Thursday, August 25, 2005

Karen Allen and machine knitting

For years I assumed that machine knitting was just yukky, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. A few issues ago, Vogue Knitting International in vol 22 Winter 2004/2005 featured movie star Karen Allen because she's a knitter. I thought the article was weird because of the way they made her pose for photos, but I also thought the knitting was *eh*. It was all machine knitting.

So last weekend I'm strolling around Great Barrington, Mass., because it's one of those towns that I like to visit. There's a shop right there on little old Railroad Street with Karen Allen's name on it. Karen Allen's knitting was in the windows. Karen Allen was inside. So well heck yeah, in I went. I have to admit I was wrong wrong wrong. The photos in the Vogue Knitting issue simplly did no justice at all to the work. Karen Allen has mongo talent. Her machine knitting is definitely fine craft. Yummy, scrumptious. I wanted everything in the shop in the worst way. She has used fabulously soft, suitable yarns for the machine. She has created designs that show off the sophistication possible with a machine in the right hands. Her color choices are lovely, and she's not hung up on one thing but is obviously exploring colors and textures like crazy. She also teaches, so if you want to learn machine knitting from the best, Lorre Bob sez get yourself to Great Barrington and sign up.


piranha said...


i think machine knitting is ugly like crochet is ugly -- crochet has become redeemed recently from its toilet paper cozy and clashing colour afghan days, and it's only a matter of time before machine knitting will be redeemed as well (though for me it's never been that low).

i have a mattel toy knitting machine with which i am making scarves, *grin*. i mean, what's the point of hand-knitting straight stockinette for yards and yards, especially if my hands hurt? the extra bit for the scarves comes from connecting the machine-knit tube sections with fluffy yarn, or with more complex stitch sections.

Lorre said...

.jpg? I'm totally ignorant about how such a machine works.

I have a lot to say about crochet...but this is a knitting blog.

piranha said...

i had a quick look, but couldn't find a decent picture online; i shall have to take some. it's basically a plastic tube sock knitter with a hand crank.

*snicker*. you could start a separate crochet blog! then again, why bother? (well, you might of course, but i don't care whether i read something about crochet in a knitting blog.)

crochet hurts my hands less. and i find it easier to go freeform with crochet than with knitting.

and now i better lie down again. still sick.

Lorre said...

Hope you're up and about.

I agree with your free-form crochet comment. I suppose you could make up techniques to try to copy that quality, but why bother? I'd rather just do crochet. I spent many years doing crochet lace with crochet cotton, and that got me around the problem of ugly crochet design for yarns.

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Monique said...

I crochet and machine knit. I have to agree that most of the machine-knitting that I've seen in magazines and on the web is 'ugly'. I've seen some hideous crochet as well. With crochet, you have to use the threads for many of the garments. Thick yarn is not always flattering with crochet garments. As far as the machine knitting, most of the people designing their own knits do not have an eye for design or color. I've been forced to learn to design my own styles just to have something that doesn't look like I'm wearing my burial gown. I plan to design for other machine knitters who are also looking for more youthful styles. So hopefully machine knitting will be redeemed very soon

Ermengarde11 said...

This is Ermengarde Tenderstone, crochet designer in Georgia, Arizona and New Orleans. I was "born to crochet -- one stitch at a time" and as I like to say, made in the USA -- not on a machine in China. I do virtually all one-of-a-kind work, am also known as "Kat In The Hat" as I've crocheted thousands of hats along with many other items for many years, arthritis notwithstanding.

I have an ongoing charity project making hats for kids with cancer, I ship them out a couple of times a year, each time to a different hospital. I sent more than 50 to St. Jude's this year and have several dozen more together for my next shipment. It often attach yarn at the bottom of a hat to look like hair, as it gives some kids -- especially girls -- a good feeling to at least have some pretend hair until theirs grows back. I do sizes from infants on up. There are no two alike, so each child can feel a bit special. If you know of a child who would like one, let me know.

I gladly accept donations of yarn or cash to help defer shipping costs, as I'm on social security and have no extra money. But it's a labor of love that I enjoy. Although I don't get to meet the children personally, I did see a child at the gas station once (with her family) who had no hair and hospital bracelets. They were Latino and I asked them in Spanish if little Joanna had cancer, which she did, and I gave her a hat. Leaving the area they pulled up alongside me all smiling and waving goodbye. It still makes me weep how happy they were. What a blessing to me.

Email me at BiancaSerenity1 @ comcast . net if you wish.

I'm a crocheting machine!

Oh yeah, if anyone asks me what I do, I tell them I hook, as "crochet" is French for "hook". But that's hook-ist, as in art-ist, not hook-er!! And in Spanish hook is "gancho". Estoy crociendo mucho!

Once I crocheted 21 hours in a single day. Other times 13 or 17 hours etc. Now I need surgery in my left wrist from holding the thread for 15 years virtually nonstop (DeQuervains Syndrome -- anyone else have this?). But I love it anyway.


Ermengarde11 said...

Hey if you go to the Coats and Clark site you can get big discounts on yarn by the bag!

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