Saturday, May 12, 2007


Yesterday was the Lucy Neatby workshop that Heddy and I and two of her co-workers went to together. Nova Knitter was there as well. It was very fun, she's highly entertaining, wonderful to listen to, great teacher... She's very colorful in person as well as a colorful knitter! We were sorry that we didn't sign up for the afternoon class as well. (Lucky Nova Knitter did the full day thing!)

We had to have a swatch knit for the class. Once we got there she got us to do some stuff to it, like knit 10sts on each end with a different color yarn for six rows of stocking stitch. The we had to put the middle 40sts onto a piece of waste yarn. (She uses waste yarn instead of stitch markers. I normally use stitch markers, but she pointed out how awkward it can get when you have four, five or more of those things, it's easier to use a highly contrasting waste yarn, made sense.) She showed a much easier method of grafting than I normally do. Of course, I had mine done not-quite-right first time. I had the dreaded "11s" happening on one side which would have meant the grafting would have totally come apart as soon as the waste yarn was removed. (Picture of my corrected work below.) This would be highly useful for shoulder seams, provided you're not joining colorwork. As she pointed out, grafting the tops of work is always a 1/2 stitch off. Then she also taught us that grafting is an excellent way to correct mistakes. There was a lady there who was working on a sweater and forgot to do the seed stitch band in smaller needles. Lucy said to reknit the band on the correct needles, knit a few rows of stockinette in contrasting yarn, graft it to the sweater, then cut off the incorrect band. (Also -- she says don't start grafting or seaming at the edge, start in the middle and work out to one side, then do the other. Use short pieces to seam/graft, and don't leave a long tail of yarn and use that to seam/graft with.) She also showed me at the start of the coffee break how to do the toes of socks with this grafting so you don't get those irritating "points". Once you have your toe decreases done knit a few rows of stockinette in waste yarn, making a "chimney". Poke the chimney inside the sock toe, then graft the toe in the method she showed (which, as I said, is easy and a lot faster than I do it now). All you have to do is remove the waste yarn, weave in the ends, presto! Perfect toe!

My swatch looked a fair bit different by the end of the class. It had been grafted, mattress stitched, cabled... Oh, and cables. If I knit something cabled I am always careful to check every little bit to make sure they are going the right way. She showed how to fix miscrossed cables or the cable was crossed on the wrong row, stuff like that. She showed how to count to make sure you did the correct numbers of rows for the cable. I have had to rip down to fix cables that were either crossed on the wrong row or crossed the wrong way. I normally pick the stitches down and pick them up one by one. Her way was so simple and obvious I felt "duh" that I didn't think of it already! She uses short dpns a little smaller than her working needles, ladders down to the spot she needs to be in, slips the stitches onto a needle, crossing the cable the correct way, then knits the ladders back up with another dpn! You just have to remember to "massage" the stitches to make them look the same as the other stitches so they are all happy. (It's all about happy stitches!)

Lucy also taught us how to do duplicate stitch and when it's a good idea to use it. She had one of her dvds there to show us this stuff. (Got to get some of those. Heddy got this one.) Duplicate stitch can be used to fix bad spots in yarn. Don't you hate it when you notice a spot that wasn't spun enough or is too thin or has discoloration? Well, she showed how to duplicate over it. If there are enough stitches (she recommended ten or more), you graft it and cut out the bad spot, since duplicate stitch makes it thicker in the duplicated spot, naturally. She said when she was working on one of her blankets she noticed spots where she messed up a stitch. She takes small safety pins, the ones without the circle thing (technical name not coming to me right now), puts it where the mistake is, and at the end she duplicate stitches over her mistakes.

One thing Lucy really stressed, too, is premature finishing. She says don't weave in ends as you go. Wait until you are totally finished to finish. It makes mattress stitching seams a whole lot easier. It makes hiding ends easier because you can put them in the seams. She said a whole new world opened up to her once she learned about mattress stitching because it has so many possible uses. #1, it's a great seam. #2, it's so easy, almost invisible. #3, finished a top and it's too big? Mattress stitch the sides a bit to make it smaller. (Which is what one of the ladies from the yarn shop had done to her tank -- she showed us.) Also it works the opposite way if something is too small. She showed us one of her vests and how she knit i-cord and mattress stitched it to break up the patterns. Also this one has gussets in the sides that are mattress stitched in place. #4, it hides the "unhappy" end stitches. No end stitch can be "happy", and Lucy is against doing a slip stitch for a neater edge unless the edge will be seen. Seams cannot be mattress stitched correctly if the side stitches have been slipped. That was also her reason for not weaving in ends as you go as you will not be able to mattress stitch seams correctly. (Now that I know how to do that the right way and how just plain easy it is I'm anxious to make something that needs to be seamed! I always hated sewing up, but now I don't think I'll mind so much.)

