Monday, October 18, 2010

It Starts With A Tweet...

"If I can't find a simple chevron pattern in any of my stitch dictionaries, clearly I need to expand my library. #HowKnittersRationalize"

On a recent trip back to my home state of Michigan, I was spending the afternoon with my 'Ber and her 4 kids at a local craft store, picking out fabrics for the new nursery. Yessir...she's expecting her fifth. Give it up, yo! Anyway...fabrics, yes. Color palette, chosen. She's come to me to request one of the most crucial elements of any nursery: a baby blanket.

I love doing baby blankets, I really do. Don't get me wrong, it's not as if I'm a serial blanket knitter. I mean, what kind of knitter do you take me for? Seriously, though...I love making them, thinking that my blanket might become their "blankie." I don't know if that's ever happened yet...there are only 3 or 4 in the world thus far. It's about to become 5.

So...a blanket. Okay...I'm in. We talk size (about 5' x 5'), density (not too thick, not too thin), materials (acrylic, no question), colors (white, with accents of crimson, dusty rose and pink) and patterns (nothing with too much open work). We decide on a simple chevron pattern, probably about 5 rows high, with garter ridges in the accent colors. Not a problem, I say, I can find that in my stitch dictionaries at home. With the vaguest notion of a new baby blanket in my head, I headed south, back to St. Louis.

For those who aren't familiar with them, stitch dictionaries are to knitters what a thesaurus is to an English major: a nary used but indispensable reference. They are vast collections of stitch patterns that, like Lego bricks or Lincoln Logs, inspire creativity and often end up a component of something we're working on. Knitting, like grammar, is fond of substitution and stitch dictionaries, like the thesaurus, provide the bits that serve as substitutes. Replace that rib with another variation. Get rid of the rib in exchange for a more feminine picot. Insert an off-center cable running down the side of a cardigan where there was only stockinette before. We look through them like coffee table books, languidly looking for a spark, a curve, a line to catch our eye and spur the imagination.

I just scanned the bookshelf. With the stitch dictionaries alone, I have over 750 different stitch patterns. You might think that would, indeed should, suffice to find what I need. But no...in my search for a simple chevron pattern, I came across many new patterns I had never seen, several patterns I had seen, many that I already knew (but that were named in the book differently) ...even a chevron stripe and a divided chevron pattern. None were right, not even close and thus was born the simple tweet:

"If I can't find a simple chevron pattern in any of my stitch dictionaries, clearly I need to expand my library. #HowKnittersRationalize"

Don't worry, though...I'm a resourceful guy. The chevron is not the boss of me!