Category Archives: classes

Madrona Saturday

After the excitement of all that shopping on the Friday, I took two classes on the Saturday. In the morning, I took Lucy Neatby's introduction to double knitting (A Dabble into Double Make a voyage of discovery to achieve a deeper understanding of your knitting! Try a variety of types of double knitting to produce two-layer fabrics. Starting with tubular knitting on straight needles, moving on to tubes within tubes and the double-knit pocket trick. Double Knit color patterning techniques include positive/negative and quilting for added texture and warmth.) After lunch, I went to see Pat Brunner teaching how to do art with short rows. (Tapestry with Short Rows Learn how to knit free-form wavy stripes, geometric shapes, and other intarsia-like effects with one yarn at a time using the short row techniques. Great for stash reduction and making unique sweaters, socks, hats, scarves, afghans and wall hangings.)

Personally I got more out of the double-knitting class, mostly because I was interested in the techniques. Lucy's style works well for me, I like her self-deprecating comments and her notes and exercises on the handouts were clearly written. The swatches were fun, and I got Lucy's DVD on the subject for when I want to delve more deeply.

double knit swatches

These swatches for double knitting show a checkerboard (note that the edge is closed on one part, and open on the other), a basic tube, and a knitted-in pocket on the top swatch (note the part where the stitches are doubled, that's the pocket-in-progress).

The tapestry with short rows class was more difficult for me. The actual technique of knitting short rows wasn't the problem, it was the tapestry bit that I found difficult. It's obvious that Pat and many of the people taking the class have a much stronger artistic bent than I do (I'd call myself creative rather than artistic), and some of them came up with wonderful designs. I'd need to spend a lot of time figuring out designs on paper before wanting to commit them to yarn. For the more artistic people around, I can see the techniques being inspiring and the potential results stunning. No picture of my pathetic swatch from this one, as I didn't like it enough to want to keep it.

Madrona Thursday

It's about time I wrote up my Madrona 2008 experience in more detail, so here goes with Day 1: the Thursday. I took in Pat Brunner's "Make it Fit!" class, with the thought being to be able to adapt patterns not only for me, but also for other people I may knit for. The description read

Are you never quite sure what designs will flatter or fit properly? Wonder how to adjust patterns to fit or compensate for "non-standard" body parts? Do you want to learn various knitting techniques such as horizontal and vertical darts, and shaping methods to fit curves? Pat is the expert and you will come away with the know- how to make measurements and adjust patterns to achieve the fit that will be most flattering for you.

We spent the six hours enjoyably going over all sorts of issues; it mostly ended up being a brain dump of much of what Pat has learned over the years. Since she has a technical bent (worked as an engineer for years) to go with her creative talents, the explanations she gave made sense to me. Judging from the reactions of the class, they made sense to most of the other people as well.

Pat started with a description of the basic body types and then some guidelines for what tends to look good on which body types; some things like set-in sleeves she says look good on everyone (illustrated by a photo she found and edited to change the drop sleeves to set-ins; even on the model it looked much better). We spent some time measuring ourselves in pairs to get a full set of useful measurements, and then compared them to the schematics of patterns we'd brought. There was a certain amount of discussion about patterns that are developed for one size and then poorly changed for other sizes, resulting in things like armholes that are too big, or shoulders that are too wide. Pat was adamant that before spending time knitting anything we should match our measurements to those of the pattern, just to make sure the garment will fit after all that work knitting it. She gave quite a few tips on what sort of design looks good on various body types, what effect different types of yarn or stitch patterns have, and gave some ideas for modifying patterns to make them more flattering. We looked at a few photos and analyzed what didn't work about the pattern, also looking for the tricks that photographers use to make a garment look better (such as pinning it from behind, or having the model hold down the hem that's riding up).

Somewhere along the line we had a discussion on how yarns behave, which ones stretch and which are resilient, as well as a discussion on the best way to knit swatches (knit and measure, then wash/block and measure, maybe even hang weights on when the swatch is dry to mimic wear if you're using a yarn that stretches a lot). We had discussions on the best way to estimate how much yarn you need for a pattern, based on approximating squares.

Then it was time to discuss particular issues; I have a broad back so I was interested in that and her advice was to look at sewing patterns and how they fit the back sleeve cap to be a little bigger than the front one. Pat talked about darts and short rows and when to use each and how to place them so they aren't as obvious. I have pages in my notebook full of ideas for sleeve caps and diagrams of dart and short row placement waiting for me to use.

Pat finished appropriately with the last resorts: what to do if the garment just doesn't fit. her suggestions: try blocking it. If that doesn't work, try cutting it, picking up stitches along the cut line and reknitting borders or attaching sleeves (particularly if changing from a dropped sleeve to a modified dropped sleeve). Probably not something for the faint of heart, but worth keeping in mind as the last of the last resorts.

For me the class was well worth taking. Pat knows so much about different facets of knitting that I imagine there are few problems she hasn't encountered at one time or another, and this sort of class where she can respond to people's concerns is ideal.

Madrona 2007

Yup, there were a few glitches in the Madrona Fiber Arts registration system, but they seem to be cleared up now and on the second time around I got most of the classes I wanted. I'm doing the classes on knitting different shapes on double-pointed needles, double knitting, and intarsia. The latter two are with Lucy Neatby, I have one of her DVDs and like it so I was glad to get into her classes. I know nothing about Margaret Radcliffe, the instructor for knitting shapes, other than what I've read on the Madrona site.

I'll hang around the rest of the time and watch people and go to the market etc. I've never actually been to a fiber arts festival before so I don't know what to expect; fortunately I'm going with a couple of friends. It should be fun!