11 Nov 2011

Episode 102: The Looking Moment

In this episode: We wander from leaking walls, to the effect of modernism on hand made things in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, compared and contrasted with today. I am both angry and sad at 11/11, and find that the stop-and-look moment at the end of a project, and knitting, to be good for what ails me. Smart knitters embrace the stop-and-look, even as they embrace imaginary knitting. And what’s not to love? Imaginary knitting is portable, and can be every bit as satisfying as real knitting, but only if you do it right. I sort of prove this by talking at great length about things I am not knitting. You will either find this fascinating, or you will be bored rigid.

If imaginary knitting bores you, you probably will not be a contender for the set of Felix‘s Meta Badges, pictured left. Actually, of course, that’s not a set pictured left. It’s one of a set. There are more, and they are fantastic. They are lovingly crafted from 100% pure British wool and, if you don’t like wool, or imaginary knitting, they are not for you. If, on the other hand, you embrace the concept, leave details of your most fascinating imaginary knitting project in the comments, and we’ll just see if your number comes up. Felix and Kate are the brains behind Wovember. Go say hi. Then come back.

A rummage through my imaginary knitting bag has unearthed the follow: Paper Moon socks in Nimu sock yarn; Elektra Shawl, from 7 Small Shawls by Romi; Claudia skirt; Loft fingering weight yarn, from Jared Flood, in Homemade Jan colourway.

I do the Facebooks. Also the g+ and, of course, I’m still doing the twitter. Come find me!

Music by Carbon Leaf, The War Was in Color, from their cd Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat.


  1. hunter wrote:

    First (and closest to my heart) THANK you for realizing that there is a difference between ‘less’ and ‘fewer.’ If I ever snap and go totally bonkers, you will know it because I will have taken a sharpie to all of the ‘8 items or less’ signs at the market. Infuriating I tell you.

    But on a much more central note, lovely to hear you again so quickly. The idea of imaginary knitting is charming. I find myself working on a truly amazing shawl. One of the long skinny ones that you can wrap around your neck much like a scar…but with ridiculously intricate lace. Something with nupps, the fiddlier the better. I think it would likely be made out of that new quiviut sock yarn.

    I’m sure my imaginary self will look smashing in it (she’s about 2 inches taller and 20 pounds lighter than me, so she tends to look good in most everything).

    Posted on 11.11.11 ·
  2. Hunter, if I ever snap and go bonkers, I’ll be right beside you, scribbling on the signs that say, “Up to 80% off, and more!”

    Posted on 11.11.11 ·
  3. Mags wrote:

    Oh boy, do I ever have imaginary knitting. You derailed my NaBloPoMo schedule with your imaginary knitting! (I don’t mind. It was necessary). I’m very busily imagining Romi Hill’s new Melmopene pattern, in a faded lichen-y grey silk/alpaca laceweight. I think it’d be stunning, and I hope it won’t stay in my imagination forever.

    Posted on 11.11.11 ·
  4. Barb Thames wrote:

    Brenda, thanks for honoring the veterans, both living and dead, today. My generation lost way too many of our young men to the jungle. And now another generation is losing both its men and women. My prayers are with them and I hope yours are, too.

    Posted on 11.11.11 ·
  5. kathy sullivan wrote:

    Love the idea of the Looking Moment. I’ll do my best to incorporate that into each day, for appreciation and peace of mind. The final song really does round out the podcast; and who doesn’t love a round podcast?

    Posted on 11.12.11 ·
  6. Jennifer wrote:

    I’m looking forward to listening to this episode. My imaginary knitting bag is filled to the brim. Right now I’m working on an amazing Alice Starmore-esque fair isle in at least 15 different colors in my head.

    Posted on 11.12.11 ·
  7. Judi wrote:

    Can.not.wait to listen to your newest episode!
    While reading your post I was thinking, don’t we all invest in imaginary knitting by listening to knitting podcasts? I certainly do.
    Keep up the fantastic work!

    Posted on 11.12.11 ·
  8. Rebekah wrote:

    I’m so glad you’re back! 😀

    Ok, soo, Imaginary knitting… hmm… well, I know those adult onesies are quite popular at the moment, so I think I would knit a fairisle onesie in some warm cashmerino… in an ice blue, baby pink and white… hmm… I would of course never knit one in real-life, but hey, anything is possible when it is imaginary!
    You’ve got me thinking now… 🙂

    Posted on 11.12.11 ·
  9. Jenneke wrote:

    Dear Brenda,

    Thank you for podcasting. You have such a nice voice to listen to! In my imaginary knitting life I am knitting piles of baby socks, sweaters, hats and blankets. And, this time, not for friends expecting, but for my own little bun in the oven. Imaginary knitting interconnected with imaginary life, dreams that may come true one day.

