Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Talk to Taunton Machine Knitting Club

I'm off to Taunton today to do two talks to Taunton Machine Knitting Club. This afternoon I'm talking about using beads with knitting and other ways to embellish your knitting. Although it is a machine knitting club I will also be talking about using beads with hand knitting as the techniques vary between the 2 knitting methods. The embellishments part of the talk is the same however the knitted fabric has been made.

This evening I will be talking about 'Don't Throw it, Fix it', it is a talk that covers ways of altering or updating finished items so you are happy to wear (or use) the garment rather than throwing it away.

I'llhave to make a fairly early start to get there for 1.30!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Teaching a new workshop today

I'm off to the Interknit Cafe in Farnham to teach a workshop on Embellishing your Knitting. In the workshop I'm focusing on embroidery and applique as there isn't time to do all the different ways of embellishing your knitting e.g. painting, crochet, needlefelting, machine embroidery to mention just a few other techniques.

The workshop has a sort of floral/nature theme as I wrote an article for Knitting Magazine on Swiss Darning (published in the August 2010 issue I think) and used a floral image in the article. I showed three versions of the same image in the article. The first version below was worked from a chart drawn on graph paper with larger squares so the finished piece comes out smaller and has less detail.

The second sample, stitches on a piece of knitting worked in the same yarn as above was stitched from a chart drawn on graph paper with smaller rectangles therefore giving a larger finished design with more detail.
The 3rd sample was worked from a chart drawn on the same scale graph paper as sample 2 but the image has been flipped and rotated so it is drawn landscape style rather than portrait style. Knitting is not square so it was necessary to re-draw the chart.

Having started with a flora theme I decided to continue with this influence for the other 2 samples I've made for the workshop. I designed them as cushion fronts. The sample below is applique and I've gone for an autumn leaves theme. I worked several different leaf shapes and some acorns. A couple of the leaf patterns and the acorns where from the Nicky Epstein book 'Knitting Embellishments'.

The last sample which is another cushion front uses embroidery stitches in various ways. The top left and bottom right squares are embroidered based on a knitted stitch pattern to help with the placement of the embroidery. Montse Stanley's book 'Knitting Plus' has lots of ideas of using a stitch pattern to base the embroidery on.
The top left square is a number of embroidery stitches based on backstitch or running stitch with a second colour emboidered on top and the bottom left square was freehand embroidery using lazy daisy stitch, feather stitch, chain stitch and French knots.

As with most of my knitting workshops I like to give the knitters a choice (within limits) of what they want to do as everyone is different. Lets hope the knitters enjoy there day!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Knit Nation

A month or so ago I decided as I was free I would attend some classes at Knit Nation, the knitting event at Imperial College. I've just got back from the event and enjoyed it very much. Although I am a knitting teacher it is quite nice sometimes to just go and be a student myself and as the tutors at Knit Nation where mainly over from the USA I thought it would be a great opportunity to do classes with people I'm not likely to see again.

The first class I did was on Thursday and was Baltic Braids and Bobbles with Nancy Bush. We knitted the sampler below which included a special braid cast on, several different braids and some nupps. I worked out a 2-colour cast off with one of the braids to finish the sample. Most of the braids where taken from Estonian knitting but one was from Latvia.
During the day Nancy talked about her research in to Etonian knitting which was very interesting. She had quite a few samples of mittens, gloves and socks although she wasn't able to bring the number of samples she usually has with her. As a result of the class I decided to buy her book 'Folk Knitting in Estonia'
On Friday I booked to do just a morning class to give me time to look around the marketplace in the afternoon. I booked to do 'Fiendishly Difficult Stitches' with Merike Saarnitt. Below is the sample we knitted in class. At the beginning of the class Merike said students don't usually finish the sample in the class time - so there was my first challenge. I did finish my sample as did the lady next to me but most of the students completed 3 out of the 4 stitch samples.
I wouldn't have said they where 'fiendishly' difficult but the stitches where more complicated than some and as I hadn't tried most of them before it was an interesting class.

The shell pattern above (called Alsacian Scallop border' in the handout) is also in one of the Barbara Walker books. Merike is originally from Estonia so the remaining 3 stitches are Estonian.

This detail above is called Estonian Embrace Cable and involves manipulating long stitches to create the cable look.

This next sample was Estonian Butterfly on open ground and is very similar to a sample I recently knitted called 'moth stitch'. In this sample the long loops are made by dropping 2 stitches and knitting around all the dropped loops.

The last stitch pattern in the sample was Berry Kisses. The charts for both this and the stitch pattern above where drawn to be knitted as each row is seen i.e. on a wrong side row a horizontal bar for a purl stitch on RS and knit stitch on WS did mean purl on the WS. This was a bit confusing to start with if you are used to the convention of drawing charts to show the stitch pattern as it is viewed from the right side. After starting to the knit the butterfly pattern I realised after a few rows that the chart was different from normal. That's what comes of getting ahead of the rest of the class instead of being a 'good student'!!!
There where quite a few stands in the market place. There where a lot of indy dyers so lots of sock yarn and lace weight yarn. I decided I didn't need any more sock or lace yarn so I didn't buy any yarn but I did buy 2 books. The Nancy Bush book mentioned above and 'The Intentional Spinner' by Judith MacKenzie McCuin. This book has a lot of information about fibres and methods of spinning so I thought it would be very useful.

The workshop on Saturday was 'Top down Aran Cardigan' with Beth Brown-Reinsel and again I really enjoyed this class. Beth was very knowledgeable about her subject and provided lots of information during the day. She also provided a very comprehensive handout for us to take home.

There wasn't time to knit the complete cardigan in the 6 hour class but I did knit the saddle shoulder pieces, most of the back, the 2 fronts and the neckband. There where different cable patterns on each piece so we were able to try out quite a few variations. Beth explained how to finish of the sleeves for the sample and pick up stitches for the button and buttonhole bands.

I wasn't able to stay for the Ravelry party on Saturday evening but I'm sure everyone had a good time. This was a very enjoyable and well organised event so I hope it becomes a regular event.