Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I’ve got a couple of things to post about today

One is to say, I’m writing this from the wonderful land of Texas! Home to let my mother spoil me for my birthday!! It was so comforting to see all the Texas license plates and Whataburgers and wild flowers on the side of the road. It’ll always feel like home and for some weird reason I’ve been so homesick lately.

Another is about a dvd and a couple of movies I watched this weekend.

Several months ago, I heard about Portuguese style knitting. Being the lover of any new piece of information, I started poking around to see what I could find about it. There were a couple of videos on YouTube but not great quality. In my research I found a Yahoo Group called knitting with crochet hook. The description talked about knitting with “the amazing needle” and “Portuguese knitting.” Sounded interesting so I joined up and began reading the input of some very creative folks and learned a little bit more. I believe it was on this group that I heard about
Andrea Wong who is a Portuguese lady living in Ohio who does a lot of teaching and teaches how to knit in the Portuguese style with regular needles. Oh yeah, the Portuguese needles, the best I can understand, are pointed at one end and have a crochet-type hook at the other end (please forgive me if this isn’t correct).

On Andrea’s web site she has an instructional dvd as well as the shoulder pin used to help tension the yarn in this style. I ordered the dvd but never had time to watch it until this weekend. What a wonderful resource – every new knitter should have this video. I thought it would just be about the knit/purl stitches for the Portuguese style. It’s so much more than that. She also covers increases, decreases, a variety of cast ons and bind offs. She has different techniques and tips. Wonderful! The explanations she gives are very simple and clear and the video shots of her working the stitches is very clear and she actually repeats the movements enough that you really get a sense of what she’s doing and lets you follow along.

With her instructions, I found it extremely easy to pick up how to work the stitches and how to combine them for ribbing, etc. The purl stitch is the easiest you’ll ever come across. If you have any wrist problems, you definitely want to check this style out because there’s no throwing, there’s not twisting. It’s all done with a flick of the thumb! For anyone who has seen Donna Druchunas’ book, Ethnic Knits, this is very, very similar to the Andean style Donna talks about. Must have been a conquistadorian export. Donna’s got a great bag pattern in her book using the Andean style along with a very cool bind off edging.

I found fascinating (and she’s not paying me to say any of this!!) her demonstration of how easy it is to knit with beads in this style AND how much easier to do color work. She’s actually combined the Portuguese and the Continental styles to make color work a breeze. One strand is tensioned off the pin on your shoulder (or yarn around your neck – although this can be a little uncomfortable unless you’ve got some material under the strand) and is knit in the Portuguese style. The other color is held in the left hand and is worked as for Continental knitting. How clever is that! I’m totally going to use that next time I do my Danish Skrå-Trøyer sweater (ha!!).

Speaking of Danish, let me just mention two movies I saw this weekend that I highly recommend – both great for a good cry:
Danish movie called Kinamand. After a man’s wife leaves him, he begins eating each night at the Chinese Restaurant across the road (on first night he orders a Number 1, second night a Number 2, etc. through the whole movie). It’s through the friendships he makes here that he finds things happening to him and in him that he never could have imagined.

French moved called Sequins. A young girl who’s found herself pregnant, decides to follow her passion – embroidery (but what I know as Tambour embroidery). She begins working with a lady in her village that had at one time worked with the large fashion houses in Paris. Her son has recently been killed in a motorcycle accident and the two of them find reasons for life in their journey together. (Sounds really saccharine, I know but it’s the most succinct way I could think to describe it.)

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