So all-in-all Lucy's theory is that nothing should ever be a complete loss. Rip only as an absolute last resort. Never rip in haste or else you don't learn from your errors -- set the knitting aside and look at it another time when you can think more clearly. If you knit 3" on a sweater and don't like it don't rip it. Sew it into a circle and turn it into a hat. Ideas like that. Also she says not to rush the finishing process, do a little at a time so it's done correctly and neatly. (Oh, yes, Lucy's a strong believer in The Swatch, something I am highly guilty of rarely doing. I hung my head and looked at Heddy at this point, she's not a swatcher, either.) The organizer of the workshop was going to try and get her to hold another one next spring (she's booked up this fall and taking bookings into 2010!), and if she comes back I am so there!

I snapped a pic of the stuff she brought. All I can say is Lucy's knitting is a total work of art! The colors, the patterns, the detail, the finishing, what can I say? I felt like such an amateur, but Heddy and Nova Knitter both reminded me that she is a professional knitter, designer, teacher, etc. Plus I've only ever knit colorwork stuff a couple of times, never with more than two colors. It would take me years to knit most of these things!

And the babble continues... we went here for lunch. This isn't usually the kind of place I go, I don't do a lot of "different" stuff when it comes to food. Usually the kids are with, and I'd never ever in a million years take them into a place like this. Well, maybe when they're both like twenty. (They're cave animal enough in a fast food joint.) I had an apricot chicken salad wrap. It was served on a nice, large white plate with sliced dried cranberries and flakes of something green sprinkled over it. It looked like something off of a cooking show or out of a recipe book. It was really good, I was impressed. Should have had a piece of cheesecake, though. Isn't their dog a cutie?

After lunch we went to the yarn store. I, unfortunately, didn't get anything, not that I didn't see lots that I wanted. Heddy got some new sock yarn, very reasonably priced at $5.95/skein for self striping, nice colors, too. (I'll post a link if she posts pics on her blog of her goodies.) One of the ladies with us bought some Austerman Step and Trekking XXL along with the needles and cast on for her first sock EVER on the way home! Heddy and I are hoping she's another lost cause...

Heddy pumping gas in her new t-shirt!

Has anyone hung on this long? Almost done, I promise. I have since finished the Broadripples for MIL. The second one, let me tell you, was an adventure. It was the sock from hell. I like the pattern, nothing wrong with the pattern or my knitting. However, the second sock would not match the first one AT ALL without me snipping the yarn and finding where the next pattern match should be like six times! See how the needle has yellowish stitches on it? The first sock was knit straight from the ball, no yellow at all. The second sock started out like the first, see, til this yellow came along. From there on it didn't match up, causing me great grief and annoyance. I left the yellow there, it's only for like one round, then I tried to get the rest of the sock matched as closely as I could. Once I got to the heel I thought all was well in the world, but it wasn't. The yellow occured once again, and I had more fiddling to do on the foot. I'll have finished pictures next post. This was some Fortissima that was given to me. I think it's one of those yarns that isn't meant to match up, like Heddy's Austermans.

And Meegiemoo, should you pop in, I met your friend, Shannon, at the workshop. Very nice pregnant lady -- she needs a blog!

Happy Mother's Day and Happy knitting!


Blogger Dave said...

Sounds like a most excellent day! I just learned today that Lucy was in Ottawa for a workshop back in April ...and I missed it!!

5:49 PM  
Blogger meegiemoo said...

Wow, you never know who you'll meet in a knitting workshop. Small world! She does need a blog.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Dipsy said...

What a fantastic day this must have been - thanks for sharing it with us!

4:37 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

Thanks for giving us a mini Lucy lesson!!

9:37 AM  
Blogger Alisha said...

Sounds like you learn a ton!!!

8:43 AM  

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