06 February 2017

Teaching and Learning

I started off this year with two weekend events — one new to me and the other an old favorite.

In January I taught at the Kanuga Knitting and Quilting Retreat. This retreat has been happening for more than a decade. It is scheduled for the weekend of Dr. King's holiday. The location is tranquil — an Episcopalian retreat and campground in the North Carolina mountains. Varian Brandon is the organizer. I know Varian from Georgia FiberFest. In fact, I'm sometimes sorry I teach at that show, and I would dearly love to take Varian's steeking class. She has an incredible eye for color and design.

Kanuga is setup as a retreat. This means the classes are part of the package price. Students come and go. The weekend involved about 9 hours of instruction. I was asked to teach modular knitting. The nice thing about the long format is we had plenty of time to swatch and play. Modular knitting lends itself to play, both color and shape.

Another great thing about the retreat format is that you eat meals with the group. This means that over the course of a weekend you make new friends. This isn't like a fiber show where you are in class with someone for three hours and then don't see them again. A significant fraction of the retreat participants return year after year. There's plenty of crafting during the day, but also community around the fireplace at night.

And because this is an Episcopal retreat, there is morning communion and evening prayers. Reverend Jennifer Deaton from St. Andrew's Cathedral in Jackson, Missippippi, arranged the prayers around the five senses. How could you miss one prayer session? What was she going to say about taste or smell? The church building At Kanuga is made from local pine. The entire interior is knotty pine, unfinished, emitting a warm glow of old wood. Outdoors, Kanuga has a labyrinth to walk for those who like that spiritual practice. You might find sitting and watching the lake, the woods, and the natural creatures also nourishes the soul.

Since this is a knitting and quilting retreat, there was a room full of quilters. I watched a demonstration; and now I better understand the boom in quilting. About 30 years ago I cut out a quilt — sat on the floor, used scissors, and cut out lots of little squares by hand. Today quilters have these marvelous clear acrylic templates/tools! They have rotary cutters and mats. They have sewing machines that look like the love children of iMac and Singer. It was amazing how quickly and precisely the quilters could work their craft. And I haven't even mentioned the beautiful fabrics!

Kanuga was the shiny new thing in January.

Kanuga Knitting & Quilting Retreat 2017. I'm partly hidden in the back row, to the right of tall Bonnie.



In February I attended South Carolina Knit Inn.

I've written previously about was a delightful gathering it is. This was an opportunity for me to teach more people about reversible lace. I'm still looking for a critical mass. In addition to teaching, I also took a couple classes.

I took a class on needle felting from Cheryl McLane of Purdy Thangz. I've done some needle felting previously; and I've read a little bit about felting. I just thought a class would be fun. And it was! Cheryl showed us how to use a template. And she showed us how to felt around wires in order to give a piece some structure. I got the black rose kit, but I brought some of my own fiber and tools with me. This rose has a base of black with scarlet red overlaid — very vampire! After the weekend, I went home, dyed more fiber, and finished my rose. The red and black is for the Falcons, who had better rise up and knock it out of the park on Super Bowl LII, don't ya know!? Or maybe they will be the first team to win it all in their home stadium in 2019 for Super Bowl LIII?



I also took a class on Tunisian knitting from Helen Cogbill. I had heard of Tunisian crochet, but not Tunisian knitting. Both involve a set-up row, but then action on the return row. It takes two passes up and down the needle to create one row of stitches. It requires thought to convince your hands to manipulate yarn and slip stitches without working any stitches on the set-up row. After the weekend, I made three sizeable swatches to put in my class notebook.

Traditional Single Tunisian Knitting (also called Oblique Tunisian)


Tunisian Rib Stitch


Double Tunisian Knit Stitch (also called Horizontal Tunisian)

As Helen pointed out, this is probably not a fabric to use for a whole garment. But, it could make for nice trim. I think a few rows of Double Tunisian would be a clean, modern border. And while I don't have a picture, I did try working in two colors. Tunisian would work as a way to introduce a horizontal line of complementary color, almost like a supplementary weft in weaving. I also worked the Tunisian rib as a Tunisian seed stitch. Possibilities!

No comments: