Friday, November 21, 2008

Men's Fall Knitting Retreat 2008 (Instruction)

Friday night, I finally got to sleep around 2am, but bolted awake at 6am due to the need to visit the loo. You see, when you become an old man, you make many trips to the bathroom throughout the night. But, when you sleep on the top level of a bunkbed, making the trek up and down the ladder, in the dark, in a perfectly quiet room, is a huge drag. So, once I got up, I was staying up.

It was just as well, because I was a little anxious about the day as it was the first real fiber class I had ever taught. I had 7 people signed up for my Intro to Drop Spindle class and I was a wreck. Only a few weeks before I had offered to give some advice/tutorials to a co-worker's husband who had taken a class, but I think I confused him more than helping. So, it was with great trepidation that I prepared for my students.

We had a series of classes on Saturday, two at a time in the early morning and then again early afternoon. The first two were Freeform Knitting/Crochet taught by Kyle and Drop Spindling by yours truly. Kyle had some stunning examples of his technique and I think his students walked away sufficiently inspired. My group was so eager and enthusiastic. A great class. I feel like I gave them a good foundation on which to build up their skills. We had some wonderful breakthroughs and I saw some pretty fab yarn being created. An added bonus was being able to share fellow Raveler Fuzzed's super cool and unique Tilt-A-Whorl spindles, especially created for the retreat.

The afternoon set of classes were Entrelac/Knitting Back Backwards taught by our resident industry professional, Brian (from Skacel) and Sock Design (pictured above right) taught by Stephen. I took the Entrelac class, but wanted to be able to split myself in two and sit in on Stephen's group. Fortunately, Stephen made an excellent handout that is tucked away in my retreat binder.

Brian was an excellent instructor and I picked up some great entrelac techniques working on a groovy scarf pattern design by Brian himself. It uses a gorgeous "vintage" yarn made by Skacel called Unikat or a newer version called Loft Color. They are both felted yarns that have long color changes which knit up beautifully as entrelac. Those guys that took the class, got the pattern and enough yarn to make a full scarf. Thanks, Skacel!!!

Stephen's class was more of a design and brainstorming class with examples of how to work with existing patterns and make them your own. One of his impressive accomplishments was sharing some ideas that will hopefully be published in the near future. Another milestone: one of his students started his first sock (Go Rob!).

After dinner, we all gathered around (we kept calling this the group therapy set-up) for the much anticipated, Twined Knitting demo. Ivar (who came all the way from Sweden) led our group in this fascinating old-world technique that uses two strands of z-plied yarn and twists it every time you make a new stitch. Just learning the cast on was enough to send some boys over the edge. But, it was a super cool presentation and Ivar really took his classroom prep very seriously. He had a sweater, a hat and some amazing mittens.

Next on the agenda was a brainstorm led by Darrel about an E-zine about men's fiber culture, men's design and men's themes. Darrel is the mastermind behind Men Who Knit and has been talking for a while about getting a online publication off the ground. It was a spirited and lively discussion about the relevance and importance of having a masculine voice in the sea of feminine design. If the amount of time spent discussing is any indication, I think Darrel's work is cut out for him.

Our last activity was show & tell. Since we had spent quite a bit of time on the E-zine, we didn't start our show & tell until almost 10pm. But, I knew this was going to the coolest part of the retreat. Such friggin' fabulous pieces were shared. David's unbelievable lace. Ted's handspun lace scarf. Brian's sampler shawl/sarong. Doug's ginormous afghan. Michael C.'s unbelievable jacquard sweater. Ivar's twined knitting masterstrokes. Harry's sweet sweater for his son. Andy's convertible gloves. Stephen's cycling aran. On and one it went into the wee hours of the morning.

After everyone went to bed, Stephen and I stayed up and refined our questions for the Yknit interview the following day. Man, did I tumble into slumberland like a boulder.


Ted said...

Hey, aren't you the old man who got carded in the restaurant 3 days after the retreat?

The A.D.D. Knitter said...

Oh wow, this sounds like it was such a fantastic event, so happy that this came together. And I live with an old man who goes potty in the middle of the night, so prostate or not, I know that drill well:)