppably before it's blocked; after I blocked it, it looked great.)

I've also started working (again) on the silk lace shawl I started this summer. This is a square shawl worked from the center out on circular needles. At the moment it looks like this,

a huge pile of awful yarn. I have faith, though, in the magic of blocking, and I persevere. I wasn't counting this as a project twoards my limit of four before, because I was certain I could never memorize the pattern (and so it doesn't count while I have other things to do). This weekend I tried it again, and I had the pattern! Just like that! Either I'm a better knitter than I was this summer, or I had actually almost managed to memorize the pattern last year. I'm using Filatura di Crosa's 100% silk fingering weight yarn (whatever it's called). Two notes about knitting lace: don't use 5-ply silk yarn (you can't tell when you're splitting the yarn unless you watch it like a hawk), and don't use metal needles; the slipperiness makes things like ssk very difficult to do.

Lastly, I've finally started Elsebeth Lavold's Ljod! Here's what it looks like now:

(I only started yesterday.) It's not as yellow as it looks; the sun made the color look brighter than it is. Actually, this pattern is what is causing the rants about knitting journals. It doesn't have row-by-row instructions, only a general explanation of how to lay out the pattern and do the shaping. It also has a lot of "at the same time"'s. So I want to write out the key points in the pattern: at 4", when the shart pattern is done etc. I can't write in the book (it's a nice book), and I don't feel like I can write in either of my knitting journals (the first doesn't have room, and in the second I'd need to cannibalize a design page, which feels vaguely like lying). There should damn well be room to sketch and note right next to the place where you record all of your pattern stuff. But I'm starting to rant again. I'll stop now.


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