Sunday, October 2, 2011

Things I Learned at VKL: Part 1

So, I said in an earlier post that Vogue Knitting Live was well worth the time and money for me; I also said that the staggering amount of stuff I learned there would be continuing to soak in for several weeks. As always (just ask my husband, ha ha) I was correct about this! I'm a huge believer in the idea that the more you give the world, the more you get back, so I'm going to share the wealth over the next few posts. No trade secrets, mind you--that wouldn't be fair--and some of it I couldn't tell you, you'd have to experience it for yourself. Just ask Nicky Epstein, the next time you see her, what they do for fun in the little desert town where she grew up...she is a 24-karat laugh riot, that one. Trust me, though, when I say that ANY of these instructors are well worth taking a workshop with. Whatever I say here is seriously just the tip of the iceberg!

My first class was "Creating Your Own Stitch Patterns" with the gentle and lovely Janel Laidman. Maybe it's because she's a font of quiet inspiration and understated genius, or maybe because all of us showed up at 8:00 am on Friday totally pumped for VKL, but you could really hear the gears turning as we all started paging through her stacks of stitch dictionaries and scribbling on our graph paper. I had signed up based on the class description, not even realizing that Laidman was the designer of the Rivendell sock, a pattern that I already had in my Ravelry library--a lot of her work has that graceful Art Nouveau sensibility that I really like. Rivendell was one of those patterns I bought more to learn from than actually knit; it's that pretty.

This class was really a subtle one. I wish I could describe it effectively, but it's hard to convey what we covered and how it helped. The general effect, for me, was like when someone comes into a room where you've been reading and turns on the light, or changes some little setting on your monitor so the text is suddenly bigger and clearer. Just a steady accumulation of little "aha!" revelations, plus some friendly encouragement, and some time spent focusing on how stitch patterns are constructed, and a bunch of really instructive swatches. Doesn't sound like much, I know, but the cumulative effect was quite something. I left the room determined to buy a copy of the Japanese stitch dictionary I was working from, as well as some highlighter tape. The highlighter tape alone has been a revelation, in fact--I'm working a stranded-colorwork pillow cover from a big ol' chart right now, and the little "taste" of tape that Janel handed out to everyone in class went right onto that. Now I can't believe I ever thought of attempting to work from a chart of any size without this stuff. It's amazing! So simple, so straightforward, and so helpful.

I brought some inspirational materials with me to the class--just a couple of scraps of things I've been holding onto, thinking they'd be nice to translate into knitting--and I expect I'll be continuing to play with those until I figure out what they want to be. The best part of the class, I think, was just hearing from someone who does this all the time the steps she follows when she's working up something new, and seeing how well they work. Thanks, Janel, for an inspiring and useful VKL session!

1 comment:

janna said...

One of my school-teaching friends introduced me to highlighter tape years ago, when I still lived in San Antonio. And, yes - I don't know how I ever worked charts without it!