Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More news on the knitting class front

I forgot to mention the other day that I will continue to offer monthly clinics for people working through the Master Hand Knitting program.  These clinics are a way for knitters to get support for their work, to set monthly goals (if that helps them), and to learn techniques in the program they may not have known previously. 

During the fall, I offer these clinics on the third Saturday of the month from noon-2pm.  The rest of the year, they're on the 4th Saturday.  That seems to work out best for avoiding major holidays.

The Master Hand Knitting program is a three-level correspondence course offered by The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA).  It's an educational program, and the time to complete any given level is unlimited.  Each level consists of swatches that demonstrate particular techniques (with questions associated with the swatches and techniques), reports and/or reviews, as well as projects.  Design and pattern writing is also covered.  As you complete each level, you send it in to a committee who reviews your work and then each swatch/project/question/report/pattern is reviewed and is either accepted, or subject to resubmission.  Once everything has been accepted, and you've passed the level, you can get the instructions for the next level.  You can find out more about the program on TKGA's website.  The Education menu has a link to the Master's Program page.

I have found the program to be an invaluable learning experience.  It's not for everyone, and not everyone who starts with Level I will want to see the whole program through to the end.  Whether your goal is to simply be a better knitter, or to be able to design your own garments (to sell patterns or not), or because you have an obsessive need to learn all about something that your enjoy doing, you may find the program fits with your goals as a knitter.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fall Project Classes

In addition to beginning knitting, intermediate classes, techniques classes, and Thursday night clinics, which I announced in my last blog entry, I'll be teaching several project classes this fall at Needlework Unlimited.  You can sign up directly online, in person, or by calling the shop.

Cookie A Sock Club
BFF - a Sept/Oct Sock Club Selection
I love Cookie A's sock patterns and I'm not alone.  Thousands of knitters have bought her two sock books, Sock Innovation and  If you're one of those knitters who have her books (or want them), but haven't gotten up the nerve to actually knit any of the patterns, the Cookie A sock club might be just the thing you need to get started on Cookie's fantastic, well-written patterns.

For each class, I've chosen two sock patterns that are similar in their construction or their nature, with one sock pattern being easier and the other being more of a challenge. Each student selects the sock that suits his or her level of adventure.

For all the socks, we'll talk about re-sizing options and other fit considerations, plus tips and tricks for getting the best finished results.

For the Sept/Oct sock club I've chosen socks where the pattern is set up in columns of cable patterns.  The easier sock (and probably the easiest Cookie A pattern of all) is BFF, which has columns of 4-st rope cables.
Marilinda, the more challenging
Sept/Oct Sock Club Selection

BFF is easy to size up or down, and isn't too much of a step beyond a plain sock.  If you've never tried cables, or reading a chart, or just haven't tried knitting with finer sock yarn, this might be the sock for you.

The more challenging sock is Marilinda.  This sock also has columns of the repeating stitch pattern, but the number of stitches and rows in the repeat is greater, and includes several different techniques.  Amongst those techniques is the exact same cable crossing the BFF sock has, but also a faux traveling cable as well as a Japanese faux cable.  This sock also continues the stitch pattern down the back of the heel.

Both patterns for the Sept/Oct sock club are in Cookie's newest book,

Foot detail of Kai-Mei
November's sock club features one sock from and the other from her first book, Sock Innovation.  These socks are both asymmetrical (there's a right sock and a left sock), with the pattern traveling across the leg and/or foot.

Pointelle, the November Sock Club
challenging sock

The easier sock is Kai-Mei, from Sock Innovation.  This sock has a plain, ribbed leg, and then the magic occurs when a simple, but unusual and beautiful pattern travels from the outer ankle across the instep.

Pointelle, from is the more challenging sock for the November sock club.  The pattern travels down and across the leg and the foot, using a more intricate lace pattern than Kai-Mei.

But wait, there's more!

