Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Picturesque (aka Dust Bunny)

photography by Christa Tippman
I am very proud to have a new pattern in an Interweave Knits publication. I do feel a bit goofy about it being in Jane Austen Knits (digital edition / print edition), because I’m not a trendy gal, and Ms Austen is certainly trendy these days. Still, my Austen credentials are solid and longstanding, so I’m not too fussed. In fact, the title of this blog is an allusion to an Austen piece that most folks would be hard put to identify (NB: the original quote has nothing to do with knitting).

I know I should lead with the quote from Northanger Abbey in which Henry Tilney instructs Catherine Morland on the art of the picturesque.* But this quote is priceless, and I couldn’t resist:

Where people wish to attach, they should always be ignorant. To come with a well-informed mind is to come with an inability of administering to the vanity of others, which a sensible person would always wish to avoid. A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.
"The advantages of natural folly in a beautiful girl have been already set forth by the capital pen of a sister author [anyone know who this is?]; and to her treatment of the subject I will only add, in justice to men, that though to the larger and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility in females is a great enhancement of their personal charms, there is a portion of them too reasonable and too well informed themselves to desire anything more in woman than ignorance.

(People do tend to forget what sharp claws Austen had.)

I’ve always been fascinated by historical clothing, so it was great fun to pore over the local library’s collection of books on Regency costume.

garrickThis garrick, from A History of Costume by Carl Kohler [Dover Publications, 1963], stopped me dead in my tracks. Although the piece is wildly romantic, a man’s overcoat may not at first seem very promising for conversion to a feminine nonsense. I think I’m going to have to stop claiming I’m not very girly, because I didn’t find it all difficult to see the frippery potential (although I found it quite challenging to realize that potential.)

I decided early on that I wanted to use a laceweight silk-mohair yarn. I also knew I wanted the bottom of the cape to hang fairly straight across, which argued for having some kind of shoulder shaping. Most Excellent Matt, King of the Short Row, eventually showed me the way, drafted the schematic, and rendered the sketch for my submission package.

In the mysterious way of fashion, this Regency-inspired garment also works as Mid-Century Modern.
Picturesque Cape in mid-century modern sweater clip from It's A Swindle
Mohair? Sweater clip? Marian the Librarian glasses? Check, check and check.

This excellent clip (the Audrey) comes from It’s a Swindle on Etsy which is definitely not a swindle, especially at the moment, when everything is discounted for Halloween.

This project was the first time I’d used laceweight silk-mohair, and the Schulana Kid Seta turned out to be really lovely to work with – so long as you don’t need to tink or frog (and so long as you’re not the long-suffering tech editor trying to count stitches through the haze). But knitting a strand of nothing into a cloud of lusciously soft dust bunny glamour is so magical that it’s more than worth the unholy alliance the yarn forms with itself.

If grey is not your only color, here are some palette ideas in similar yarns.

With glitter! Schulana Kid Seta Lux (71% mohair, 20% silk, 9% lurex) in 206 Purple, 202 Grey and 201 Silver.

The classic. Rowan Kidsilk Haze (70% mohair, 30% silk) in 641 Blackcurrant, 632 Hurricane and 639 Anthracite.

DROPS Kid Silk (75% mohair, 25% silk) in 17 Dark Rose, 10 Gray, and 09 Pearl Grey.

* Here's the quote that actually inspired the cape’s name:
It seemed as if a good view were no longer to be taken from the top of an high hill, and that a clear blue sky was no longer proof of a fine day…she confessed and lamented her want of knowledge, declared that she would give anything in the world to be able to draw; and a lecture on the picturesque immediately followed, in which his instructions were so clear that she soon began to see beauty in everything admired by him, and her attention was so earnest that he became perfectly satisfied of her having a great deal of natural taste….Catherine was so hopeful a scholar that when they gained the top of Beechen Cliff, she voluntarily rejected the whole city of Bath as unworthy to make part of a landscape. Delighted with her progress and fearful of wearying her with too much wisdom at once, Henry suffered the subject to decline…
--Northanger Abbey

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I LOVE this !!! I will pay you to make me one?