Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Confessions of a "closet" knitter

Thinking about my previous post (about making something more than once) led me to describe myself as a closet knitter! And it is so not what you think (since I knit in public all the time!).

Okay, so I've realized that there are three major types of knitting teachers / designers out there, many of whom we all know and love:
  • the artists (who design fabulous art-to-wear, who usually concentrate on teaching classes in color or texture, who probably went to some kind of art school);
  • the traditionalists (who design within ethnic frame-works, who teach classes in traditional techniques, who may come from--but at least have a love of--the countries where these wonderful traditions originated);
  • the technique experts (who design work, or teach classes, that celebrate a technique and that pay a whole lotta attention to detail).
Many teachers are a combination of the above, but I don't have any of the second and almost none of the first. And while I do kinda fit with the last, I realized that there was still something missing. Where does my work as a designer or teacher come from?

Upon being asked where my main source of inspiration comes from, and answering that question honestly, I realized the following:
  • that my main inspiration is the clothes I actually wear 
  • that I try to wear a knit garment every day
  • that I want to teach my students how to make the connection between their closets and their knitting so they can do the same
  • that my main focus (my rant) has become Knit what you wear, wear what you knit. (You have surely read that in a previous post!)
And so I realized that I am a closet knitter! Most of  my teaching, my design, my focus, and the majority of my inspiration comes from what hangs in my closet.

The products of my hands are not traditional, nor are they art-to-wear, nor do they necessarily explore a particular technique. They are usually rather simple garments. They are not the most impressive garments: no-one every looks at me knitting in an airport and says Wow, I gotta make that! But while they might be unimpressive and not the most exciting through the actual knitting, they are like the clothes that we wear every day. What does happen in airports is that people ask if I've knit what I'm wearing and where they can get the pattern.

So, to relate to the previous post, not only do I design from my closet but I regularly repeat that experience. If I like wearing something, I really like wearing something . . . and want it in an alternate colour and fibre.

I am currently working on my fourth version of something that has me as excited as the original EINSTEIN COAT. I should be ready to show it to the world this weekend!


  1. naaaaa, not "closet" knitter, a "ready to take off from the closet"!!

    1. Well, that surely is putting a positive spin on it!!!

  2. So glad you re-posted this from your old blog. After you talked at our guild meeting (in Minnesota last year after Yarnover), I pondered these points, as they really resonated. Another term occurred to me -- "garment knitter". I think that's what I am.

    While I always love to learn new techniques, and I value the history of our knitting traditions, and I've been an artist since I could hold a crayon, all of this goes into my knitting so I and my loved ones can have what we want to wear. I look through knitting magazines and books the same way I'd look at the clothing racks at the store -- what would I like to wear? Or use, as I'm also happy to knit utility and household items.

    I really don't find myself getting bored with "plain" knitting. Impatient, perhaps, but that's because I need some finished accomplishment and want to wear the thing. I think that's a bit different than thinking it's boring to knit.

    Eagerly awaiting Einstein's successor ...

    1. You're right! That rush to the finish means we are NEVER bored. And the rush to the finish is so exciting when we're pretty confident we can wear it!

      All I have to do before showing the new garment is a) get rid of some house guests , and b) learn how to post a picture here. And then I'll post the thing to RAVELRY.

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  4. Hi Sally, I'm new to your blog but I know what you're talking about. I always want to make things that I can actually wear.

  5. Sally, you have succinctly described how I now pick projects to knit, I love it, and now I know that I am a 'closet knitter'!
    Currently I have two cardigans on the needles, to replace worn-out sweaters that were in my closet. Its wonderful to have the fun of planning and knitting the project, and anticipate how I will wear it when completed.