Sunday, May 06, 2007

What did you learn in school today, dear little girl of mine? (erillinen Fi-teksti tämän alla)

Well... it wasn't a school, neither I'm not so little any more, nor did it happen today, but a while ago I took part in a knitting course led by Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably. There was this Handarbeit & Hobby fair in Cologne during one weekend, and the following Monday there was this course in Jülich, which is situated between Cologne and Brussels. So, the decision was easy: stayed one extra night in Cologne, drove to Jülich early on Monday morning and got a chance to be taught by the famous Kaffe Fassett and his studio manager, Brandon Mably. There were supposed to be about 30 ladies, mostly from Germany but some from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and one even from Switzerland. In truly well-prepared German style, we'd received instructions for what to bring with us, and the most important thing was a swatch where we were supposed to have used lots of colours in a true Kaffe Fassett knitting style.

My only problem was that the days before that weekend were just hopelessly busy (or I was hopelessly lazy, or both) and I hadn't even started knitting before driving to Cologne. Oh well, I thought, I'll have plenty of time once I've checked the fair and return to the hotel. Not quite so. The sun had already set when I walked back to the hotel, exhausted and thirsty. The room was rather dark, so choosing the right colour combinations wasn't easy - neither was I able to choose a nice knitting pattern. I tried and took it apart, tried again and ripped again, until I realised it was really getting late and if I wanted to show something in the morning, I'd better just grit my teeth and do it.

According to the details in my camera it was 9.47 pm at this stage.

and about three minutes later that if nothing else, this will become a true intarsia swatch - all those tangled yarns.

An hour later I was fighting with the same pattern. How come I'm progressing so slowly?

The state of affairs at midnight.

And finally around 2.33 am I cast off and went to bed. At least I'd have something to show, even though it was not a pretty swatch.

Having reached Jülich and parked my car, I took all the paraphernalia (yarns, needles, invitation letter + other documents, a couple of Fasset's and Mably's books, a large bottle of water etc.) with me and walked through a lovely green park towards a glass house where the course was held. The course started with a show and tell part: we showed our swatches and the gentlemen told us what was wrong with them. Some of the ladies had brought whole garments instead of swatches, and a big part of the morning was spent finding good and bad parts from those sweaters and vests.

"When you combine yarns, almost everything is allowed. However, I'd advise you not to use variegated yarns." said Kaffe Fassett.
I took my large notebook and covered the part where I'd used self-dyed yarn where the colour wasn't too even.
"Neither should you combine different sorts of yarn like mohair and thin wool."
Well, normally I wouldn't, but when I was going through my stash and searching for these colourful sample yarns, I wouldn't have had so many shades, had I not used some fancy yarns as well.
"And just rest your eyes on this swatch. The maker has clearly spent lots of time thinking and combining shades which really work together, although they're not copied directly from the book."
I squeezed my swatch in my hand, hid it in my purse and decided not to show it in public, whatever might happen.

This early feedback took a bit chunk out of our day, and the ladies were clearly longing for a chance to dig into the mountains of yarn which were presented in the middle of the premises. However, before we were allowed to start, there were guidelines to follow: each of us would choose a postcard, based on an artist's work, and then we'd use yarn to "repaint" that piece of art. Obviously, not a 1:1 replica but more generally the feeling and the colours of the painting which we found the most appealing.

It may sound like a day of strict rules and time-limits, but there was time for having fun as well.

When our lunch break started, I wandered around having a look at other people's inspiration cards and what they'd established so far.

Every now and then we were supposed to go and attach our swatch on the board and have a look at it from a distance - which way was it going?

This was one of my favourites. First at lunchtime...

and then later in the afternoon, when it was time for final feedback.

Unfortunately I was in a back row when the final work of the day was presented, so it was a question of maximal zooming and shaky hands which produced these photos.

This was the card I based my knitting on.

And here's the final swatch. I'm just really glad that I got this opportunity, although I may have profited more from it about 20 years ago. I had more time, more imagination and more knitting stamina back then - but I just couldn't afford a course like this back then. Well, better late than never as they say - Mr Fassett sure doesn't look like it, but he is 70 and workshops like this may not take place near Belgium in the near future. Now I've done it, blogged about it and am ready to make plans for another dream to come true.


sherriknits said...

This was so much fun to see. Your colors are beautiful and I can only imagine how much you would learn in a course like this!

Aud said...

Hi Anne,

wonderful writen, nice pictures, that is the story!

See you next time where?

Greetings from rainy Cologne

Emily said...

I wanted to take his class in Hasselt (at the end of March I think) but I am a dumbhead and forgot to sign up! Aghh!

Oh well, maybe some day.

I recently went to Herba Lana and told Monique I knew you from online. She asked for your blog addy, but I forgot to give it. Again, my head ...

Happy knitting!

Bobbi said...


Soo said...

I'm very very jealous that you've spent a day learning from Kaffe.

I recently finished a project I started in 1989 - a Kaffe Chinese Rose coat. (I'm not a really slow knitter - I just kept putting it aside for other projects because I knew no matter how beautiful it was I'd never wear it!)

Anyway - if you'd like to take a look it's an April entry in my blog. (Don't know how to do a link from here.)

(I think your swatch was great by the way - and I bet Kaffe found some good things to say about it as well!)

Dominique said...

Great write-up about the workshop Anne. I took the same workshop last year at the Rowan mills in the UK. I am curious about that other dream ! Is it also knit-related ?

Selena said...

Good words.