What I love about cables and colourwork is being able to measure ones progress in cable crossings or colour changes. It seems to make knitting go faster. When I first began knitting I would sit at Barnes and Noble and pour over knitting books, looking for treasure to take home and implement. I was teaching knitting classes at my LYS the year I began knitting and I could not even cross a cable at the time. Inspired Cable Knits really was a book that inspired me. I wanted to make those twists and turns. They seemed mysterious and magical. I still feel that way.
I don’t think there is any way you can ever take enough notes or remember half of what is taught at a knitting conference. I either take 1-2 classes at a fiber event or I pack my schedule full of them. Either way I still come home with my head over flowing with information. I had the privilege at Sock Summit 2011 to take a Morphing Cables class by Fiona. This was one of the most enjoyable classes I have ever taken. But I had so much packed into that week end, I think by the time I drove all the way home I lost some of what I had tried to learn.
This is one of the reasons I love Craftsy. I can go back to a class over and over. With the note taking feature, I can easily find the information I am looking for. (And you can go fangirl crazy without freaking out the teachers.)
I have recently been taking Fiona Ellis’ Mastering Cable Design class. She also has free mini class on Craftsy, Creative Cabled Necklines. (The mini classes are a great way to get acquainted with how Craftsy works.) In the Mastering Cable Design class, not only do you learn the basic workings of cables and how they are made, Fiona Ellis will show you how to actually create your own cable motifs. Whatever your skill level might be you don’t have to worry about “holding up the class” as you are able to advance at your own pace. Although Fiona starts with the basics, there are quite a few challenges for advanced knitters presented in a way newer knitters can grasp the concepts as well.
In addition you will learn how to use those u hooks and other cabling tools, (I still adore the Cable ring from Leslie Wind.) graph paper, and a really cool pinning board. (This was a new technique for me.) I enjoyed learning how to using an existing cable motif as a spring board for your own ideas, kind of like a recipe- I am horrible at following recipes, but find them to be a good starting place and then change them to my own liking.
Photo via mycentraljersey.com
Fiona has graciously agreed to answer a few questions.
Twenty years ago you began on this knitwear design path,
what are the biggest changes you have seen in the industry?
The influence of the internet has of course been the biggest change. We are now so much more connected and there are much faster ways sharing of what's new. Also when I first began designing proposals would be mailed as hard copy sketches and actual swatches but then several years ago almost every yarn company and publisher went over to reviewing PDF submission packages. I also now work on final edits with far flung editors in a virtual office via a google document . The edits take place over a couple of days rather than weeks.
Do you have a favourite?
I don't think I can choose just one so may I choose two? I'm always in love with a latest design (I'm fickle like that) so Granville http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/granville-3 will have to be one.
Photo via Twist Collective
I especially like this cable as it came out of a class swatch I worked for my Morphing Cable workshop (you can read more about that on the Twist Collective blog too) and I am actually knitting something for myself (which rarely happens) from one of my own patterns (even more rare) so Gwendolyn would be my 2nd choice. http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/gwendolyn-3
Photo via Twist Collective
When I recently ran out of wool wash, soak wash was recently brought to my attention.
The Soak Boxes were a brilliant idea.
The combination of yarn, nail polish, wool wash and your patterns really are a great way to say
“What you knit is worth being taken care of and so are you.”
Do you have a scent preference?
Soakboxes were born out of my quirk for hating to have my nail polish clash with what I'm knitting and by extension loving them match what I'm working on. A colleague who had worked with both me and Jacqueline Sava (director of possibilities at Soak) introduced us and then Jacqueline took my initial idea to whole other level of excellence. I'm loving the brand new fragrance Yuzu...which is included in the latest Soakbox named Elvis Paisley.
What was the first class you taught?
It was one on embellishments and embroidery on knitwear at "The Creative Sewing and Needlework Show". One of my students that day was Mags Kandis the creative genius behind Mission Falls. She was a total delight to meet and teach...tho I did wonder what I could teach her about embellishments.
Your grandmother, if I recall correctly, taught you to knit.
What do you remember her making?
I don't have strong memories of many projects but I do remember a cardigan with bobbles that fell in, shall we say, rather unfortunate places...my grandmother was rather straight laced and was embarrassed by my fascination with them. I always thing about this when placing patterning details.
There are some wonderful comparisons between
the celtic knot, interlace, and Khachkars crossing points
and their mathematics vs charting cables.
How much do you plan on paper vs on your needles?
I work mostly on the needles but for Celtic patterns I do a little pre-planning before casting on. I always draw them free-hand to begin with, to get a "feel" for the shapes and movement. Then I loosely figure out how many stitches and cast on and go back and forth between knitting and charting (in pencil), before I go to the software to really work on the chart. This allows for happy accidents to occur along the way and for me to see exactly what happens when I change something.
Given the effect of cabling on fabric “cable suckage”,
do you have a way to predict how the cables will affect the fabric?
I love that expression to describe the compression that cables cause...it's Cookie A's term. She & I had fun with it when we were both teaching at the same retreat...I gave her term a sound effect (a slurping sound). The rule of thumb that I use when I first start designing a cable is to maintain the same width of fabric as if I'm working in St st is to add 1 stitch for each 4 stitch cable cross (if more sts are crossing over each other you need to add more sts). It's only a starting point (but it works pretty well) as sadly there is no substitute for working gauge swatches over all the patterns included in a garment. No short cuts on this one.
What do you like about the craftsy platform?
I have taken classes other than my own and I love that you can re-watch things and take a class at a time that works for me. They are not only informative but entertaining too, so I sometimes watch them instead of other media like films or reading- especially when I am traveling.
From a personal point of view I like that it gave me the opportunity to learn something new about being an instructor...working in a different medium meant I had to change up the way I presented material sometimes. I love having new challenges.
Side Note: If you are looking for an example of what Intwined Pattern Studio Charts look like, watch this class and several others on Craftsy. IPS is currently working with Fiona to create several new cable stitches. You can expect that in your next free IPS software update.