06 October 2009

Strickmuster


Last Friday I took an all-day workshop with Candace Eisner Strick. The workshop was sponsored by Atlanta Knitting Guild. One of my favorite things about the guild is the superstars the guild invites once or twice a year to come visit and teach workshops. Candace also teaches at STITCHES. She was here for STITCHES South 2009 and she will be back again for STITCHES South 2010. Alas, she won't be teaching Strickmuster (Austrian traveling stitches) at STITCHES South 2010. She is teaching The Art of Knitting Backwards, Thumbing the Purl, Tradition!, The Ripple Effect, Kumihimo, and 2 by 2. And she did show us a little of Thumbing the Purl. If you knit Continental, seriously consider that class.

I already have in my library the three Lisl Fanderl Bäuerliches Stricken books. I think I bought them at Main Street Yarns in Watkinsville sometime during the past five years. Not sure. At any rate, they are apparently now out of print and hard to find so I am all the more fortunate to have splurged on them when I did. Yes, they are all in German. But they have charts! (At this point, I am wondering what it says about my knitting obsession that I have knitting books in German and Japanese. At least I've studied German in both high school and college.)

Candace's class has been a big help because now I have some idea what those charts are telling me to do. Often they are telling me to do two things at once. One is to twist the knitted stitches by working them through the back of the loop. The other is to cross stitches over each other. The Austrian way of working these is to twist all the stitches the same way, whether they are traveling left or right. Candace taught us how to twist one way for the left and a different way for the right. This makes the charts a wee bit more challenging to work, but it also produces beautifully symmetrical and mirrored designs. If you are comfortable working make 1 left and make 1 right, you should be able to catch on to this technique. If you aren't yet familiar with that sort of mirroring, the process may be a bit daunting.

Not only was Candace's class great fun, but she had many, many samples that she passed around the room. The class was worth it for the eye candy alone. These are really beautiful designs and a lovely technique. I could see some sort of Lord of the Rings elvish socks knit with this technique, as it allows for rather delicate intertwining of motifs.

And one last thing about the swatch -- you'll notice it is on double-pointed needles. Candace has you put the same number of stitches on all three needles. In this way, you are knitting each pattern row three times or, as she says, you have three chances to practice and make it work. I thought this was a rather novel and clever way to teach a technique. Also, while it does not violate the laws of physics to work these stitches back and forth, they are challenging enough in the round without further complicating the matter.

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