What are your favourite colours for knitted or crocheted projects. Have a think about what colours you seem to favour when yarn shopping and crafting.
If you’ve ever been in a swap with me, you may know the answer to this question. I love blue-based jewel tones, particularly reds and purples. I’m fair skinned and have darker hair, so warmer colors like yellows and oranges tend to make me look washed out. Put me in an amethyst, an emerald, or a ruby red and you’ll see roses bloom in my cheeks.
Now think back to your house animal – do the colours you have chosen relate to your animal in anyway – if you are in the house of peacock, for example, are your projects often multicoloured and bright?
My projects are rarely multicolored, since horizontal stripes don’t agree with me. They do, however, tend to be bright, though not garish. In the winter I found myself knitting objects that were cobalt blue and purple, and I’d started nosing around for the perfect emerald green. Coincidentially, you can find all these colors in a peacock’s tail.
When I think of peacocks, I think of how they unfurl their long, lustrous tails like a giant fan, revealing a cascade of iridescent green-and-blue-and-purple feathers. And when I think of peacock tails, I think of feather fascinators.
Even if you don’t know what a fascinator is, you’ve surely seen one. A fascinator is a headpiece that doesn’t cover the head the way a hat does. Instead, it sits perched at a jaunty manner in a decorative – some might say fascinating – manner. The style first became popular in the 1920s, when bright young things affixed peacock feathers to headbands and made eye-catching cocktail hats.
When Catherine Middleton married Prince William, she and many members of her wedding party donned fascinators. Modern-day flapper Sarah Sophie Flicker has also incorporated the fascinator into her everyday style.
The fascinator trend had started to take off when I worked at a craft store a few years ago. Instead of spending top dollar at a local milliner’s or buying a mass-produced feathered headband at Claire’s or Urban Outfitters, some crafty customers bought a few peacock feathers and some felt and made their own headpieces. More recently, one of my favorite designers, Sarah Wilson, has created a felted, bow-shaped headband as part of her 1960s-inspired Mad Women pattern book.
Betty’s Bow would be the pattern I’d make if I were to work on a project for Peacock House. Instead of making it in Malabrigo, I’d probably craft it from one of Noro’s green/blue/purple-based colorways. (Those would felt, right?)
When the time came to enroll in a “house” for Knitting Blog Week, I struggled to figure out where exactly I belonged. All of the houses represented an aspect of my own knitting life. I am frequently working on more than one knitting project and flitting from interest to interest, like the bee; I use new projects as a way to teach myself heretofore unknown skills, like the monkey; I frequently bring my knitting to places I feel anxiety, the way the manatee might. In the end, however, I chose the Peacock House as my landing pad this week.
Eskimimi describes the peacock as “tak(ing) something good and mak(ing) it brilliant. Buttons, embellishments and a bit of sparkle prove that perfection lies in the details – like a Peacock’s Tail.” Reading this description made me think of both the way I’ve used unexpected colors, shapes, and buttons to enhance a project. The first part of Eskimimi’s phrase – “take something good and make it brilliant” – also caused me to reflect upon how I’ve modified patterns to make them more wearable or try-on-able while I’m working on them. Changing a cast-on to a provisional crochet cast-on or keeping the stitches live so I can Kitchner seams together has also helped me from unleashing my drunken-sailor seaming skills to the world.
I first took up knitting about seven years ago, with the full knowledge that I tended to passionately pursue my pastimes, only to burn out in a blaze of obsession and move on to the next thing. As a result, I thought of myself not as a “process” or a “product” knitter, but rather as a “cautious” knitter. I made a lot of garter-stitch scarves and side-seamed hats and only bought enough stash for the project on which I was working. When I made my first wearable sweater, I started to see the needle shift from “cautious” to “product”, as I saw how a new project could teach me new skills while I worked on it. That sweater was the first I knit in the round. When I made my next sweater, I learned how to do a three-needle bind-off so I could work the shoulder seams without having to sew them up. Though top-down raglans and set-in sleeve projects are my favorites, I also loved doing sleeve decreases when I worked a bottom-up project, like Beth Hahn’s Gretl sweater, in the round.
Knitting has been a great comfort to me over the years. Though I love the feeling of pulling yarn through loops, I also like having a specific point to which I’m working. I felt a little trepidation at identifying as a process knitter after reading Debbie Stoller’s ‘Stitch N Bitch’, which describes product knitters as never really learning anything past knit and purl. Having some idea where a project is going has helped me to keep knitting and not get discouraged.