In addition to the sock club classes, I'll be teaching three project classes from another favorite designer of mine: Ysolda Teague.

There's a hat, a scarf and fingerless mitts, all from Ysolda's Whimsical Little Knits Two.  These projects all include techniques that are not typical in hats, scarves and mitts, making them much more interesting to knit for those who have knit these types of projects in the traditional manner.  It's great to learn new techniques on small projects.  Plus, any of these would make great holiday gifts!

Kicking off the Ysolda love-fest is a two-week class for the  Scroll Lace Scarf, which I'll teach Saturdays, Sept 17 and 24, 10 am-noon.  This is the least boring scarf I've ever knit--it's no 6-foot long rectangle!  There's a provisional cast on, and a  lace pattern that is simple enough for first-time lace knitters, but not boring for those who are more experienced.

Stitches are picked up for the body of the scarf, with short rows worked to create the depth at the center.  The short row technique I'll teach is a German method (no wraps!) that gives the same result as Japanese short rows without all the pins hanging off the back of the work.  Finally, there's a picot bind off that complements the larger picot look of the lace edge.  Lots of great techniques packed into one great little scarf!

We'll also discuss how to block the scarf to open up the lace and get the best finished result.

Shorter version of Ripley
with the lace band.
Mondays in October (the 3rd and 10th, 6-8pm), I'll be teaching the Ripley, hat.  This hat also has some great techniques, but with several options to suit your preference.  First, the band can either be simple garter or simple lace, but whichever you choose, the band is knit sideways, then grafted to form a tube.  Stitches are picked up around one edge of the tube and the hat is then knit in the round.  The gathers are done using a tuck stitch technique, and can either accent the side of the hat (for the short version) or provide support for at the back of the hat (for the longer, slouchy version) .

Saturday, Nov 5 and 12, 10 am-noon, I'll be teaching Veyla fingerless mitts.

Like Ripley and the Scroll Lace Scarf, Veyla starts with a lace strip but ends with buttonholes.  Stitches are picked up and the hand is worked in the round.  The thumb gusset increases are unusually placed YOs, and there's a final lace inset at the knuckles.  These mitts are not identical, and we will discuss the differences in the charts.  We'll also cover how to block the lace for the best finished result.

All three of the Ysolda patterns include charts for the lace.  If you are new to chart reading, this is a great way to learn how to read them!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fall Classes

There are tons of classes scheduled for this fall at Needlework Unlimited, my neighborhood yarn shop, and the place you can usually find me teaching several times each week.

You can find out more specifics on the Needlework Unlimited website, as well as sign up online.

Classes for Beginners
If you know someone who is interested in learning to knit, I teach Knitting 101 and 102 every
month, rotating the days and times when I offer it.  Knitting 101  is two 2-hour sessions long and covers casting on, knitting, purling, and binding off, but often covers more.
Knitting 102 is one 2-hour session tailored to the students who take it, whether it's getting started on a new project, or learning more techniques.  Some students take this class several months in a row as they start new projects and need to learn new techniques.  K102 is typically scheduled a week after K101 ends.

Clinics - Thursdays 6-8 pm
I am at the shop (almost) every Thursday evening from 6-8 pm for knitting clinics.  If you're having problems with a project or want help mastering particular technique and you need some one-on-one help, this is the time to get it.  Cost is $15 for two hours.  (No clinic Sep 8 or Thanksgiving)

For students enrolled in my project classes, you can stop in for my clinic and receive extra help on the class project at no charge (while the class is still going on).

Techniques classes
These techniques are not project specific, but offer alternative methods for familiar and/or traditional techniques.

Cabling without a cable needle.  Saturday, Sept. 10, 10 am-noon
This class is for knitters already familiar with cables.  There are times when you just can't get around using a cable needle, but other times you can work cables without a cable needle.  This is particularly handy for cables and twists of just a couple of stitches that occur frequently, when a cable needle can really slow you down.  This class will teach you how to cable without a cable needle, whether you are working basic 2-stitch knit twists, knit/purl cables, or traveling (possibly twisted stitch) cables.  You'll need needles with pointy tips.

