Monday, April 23, 2007

My day at the Manor

(Sorry, bit long.......)

Yesterday I went off to Burton Manor on the Wirral for a day course called "Designer Fashion Hand Knitting". Ok, so they got 2 out of 4 words of the description correct - hand & knitting - good effort.

Here is the description from the brochure:
"For experienced knitters looking at how to transfer a design idea into knitted reality. Using fashion photographs or your own sketched ideas, we examine adaptations for size and shape, and wool and needle size calculations. After experimenting with different wools, colours and textures you will be able to write up knitting instructions for your own individual garment/s. The emphasis will be on sharing ideas."

What would you expect from that description? I took it to be learning how to design a garment to fit with shaping and fitting, and working out sizing from gauge, stuff like that. It seems most of the others in the group thought similarly. Here's how it went:

There were 8 of us in the group and we all sat in a semicircle with our bags of yarn and needles that we'd been told to bring. The first alarm bells regarding the word "fashion" should have sounded when the teacher arrived wearing what I can only describe as a man's jumper. Mid-thigh length, straight up and down with a huge rib gathered around the bottom and cuffs, in brown horizontal stripes, crew neck, probably an aran weight. This was paired with a pair of Simon Cowell waistline (ie belted under the armpits) polyester navy "slacks" and very sensible shoes. I don't want to be critical, she was a lady of a certain age and we'll all get there at some point, but NOTHING about her screamed "fashion". Moving on..................

Our first task was to knit a swatch - what she called a template. But not a plain swatch. She showed us an example of a "fashionable jumper" with intarsia clouds all over it. and we had to draw a cloud on graph paper and transfer that to our swatch. We all duly did this, and went off for a tea break. When we got back, there was no mention of what to do with the swatch but we then had to move on to something more "advanced" - a swatch with a leaf on it. A few looks passed around the group. Some people did it, I did a leaf in relief in one colour and the girl next to me just did her own thing. The next advanced step was to do another swatch with a flower. At this point there were mutterings, people including myself saying it wasn't really the kind of thing we would knit. One lady had arrived wearing a lovely intarsia cardigan that she had made and obviously didn't need to be doing swatches at all. Another lady hadn't actually knit in more than one colour before so the teacher spent some individual time with her while the rest of us got chatting.

Lunch was lovely. Roast pork or beef, roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy, following by some gorgeous puddings which I won't even start to describe. I had a little bit of fruit salad. I got chatting to the lady with the intarsia cardigan, Wendy, who was very nice, and I told her about my sheep. When we got back to class she asked to see them and then another classmate Christina, had a look, and I ended up with orders from them. As it was, Wendy had some Rowan bamboo tape that she decided wasn't her colour so we did a swap, yarn for sheep.

Well, the afternoon session started with where to find ideas. The teacher showed us some photos of "fashions" which could be adapted, most from magazines she had obviously had since the 70s in some dusty attic room. And some examples of - what can I call them? Pub carpets!! At this point 2 people left, saying that it was not what they thought they were coming for. While the teacher spent some time giving a bit of individual tuition again, the rest of us were chatting again, and it turned out that Christina and I had read a lot of the same books, visited a lot of the same websites, and she also writes a blog. We are also about the same age. Some of the ladies had never used circular needles, knit on the round or made socks so the 2 of us ended up showing them how to do new things. I said to her "you could run a course like this, but much better," and she said "WE could do this, but much better".

The icing on the cake for me, was when a lady was talking about getting the lengths of sleeves right. She asked the teacher if you could knit from the top down instead and she said - wait for it - NO! She said, if you had done all your calculations using your swatch/template, you should get a perfectly sized garment and what would be the point of wanting to knit the other way? I am usually quite shy, and don't speak up for myself but I couldn't help myself. I spoke up!! I said, "actually I have just knit a top-down sweater and its the best fitting sweater I have." I brandished my copy of "Fitted Knits" and told them every jumper in the book was top down. There was no way I was going to let that lady go home thinking that the only way to knit a jumper was in 4 pieces from the bottom up.

Actually I think between the two of us, Christina and I managed to p*** the teacher off with our far superior knowledge. Hee hee. Anyway, it was good to spend the day with other knitters and Christina and I exchanged blog addresses and will hopefully be in touch. I was polite when I left and thanked the teacher for her time, but said what I thought on the feedback sheet. And that was my day out at the Manor.

Last night I finally succumbed to the lure of the Posh Yarn sale, and have ordered 2 skeins of Eva 4ply, cashmere/silk in Dapple. Can't wait to get it. There are a few skeins of things left if you are quick!

It looks like Yarn Forward magazine issue 2 is finally on its way. Looking forward to that. I'm not sure what is happening on the forum side of things at the moment but can't say too much.

Oh, and it is my Wedding anniversary today, 13 years, unlucky for some, but not us!!!


Nina said...

Whew! What a day at the manor. That would have been maddening! I'm happy it ended up successful for you, even though in a different way than you expected.

Happy Anniversary! You have a year on us. 12 for us, this year. :)

Chris said...

God, we seem to have so much in common! I too have succumbed to posh yarns last night! Tho our anniversary's not 'til july! Not sure if you work all week but if you're free any day, you can pop down and I'll teach you PROPER designer knitting!I've been planning it all out in me head so It'd be good to have a guinea pig to try it out on!
Drop me a line on my e-mail if you're interested!
(p.s. I've got 2 lovely swatches to create that short sleeve sweater and I'll get round to charting it when I get the oppo!)

Seahorse said...

Oh nooo! I had to read that between my fingers it was so cringe making! So glad you were able to help rescue the day a bit.

Intarsia clouds! ::: shudder :::

dreamcatcher said...

Happy Anniversary!

Sorry the course was to say the least bizarre! It does make you realise that you probably know a lot more than you think, the two of you could certainly run a much better class!

clarabelle said...

What a disappointment! Sounds like the person who wrote the course description wasn't the teacher (who will probably never have heard of Posh Yarns!). Happy anniversary!

acrylik said...

What a complete disappointment about the course. But it sounds like you made the best of the day, and great news that you got to meet someone on your wavelength. I definitely think you should both go in to teaching!

nanatoo said...

Blimey, how awful for you! I'm glad you got something out of the course but how dire was that?

Happy Anniversary!

Webbo said...

Well at least you set the teacher straight. I'm shocked that anyone would feel ok charging for a session like that.

bex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bex said...

I don't know donna I think she sounds well hip and trendy after all don't you know, low waistlines are soooo last season