Saturday, October 06, 2007

Extremely Educational!!

Knit and Crochet Fall 2007 TKGA National Conference/CGOA Regional Conference Courses

Well I have gone through all of my class materials and I can say that I learned something in each and every one of the classes I took. I took away lots of excellent handouts and some nice free patterns.


Design 1A Just Rectangles Paper Doll
Design Series for Knit and Crochet
Instructor: Nancy Nehring
Nancy Nehring is amazing. She has researched and written about the history of lace and she uses authentic vintage threads; and her lace buttons are beautiful. But this class is the first in a series of knit and crochet design classes. The design series starts with the basics of making garments with 1 -3 rectangles and ends with the final design stage of shaping the rectangles for fitted garments. This class was so much fun. The design elements are presented as clothing for a paper doll - remember those? As you go through each sample pattern you learn where and how to join the rectangles, as well as the importance of color and texture of the rectangles. Nancy passes around samples that are actual clothes knitted for an 18" doll. Those alone were worth the price of admission, we are talking about a museum quality wardrobe for a doll. It was great. I would have loved to have the fleece jacket in royal blue with the embroidered seams and pockets!! Wow. The techniques I learned in this class will enable me to make a basic vest, jacket, sweater, coat, or skirt. I will definitely be signing up for the next design class in the series at the next conference. My only regret, I did not take my Knitting Lace with Mary Schiffman book for Nancy to sign. She very graciously signed books for my classmates. Free pattern we received: Dreamy Ripple Crochet Afghan LT1528 designed by Nancy Nehring in TLC Essentials and Moda Dea Dream. It is really pretty, I will probably make one of these, it is my favorite kind of crochet pattern.


Crochet Lite
Instructor: Karen Klemp
Crochet Lite was all about the fabric. Our homework was to crochet a gauge swatch in the suggested yarn getting the suggested gauge. Then to crochet a second gauge swatch using the same crochet hook but with yarn at least two weights lighter than the yarn called for in the pattern. My swatches were almost the same size which means I could crochet my sweater without altering the pattern. Not so for many of my classmates. There were some huge differences in some of their swatches which meant major modifications to the pattern numbers. Karen walked us through the math and she also had us chart our patterns so we could see what the fabric should look like as we crocheted. Very handy tool. My fabric in the fingering weight yarn was so much drappier and light than the worsted weight the pattern called for. I will experiment with much lighter yarn for crochet garments from now on. I have made two crocheted sweaters which I never wear because they are so HEAVY. Post stitches are used to make the crochet look like knitting and that calls for a ton of yarn and results in a garment weighing a ton. I wish I had used fingering weight or even lace weight doubled for those sweaters. Live and learn. The sample sweaters Karen passed around the class were gorgeous. There was one she did in a silk blend that I have in a pattern book, and I did not even recognize it because it looks so different in something other than worsted weight. The stitch definition was amazing. I have chosen that as my first experiment in crocheting a sweater in a class 1 or class 2 yarn. Many of the other samples were knit in alpaca, and surprisingly the patterns were knit with about half the yardage called for in worsted weight. That was an eye opener. Finer yarn may be pricier, but if you need only half as much, it all balances out. Pretty cool. (Hence all the alpaca in my fiber finds post :P)

Crochet Illusions
Instructor: Darla J. Fanton
This class is all about magic. You crochet in a sport weight or a lighter weight yarn and magically you end up with two distinct results. A striped fabric and a pictorial fabric. There is a very simple trick to it, which I am so glad I learned. I will definitely be using this method in future projects. The heart we made in class will be making an appearance in the crochet square afghan project I am working on. We received a free pattern of a very cute potholder with the Apple Illusion. Darla has many published patterns and booklets, I grabbed one of her catalogs so I can order a couple. Darla was kind enough to pose for a picture for my blog (see below).


Crochet to Fit and Flatter the Queen Sized
Instructor: Joan A. Davis
This was a thinking class. Joan focuses on the planning and practicality of your plus sized designs and garments. Of course measurements and gauge are key elements, but we also learned what has been making commercial patterns look so awful on queen sized women. How commercial pattern discrepancies can be corrected and can be easily converted to beautiful queen sized clothes. Yes - there is math involved, and metrics no less. But there are several knitting software programs available to help with that. Joan gave us the pluses and minuses of three different software products. One was available in the market place and was very impressive, Knitware. We each drew schematics for our first sweater designs. Very interesting.

