This is not a postmodern yarn. [Ceci n'est pas une histoire postmoderne.]
To round out the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, yesterday I attended a class at Modern Yarn in Montclair (roundabout Exit 148) on combination knitting led by designer and author Annie Modesitt of South Orange (roundabout Exit 144).
(Incredible to relate, there are three new high-end LYS in Montclair within three blocks of each other and a fourth long-established shop. Modern Yarn is in the Church Street pedestrian mall at 32a Church Street. Partners Kristen Carlberg and Paige Sato hospitably keep their sleek shop well-stocked with desirable indulgences and choice necessities. There's plenty of parking for cars in back in the new Crescent Parking Deck; bicycles can continue to chain up in front.)
Here's my class swatch and Annie's book, Confessions of a Knitting Heretic. The class included long tail cast on with one or two colors, combination technique p, combination technique k, on the needle blocking, k2p2 ribbing, k inc (right slanted), p inc (left slanted), cabling without a needle (both front and back cross), and k2tog bind off.
And here's Annie and class members (minus three, plus I'm shy) holding their swatches. The level of knitting experience and expertise in the group varied widely: Christina is one of the fastest, most precise knitters I've ever seen (and she has a pattern in September 2005 MagKnits); there were one or two very new knitters.
Annie is a generous, hands on teacher with a positive message – there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to knit – and the crucial ability to verbalize knitting actions in memorable ways. A wealth of contextual anecdote is also provided. The class is accessible for beginners with a firm grasp of the basics of stitch formation and an inclination toward technique, but I think it could be frustrating for some others. More advanced knitters will pick up combination knitting very quickly.
A large selection of yarn was thoughtfully provided for student use – as tempting as it was to play with some fabulous variegated thing, I chose a solid wool four-ply to focus on technique. I found that combination knitting affected my tension and gauge, as well as the appearance of the stitches and the hand of the fabric. The difference in tension and gauge is obvious; I doubt the difference in look or hand would be immediately discernable to many besides me, but of course I know my own knitting. (For an exaggerated illustration of what I mean, see the photos in the excellent Knitty article by Michele Lock on ply types and knit stitches.) Overall, combination knitting is an interesting addition to the technique toolkit.
The self-published book was not used in class; it contains many more intriguing techniques. Its illustrations remind me of one of my favorite classics, Mary Thomas's Knitting Book – they're admirably clear and very plain.
If that weren't enough knitterly goodness to last the week, when I got home this afternoon another artful package from my excellent SP6 pal, Pepe the Prawn, was waiting for me on the doorstep.
Needless to add, I investigated at once. Inside was a humorous card with a great hand-drawn bicycle on the envelope (love the horn!), a portrait of the artist as a young prawn, and the admonition to have some cake; a hank of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (yummy) in colorway Jungle Stripe (Wimbledon colors gone wild), sufficient for a pair of anklets or lace socks (maybe Vine Lace would be apropos); and a tin of Ginger Chews (also yummy).
Thank you, Pepe! After surfing the SP6 participants' list, I think I've figured out who you are – your writerly voice is very distinctive. But I'll wait for the official reveal at the end of the week, OK?
As for the advice, a bit of cake would be nice, especially as I've been muttering, "Let them eat pie" all weekend. Pie-making was a bit of a bust this year – the crust just didn't want to come together (unsurprisingly, it shrank a lot and ended up tough as hardtack) and the pumpkin custard developed a strange thick skin. That suggests the oven was too hot, regardless of what the thermometer said. Oh well, it happens some years. That didn't stop the loyal fans from taking a piece or two before I could take a picture for the blog.