Sunday, October 11, 2015

As We Go Along, feat. Jill Draper

" I can tell by your face that you're looking to find a place

to settle your mind and reveal who you are

and you shouldn't be shy, for I'm not gonna try

to hurt you, or heal you, or steal your star.

Open your eyes, get up off your chair

there's so much to do in the sunlight.

Give up your secrets, and let down your hair

and sit with me here by the firelight.

Why think about who's gonna win out?

We'll make up our story as we go along.

There's so little time for us to try and rhyme

and so many highways to travel upon."

Carole King wrote that for the Monkees, which they used in the soundtrack for their very weird 1968 movie "Head". I have thoughts about that movie--you might have to be a superfan like me to appreciate it in any way, what with its having been written in a weeklong marijuana haze by the Monkees and Jack Nicholson--but the soundtrack album is truly beautiful. In case you've heard two or three Monkees songs and you think you know what they're about, please go listen to "As We Go Along". I can't even read the words on the page without hearing the lovely music that goes with it, and Micky's beautiful singing; wait, you should hear it, too--I really love it, so much.

This is one of those things that just kind of means a lot to me, you know? That song, those lyrics, the Monkees, my knitting. You're not here to listen to my Monkees origin story, so I won't bore you, but let's just say I've loved them pretty much my whole entire life. Then there was this, which was honestly the most thrilling thing that has ever happened to anybody. The Monkees. Adore. Anyway. This project came to me by way of the jazzy and fantastic yarn artist Jill Draper, who when she saw me fondling her Each Stitch sweater (it was on a hanger, okay?) at the Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival last month, in a fevered glaze of inspiration, very kindly talked me through her process and invited me to have a stab at it myself. Jill's original project was made as part of an art installation, and I fell madly for it. To sum up, here's how I remember our conversation:

Me: (back to fondle the Each Stitch for the fourth time in an hour) Waaaah! This! Is! Fabulous!

Jill: Thanks very much. It was made as part of an installation for the O+ Festival in Kingston, NY [info here].

Me: Brilliant idea. Now you can get your flu shot!

Jill: Er, yes!

Me: I want to make one. Like, immediately. Please, please, tell me you have a pattern for sale...

Jill: Nope, I made it up.

Me: Waaaah! But I love it!

Jill: You can do it too, just get out your graph paper, tape and scissors, spend thirty-jillion hours making a chart until it looks right, then knit it into an EPS Sweater. That's it. Use high contrast yarns if you want people to be able to read it.

She definitely was more articulate than that, and very generously spent several minutes spelling it out and encouraging me. She's right about the contrast, but you can see I didn't totally take her advice about that--I wanted the song lyrics to blend a bit, to be sort of a little secret, something just for me. You can read them, but only if you're looking, which is perfect. The EPS Sweater, in case you're the last to know, is an Elizabeth Percentage System Sweater, devised by the great Elizabeth Zimmermann to allow you and me and everybody else to make up their own sweater using any dang yarn, stitch pattern and size/gauge/needles etc. they might want. If you are venturing nervously forth into the wilds of garment knitting, you would do very well to begin with her. EZ, I love you. Yarns used are Malabrigo single-spun worsted in sort of a denim-y color, recycled from an ill-advised long sweater coat I made a really long time ago--only Malabrigo is worth unraveling something that big and that fully-pilled with wear--Malabrigo single-spun worsted in Frost, also recycled, and Dream in Color Smooshy in Amber Glass. I'd estimate I used about 800 yards of the main color, and 250 each of the contrast colors.

She even spent a moment admiring my sweater, the Highland Heather coat. Jill, you're lovely.




  1. Oh wow! You are my hero several times over!! This is so cool I barely know what to say. But i will try... the sweater is great and so wonderful that you chose those lyrics and that you knew how to make them legible on your sweater. I am impressed. but actually slightly more impressed that you have sung with the Monkees...eeeeee..and I too have been a Monkeys fan altho luckily for everyone else I have never sung with them but I wold love to have been near them. Especially Mickey.

    1. oops had so much trouble trying to edit this but of course I know the spelling was Monkees.

  2. Unbelievable in design complexity and execution! And you did it in such a short time. I listened to the song - indeed it's lovely. Never would have connected it in any way to the Monkees.

  3. I am in awe of such a wonderful creation, you certainly are a talented woman.

  4. Beautiful words, lovely sweater. I just have visions of you out in the supermarket and people standing close up behind you, trying to read the words, or gazing at you from the front doing the same, talking to your sweater, not you!

  5. That is commitment for you! Wear it with pride. Jo x

  6. Oh wow, I have admired your knitting skills before but this I really really envy. I love The Monkees too, we used to watch re-runs every morning in our summer holidays and just laugh and laugh.

  7. awesome jumper & well done on the knitting of ALL those letters!
    that alone would've drove me nuts & been undone & tossed to the side to make something else later ...
    not much into fair isle, looks lovely but not that much ! lol (might do again one day)
    looks gorgeous on you too. those colours really go well together & it has a lovely sheen.
    can't wait to see your next project :))
    thanx for sharing

  8. It's incredible - I love the colours (and now am wondering if I can do a similar secret message sweater... hmmmm)

  9. Wow, what a cool sweater! I love those lyrics and now you have them so close:) I was such a fan of the Monkees, I was sure I would marry Davy!

  10. What an amazing sweater! Enjoy wearing it this fall and winter.

  11. Lovely words & a lovely sweater! Enjoy wearing it!

  12. Wow! That's amazing! I sooooo remember the Monkees too! My fav song was Last Train to Clarksville! xxx

  13. I'm a big Monkees fan, but I have never heard that song, so thanks for the link. Your sweater is a fitting tribute to the group and your knitting. I think you can knit just about anything.

  14. I really enjoyed this!! I too am a Monkees fan, but haven't thought of them in a long time. I was boy crazy at the time and didn't really listen to the words of their songs. Thanks for sharing and your sweater is truly amazing.

  15. Such an amazing and wonderful sweater! Some young friends of ours had the lyrics of a Monkees song read at their wedding recently and it was very moving....took me a while to work out where I knew the words from...
    Helen xox

  16. I love the subtlety of the words. So much more than if the contrast was better. It makes me wish upon a zillion stars that I could somehow manage to be able to knit (I tryTryTRY and failFailFAIL).

    I love your Monkees stories =)

    The sweater is stunning.

  17. This really cements your status as a Knitting Rockstar for me!

  18. This really cements your status as a Knitting Rockstar for me!

  19. You are simply too cool for words. That sweater is bomb.

  20. You are simply too cool for words. That sweater is bomb.

  21. Kristen, what a fascinating way to combine many talents and appreciations.

    Loop by loop, your creations is pure art. xo

  22. What a great blog! Fantastic sweater and stories surrounding it. Will visit again to read your wonderful posts. Thank you!