Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Importance of Staying Earnest!

It's hard to stay inspired. When I try to explain to most people about the new BFL roving I got that spins like butter - they look at me like I'm crazy... I don't blame them! That's why fibre related clubs and guilds have become my main source of learning and inspiration.

I recently took a class through the Downtown Knit Collective's winter workshop with Fiona Ellis. A fabulous designer and very inspirational teacher, Fiona's class allowed the students to dive into the design process and be as freeform as we wanted to be. She had us choose an image from a pile of images she had brought to class, I chose a picture of a delicious slice of cake...

After we chose our image we used strips of card to crop the image, focusing on a particular point of interest. I was drawn to the uneven lines and bumps in this image - I'm a texture person. Next we were to interpret the image in a swatch, a design for a garment or freeform piece - anything that would act as a spring board for inspiration in anyway the student felt comfortable approaching it. I chose to dive right in and start knitting using short rows, knits and purls and different yarn weights to create texture. I also added some embroidery and crochet baubles. I created two swatches that day. The top one in the image below - was my first one, the bottom was the second. I used my first swatch as a jumping board for the second. I utilized the elements I felt were working in the first to develop the second.

I loved this class and Fiona as a teacher. I don't know what I will do with my swatches but they did inspire me and remind me the value of "playing" without a goal. It's a great way for me to develop ideas.

Another wonderfully inspiring class I took was a while ago! It was last March and it was with Debbie New. Debbie is an amazing thinker, knitter and teacher. I saw her speak through the Kitchener Waterloo Knitting Guild and was wowed by every word that came out of her mouth!

Her class asked the students to forget about everything we've learned about knitting. We were going to break the rules to see what happened. The first swatch we worked on Debbie calls "Scribble Lace". We knit with light weight yarn on large needles and incorporated heavy weight yarn as we wanted. The result is quite interesting...

The second swatch we worked on with Debbie was a sample of what she calls "Labyrinth Knitting". She makes full sweaters that are hundreds of stitches long and about six rows wide. She utilizes increases and decreases to make a "puzzle". She'll give this long strip to someone and tell them if they can solve the puzzle and make it into a sweater shape, she'll sew it together for them. Seeing the picture below gives a better impression. The first one is a strip of knitting with increases and decreases, the second is the "puzzle" solved and positioned into a closed shape.

Both these classes have left an impression on me. I can never stop learning or playing. There is always inspiration around me.

To find a Spinning and Weaving Guild take a look at the Ontario Handweavers and Spinners Guild website.

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