Chanel Style

I finally got a photo of the fabulous jacket Paula will be teaching Tuesday afternoons.  It’s a gorgeously simple shape with a few details that take it from nice to extraordinary.  Paula added the sweet garter stitch insert on the sleeve and this great little split-cuff detail, turned back with a charming button.

The sample is worked in fabulous Rowan Felted Tweed Chunky at a gauge of 12 stitches to 4 inches.  You could also do it in Willa from Juniper Moon.  The Rowan color story is lovely, wearable, and oh so understated (it is British, you know).  The Willa, on the other hand, offers 12 spectacular, saturated jewel tones.

Chunky Willa from Juniper Moon

Either way, you can’t go wrong.  Paula’s starting this class Tuesday afternoon in La Plata.  Come join the fun!

My First Garment Class

It was a crazy busy class, so I only got a few photos of the La Plata group, but I couldn’t resist this shot.  I love it when students help each other, because there is no better way to learn something than to teach someone else!  

Everyone is busy here, finally starting their vest after measuring swatches and figuring out sizes, and perfecting cast-ons.  

I’ll try to get more photos of everyone’s yarn and progress next time when they’ll all have worked up the armholes on their backs and fronts.  We calculated it in the Leonardtown class – just an inch and a half a day will get you there on both the back and the front.  You can do it, Ladies!

Class is cool

When I was in high school my father wanted me to study engineering in college. I wanted to study English Lit or French, but he assured me that I should focus my education on really hard things that I probably couldn’t learn on my own. He reasoned that when I was well-employed as an engineer that I could devote my free time to reading great literature, and learn all about it on my own.

In theory, he was right. I could have read all kinds of great literature, pored over the web, and studied various analyses of these works, thereby forging my own education in literature. However, I don’t think I would even have known how to begin. And honestly, the truth is that most of us simply don’t hunker down to study and learn things on our own. The time constraints of daily life typically prevent us from lavishing that kind of time on intellectual pursuits. It’s hard to do, we’re busy, and so we don’t do it. This truth holds whether you want to learn about literature, or you want to become a better knitter. If you want to really learn something, you probably need to take a class.

A class is taught by someone who’s a recognized expert in his or her field. You could certainly seek out a variety of books, search a host of sites on the internet, and talk to every knitter you know, but it would be a real challenge to craft for yourself a class on what you want to learn. It would take as much, if not more, effort than the actual learning. Bottom line is that a class is a significantly more efficient way of increasing your knowledge and skill. Certainly trial and error is a very effective way to learn about knitting, but it is not efficient in the least – just ask me how I know this!

In our project classes, at Crazy for Ewe, we strive to teach you exactly what you need to know for a specific project, as well as give you skills and insight that will help you with other projects. You’ll learn why a particular cast-on is used for one project while a very different method is required for another. When we offer a project class, the instructor has already knit the item, identified the sticky bits, and will guide you smoothly through the project so that you’re absolutely successful.. If there are mistakes to be made, or errors to be identified, we’ve done it, so you don’t have to!  Join us for a class – we think you’ll learn a lot, and we know you’ll have fun!

Get empowered

Last summer I got the bug to start sewing. I’d made drapes and tablecloths many years ago, but I wanted to sew a simple skirt for myself. I bought a nice, easy, straightforward pattern, but was frustrated to find that the directions weren’t all that helpful. The pattern did an excellent job of telling me what to do, but not so much with the how to do it. Under-stitch? Angle-cut? Straightening the grain? I engaged the services of my friend and expert seamstress, Linda Parker for a few lessons. Patiently and carefully, she walked me through every aspect of the process. She showed me not only what to do at each step, but why it was important. It was very empowering.

Knitting is the same in many ways. There’s a pretty wide gap between knowing how to knit and creating a garment from a pattern. Designers assume a substantial amount of knitting know-how in their audience. They figure you know all the techniques as well as when and why to use one technique rather than another. Stockinette, garter, or slipped selvage? Hidden or decorative decreases? M1 or kfb increases? How do you know? When does it matter? The patterns seem to be written in a mysterious kind of short-hand you need to learn before it all makes sense.

If you’ve ever shied away from knitting a garment because it’s all just so overwhelming, then our “My First Garment” class is exactly what you need. It’s also a great class if you’ve never been happy with the garments you knit. In these four sessions we’ll take you through the process, explaining every step and ensuring you understand not only what to do, but why you do it. At the end you’ll have a wonderful vest that you’ll be proud to wear. Most importantly, though, you’ll approach future knitting patterns with a greater understanding and much more confidence.

I knit up the front and back for the sample in about two weeks, but you’ll have lots more time to knit yours. My version went really fast because I used Noro Taiyo, and it was so much fun to see the colors as they emerged. Check it out on the blog. Choose a gorgeous Noro for a fun colorful version, or Spud & Chloe for a subtle solid. The class is limited to 6 students, so come choose your fiber and get registered! You’ll be so glad you did!

La Plata Saturdays 11:00 a.m. — 1:00 p.m.
August 6th, August 27th September 10th, and September 24th

Leonardtown – Sundays 1:00 — 3:00 p.m.
August 7th, August 28th, September 11th, and September 25th

Yarn 101

The first time you knit anything from a pattern you are given all the parameters. The designer tells you what yarn was used, what needles were used, and what gauge was achieved with those materials. So, you get the specified yarn and needles, cast on, follow the directions exactly, and everything turns out perfectly, right? Well maybe, if you live in a Disney movie–handsome prince, big wedding, happily ever after. Only life isn’t a Disney movie. So we grow up and learn about ourselves and our lives – what works, and what doesn’t. It’s the same with yarn. Sometimes the yarn used in the pattern isn’t available, or you don’t like it and would rather use something else. Often, the designer knits much more tightly or loosely than you do, so the needles used to get the specified gauge aren’t going to work for you. Or maybe, the designer is working with a yarn that’s very bouncy that needs a different sized needled to get the right gauge. Perhaps they’re working the yarn at a tighter or looser gauge to get a stiffer fabric, or one with more drape. How on earth do you know?

Well, you could just go ahead and use whatever yarn and needles the pattern specifies and hope for the best. While this method works sometimes, it typically results in trying to find someone whom the garment actually fits and then giving it away to him or her–disappointing at best. You could also buy one skein of every yarn in the shop and swatch it up on every needle you have and see what works – time-consuming and costly. Or, you could learn more about yarn- like how and why it works the way it does and how to make the correct substitution, not just in terms of gauge, but in terms of getting the fabric you need to create the garment you see and love.

Frequently, when designers want to offer guidance on yarn choices, they refer to a yarn’s weight, that’s helpful, but it only goes part of the way. The Craft Yarn Council established six basic weight categories. These six categories encompass yarn that’s as fine as a cobweb all the way up to super chunky yarn that’s basically roving. These categories, therefore, are pretty broad, and there’s a wide range of yarn weights in each category. Not to mention the fact that there’s a whole lot more to yarn than simply its weight. There’s texture, loft, drape, elasticity, durability, and much more. It can take a lifetime of knitting and lots of trial and error to figure it all out. But you don’t have to figure it all out for yourself. We’re having a wonderful class on just this sort of information that will give you the information you need in an easily digestible and fun format.

Having a sound understanding of yarn is part of being a competent knitter. This knowledge will enable you to make decisions about what you want in your garment and how to get it. It will empower you to make the connection between yarns you like and patterns you want to knit. It will make you a more intuitive knitter and will ultimately bring you greater satisfaction in your craft. That’s pretty big, isn’t it! But it’s not out of your reach. Look for our next Yarn 101 class to begin the journey. Class is limited to 8 students at each shop.