Intarsia Knitting and Observation Journaling


Knitting: Here’s what’s on the needles now. It was requested by one of my granddaughters who’s into horses. As you can tell I didn’t simply knit this project up since I last blogged. The truth is I had to put it away for a while and take a rest. It was the horses. Intarsia isn’t my strong suit. I’m a bit of a neat-freak and intarsia creates a mess as those of you who’ve tried it know well. I can barely bring myself to look at the back of this piece of knitting. Added to all this is the fact that the sweater and horses came together from two very different patterns. This involved a lot of math in the planning stages. Now, however, all I have to do is knit up the horseless sleeves, add the collar, and sew on the buttons. Scary question to self: Why do the sides look so long at the top? Are they supposed to be eventually sewn up and over to the back? Will the back be knitted up to them before the collar is introduced? Either of these solutions would be weird. If I have to frog (rip-it, rip-it, rip-it) those two sides and do the horses over again I’ll need a vacation in Hawaii first. Or at the very least a couple of glasses of wine. (The latter is far more likely.) I’m freaking out. Must. Not. Think. About. This. Just. Now. On to the sleeves.

Thinkering: We were thinking about journaling in a post back. This struck a certain response and I know why. If you journal at all you struggle with it. It’s that simple. Not all of us are Anais Nin, nor would we want to be. She let it all hang out and most of us want, at the very most, a kind of limited hang-out. A miniscule hang-out, actually. We don’t want to be pretentious nor do we want to be whiny. That’s already leaving a lot out. Try reading “On Keeping a Journal” by Alexandra Johnson. In it, among other things, she suggests moving “from I to eye” and keeping an observation journal. Writing about things outside ourselves will bring nothing but relief and anything we see and decide to write about might well reflect more of the real people we are than airing our joyless grievances and mercurial ecstasies would. She writes, “Successful journals break the deadlock of introspective obsession.” Ouch. Is overthinking (aka thinkering) a kind of obsessing? I think it may be. So here’s what we’re going to do. Let’s go to Starbuck’s with our journals, sit in at a corner table, and begin describing the people around us who will be locked into their iPads. We can go on from there and wonder about their lives, their loves, what they’re writing about–or move away from them altogether and on to the weather, the cars outside, the buildings. Whatever catches our fancy. It’s a way of pinning the moment down–stopping time for a little–and at the very least we’ll get a good coffee out of it.

PS: I often make my own journals. Here’s the one I’m writing in just now. I pasted the card on the front. It makes me laugh!

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13 thoughts on “Intarsia Knitting and Observation Journaling

  1. you are a far better grandma than i…..i HATE intarsia (hate hate hate hate it!!!) I would have duplicate stitched those horses on!!! (i look at blogging as my form of journaling…..but I still collect all the great little notebooks and pens and fun stationery stuff!!! obsessive? just a tad!)


  2. After I had been blogging for a year or two, a good friend asked me, “What do you *really* want to write?” and of course I didn’t think, “In my journal.” I said, “Letters to my grandchildren.” Good letters I think are so much finer than journals – Have you read *Letters of a Woman Homesteader*? The author is inspiring, because she was *not* locked in deadly introspection, and her wonderful nature comes through her fascinating descriptions of the people and events of her real life….
    You have encouraged me with this post. I don’t think I’ll go to Starbucks, but I do have plenty of opportunities for observation…. If I don’t have someone to write a letter to today, I can write the same kind of thing in my journal, and be the better for the exercise.


  3. Hello, Karen! I popped over to say hi and am so pleased I did. What you say about “thinkering” and journaling is really interesting. Have you read Annie Dillard on “the Writing Life”? I haven’t read the whole book but it’s quoted by Rowan Williams in his book Silence And Honeycakes at some length and she refers to the fact that often writers find that they need not only to be prepared to jettison what they thought was the best bit of their recent chapter or whatever but the part that was to have been the very point! Rowan Williams comments that as in writing so in life and I think that’s uncannily true sometimes. And may be the discovery of that in what one writes helps one accommodate the phenomenon in other spheres. The whole issue about what and why people write is fascinating. Very topical as far as blogging is concerned. And of course there’s no one reason why people blog or for whom and it’s not always going to be the same in all posts even in the same blogger. And why should it be, after all? I love writing I have to say. And there’s something about writing in hard copy that’s especially creatively satisfying – the paper, the journal – especially if it’s handmade or personalised -, the pen, the ink – it can all be rather anchoring in a changing and transient world. May not matter if the results aren’t widely read. Or perhaps even read at all? Not sure about that last one. Though the reader may only be oneself. I think there’s no doubt that the potential of external readership exerts a filter exactly as you describe here – we limit what we want to reveal about ourselves all the time. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing and actually again as you say here, it’s in writing about other things that sometimes deep truths about who we really are emerge. What a long comment! Sorry! Wishing you a happy “thinkering” weekend! E x


  4. Intarsia and I do not agree with one another. Although there are so many great patterns using intarsia out there I avoid it at all cost. I know I’d get so much better at it if I would just try, but the mess I usually create is mostly just frustrating.


  5. Oh, I know this feeling, when you know that something is off in your knitting and you just can’t think about it right now, because you are too overwhelmed, but it is staring at you from the corner and you really can stop thinking (aka thinkering) about it! As for the journals, I love keeping them for my blog. I always write a post there before typing it, as typing doesn’t inspire me at all. My husband thinks it is a complete waste of time, but it works perfectly for me πŸ™‚


  6. Oh, don’t think about frogging it! But I’m all for the thoughts of wine and Hawaii. πŸ™‚ SO right on about journaling. I used to be better at it. Sometimes I re-read my journals from years ago and they really crack me up πŸ™‚


  7. You really freaked me out asking all of those technical questions regarding your knitting… I haven’t a scooby what half of the words mean never mind what to do about them. I was just in awe of you being able to knit horses!
    Now Hawaii and wine I’m right there with you… but alas I don’t do journaling! (GASP)
    Yes I know, but I hardly have time for what I do now, so journaling will have to wait on a back burner for now
    Have a wonderful weekend ;D


  8. I think I had trouble starting a journal after decades of not writing. But once I started boy did I have a lot to write about. I love writing each morning for my eyes only. It’s like sitting with a dear friend. Love your hand crafted journal!


  9. I love how intarsia looks when it’s well done but really struggle with everything looking even where I join the different colours. As fiddly as your horses look like they would be to knit they’re very well done!


  10. Hey Karen,
    I go through phases of over thinking my blog, and then it all comes out wrong. I have kept a diary since forever, and I definitely over think in there. I have had people ask me why I blog, and what’s the point, and who is it for anyway. I never over think my response; I don’t tend to respond at all.
    Thank you for your comments on my blog. They were very much appreciated.
    Leanne xx


  11. I’m with you Intarsia knitting is the worst! Unfortunately, it is the most requested type of knitting around here. I think about journaling, but never ever get around to it. We live in such interesting times, surely just current events would be fascinating. Can’t even keep track of all that is going on in the world.


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