I really meant to post Monday about how awesome the classes with Anne Hanson were on Sunday. My mother-in-law visited on Tuesday, though, so Monday was Clean All The Things day. Then yesterday morning, I was settling down at the computer, eating a bagel for breakfast, and broke a tooth. So my day became rather over-involved with dentistry issues, and now most of the week is already gone and I get to look forward to having a titanium screw put in my jaw sometime in the next six months. (And, wouldn’t you know, I’m getting ‘bonk’ed when I try uploading pics for this post to flickr… I wonder if they’re on Amazon’s server cloud, which is also borked today?)
Don’t mistake tardiness with a lack of enthusiasm, though. Anne is not just a fabulous designer, she’s a great teacher, too. The two classes I took were Advanced Lace Knitting, and something called Yarn Voyage. I was really excited for Advanced Lace, and since I had taken a finishing class from Annie Modesitt a few years ago I decided instead of that one I’d take the Yarn Voyage, which the class description said was about how yarn choice affects how a pattern will look. This is a little vague, but I figured if I couldn’t tell exactly what the class was about, I’d be bound to learn something new, plus there are a few beginning knitters in my life right now and I thought I might pick up a few bits of advice to pass along to them. Turns out that I LOVED this class, and I’m really glad I took it.
I’ve always believed in swatching, mostly because I’m picky and if I don’t like the fabric, I won’t wear the [whatever]. Usually I take the easy way out, though, and swatch, hand-block, take gauge measurements, then frog the swatch and reuse the yarn. So for all the swatching I’ve done, I don’t have much to show for it.
The bright blue at the top of the stack is the swatch for the Sprössling sweater Anne was wearing at the time. The swatches out on the table are the pattern for the sweater she made for her husband last Christmas, handspun on top, and then two commercial yarns for writing the pattern up for the rest of us.
I couldn’t resist getting a picture of her swatch for the Leaving sweater I just made (even though the iPhone judges color terribly sometimes… the swatch is actually more of a beigey-browny-gray neutral sort of color):
I used sport weight merino (from the dearly departed Mission Falls company) for my Leaving, which made it more stiff and utilitarian-looking than the original Woolen Rabbit Oasis. Since I didn’t make the pullover version softness next to the skin didn’t matter, but Anne pointed out how I got less lace definition (sproingy yarn springing back after blocking) but better twisted rib definition than hers, which drapes beautifully. My sweater is less elegant, but I’m kind of glad it has less drape, since it would probably just drape itself all over the curves I don’t want to accentuate! That was a happy accident, because in substituting yarns I hadn’t really considered much beyond whether I could get gauge. Anne was very gracious and complimented me on my sweater, even though I kind of think I turned her Porsche of a pattern into a minivan.
(Srsly, I haven’t yet gotten a decent picture of the front of my sweater. Other pics are in the blog post just before this one, or here.)
I also kind of think that, were she any less nice of a human being, “Yarn Voyage” would really be titled “Why You Need To Swatch, And Don’t Complain To Me If Your Substituted Yarn Looks Bad”. I don’t know how the pro’s do it, watching us make their designs with poor yarn choice, uneven knitting, etc. I love the sweater I made, but now I know a lot more about how to predict what I’ll get ahead of time, instead of just making gauge and hoping for the best.
My friend who took the classes with me (also, confusingly, named Anne) doesn’t like swatching. So it was particularly fun to sit there with her, working on swatches because Anne Hanson told us to, and learning the reasons why we should swatch All The Things.
Advanced Lace was, well, advanced lace. How lacy knitting (purl WS rows) differs from knitted lace (pattern every rows), how shapes look different in one versus the other, why it’s actually a good idea to have knitted lace on those loooooong edgings of triangular shawls, etc. We learned a way of picking up provisional cast-ons that I wasn’t familiar with, and how to read our knitting from the wrong side of knitted lace. And now I finally have a project to use up the skein of Dream In Color Starry that I didn’t want to use for socks (even though I learned you really shouldn’t use sock yarn for lacy shawls, no matter what the latest fads in knitting patterns do):
The class pattern is a Baby Bee Mini-Sampler and is just big enough to fit an American Girl doll (not something my lifestyle has ever encountered). I’m going to try making a few more repeats of the second chart, to make a neckerchief and use up the skein of Starry.
That project is going to have to share needles with my new project though, Lalique, which should have just the right amount of coverage to wear in restaurants with vorpal air conditioning. I’ll get to use my violently purple Wollmeise Lace (Lavendel colorway), and guess what? Lalique insists that you swatch! This makes, er, three swatches that I’ve made and kept so far. I need to do a LOT more knitting to build up my swatch collection.