    Greatings Jenneke

    Posted on 11.12.11 ·
  10. Chloe wrote:

    I’m so glad that imaginary knitting is being recognised as a valid pastime!
    When life gets so busy and I simply do not have time to grab needles and my dream project, imaginary knitting is all I do. My imaginary project is a lace shawl, so fine you can’t see the stitches, but because it’s imaginary- no headaches!

    Posted on 11.12.11 ·
  11. Karen wrote:

    Allow me to join the chorus welcoming you back to podcasting. I miss you when you are away. You are incomparable!

    Posted on 11.12.11 ·
  12. Anne Thompson wrote:

    Hi Brenda! I am so glad to hear that you are back each week. The time is perfect for me to sit and knit a round or two and feel that I did give myself a moment! I practice imaginary knitting each day, multiple times a day. I find it keeps me happy and very productive! I am always working on a shawl, knitting up some pretty mittens for my daughter, and a beautiful throw to cuddle under with my husband. I recommend spending your “mental millions” when out shopping – very rewarding! The music at the end is always beautiful and allows me to do one more round. Thank you again, I do enjoy your voice, thoughts, and common sense.

    Posted on 11.12.11 ·
  13. Thanks for naming the looking moment; it brought back that moment from Genesis (yeah, that Genesis, the book) where the creator-figure “saw it was good, and said it was good – and it was good” – channeling into the oft-repeated phrases that eternal creativity and the visual feedback loop.

    About the music, you have been one of the main sources for music that I love for, oh, years. Thanks for adding that wonderful, moving piece.

    Posted on 11.12.11 ·
  14. Anna wrote:

    It’s a misty, rainy day over here in BC and while I was listening to this podcast, I had to put on a sweater. Because I was cold.

    I do a lot of imaginary knitting as well; it’s not always specific projects, but sometimes it is. Lately, it’s more of a wish that I could knit faster and finish sweaters more quickly. If I could, I’d have so many great sweaters it would be absurd.

    Posted on 11.12.11 ·
  15. Kate wrote:

    I love the concept of imaginary knitting – although I have never referred to it with that name. I often spend time thinking about knitting – I get more done than I ever will in real life. In my imaginary knitting world I have an amazing sweater wardrobe. In real life… not so much.

    Posted on 11.13.11 ·
  16. Cathy Wood wrote:

    Thanks for a great podcast. I cried. I too feel angry and sad at Rememberance Day. Furthermore I feel that the sentamentalising and glorification of war at this time of the year is no way to go about stopping them. (And that definately DOESN’T mean that I don’t care about all the people who have died, but I do think that ‘least we forget’ means incase we do it again, and we do, over and over). Rant over and thank you.

    Re imanginary knitting.
    I suppose I always used to do it a bit but I’ve found that I do it much more now that I have started spinning and am thinking about what I’m going to make with the yarn while I am spinning it.

    Loved the song at the end.


    Posted on 11.13.11 ·
  17. Signest wrote:

    Thank you for a really lovely podcast!

    I have not had a name for it until now, but my imaginary knitting is where loose design notions congeal… cement, no there has to be a better word… into design ideas. And where design ideas are knit for the very first time into imaginary garments.
    And knit again and improved and edited before they ever become swatches in the real world.

    I have been pining for those meta badges ever since I saw them on the needled blog. They’re just so… woolly and perfect.

    Posted on 11.13.11 ·
  18. Sheila wrote:

    My imaginary knitting of the moment is a lilac shawl. I have some gorgeous purple alpaca/silk laceweight yarn I’m attempting to design a shawl out of using a lilac lace motif. So far none of my attempts look much of anything like lilacs, nor are they that pretty, but, oh, in my mind this is the most gorgeous shawl ever. Worse yet I’m actually on a deadline cuz this is my dissertation for Nerd Wars on Ravelry. It needs to move from imaginary to real knitting in the near future.

