I have recently taken some classes to learn some new knitting and sewing skills, which means once again I have added to my ever-growing list of unfinished projects. But what fun projects they are.
I kicked off my new year of knitting with a great sock class given by Cat Bordhi and hosted by Common Threads in Encinitas, CA. Cat recently published a new book on socks called, New Pathways for Sock Knitters (Book One). If you ever have an opportunity to attend a class by Cat, I highly recommend you to jump on it. She’s entertaining and has a great way of explaining knitting techniques using lots of visuals and stories. Here she is demonstrating Judy Becker’s Magic Cast-On. Notice all the charts and directions spread out on the floor in front of her:
Cat’s recent book shows new ways of looking at sock architectures, that is, the various parts that form a sock — the cuff, leg, heel, instep and toe. She shows how you can shape the sock by adding increases at the bottom of the foot, the side, or even spread out around the foot. In the book, you learn each new “architecture” by knitting a baby sock. Here are the baby socks I made for the Coriolis pattern (using Dream in Color’s worsted weight yarn in Dusky Aurora). Notice how the increases swirl around the arch of the foot in different directions on each foot:
The baby socks are followed by adult designs and a “master pattern” that you can just plug in your own numbers to knit with any yarn at any gauge for any size foot. That’s probably the hardest part, measuring your feet and gauge to get the right size. Here’s my first sock from her book, the Rushing Rivulet sock (using Claudia’s Handpainted in the Purple Dot colorway). I think I didn’t get an accurate gauge because it seems a bit large in the instep area.
The book’s instructions and illustrations are clear, written for DPNs, 2 circulars or Magic Loop. I especially liked Cat’s technique of right and left increases (La-Link and La-Rink), and she has the clearest and best instructions I’ve seen on how to pick up wrapped stitches when knitting short rows. Cat’s web site links to some You Tube videos showing some of these techniques, including the Magic Cast-On.
My second class this year was a class held at Sowing Sisters in Carlsbad, to make a wall hanging or quilt of batik elephants using the paper piecing method. This technique requires that you sew small pieces of fabric onto the paper pattern. You pin the fabric pieces to the back of the pattern, sew along the lines of the pattern and trim. It’s a great way to sew smaller, more complicated designs. It’s not difficult but does require a bit of concentration because the pieces are so small. These elephants measure about 4 1/2 inches square each. Here are my first three elephants and the batiks I am using:
The elephants’ tails will be made of braided embroidery floss. The teacher used seed beads for eyes, but I think I will embroider the eyes instead because I am making a crib-sized quilt and don’t want any choking hazards. Here are some of the supplies I’m using: a cutting mat, a small rotary cutter, a quarter-inch ruler, flat pins and a fabric turner for the ears. To the left is the border fabric in black and the background fabric in cream.
I’m off to Stitches West tomorrow to take some more classes and add to my yarn and project stash. Hope to report on my adventures soon!