Friday, June 30, 2017

The Happy Pattern Hoarder

(Status update: I may be online during the next ten days, but this laptop won't be. The cafe is closing for a vacation; after closing today it'll reopen on the eleventh of July. I spent the morning in the Friday Market and sold $32 worth of, mostly, soda pop, of which $6 went directly to the fire department, bringing my income for the week to $54.08. You still need to support this web site: )

Now about the books, or in this case magazines, I received courtesy of the site that pays in Amazon giftcards: Let us face it. I am not the customer of modern book publishers' dreams. Modern publishers, I learn with dismay, want to know within two or at most three weeks whether a book is going to be profitable or not. If they don't see the profits within three weeks, they're ready to write it off as a bad investment, rather than keep the book available and see whether it develops into a slow steady seller. They even want to judge the success of the real, printed book by the success of the "e-book," although real books and "e-books" appeal to two different types of readers. I don't want the "e-book." And I don't even trudge out to the post office to pick up real books in the mail every week, either, unless I've agreed to proofread galleys or have some other reason to watch the mail.

The first thing Amazon wanted to know about those knitting magazines I ordered was "Did they arrive by the twenty-third of June?" Er, um...I suppose they did. I'm not sure. I went to the post office on the twenty-fifth.

Anyway both magazines were there, good as new; I've posted reviews of each one at Amazon and will add a little more puffery here:

Knitter's issue #7, Summer 1987, the T-shirt issue:

Knitter's Magazine (Issue 7, Summer 1987, Vol. 3, No. 3)

Review: I'm pleased, and so will you be if you buy this magazine for the same reasons I did. It's part of American knitting history. In the 1990s Knitter's was to become the most successful knitting pattern magazine ever, but in 1987 it was new and not really on its feet yet. This issue contains a reader's complaint that another issue had been thin, with a wry reply from the editors about the high proportion of editorials to advertising--and this issue is downright skinny. And then, all the patterns are for knitted T-shirts; most of the pages consist of a detailed index of what was in the first six issues, all of which are also collectors' items now. Apart from the index, there's a detailed history of T-shirts in fashion, with the (in)famous picture of Kim Harper clawing the T-shirt off Marlon Brando's back in A Streetcar Named Desire. Then there are about a half-dozen patterns for hand-knitted T-shirts to work in one piece, in the round, down from a square yoke, etc. Knitter's has printed more T-shirt patterns in more recent issues that also contained patterns for jackets, tote bags, socks, and mittens. Nevertheless, if you're collecting Knitter's magazine or the work of Alexis Xenakis, Elaine Rowley, and/or Meg Swansen, you want this issue for your collection and you'll probably enjoy it.

I admit it: I collect knitting patterns because I enjoy looking at them. You might call me a pattern hoarder; I already own more patterns than I could possibly knit in another fifty years--including several patterns I've never even wanted to knit the way they're written. In theory the pattern collection exists to allow clients to commission projects I wouldn't have thought of knitting myself. In practice, I'll admit it's unlikely that clients are going to read through a display of pattern books that's close to lining an entire wall in a good-sized room. But I, personally...after a long hot day in an open-air market or craft show, or on a rainy Sunday afternoon, or during the "mental health days" of my young-womanhood, I like to curl up with my current knitting project and a stack of patterns, and read through the patterns and think about what I'd knit next if I had an unlimited supply of yarn and time. My brain stores--not complete information, but quite a bit of information, about what I've thought might be nice to knit in some unimagined future. If I go into a charity store and unexpectedly stumble into a box of lovely vintage yarn, my instant reaction is something like "That looks as if it'd be just right to knit the textured sweater on the back cover of Knitter's Issue #24, or, if not that, possibly a unique variation on the multicolored sweater from Knitter's Issue #45, or maybe..." And if I buy the yarn, I go home, pick those pattern books off the wall, and usually end up asking the nearest non-knitter which of two or three patterns s/he would like. I do better remembering the yarn requirements for knitting patterns I read last year than I do remembering the effects of the aging process on cousins I saw last year.

{Knitting} Knitter's Magazine: Alpine Knits {Number 24, Fall 1991}

The other back issue I hadn't owned until this week, and now own, was Issue #24, Fall 1991. There is a lovely, laborious ice blue cable-stitch sweater with white embroidery on the back cover. Inside the magazine are lots of patterns inspired by Western European textile traditions. Most are for women's sweaters. There's an adorable 1980s-style picture-knit sweater for a little girl illustrating Johanna Spyri's novel Heidi; if the little girl in your life doesn't want a lot of layers of extra yarn knitted across the front of her body, she might appreciate the picture knitted as a pillow cover or part of an afghan. There's a classic specimen of Ann Bourgeois' trademark version of fairisle stitch. There are other cable sweaters, a short-sleeved "Loden lace" sweater, a "modern" fairisle stitch sweater inspired by geometric prints, a reindeer sweater, several sweaters featuring the deep V-necks and chevron-across-the-whole-body effects with which designers were playing in 1991. Deep V-necks "for layering" are back in fashion and you might want to use these patterns to knit a relatively flattering version of this look.

I think my favorites, though, are the sock patterns. Meg Swansen offers two versions of a labor-of-love Bavarian-style texture pattern for sock legs; there's also a vintage slouchy-top sock pattern from the days when socks were not normally visible, but were, nevertheless, worn as very discreet fashion statements.

Both magazines arrived in excellent condition; I'm pleased.