    Posted on 11.13.11 ·
  19. Zoya wrote:

    Hi Brenda,

    I missed the music in the previous episode and was very glad to hear a song at the end of this one. You always seem to be able to find great songs.

    Ah, imaginary knitting – nowadays it often feels like that is the only kind of knitting that I’m doing. At the moment I’m dreaming of knitting a light lacy snow-white shawl/blanket for my daughter, a warm grey (or maybe oatmeal coloured) shawl for myself and few quick basics (hats, socks, trousers) for my son. A skirt would be lovely.. and a pair of funky colourful legwarmers.. and.. and.. maybe I should do some real knitting 🙂

    All the best with all your projects

    Posted on 11.13.11 ·
  20. Ellen wrote:

    My imaginary knitting is what I will be making with this ball of wool that I’m trying to untangle – two episodes of ‘Lost’ and your podcast, and I’m still at it. Bah. I’m enjoying the shorter format because it’s easier to squash into my life; I don’t have to carve out quite so much child and husband free time to listen.

    Posted on 11.13.11 ·
  21. Jenn wrote:

    I cannot tell you how delightful it is to no longer have to dream up Imaginary Cast-On episodes to go along with my Imaginary Knitting!!

    My imaginary knitting basket overflows with intricately cabled designs – Cookie A and Alice Starmore figure prominently. There are also several projects in there that I imagined and finished well-ahead of Christmas knitting panic time (aka now-ish).

    So wonderful to have your voice again – thanks for this latest – will enjoy imagining the next until it appears!


    Posted on 11.14.11 ·
  22. Kathryn wrote:

    I would agree that the song at the end rounds out the podcast. I didn’t realize that I missed the music until it was beautifully there again.

    In my imaginary knitting I am working on the Oranje cardigan in some lovely soft expensive yarn (Madelinetosh, perhaps?) in vibrant colors. Ah.

    Thanks again for another podcast to recover from surgery by.


    Posted on 11.14.11 ·
  23. Angela wrote:

    I like the music at the end of the podcast. It’s usually music that I like but not something I listen to often or new stuff to check out.

    I am working on a high priority wedding shrug for my best friend so I have a ton of imaginary knitting. Today it’s lace. Both the Hecate shawlette and the Venice shawl kits that I received from the Shakespeare in Lace club. Absolutely stunning projects that I will reward myself with once the shrug is perfect.

    Posted on 11.14.11 ·
  24. Tania wrote:

    Another lovely podcast! I have lots of imaginary knitting to do. The first of which is a shawl I want to design to use up several skeins of various yarns in autumnal hues. I haven’t the faintest idea what pattern to use, or if I shouldn’t just let it be a random-stripey-self-fringing affair, but this is knitting that’s been in my thoughts constantly this season. I just won’t let myself start it until I have several projects off my needles.

    Also in the imaginary pile are several pairs of socks, also on hold pending the completion of other projects, including Monkeys, Jaywalkers, and Pomatomus (hey I spelled it right without looking!).

    There’s also some imaginary holiday knitting. I had grand designs of making several pairs of handwarmers as gifts. I will likely not get to do so this year, thus I imagine myself doing so, in the hopes that one year, I’ll get to do what I want to do.

    Posted on 11.14.11 ·
  25. Hi Brenda,

    I think that what you call “imaginary knitting” may be the same thing that I call “knitting in my head.” I’m a very slow knitter in real life, and don’t often knit from patterns. But I do see patterns that I like, and I read them carefully to understand the construction. I visualize each stitch for the crucial parts, and then skim ahead for swaths of stockinette. A good example here is Jeny Staiman’s Double Heelix. It’s an awesome pattern. But I don’t need to knit it in reality after having knitted it in my head.

    By the way, I missed the traditional “Knit… knit like the wind…” intro for this episode. Music or lack thereof doesn’t make much difference to me.

    Posted on 11.14.11 ·
  26. Abby M wrote:

    First – I love The War is in Color, did you play it a couple years ago? I found the title on a sticky note in a book I hadn’t used in a while, I wonder where I heard it before?

    My imaginary knitting is pretty amazing, and I always look smashing in everything I knit too (and thinner too). I have completed many knit toys and hundreds of sock monkeys. I have a closet full of sweaters that fit and a couple knit jackets too 🙂 Right now I’m imaginary knitting a from Coastal Knits, it’s going quite well.

