I do consider myself filthy lucky that I can "knit for a living." It's an impossible luxury in this day and age to have the space, financially and otherwise, to do what I love. But having said that – doing what you love comes with the price tag of pressure on what you love to do. Deadlines, constraints, and the crazy worry that knitters won't love a design are the little prices I pay for being able to play from 9-5.
So for me, one disconnect comes between what I "should" be knitting and what I want to knit; between taking time to work on a pattern or a sample and working on a piece of gift knitting; between the project that's on a deadline and the project that's calling to me to work on.
- Yarn I like to buy. This is a neat category for me to think about… because truth be told, it's not really the same thing twice! If you could see my stash (and on Ravelry, I suppose you can!), you'd see smooth, solid-color merinos next to fluffy hand-painted mohairs; laceweight next to chunky hand-dyed handspun… I'm an equal-opportunity yarn ho.
I suppose what I'm drawn to are the super-soft, sleekly-spun merinos (like Aurora 8 – I'm such a sucker for Aurora 8!), and something with a soft component (have I told you about the Simply Shetland Cashmere blend I'm working with now? Like buttah.). Oh, and if it's lime green, it's mine. Doesn't stand a chance.
- Fabric I like to wear. In the Pacific Northwest, you can never go wrong with a fine-gauge cashmere. In fact, one of my go-to sweaters is one that I would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS contemplate knitting: a super-fine gauge, BLACK cashmere cardigan (from Nordstrom, I think). I don't look good in diaphanous, breezy fabrics, like super-lightweight linens and things: they cling to the curves, but not in a good way. So most of the time, you'll see me in T-shirts with a little Lycra, jeans, and a light cardigan. (Hence the Yahoo avatar at bottom right in the sidebar. Though, as Threadingwater rightly pointed out, the Manolos are a tough choice for marathon training.)
- Fabric I like the look of. Anything that is regular and tidy. I've discovered recently that I like the tighter-knit fabrics than looser ones (see above), and I'm enchanted with a seed-stitch derivative that's featured in the Rowan Textured Cardigan I'm working on now: K1,P1 for one row, then do what you see on the WS row. I call it "double-tall seed stitch" to make it sound like a coffee beverage … but then Kit informs me that it might be what we in the US call Moss stitch? Anyone know for sure?
Basically, if it's neat and tidy and regular and a small motif, I'll love it. I adore linen stitch for what I call its "Swiss precision."
- Patterns I like to work. I'll admit it – I'm simple. I LOVE to knit stockinette. "Motor knitting" is the best for me – lots of miles of not much to think about, so I can go fast and get it done in a reasonable time frame.
But I also do enjoy the entertainment value of a good cable or lace pattern – provided it's easily memorizable and not too complex. If there's too much going on, and I have to refer to a chart all the time, the project lingers and languishes like my Olympic Knitting project, St. Brigid.
- Patterns I like to wear. I'm still working out that perfect ease ratio: how much room I need in the bust to not feel self-conscious, but not so much that you can't tell I have a waist in there between bust and hips. I like pullovers that fit well in this way, but when I'm teaching or at the shop, I overheat easily, so cardigans over a short-sleeved T-shirt are the best bet for those days. I do like bracelet-length sleeves, so I don't overheat … and as far as sleeve styles go, I love the fit of my Unpattern raglans as well as a good set-in sleeve. [I was surprised at how much I like wearing an almost-off-the-shoulder yoked Fair Isle pullover I finished last winter, from a Vogue Knitting issue on Fair Isle. Knit in... Aurora 8!]
- Garments I actually need in my wardrobe. I need short-sleeved or cap-sleeved, lightweight tops to wear under said cardigans … basically substitutes for the solid-color, ho-hum T-shirt staples I'm always living in.
Himself would say I need more short skirts.
- Patterns that catch my eye. I adore a bit of clever construction, but not if it's at the cost of fit. I'm really sensitive to the kinds of garments that scream "this was so much fun to knit!" – but don't flatter the body underneath afterwards. I've done my share of those, and from now on? I'll keep the clever constructs in afghans and bags, thankyouverymuch.
- Yarns I Physically Enjoy the Action of Working With. ME-RI-NO! ME-RI-NO! ME-RI-NO!
Oh, and the Sea Silk from my wedding shawl was to die for. I guess it needs to have a sleek feel, unless it's meant to be slightly rustic – the way the shetland cashmere blend is rustic. [And that's about as rustic as a magazine spread in British Vogue on some famous clothing designer swanning around her estate in Somerset in Vera Wang and Wellies.]
Perhaps easier to define would be the category of Yarns I Despise Working With: mercerized cotton. Dudes? give me hemp or linen any day of the week. I run screaming from mercerized cotton. It shows off every mistake, is bloody wicked on your hands and wrists... and then it's shiny to boot. (Ooh - something else I hate!)
To sum up, my eye is drawn to the color play in hand-painted yarns, but when I dress myself, it's in two colors or less (jeans don't count as a color). And while stockinette is what gets completed most readily, I'm also a sucker for a sweet cable detail, or a simple lace panel.
Good thing I'm NOT a one-project-at-a-time gal!