The Savvy Single Crochet
Instructor: Karen Ratto-Whooley
Oh my goodness, I never knew crochet could produce such stunning fabric. Karen taught us some very simple single crochet stitches that turn out very unique and lovely crocheted fabric. I plan on making entire garments with these stitches. The stitches work up very quickly - provided you are working with a crochet hook with a pointed head. Our course materials include some really nice patterns for a Handbag, and Ripple Afghan. There are more pattern booklets available on her site. formerly

An Introduction to Tunisian Crochet
Instructor: Darla J. Fanton
Another great fabric find. I did not even know there was a knit or crochet stitch in Tunisian Crochet. About 400 years ago I bought the Easy Tunisian Crochet set from Annie's Attic and tried to teach myself Tunisian Crochet. The first thing I learned in Darla's class was that I was putting my hook in the wrong bar. That is why my fabric never looked like the picture in the booklet. I also learned how to cross stitch on the fabric - fabulous. I love cross stitching, I have a cross stitched afghan in my future for sure!! Next conference I must take Darla's double hook crochet class. I have that set too from Annie's, but have not mastered the technique.

Tips & Techniques for The Perfectionist Knitter
Instructor: Sarah Peasley
This was one of those classes crammed so full of good ideas I could not take notes fast enough. You know how when you get a bunch of knitters together and we are all talking at once? It was like that, all someone had to do was throw out a problem they are having and we were all on it like sharks on chum - with our helpful advice. The cast ons and cast offs I learned were worth the price of admission. Because Sarah did not just teach us how to do it she explained why each behaves the way it does and why one is better for one garment over another. Sure there are books that have some of these "purls" of wisdom, but getting hands on instruction while it is being explained was great. Yes - you should wash and block, and even hang your gauge swatch. If I had only known - my Mom's cotton ribbed cardigan would not be a full size too big for her now!!!! I won't tell any more, but I will try to give Sarah credit in future blog posts when I am making garments that her advice has made easier for me.

Introduction to Hairpin Lace
Instructor: Jennifer Hansen
Last but surely not least. First I must say that the hairpin lace wood and copper loom that is available from the Stitch Diva Studios is far superior to my Susan Bates plastic and metal loom. That said, I probably won't ever really get into hairpin lace as a crochet technique. It is a little too fussy for my taste. Also, it is awkward for traveling projects because of the loom flipping that is required. The finished garments are so pretty which is why I took this class. But I am afraid I will have to be a consumer and buy mine. Joining hairpin lace strips is not my idea of a good time. My classmate sitting next to me made four strips and joined them and had what could have been the back of a tank top, sweater or vest during a three hour class. So obviously the class was serving her purposes, for me - not so much. I am glad I learned how though in case I ever get bored with knitting and crocheting in the multitude of techniques learned above.

And now a few pictures, click to enlarge photos. The first one is Darla Fanton from our Crochet Illusion Class. My heart came out great. Darla is followed by some fashion show photos. All of the (few) fashion show photos can be viewed in my Flickr gallery in the side bar. Some of the more famous models include Carol Ventura (Tapestry Crochet), the Editor of Vogue Knitting Magazine, Doris Chan (Crocheted Lace & Everyday Crochet), the fourth model in is wearing a Fair Isle Sweater which earned her the Master Knitter Level 3 pin at this year's conference. The MCs for the fashion show were Laura Bryant and Nancie Wiseman. It always amazes me to be among such well established and talented Instructors, Authors, Designers, Publishers and Editors. These are the people driving the yarn, knitting and crochet industry. They meet us, teach us and listen to us. If you are not a member, consider joining TKGA and or CGOA . You can influence future fashion and get your desires heard and possibly met for your knitting and crochet passions. If you are already a member and you are on Ravelry please join the groups I started for TKGA and CGOA and see what other members thought of the conferences and what projects and designs they are working on.



Gracie B. said...

Hi! I'm a novice knitter in Oakland. I was wondering if you belong to any knitting groups. I'm new to town and haven't met too many black woman knitters in general - so meeting more would be great. Also - what's the best store around here? Lately I've been pretty loyal to Stash in Berkeley.

Virtuous said...

OMG! You had a wonderful time!!

I would have loved the "Tips & Techniques for The Perfectionist Knitter" class!
Can't wait for you to seep out some of the advice! ;op

I must check this out next year!