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.