Guest Post by Marianne Nolte – Instructor for Felted Wool Clogs.
When I was a kid my grandmother used to make my sister and me sweaters every year. These were no ordinary sweaters. They fit like dreams. They somehow didn’t itch, even though they were 100 percent wool every time. In my memory, they even smelled good, though I’m not sure that they did in actuality. Best of all, they were perfectly suited to me. The year I was obsessed with dinosaurs, Nana made me a sweater with a great big dinosaur whose tail, complete with 3-D spikes, ran down the right sleeve. It was awesome. I wore it with pride until it fit me more like a t-shirt, and then my mom lovingly boxed it up with all the others I had outgrown. I still have them all.
This is the craft of knitting. This is why I began knitting myself—I wanted to make something with my hands that is art and function and love all rolled into one package.
My family is very artistic. They paint, and work wood, and make collage and pottery and paper, and I knit. Sometimes I feel like my version of art is a lesser breed. After all, I always follow a pattern (though there are thousands of people out there who invent their own designs, and one day I aspire to be so imaginative), and when I mess it up, it doesn’t create interesting happy accidents, it creates sleeves that are four inches too long for any human’s arm. But I love to knit and here is why: knitting is alchemy.
I can transform an ordinary lump of yarn that, at its core, is not much different than kitchen twine, and by looping it around itself, I create fabric. Lustrous, beautiful fabric that can be smooth or cabled, ribbed or lacy, shaped and fitted just for me. String alone cannot do that.
What’s more, that fabric becomes something very tangibly useful. My cousin gave me this enameled cast iron pot when I got married. It’s a lovely blue thing that cleans easily and cooks enchilada pie like no one’s business. We call it useful kitchen art. Form and function. Knitting is the same. Recently I have been making felted slippers for everyone I know. I love to combine funky colors together, and then watch the slippers change texture as they get felted. But the best part is knowing that those slippers will keep someone warm and cozy all winter long. I like to work in a medium that I get to see walking around the house all the time.
Finally, I like the process. Some projects are easy, like the light-as-a-cloud mohair scarf I am making, and I can listen to a book on tape at the same time. Some projects are challenging, like the lace alpaca vest I made for my sister, and I get a thrill from finding they are within my reach. At the end, I always feel like a bit of a magician for changing ordinary string into something personal and new.
Join me this fall as we knit felted slippers! You will take ordinary lumps of wool, perform alchemy to turn them into large floppy slippers for giants, and then experience one more metamorphosis as you shrink the giant slippers into felted beauties that will fit you perfectly. Class starts October 7 Register HERE!