Tuesday, June 05, 2007


i forgot to mention that last week, i had the opportunity to do a knitting workshop with Leigh Radford, author of AlterKNITS and Oneskein, at my wonderful local yarn shop, My Sisters Knits.

i had seen the book numerous times before and loved how imaginative and innovative the projects were. i hadn't ever taken a closer look because the projects seemed to be a little advanced for someone at my level, but i always wanted to try knitting them eventually especially, the crepe paper crown, the paper lanterns and the recycled t-shirt rugs.

so, when i heard that she was coming to do two workshops. i jumped at the chance to meet her and excercise some creative process. it. was. awesome.

in the beginning of the workshop, she showed us samples and works in progress of projects in her books - some examples were made from recycled/felted thrift shop sweaters, shibori felting techniques and unusual kntting materials like fabric strips of silk or t-shirt jersey. she talked about "knitting outside the box" and challenging one's perceptions about knitting and how to knit and what to knit with and why.... she asked us to write down why we didn't feel we were able to complete the "ultimate" project a small post it note. then, she gathered up the notes and threw them in the trash. :) later, she recalled that a former student actually knitted with tulip leaves after taking the workshop...

then, came the hands on portion of the workshop. there were numerous brown paper lunch sacks on the large conference table we were seated around. leigh asked us to pick one out and open it up. inside each of the sacks was some random material that could be knitted. my bag contained some silk fabric strips, other knitters found jersey t-shirt strips, fishing line, tulle, crepe tissue paper, mylar ribbon and audio cassette tape. after casting on and knitting a few rows, we talked about how easy or difficult it was to knit with and possible options for projects or stitches/patterns. then, we picked another bag. my second bag contained fine gauge copper wire, other knitters found pipecleaners, tennis racket line and raw untwisted yarn (i forget what that's called).

afterwards, we did something akin to a writers exquisite corpse. we all cast on about 20 stitches and then picked knitting instructions out of a hat. the exercise was to show how we could come up with interesting organic shapes without guides.

then, we did two exercises re: color theory. in the first exercise, we picked random collages/layouts from magazines and picked yarn butterflies to imitate the color pallettes in the layouts. then, we either culled or added to the pallette. it was interesting to see what colors i was drawn to and also what colors were obviously the primary colors and which were accent colors.

the second exercise was really interesting. we closed our eyes and picked three balls of yarn from a bag. then, leigh provided us with a pretty easy (fair isle sorta) pattern that combined the three yarns... it was really enlightening to see which trios actually looked good together and which didn't. some were obviously going to turn out as good trios, and others... not so much.

i only enrolled in the first workshop (because i had already done shibori work, which was the focus of the following evening's workshop) but after that class i was really disappointed that i hadn't signed up for it.

so, if you're remotely interested in creative process ('cause even as an illustrator and writer, i definitely found myself drawing parallels) i highly recommend that you seek out a workshop with leigh radford. she's so knowledgeable, so accomplished, so open to sharing ideas and techniques and just a lovely, friendly, funny, nice person to meet. you really won't be disappointed.


Anonymous said...

I know nothing about knitting, but the workshop sounds really cool. I'm glad you had a great time. Those wooden needles in the pic look awfully dangerous, though.

mamazilla said...

darth goalie - they do look dangerous, i know... the ladies at the yarn store never let me walk home and i think... if anyone came near me, i could take an eye out and do some serious damage with my 19s.

hmmm, i should get some of those toy light sabers and see what i can knit with those... :)

Anonymous said...

Now that would be something. You could knit me a Vader cloak. :P

Angela said...

I think you need to move to Toronto....my daughter is dying to learn how to knit, I think I'll have to sign her up for classes. Maybe I'll learn with her!


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