13 May 2007

Summer Vacay Here I Come!

School’s out for summer! Only something as glorious as summer break could make me channel my inner Alice Cooper. Technically, this doesn’t really change much of anything for me as I haven’t been in classes (teaching or taking) all year and I will be continuing my usual writing job throughout the hot and sweaty months. But… I’ll be doing less of them, so there. And… I won’t have to fight for a parking spot. And… whatever, it’s close enough to being a summer break that I’m celebrating!

Now to tackle that list of things that I’ve ignored for the past month of work and illness insanity, a list so long that I may get it done before the pesky undergrads return in the fall if I really hurry. (If I owe you an email, work project or just basic contact, be on the lookout. I’m trying to return to the land of the living but it may take me awhile!)

This weekend I kicked off my summer celebrations with some wild and crazy cleaning. Before my eyes close tonight, laundry and dishes will be caught up, the floors will be mopped, the porches will be swept and who knows, I may even be totally wacky and dust or file the stack of papers sitting on my desk. But then, if I put away the papers, I may have a clean desk and actually have to do some dissertation writing. Maybe I’ll procrastinate on that a little bit longer…
On Friday night, our guild hosted Maureen Mason-Jamison for a trunk show before her three-day teaching stint. From looking at her website, I wasn’t sure if she was my cup of tea. I’m not really an “artsy” dresser who can pull off mitered square jackets or wild colors. I get images of those whacked out, hippie-fried art and English teacher stereotypes and I quickly scuttle back to my safe wardrobe of black pants and grey sweaters. I occasionally throw in an unexpected bit of color here and there, but I tend to stick to solid colors and tailored lines, nothing too foofy, nothing too flashy.

Wasn’t I surprised when by the end of the evening I was dreaming up Kaffe Fasset-inspired colorways in which to knit a mitered square vest. I managed to take a deep breath and cool down my brain long enough to realize that maybe I should try wearing a bright scarf before I plunge into a complicated colorwork sweater jacket, but nonetheless her talk was wonderfully interesting and inspiring.

I took away several great tips and am really looking forward to Monday when I’m taking two workshops with her, one on finishing techniques and one on top-down raglans. She really has an eye for fit and adding tailored details to her garments, something that doesn’t come across as well on the mannequin shots on her website as when a real person models the garments. She had members strut their stuff wearing her trunk show samples and it was amazing to see what looked like a basic, boxy piece turn into a flattering, structured garment when given live arms and shoulders to fill it out. One of her lessons was that since the brain always processes warm colors before cool, you should design colorwork pieces with the warm colors in the center of your body and keep the cool shades to the sides. The brain will focus on the peach or pink and won’t register as much of the purple or blue, making you appear slimmer and narrower. And if our knitting makes us look skinnier, doesn’t that mean fewer hours at the gym and more hours on the couch knitting? Pass me my needles and a cupcake!

The other aspect of her talk that was inspiring was her sense of play and whimsy combined with studious design. On the one hand, it was clear that this was a woman who thought about her work down to the tiniest, tiniest detail. She didn’t just knit, she studied knitting. She briefly mentioned learning about Japanese buttonhole techniques as if she was learning a whole new craft. Shoot, I’m pretty darn happy if I manage to get the right number of buttonholes thrown into a project, let alone how they look around the edges! Yet, on the other hand, she never made those details tedious or boring because they were part of a larger program where she would wake up and decide to knit a hat, rummage around until she had just the right colors and go for it. Even then, though, her play is always part of a program to get to a wearable garment, maybe just not wearable for a boring grad student who loves her plain grey sweaters.

Too often I think I get caught up in “good taste,” quilt or knitting designs that are practical and resemble what might be featured on the shelves at Macy’s. I love looking at color and playing with design, yet only recently have I really started challenging myself to do projects which may not follow all the rules of subdued presentation or neat order. I still want to avoid the “artsy”-flowing-hippie-robes wardrobe as it just isn’t me, but I’m enjoying breaking into new territory like my latest quilts out of Kaffe Fasset fabric (to be shown this week) and the Lizard Ridge afghan pictured today. Maybe if I line up the warm colors in the center of my afghan, I can use it on the couch while I’m knitting and it will make me look even slimmer as I laze about. Hmm… pass me another cupcake while I think about it!

A few years ago I took an introduction to sweater design class, came up with some sketches and basic numbers and, of course, purchased the yarn. Last summer I realized that I had absolutely no idea what my swatches meant or where the pieces were in my plan so I frogged it all and dumped the bag in the stash. I have a feeling that before Ms. Mason-Jamison leaves town, I’ll be restarting that project.

1 comment:

Meredith said...

You're braver than I for stepping outside the pattern box and daring to try something that may go against the rules. :-) Your Lizard Ridge squares are looking fantastic, too! Hooray for summer vacation! Enjoy every minute!