Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thank you for your kind comments.

The next question is, how to commemorate the day? During the lace session in the morning, Franklin gave us a pattern of his own to work on while he talked. I made a mess of mine, but Shandy finished hers and includes it in her blog entry. My first thot was to buy some madelinetosh Prairie from the selection upstairs and knit it as a scarf.

[The class, when one stops to think about it, started with how-to-knit-lace, covered the major European traditions – Shetland, Orenburg, and Haapsalu – and included some interesting tips on designing, with beautifully-executed samples of his own work. Franklin is an accomplished and many-faceted man.]

But then, over lunch, Shandy astonished and delighted me with the gift of a skein of Susan Heath yarn. A new name to me. I won’t try to photograph it – follow the link. (I think this page, of “autumnal, sun-kissed colours”, must include mine.)

The afternoon class was about knitting from old patterns – the sort of thing he does in his regular columns in Knitty. A book to come? We began, unexpectedly, when some actual Victorian knitting – done by Franklin, of course – was distributed to the class. We were set to deconstruct it. Where did it start? How was it done? Where did it finish? (Ours looked simple, a little triangular garter stitch shawl in two colours. My partner got it – cast on the entire lower edge, add the centre colour intarsia-wise. I was thinking about knitting strips and picking up stitches.)

The class went on to talk about Victorian needles and yarn – the man is a serious and meticulous historian of knitting – before we were set to knit a mystery item from an antique set of instructions. I did better on that than I had with the lace in the morning.

So might the beautiful skein Shandy gave me become something from an old pattern? Something usable. A hat? I have one antique book myself, an 1843 edition of Mrs Gaugain. But there is lots of digitized material on-line – Franklin gave us the major URLs. It had never really occurred to me before that I might actually knit from such a source. But now I feel empowered.

I might also mention that I discovered, right at the beginning of the day, that I have been doing the long-tail cast on wrong all these years. More years than Franklin has been alive. Well, not wrong. Nothing is wrong in knitting except splitting a stitch. But not optimally. I make a slip knot and, thereafter, wrap the long tail around my left thumb, stitch by stitch,  and knit it on to the needle.

Franklin did something cat’s-cradle-like. Other people in the class seemed to regard this as normal. I’m sure I can find it on YouTube. This is the irreplaceable gain of an actual day with actual people, knitting. One sees and learns things.


  1. Hello Jean

    I am sure you will continue to remember useful things from your classes for some time to come.

    The long tail cast on you mention is the one I do for long straight needles (and throwing style of knitting) and the cats cradle for short needles and continental knitting (socks).
    The Susan Heath yarns are lovely. You will surely find a worthy project for the skein you have.

    All the best

  2. Anonymous2:32 PM

    Hello Jean, do you have E.Z. and Meg Swanson's knitting glossary on DVD? The cast on you mention is there. I learned I'd been not doing that cast on optimally as I'm left handed; I'd been putting stitches on my right needle. I did notice the sun coming up the next day. :-) Marilyn from Minnesota

  3. Anonymous3:24 PM

    Jean, The two methods for long tail cast-on are just that, two different approaches for achieving the same end. In your method, the yarn is moved around the relatively stationary needle; the other, the needle is moved in order to capture the yarn which is held stationary around the fingers. Neither is superior. I was so excited to hear of your successful knitting holiday. Pam S

  4. So glad your weekend was a success ! Your long tail cast on is what I call a right handed long tail vs. a left handed, which is more of the cat's cradle. I teach the cat's cradle because it is faster for most, but for the determined throwers, sometimes the right handed works best. I only knew how to knit stitches on for many years until someone scoffed at it and showed me the right handed long tail, then another scoffer showed me the left. All work.

  5. Anonymous6:05 PM

    So much to mine,eh? I'm so glad you took the risk/work and went to Franklin's class!!! He is tops of the chart!!!

    At the age of 5(75 years ago .. gasp!) , I was taught your cast-on method ... and thot it was the only way until about 15 years ago ... whatever gets the job done is right, right? peace, Elizabeth

  6. Anonymous8:37 PM

    Love your posts over taking a class with Franklin. The photo of the two of you together is priceless...two of my favorite bloggers in one picture. Someday, I hope to attend a workshop with him, as well. I'm so happy your weekend away was such a success and that your husband and family had a good weekend too. - Joe-in Wyoming

  7. I heartily endorse tosh Prairie - wonderful yarn. I just released a shawl pattern with it and have a little cardigan design in the works. The colors are wonderful, and you get a significant amount of knitting from that skein. Very good value.

    As for the cast-on, I think you are doing pretty much the same thing as Franklin, but you are doing the work with the needles in knitting and the other version (the one I learned I think) the manipulation is weaving the needles in and out the cat's cradle of yarn. Whatever works!

    You have inspired me to go back and read Franklin's Knitty articles again. I made the ball like an orange years ago for my grandmother and have taken his antique pattern class, but it seems worth reviewing.