Thursday, February 12, 2009

Panic on the Streets of London, Panic on the Streets of Birmingham

O.K., it's 7pm on Thursday, and I have to leave for Madrona in about 12 hours. I know that it's only about 20 minutes away, but I've still got quite a number of things to do before bedtime (but not homework, yeah!), like spend some time on Facebook's Pet Society, pack some clothes, and thank E__ for sending (sorry, single) me AWESOME Valentine's Day chocolates. In any case, this post might not be as comprehensive, readable, or spell-checked as well as I might like, but I'm afraid that if I wait until after Madrona I'll skip it altogether.

Last weekend, I took Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Knits: Creating Cables class at Seattle's Nordic Heritage Museum. I snuck in as a last minute substitute, and I'm really glad that I went. I've knit a number of cabled projects over the years, and I'm pretty comfortable with them, but it turns out that there is a LOT to learn about cables. We spent the morning talking about Elsebeth's work designing with Viking cables, which are inspired by artifacts from the Viking Age, and Elsebeth gave us a tour of her work that is now on exhibit at the Museum. We worked a small cable from a chart, then applied the cable principles she taught us to a chart-free cable based on a drawing. Then I attempted an interlocking cable, that I didn't get very far on but turned out sort of interesting anyway. Here's those three swatches:


One thing that is interesting to me is the way increases are added to start the cable, and stitches are decreased at the end of the cable to compensate for the fabric pulling in. I didn't block this as perfectly as I could have, but it really doesn't pull in for the cable. It's also neat that the motifs are suspended in the reverse stockinette--they just emerge from the background, without the need for vertical or horizontal connections. Neat!!!!

The afternoon was all about trying out our own cables. Based on my experience with the cable on the far right hand (which doesn't follow the rules, and only approaches (rather than achieves) the intended result), I decided to go for something asymmetrical. If you're not going for symmetry, then you don't have to worry about symmetry. However, you still have to worry about the limitations of the technique (pointy starts, for instance), and the results might still not be ready for a giant project:


The top swatch was my in-class attempt, with my detailed, work-of-art showing what I was going for (highlighted in orange for better visibility). The swatch itself is somewhat different--pointier, and also even wobblier than my lame doodle. I kind of like it though--it's unrefined, to be sure, but I think it shows some potential.

After I got home from class, I decided that I should try a simpler version, and actually chart it out. The chart is flawed in that I didn't map out the increases and decreases, and clearly there's not enough space between the bottom edge and the cable that lines it. But I still kind of like it, and I look forward to exploring these types of cables further. I wish that I'd also taken Elsebeth's mitered cables class the day before--I saw some of the work that people had done for the class, and it was amazing.

I think that I have accurately represented my enthusiasm for this class, without even having to mention that Elsebeth is a great teacher and that she was wearing a sweater that I wanted to start knitting immediately (unfortunately, the pattern's not out yet). However, just in case I'm not being totally clear, I bought her Viking Knits book and a hat & neckwarmer pattern she designed for the Nordic Heritage museum, and I stopped on the way home from a full day class to buy the yarn for it, and cast on as soon as I finished the swatch above.

Whew! Next up--dispatches from Madrona (or more likely, from home after I get back and recover from Madrona).

No comments: