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sally melville workshops

A few weeks ago I was privileged to spend the weekend at the Travelodge Hotel with a bunch of knitters and one very famous knitting designer. In honor of her having led the very first Montreal Knitting Guild workshop 10 years ago, (and also because she’s just a wonderful teacher), the MKG brought back Sally Melville to run a weekend-long series of workshops.

Sally Melville. Maybe you’ve heard of her? Author of Styles, The Knit Stitch, The Purl Stitch and Color, not to mention designer of countless patterns in magazines from Interweave to Vogue to…

Yeah. Her.

If you ever get a chance to take a class with Sally, do it! She is the cutest little thing, and tells wonderful stories. She is also a great teacher. Here are my swatches from that weekend:

On Saturday I took 2 workshops- “Rescue Tips and Emergency Techniques” and “Learning to Love Intarsia”.

This poor swatch got really put through the wringer! First we had to cut a stitch and unravel back to show how you could cut your knitting to make changes (shorten, lengthen, etc). I wasn’t afraid to cut, remember the Superman costume legs? I’d already cut them and lengthened them by an inch, before grafting the feet back on. We also learned how to fix a mistake by duplicate stitching then cutting out the original yarn. In this swatch, the blue stitches in the Fair Isle row were originally black. We duplicated-stitched over them, then cut out the black stitches.
This was our intarsia sampler. She gave us some great techniques for avoiding holes without too much twisting of the yarn.

After the classes Saturday night a bunch of us went out for dinner with Sally. We had a great time and had some yummy (but overpriced) Italian food in Dorval.

On Sunday it was one workshop all day long; I forget the name but it was something about tips and techniques “…for the Self-Taught Knitter”.
This was a little stockinette stitch swatch I made to show Angie that knitting wouldn’t unravel sideways. She was positive that if you cut your knitting, it will all come undone- this was to show her that even in a plain-old acrylic yarn, the stitches aren’t going anywhere. The 1-stitch width you see unravelled above took a LOT of tugging and pulling to get it to “pop out” on its own.
This hideous piece was our increase, decrease and bobble sampler. It also prompted a witty observation- we spend money to go to a workshop, spend all day joyfully knitting away, then come home to our significant others waving this deformed mess at them, proudly exclaiming “look what I did today!!!”. No wonder non-knitters don’t get it!
This last swatch was for practicing seaming and buttonholes. I think one of the best “a-ha!” moments of the class was her tips on picking up stitches for a neckband. One simple modification to eliminate any gaps- it’s genious.

All in all, it was a great weekend spent with some great people. I am thrilled that I was able to meet a knitting legend like Sally, and wish her much success with future books and projects.


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more procrastination…

In keeping with my apparent fondness for throwing in extra projects even when I have deadlines, I present the 2 other projects that made up the 5 that I spent the last week on, instead of the stuff I should have been knitting.

Yannick’s cousins welcomed their second child Emily on Monday, and we were supposed to go to the hospital on Wednesday night to meet her. I couldn’t show up empty handed, especially after making/bringing something for their first-born (anyone remember Elodie’s Sweater and Booties?).

I grabbed some stash yarn and cast on for the Child’s Placket Neck Pullover (Ravelry link) Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. I know that when I’d knit it for Jakob, it had only taken me 8 hours, so with 2 evenings ahead of me, I should have been able to finish a sweater for Emily.

I didn’t do a gauge swatch because I figured it was for a baby…if it didn’t fit her at a year it would fit her at 6 months, or 18 months. Ahem. I *should* have knit a swatch, because after I cast on the number of stitches for the 1 year size and finished the 8 rows of seed stitch border, well, it was big enough to fit me!

That got promptly ripped back. Unfortunately it was now about 9 pm on Monday, leaving me with only another hour or so to knit before bed, and then Tuesday night to make something for Elodie so she wouldn’t feel left out. I had to find something quick. I found it in the Blanket Buddy pattern from Lionbrand. It is a pattern that you can either knit or crochet, and after browsing the Ravelry archives for a bit, I decided I liked the crochet version better. Plus, crochet is faster than knitting (although it does take more yarn), so I knew I had a better chance of getting it done on time.

It came out perfect, with one small flaw. It’s small. It’s supposed to be about 17″ long. Mine? Maybe 8″. I switched yarns and instead of using a bulky yarn I used a dk-weight yarn. I didn’t feel like fussing with the pattern (although it is really easy to make it whatever size you want) so I left it as is.
Here’s a bad photo of it with Jakob to give you an idea of it’s actual size.

I figure that it’s being given to an infant. She’s tiny, so her little toy can be tiny. Who knows…maybe she’ll end up loving it and it will be the “doodoo” that she carries around until she’s 18?

As I mentioned I wanted to give something to Elodie as well so she wouldn’t feel jealous of the attention (and gifts) that the new baby was getting.

After some debate between knitting anothe cupcake, another bunny or another swatch bunny, the cupcake won. Both bunnies only take about an hour or two of knitting, but they each have quite a bit of seaming. The cupcake takes under an hour to knit and really only has 4 ends to weave in once you’re done.

This time I followed the pattern exactly as written. I won’t do that again. There’s nothing *wrong* with the pattern, but my (and Yannick’s) mental image of a cupcake has some overhang where the top meets the base. We’re probably influenced by our love of muffins, and we freely admit that. Regardless…we like my variation on the cupcake better, so when I knit more of these (“when”, not “if”) I will continue to use my increase/decrease rounds in the icing section.

On Wednesday night we found out that they were leaving the hospital in the morning to go home, so instead of running down there we made plans to go see them and their home this weekend. With my now-free time I sat down to knit and by the time the CSIs in New York had caught Suspect X, I had finished all 4 of my swatches for the Sally Melville workshop this weekend.
Yup, I’ll be spending the weekend learning from Mrs. Knit Stitch and Purl Stitch herself. Is it cheesy if I bring my books for her to sign?