    Posted on 11.15.11 ·
  27. Wyn wrote:

    It is wonderful to hear you so soon! And while having a bit of music at the end is nice, there is something missing from the beginning! I dearly loved “Knit – knit like the wind!”

    My current imaginary knitting is the sweater I am going to make for myself from five skeins of hunter green Misty Alpaca. (It was payment for samples I knit for my LYS.) I am committed to other projects between now and Christmas. But I want an alpaca sweater!!!!

    Posted on 11.15.11 ·
  28. Paula wrote:

    My imaginary knitting is the Evenstar shawl made with a single skein of laceweight yarn. I haven’t found the right yarn/color combination yet. My other project is the Latvian Garden baby blanket. I have never before completed a colorwork project, but I keep imagining it.

    Posted on 11.15.11 ·
  29. DianeW wrote:

    I think I’ve been imaginary knitting for years but just didn’t realize it! My current imaginary knitting project is Hey Teach, a lacy looking sweater (for me) and it will be knit from a beautiful burgundy Wool of the Andes that I recovered from an almost-finished vest that I just lost interest in. The skeins have been washed and were hanging in my craft room where I watched them as I continue working on Christmas gifts that I foolishly offered to knit for pay. I knit and knit on these mitts and slippers as I imagine casting on for the sweater. After your podcast I got excited and actually balled up the yarn so that it’s ready to go when my commitments are over. I’ve read through the pattern a couple of times and feel like once I start it will be just like picking up a current WIP.

    Posted on 11.15.11 ·
  30. Andi wrote:

    Pretty much all my knitting of late has been imaginary. We just moved recently and I am still digging my way out of boxes. No real-world holiday knitting for me this year! I wanted to comment on the music issue. Until the most recent episode, I hadn’t realized I missed the music, however listening to ‘The War Was In Color’ literally brought me to tears, and this is not the first time your music selections have done this for me. You are so great at choosing music to fit with the themes of your podcasts-please continue to include this feature.

    Posted on 11.16.11 ·
  31. Aileen Osias wrote:

    Hi Brenda- I’ve got some gorgeous red cascade eco+ yarn that I keep imagining as a modified Einstein Coat (Sally Melville pattern). I want to move the waist higher so that its more of an empire waist style & I prefer to make it with a 0 to 1 inch ease instead of the really loose ease that the pattern calls for. And in my imagination, I’m thinking of red toggle buttons but only a few on top … now, if my body would just cooperate with that image, I would be golden! LOL =D Aileen

    Posted on 11.16.11 ·
  32. AnneLena Mattison wrote:

    Hi Brenda,

    I love your podcast and have been a listener since episode 1.

    I’m very flattered that you like my Papermoon socks pattern. You said you printed it out the day it was published, unfortunately it does have one errata so please check it before revving up the needles 🙂

    Feedback: Love the new format and really don’t care about the music, I usually skip over it.

    Posted on 11.16.11 ·
  33. Nicole wrote:

    I love that we will get to hear from you more often. Yay to weekly podcasting! Yay to wool and Wovember. Yay to imaginary knitting. In my dream world, I have ALREADY knit all of the garments in Brooklyntweed’s Loft lookbook. And they all look fabulous on me. Somehow, magically, I have metamorphosed into the lythe, amber-tressed beauty from the lookbook, living the bucolic knitwear model life. Sigh…

    Posted on 11.16.11 ·
  34. MzTallulah wrote:

    Great to have you back on my walks to and from work!
    Ahhh… imaginary knitting. I do a lot of that, especially since I have decided to use stash yarn and I’m trying to match projects that excite me (Ysolda’s Emily capelet, Kate Davies’ Deco, the Spider Web’s Shawl from Victorian Lace Today, and a man’s waistcoat from Knitting for All Illustrated spring to mind) with the available yarns. Lots of imagining, swatching, and frogging.
    To make matters worse, I’ve also begun imaginary sewing – flannel pijamas and a corduroy dress and skirt for my daughter, patchwork pillow covers for the living room, a quilt, as well as a wonderful skirt kit from Clothkits with a Rob Ryan design which I’ve had for a couple of years all feature on the list.

    Posted on 11.17.11 ·
  35. Angela D wrote:

    Dear Knitsib,
    It is so fitting for you to ask what my imaginary knitting is. It is you! I have been busy with graduate school, 2 kids, and a part time job and had very little knitting time, so I have scratched that itch with knitting podcasts, and yours is my enduring favorite. Thank you for podcasting again! Whatever works for you, I’ll listen. (I do like a song at the end, but if taking the time to select one is a chore, just podcast without!)

