Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Paen to Perfection

I took two of Jean Wong's classes at the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat. The first was on Tailored Knitting the Japanese Way and the second was Fine Finishing Techniques. The latter's material is covered in Jean's DVD which I show below. I am in the process of putting Elizabeth Zimmerman/Meg Swansen's Knitting Glossary DVD on my Ipod and will do the same with this one so I have the techniques at hand when I need them. Knitting with Jean is a two disc set. I believe in supporting entrepreneurs so I bought her DVD.
In the tailored knitting class, we took each other's measurements and then drafted full size pullover patterns for ourselves. This is very similar to the sewing pattern drafting I did in India when I was learning to sew my own clothes. There are some differences. Knitting is more forgiving and elastic so the allocated ease is different. We also did not have to put in seam allowances - they are added in as selvedge stitches. We didn't have to add darts although we discussed adding them via short rows. Here is my front and sleeve patterns - a bit creased from travel but intact. We drafted them on centimetre graph paper.One of the key differences is in the treatment of the curves. Obviously, the curves in the side seam are just increase and decrease rates which are calculated as usual. However the curves of the neck, armhole and sleeve cap are not regular. So we drew a grid customized to our stitch and row gauge using a gauge ruler provided by Jean. The ruler is the fanned out set of strips (there are two of them) in the linked photo. Then we drew in a set of steps (since knitting can't form a smooth curve) to be not less than the area under the curve we were modelling. You can see my grids for the front neck, armhole and sleeve cap in the photo below. I will show you the swatch in a later post about my acquisitions at Madrona. I am violating one of Jean's teachings by using this pattern for a cardigan rather than a pullover. But somehow the yarn is telling me it needs to be a cardigan and not a pullover. I have to obey the yarn!
Jean also taught us how to slip stitch a set-in sleeve into an armhole using a crochet hook. This used to be my preferred way to sew a seam even though I'm leaning towards mattress stitch these days.

The finishing class involved lots of bind offs for 1x1 and 2x2 rib. The Japanese attention to detail uses different numbers of knit sts at the beginning and end of ribbing based on its application. We covered binding all these off in a tubular fashion. We also learned the Japanese short row method that I've used for a good many years now for socks mostly. Jean's preferred shoulder seam is not exactly a 3 needle BO but similar. We also learned how to join in a new ball of yarn in the middle of a row invisibly by duplicate stitching the tails in. Many of these techniques are not new to me but there were little things that were different in almost all of them. The class appealed to my love of technique. I am a technique junkie, always trying something new and sometimes finding a new favorite. I hate to knock something till I've tried it so I keep trying lots of things. My favorites also change over time as I get bored easily.

I want to say hi to Ann who I met online many years ago but met in person at Madrona. I also want to thank mehitabel for her solicitous comment after my last post. I had a drippy nose - due to allergies or a cold - but no other symptoms. I think the Nyquil/Dayquil combo I was taking to keep from getting stuffed up caused most of the exhaustion. But the nasal issues caused sinus headaches and coughs and nausea from the post-nasal drip so I was not very comfortable.

1 comment:

Ann said...

Hi Jaya! It was great to finally meet in person at Madrona. I absolutely love your bohus sweaters. It was the final kick in the butt that I needed to get one (or a few) kits ordered.

Let me know if you want me to stop by the Japanese dollar (fifty) store for more picks. I can never resist browsing through them and picking up something.