Saturday, September 27, 2014

If you knit a gray sweater, your life will be better – Or, Sally Melville is awesome

IMG_4508 Last night, Caitlin and I scooted down to our nation’s capital to attend this event at Looped, a great LYS near Dupont Circle:

why we do what we do: an evening with sally melville

Please join us Friday, September 26th from 7-8pm, for an evening with Sally Melville. She will be talking with us about why we do what we do and the importance of working with our hands. This presentation speaks to what knitting (or other hand work) offers—-from alleviating boredom, to making us happy, promoting good brain health and contributing to our economic recovery. Participants will see examples of knitting, although this talk applies to all hand work. It is a wonderful feeling to understand why we love to do what we do and why everyone should be engaged!

We had a fantastic time. First, we took the Metro into the city, which allowed extra time for knitting (and chatting with random strangers about our knitting). Then we popped into Teaism for a quick bite before the talk. We were really motivated to go to Teaism by the Salty Oats cookies, but we also had fabulous bento boxes for dinner. Here is mine, the vegetarian one:

bentoThe bottom left corner has spaghetti squash and tempeh with pumpkin seeds and broccolini in a delicious sauce. Those are Asian pears in the bottom right. Baked squash (acorn?) in the top left. Brown rice with delicious seeds in top right. IMG_4528The Salty Oats cookies are a thing with some of us knitters. Kris and I have a pact that if one of us goes near a Teaism location (there are several in D.C.), we get a bag and bring them back to share. I usually get the mixed bag, which has regular oatmeal with raisins and a chocolatey-oat cookie. Caitlin had never had these before but confirms that THEY ARE THE BEST. And we’re not the only ones who obsess about them – see this story for more.IMG_4484Here is Caitlin waiting for the talk to begin. Sally is in the gray sweater (with the red wedge) in the background. The table is covered with knits in neutral colors, including an Einstein Coat that is under the computer. One of Sally’s main points is that we should all be knitting garments, and we should knit the garments we actually wear most of the time – these tend to be simple shapes in neutral colors.

Sally is an absolutely delightful person and very articulate about her knitting. I toted along my old copy of The Knit Stitch for her to sign, as it (and The Purl Stitch) are important technique references for me. Sally’s talk reviewed some of the research literature in psychology and cognitive neuroscience that sheds light on the impact knitting has on us. I won’t try to outline all her remarks here (you should try to hear them straight from her!) but I will give you a spoiler that won’t surprise you: knitting is great for our minds and our spirits. Caitlin has a PhD in psychology so she knows some of this literature firsthand. She quibbled a bit with some of Sally’s claims, but I don’t think those differences affect the final outcome as it relates to us as knitters. (Now if you’re designing an empirical study that might be different…) Caitlin, please weigh in if I got that wrong!IMG_4486 Sally’s final point was that we should challenge ourselves to fit garments that fit as well as the commercial sweaters we wear frequently, and that those garments should be as wearable as the commercial sweaters we wear so often. In other words, if you knit a gray sweater, your life will be better!

We were able try on lots of things, and this unusual garment was a big hit with everyone. It’s called L’Enveloppe and it only has one armhole. In this photo, you can see Sally wearing one in red and the LYS owner wearing one in orange.IMG_4491

I tried it on, too, and think it would be great out of handspun. Caitlin and I will definitely have a KAL with this pattern:20140926_203735 What a wonderful evening. Caitlin and I left with a ton of enthusiasm for knitting in general and sweaters in particular. Thanks, Looped, for a fantastic event. I only wish the shop was closer so we could pop in all the time. IMG_4504


  1. I made two blog posts in a row!! Wonderful recap on both events. And yes, for the other psychology people reading the blog, there was great detail about "right brain versus left brain" that made me cringe. But many other topics were accurate. And inspiring. And I am already sad my Teaism cookies are gone!

  2. I love everything about this post. But most especially the gray sweater love and the cookies. I want those cookies.