    That said, my imaginary project is a cowl-neck stockinette pullover in worsted weight or heavier that is casual looking but a shaped pattern, and sadly, the ravelry reviews do not indicate that such a thing exists. Yet. I just picked up some design books, and I’m done with school, so maybe I’ll come up with my own now!

    Cheers and thanks for years of great listening!

    Posted on 11.17.11 ·
  36. Sabrina C. wrote:

    I have to say, I never like the music in the middle of the show. I do like it at the end and your song choice for this episode was fantastic. I really like that song a lot.

    My imaginary knitting for the past few months is the carnaby skirt. I have knit it in several different yarn and several different colors. In my head that is. I think I might actually make it in a nice handspun merino a friend gave me though.

    Posted on 11.17.11 ·
  37. Diane P wrote:

    Imaginary knitting? All my UFOs and the projects and yarn in bags lined up in my junk, er, stash room. Then there is more imaginary knitting: Neibling Lace Shawls, Romi Lace Shawls, and the Haapsalu Lace Shawls I saw at Lacis thanks to Nancy Bush, Cookie A socks, and all the projects in each knitting book and magazine I’ve bought and haven’t managed to knit–yet!

    Posted on 11.19.11 ·
  38. Rebecca wrote:

    I loved this episode, your words about war, and also the song at the end. Thank you.

    Posted on 11.21.11 ·
  39. cath wrote:

    I’m a big imaginary knitter. But I really wanted to chime in about the music question. I must admit I’m one of the people that used to ff through the songs. Have a song at the end is a nice way to finish things. The song you played for this episode was one that I did not ff.

    Posted on 11.22.11 ·
  40. Shirley wrote:

    I’ve usually liked the choice of music you have had on your podcast so I’d like it to continue. I thought that this episode’s piece tied in so well with Remembrance Day. I don’t really have imaginary knitting but imaginary yarn. I’ve never seen Cascade 220, Lorna’s Laces, etc. so I just imagine what it would be like knitting with them.

    I can’t remember if I mentioned in another comment that I use carrots instead of pumpkin for my pumpkin pie because I don’t know where to get it here. I think it is the spices that make it taste good.

    Posted on 11.23.11 ·
  41. Jane Adair wrote:

    I like the music at the end of the cast. Also I liked this song very much – what a message.

    Thanks for all the posting.

    Posted on 11.28.11 ·
  42. Jessica wrote:

    I love the new shorter format combined with one song at the end! It’s perfect for me! I used to always have to listen to your podcast in three or four chunks, and now I can listen to the whole thing at once. Also, I love your taste in music, and I’ve discovered a lot of artists through you. I’m glad that that part of your podcast isn’t coming to an end.

    Posted on 11.30.11 ·
  43. BeckyinVT wrote:

    Yes! I was sad that the short format didn’t include music but I didn’t want to pester you as I’m just so glad you’re back. But over the years you’ve introduced me to so much good music -but and so much of it I’ve gone on to purchase for myself. I’m very glad to have a song at the end, thank you.

    Posted on 11.30.11 ·
  44. Astrid wrote:

    I listended to your imaginary knitting projects, and saw my own knitting baskets, both real and imaginary.
    And I remembered a comment I heard 5 years ago, at the Nordic knitting symposium in Iceland. Vigdis Finnbogadottir, who was president in Iceland from 1980-1996, hosted a dinner, and talked about her own craft projects. As president, and now, as a goodwill ambassador for UNESCO, she has litte time to knit and do needlework, but as she said: ” Now I knit and embroider in my thoughts, and there I always complete my projects”
    And everybody in the room knew exactly wat she meant 🙂

    Posted on 12.6.11 ·
  45. Alissa wrote:

    I’m about a year behind on all my podcast listening, but I just finally listened to this episode the other day and I have been singing “The War Was in Color” ever since. So I decided to hop on over here and find out who the artist was. Thanks to you, I have found a new band (Carbon Leaf)to add to my collection! (How could you NOT love a band with and album titled “Ether Electrified Porch Music”?) Thanks for filling our ears with great knitting chat and great music. Hopefully I’ll catch up on episodes soon.

    Posted on 8.22.12 ·

Comments are closed.