September 22, 2004

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, READ THE DIRECTIONS

The past two weeks have seen me in a whirlwind of taking classes. First, there was Evelyn Clark's lace knitting class in Seattle, then a magnificent trip to San Diego where I took classes with Jill Badonsky to train to become a creativity coach, then I was hardly back home for 12 hours before I was madly pasting and gluing colored papers in Peg McNair's color theory class held at Weaving Works. But, who's complaining? I've always loved being a student. (And I've got the degrees to prove it.) I am in my element when learning new things.

So as not to overwhelm you, Dear Reader, I promised to take it one story at a time, so let's start with September eleventh, shall we?

That was the day of Evelyn Clark's lace knitting class. The local talent in the fiber arts here in our little corner of the US is amazing, and Evelyn is one reason this is so. She is also a very sweet person. If you ever get the chance to take a class from her, Dear Reader -- grab it!

The class was held at the Yarn Gallery in West Seattle, a shop that is filled floor to ceiling with yarn. In a slapstick moment, I had a comb sticking out of the side pocket of my knitting bag, and when I was going through the aisles, the comb accidentally snared a hank of handpainted yarn that was on display, so that hank trailed around after me for awhile until I realized it was there.

In class we knitted a small sampler that was a vehicle for the following topics: reading a chart for knitting lace, knitted-on lace edgings and picked-up lace edgings, spit splicing and Russian joins, and blocking lace.

I wish I would have known about spit splicing before I started the Bronte scarf (that I am now almost finished with); I'll be darning in yarns ends on that project, but I think I can hide them in that scarf because it is garter stitch lace. Spit splicing (as inelegant and unladylike as it sounds) would have been a better technique. My attempt at a Russian join in Evelyn's class resulted in a lumpy strand with plies sticking out, but this is another technique that is new to me and I am sure I will improve on it with practice. I have attempted provisional cast-ons before, the kind where you work from a crocheted cast-on, but I've always been stuck having to pick the cast-on out, stitch by stitch -- until, under Evelyn's tutelage, I was able to pull the crocheted tail, and it magically unzipped!

In class Evelyn was wearing the Flower Basket shawl that she designed, the pattern for which was published in the most recent Interweave Knits. I fell in love with this shawl, so went home and started my own, using some Kidsilk Haze:

flowerbasket 002.jpg
I was attempting to get a decent photo of the Flower Basket when Stormy decided to help. She was pretty proud of herself for catching that ball of Kidsilk Haze!

Evelyn had said in class that the pattern was published without errors. I happily cast on and knitted the first flower motif, and the first ten rows of the repeated lace pattern in the center. I was working on starting the next set of ten rows at the Feral Knitters meeting Monday of last week, and the stitch count was all wrong. I think I had everyone around the table looking at my photocopy of the chart, counting stitches and puzzling over the math.

The next morning, while frantically packing for my plane trip to California, I grabbed the whole magazine, rather than taking precious time to make another copy of the pattern. And there on the plane, looking at the pages in Interweave Knits, I realized that the lace repeat is clearly delineated in a red box. That was the key bit of information that my black-and-white photocopy was missing. Follow the lace repeat in the red box, as the directions tell you to do, and the stitch counts work out perfectly.

Posted by Karen at September 22, 2004 07:07 PM
Comments

love the photo of Stormy! Smart kitty. Spit splicing is terrific, and I use it whenever possible. It works great with Kid Silk Haze, by the way. I have never gotten the hang of a Russian join, so I will wait to hear from you how it works. I am glad that you are making the flower basket shawl. I have the KSH to make it in a lovely soft green, but it is down a-ways on my to-do list. I will wait and get your review of the pattern. So far it sounds great. I like the size and simplicity of it, very elegant. That sounds like it was a great class!

Posted by: Anne at September 22, 2004 09:19 PM

Phew! I have been lying awake nights worrying about you and the Flower Basket shawl ever since last Ferals!

You weren't at last Guild, so you didn't get to see Evelyn's latest creation, her Labyrinth Shawl (a square shawl designed to be folded), which has geometric "path" created with yarnovers that flows in one continuous line from the outside of the shawl to the middle. As she explained, a "maze" is designed to confuse you but a "labyrinth" is designed to help you find your center. Beautiful idea; beautiful shawl. It was restful just to look at it.

Posted by: Ryan at September 23, 2004 04:42 PM

That Evelyn is a genius, isn't she? And her designs just keep getting better and better.

Labyrinth gardens are planted so that one can go through them doing walking meditation or walking prayers. The process of walking it is supposed to center you, or bring you back to a sense of wholeness. What a great inspiration for a shawl!

Posted by: Karen at September 23, 2004 04:59 PM

I purchased my American Alpaca Glimmer last week, it arrived Monday, and now I just need to start on this shawl!! My cat, Jesse, was very interested when I pulled the yarn out of the box...he promptly curled up and fell asleep with it! It looks like Stormy needs a little lesson in respecting the Rowan yarn...hehe...your progress looks great!

Posted by: Stacey at September 24, 2004 10:18 PM