Knitting in the round without dpns. Saturday, Oct 8, noon-2 pm
Magic Loop, Traveling Loop, and Two Circs are methods of working small to medium circumference items without the need for double pointed needles.  This class will cover all three techniques, including when it's possible to use each technique, when the techniques are interchangeable and when one technique has an advantage over another.  We'll also discuss the application of these techniques for larger circumference knitting.

Continental knitting. Saturday, Nov. 19, 10 am-noon.
This class is for knitters who "throw" or "flick" the yarn with their right hand and are interested in learning to knit with the yarn in their left hand, either as a substitute for their current method of knitting, in order to manage one color of yarn in each hand for stranded color knitting, or simply to expand their repertoire.

Intermediate Knitting Techniques
I'll be offering three techniques classes aimed at knitters who want to move on to becoming intermediate knitters.  Each class meets once for two hours.

Increases and Decreases. Wednesday, Oct 12, 6-8 pm
This class will focus on various single and double increases and decreases.  Some patterns specify a particular type of increase or decrease and some leave it up to the knitter.  This class will cover not only how to do each type of increase, but when and where they are best used, allowing you to select the one that suits you and your project best, regardless of what the pattern says.

Cables and Lace. Wednesday, Oct 19, 6-8 pm
Cables and lace are among the most commonly used techniques for textured designs and run the gamut from very simple to highly complex.  This class will teach the nuts and bolts of each of these techniques, allowing you to step up the complexity of your projects with confidence.

Reading patterns and charts, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 6-8 pm
Written patterns are full of abbreviations and short hand, which can quickly get tricky if you don't understand the rules behind their structure and how to read and interpret them.  We'll cover the basics of how written patterns are set up, as well as delve into the more complex, such as the infamous "AT THE SAME TIME" instruction.

Charts can seem overwhelming until you understand that the symbols aren't random and that they can actually help you see what you're supposed to do as well as act as a way of checking your work and seeing where you're headed.  We'll discuss charts for knitting flat and in the round.

Tomorrow, I'll update you on the project classes I'm teaching.  If you can't wait, you can find information on all the fall classes at NU on their website here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's State Fair Time

I love going to the Creative Activities building at the Minnesota State Fair to look at all the hand crafts, particularly the knitting.  Until a couple of years ago, I never looked into how to enter a knitted item into the competition, and certainly never planned my knitting during the year with the idea of entering the fair.

I entered one item a couple of years ago in the "vest, textured pattern" category.  I had done a very nice job on the finishing work for the vest I had knit for Level II of the Master Hand Knitting program.  I didn't win a ribbon, although I got quite a high score (in the mid 90s).  It was apparent that vests that won ribbons had texture patterns on the front and back, rather than just the front, as mine had.  The sweater categories are divided out by "limited texture" and "texture," but the vests aren't, so it worked to my disadvantage that my vest had a plain stockinette back. 

Last year I didn't get my act together in time to enter anything, but this year, I managed to look up the dates before the deadline had passed. (I really ought to put those dates in my calendar!) I had a couple of things I wanted to enter, but as I inspected the two pairs of socks that I was particularly proud of, I could see that neither pair would do, as there was obvious wear on the soles, either because of some felting on the inside of the heels in one case, or soiled soles in the other.  (Again, I don't plan ahead for fair-worthy items.  I ought to put them away until after the fair is over, but that never occurs to me.)

I decided to enter just one wee hat, and as it turned out, the competition was Garment Making, not Needlecraft, as it was an infant's hat and baby items are not part of the hand knitting categories.

This morning and afternoon, I received two separate text messages on my phone with attached photos.

Here's what my friend Rosemary sent to me.
Second Premium
Garment Making, Infant's and Toddler's garments,
Bonnet or cap, knitted