Back in the middle of a rather wet July I spent a very enjoyable three days up at Imperial College in London for Knit Nation. I had booked a hectic schedule of classes which were all great fun.
On Friday I had an all day class with Anne Hanson on Sweater Fitness. This included taking a full set of body measurements and then looking at how to adapt existing patterns to our measurements. All useful stuff. I have been quite successful in designing garments from scratch using my own measurements, but less successful in adapting already existing patterns, so there were a lot of useful tips to be gleaned. The penny really dropped when we were looking closely at the schematics of our chosen patterns, and I realised that a lot of my problem was not just that I usually need a different size for my chest than for my tummy / hips (this is something I have been aware of for some time and so am used to compensating for), but that my shoulder measurement matches up with a completely different size. I am shaped rather like a pyramid 🙂 So many garments hang from the shoulder line and if you don’t get that right the whole garment looks badly fitting. This was amply demonstrated by the T-shirt I was wearing to class. In order to get a size which was comfortable around my cake-storage areas the shoulders of the T-shirt extend past my own shoulders by a good couple of centimetres and droop in a not terribly flattering manner.
We covered lots of useful tips on how to transition from one size to another at strategic points in an existing pattern. I shall definitely be putting this information into action, and taking a very hard look at the schematics of the future patterns I knit. She also had some very interesting things to say about different ways to reduce the stitches from the bust line to the shoulders, whether you opt to decrease in the armhole area or do darts which go up to the centre of each shoulder. I look forward to doing some experimenting with this to see which works well for my shape.
On Saturday morning I went to a class on Vintage Fit and Finishing with Susan Crawford. It was very interesting to learn how fashions in ease and fit have changed over time. Very valuable information when knitting a vintage pattern. I am not sure I will ever go for the full vintage re-creation garments which seem to be popular, but I can certainly see me using some aspects of vintage patterns as inspiration.
On Saturday afternoon it was The Many Faces of Cashmere with Clara Parkes. Fantastic stuff! She manages to be hilarious and extremely informative and interesting all at the same time, and three hours of cashmere can never be a bad thing 🙂 We had lots of little samples of fibre and yarn to feel and knit with. It is constantly amazing how many different yarns you can make from the same fibre.
Here are all my little samples before washing (click to make huge):
Top row L to R:
- Schulana Cashmere Moda, 100% cashmere, caged construction (so fibre is blown through a type of thin Icord-type tube), 4mm needles.
- Knitwitches Seriously Gorgeous Swiss Mountain cashmere / silk lace, 65% cashmere, 35% silk, 3.25mm needles.
- Habu Cashmere Lace, 100% cashmere, 3.25mm needles.
- Colourmart 100% cashmere, Cable (or crepe) construction, 6mm needles.
Middle row L to R:
- Classic Elite Posh, 30% cashmere, 70% silk, S on S cable construction, 5mm needles
- Laines Du Nord Royal Cashmere, 100% cashmere, knitted tube construction, 4mm needles.
- The bottom of the sample is Filatura Di Crosa Superior, 65% cashmere, 35% silk, brushed, and I used 3.25mm needles. For the top of the sample I used the same needles and as well as the Superior I added Filatura Di Crosa Nirvana, 100% merino, so the two yarns were knitted together.
- KFI Textured Cashmere, 100% cashmere, 4mm needles.
Bottom Row L to R:
- Hemp for Knitting Cashmere Canapa, 10% hemp, 60% cotton, 30% cashmere, 3.75mm needles.
- Carded cashmere fibre.
- Combed Mongolian cashmere fibre.
- Falkland wool fibre.
- The yellow slightly above is silk fibre.
- The white below is fake cashmere fibre, I think this is nylon.
Here are the knitted samples after having a wash:
All of the samples fluffed up a bit on washing. Cashmere is often oiled to stop it hairing up the machines when it is processed so you don’t get the full effect until you have given your knitting a wash.
I loved the opportunity to sample all the different blends of cashmere, and different ways of spinning. There are some very inventive manufacturers out there. I am still a bit afraid of spinning cashmere because of the short staple, which is better suited to long draw, which I am not very good at. I am hoping to do some practising soon though so I can overcome that.
After Saturday’s classes I went to see the film about Bohus knitting, not a subject I knew much about before, although I love their patterns and have the kit for the Wild Apple around here somewhere.
Sunday morning was Photographing Your Fibre with Franklin Habit. Again lots of interesting and useful information. Some of it about how to set up your scene for your photography, and some on how to actuallly use the camera. I shall be spending some time with my camera manual soon! I only have a little point and shoot, but even that I don’t really use to its full potential.
As is often the way with these events there was a very tempting market place. I came home with two books:
I also found a fabulous skein of yarn:
This is merino / nylon / stellina, 100g, 400m, 4ply weight in colour Mermaid from Krafty Koala. It was green and purple and sparkly, so I could hardly be expected to resist.
I had a great time and it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with lots of fun knitting people. I was a bit tired by the end and managed to get completely drenched on the way home – you could literally wring the water out of my trousers from the knee down where my umbrella didn’t cover them.
I think there isn’t going to be a Knit Nation next summer because of the Olympics, I am looking forward to one in 2013!