student rendering, 5.11

Apparently, in the eyes of one of my students, I have a very thick neck? Spied in the classroom this morning and now blushing as a result. Working with kids–such an adventure, indeed.

valentine pride, 2.14

One of my little knitters has been feverishly working for a week on Valentines gifts for Mum, Dad, and friends. C. ended up making these winged hearts; the one pictured above is for Mum and you can see on her face how pleased and excited she is with the end result.

Nothing is better in knitting than that moment of realization: “I made that!” C. definitely had that excitable moment with this project and I was lucky enough to capture it.

student KAL, 10.8

One of my students and I are doing the Through the Loops Mystery Sock KAL together for Socktoberfest.

AB is using a variegated fingering from Knit Picks, and I’m using a solid navy fingering unlabeled I had laying in my stash–this will hopefully show AB how yarn selection changes the look, feel, and mood of a knitting project.

I’m confident hers is looking so much better than mine based on yarn choice alone; we’ve done the cuff, and now its onto the mid-section, which was released yesterday.

Snaps of mine to come.

Scenes from the final days of knitting…

Today was officially the last knitting class of the school year for my middle school knitters; they’ve come so far this year, it’s incredible, really.

We had a relaxed class that had a few kids still focused on projects (like working the thumb gusset of a mitten, separating the sleeves on a February Lady Sweater, and even finishing a giant market sack!). The range of projects was pretty incredible and the kids learned so many skills. We started in the fall with basic scarves, moved into hats and mittens, worked socks, and ended with some of them knitting sweaters, stuffed toys like pigs and bears, and lace accessories.

I adored their silliness and daring attitudes. They used colors I would never dare to use, because ultimately, they are the age where they can really work those colors out! I loved walking into the room and seeing the incredible palette, and their eagerness to show me how to completely goof off.

Some of them have expressed that they can’t possibly go an entire summer without knitting “guidance”. Therefore, we, and by we I mean they, have decided I must make myself available to them at a coffee shop on a standard day so they can come ask questions and get general fiber feedback. It doesn’t take much to get me into a coffee shop really, so the arrangement seems fitting.

As always, you can see loads of their work at the Scenes from Knitting Class Flickr Set. I think we’ll keep the same one next year. They gave me some feedback on how I should teach the course as a progression next year. They liked the idea that first term would entail basic knitting, second term felting art (for those who don’t know, it’s knitting with 100 percent wool and then “felting” it with hot soapy water  to create the “boiled wool” look), and third term advanced and accessory knitting. I like the idea, but have not firmed up the details.

Stay tuned…

Phases of design…

I find it incredibly intriguing how other knitters go about designing patterns; a knitter student bee of mine came into my office the other day and asked “how do you create stuff without a pattern?” and it prompted me to really think about how I create.

When I desire to knit up something that’s uniquely mine, it often starts with an image in my mind, then an imagination of how that would be achieved through knits and purls, binding offs, shaping, and any notions I might need. Then, I make a quick sketch on paper, with a few notes on sizing (all based on estimates from previous knitting experiences, all of which could be crap in the end), and that’s about it.

Knit design is as much the visualization in planning as it is the actual execution.

I feel its best to just get started with a general plan in mind; for instance, I wanted to knit something (to be displayed here in the future, just you wait) that’s base is, essentially, a cube. So my knitter bee and I started with a simple drawing of a cube, and I asked her: “How would you knit a cube?” Her reply: “I don’t know. Six blocks?”

A smart girl. And while six blocks would work, I wanted her to visualize her knits and purls. Would there be an easier way? Without so much seaming. How are cubes created? Eventually we got to the point that four blocks, craftily knitted together with a purled edge betwixt, would require less assembly, seaming, and would create uniformity. Block 1 would be seamed to Block 4, and all that would remain are two small side pieces.

Getting young knitters to visualize their knits and purls is difficult. And it certainly makes me think more about my own processes. Knitting is very spatial; I was shit in geometry, so its amazing how far I’ve come in being able to theoretically envision a pattern , a shape, in space, and the most effective way to execute.

File Under: How do you design knits? How do you teach others to design knits?