Madrona Fiber Arts; Lapland Hand Garments
Madrona Fiber Arts Fair is one of the few shows that we do every year where I enroll in classes. This year I took a bunch -(yippee) and learned so much information, that my brain still feels stuffed full. I will share some of them with you during the next few posts.
My favorite of the knitting classes was taught by Susanna Hansson: Lapland Hand Garments: The Mittens of Rovaniemi.
Her class was described as being for "expert knitters" (which I am not yet) and suggested that we bring our patience (and sense of humor) due to the fact that it was teaching us how to knit mittens on size 000 dpn needles, using 11 balls of yarn. (that's right, I said eleven!) I think that my sense of humor is correctly in tact, since I did not even hesitate to sign up :-) Here are a few examples that Susanna shared which she purchased during a recent visit. These were knit for sale to foreigners - and are not knit up on tiny needles. Yet they are gorgeous still.
These photos are samples knit by Lene - all on size 000 needles with Satakeli yarn. They are even more incredible in person.
Soft - gorgeous color patterns - perfectly knit. Thank you to Lene for sharing.
And so, packing my humor in my knitting bag, with excitement and a good dose of humility - I went in..... fully prepared to gently excuse myself from the class if it went over my head.
I entered the classroom that first day (thursday) and my stomach filled with butterflies. Looking around, I saw half the room filled with teachers of knitting arts (Stephanie, Karen, Janet to name a few - oh be still my heart - ) .......then Susanna began, and she asked us to describe ourselves. Most listed how many years they had knit (20, 25..30+) Yikes, I thought. I better shrink as small as a mouse.. my measly 6 years seemed like a drop in the bucket - yet intrepid, as I am known to be, I sat willing myself to be glued to my chair (despite the frantically beating heart)
Susanna and Lene had spent years working out the technique and patterns that were being shared with us. Susanna began slowly, by having us knit up some wrist cuffs on size 4 needles with worsted weight yarn(kind soul that she is). We learned an amazing technique for controlling the 11 balls of yarn, by beginning with just five of them. I was astounded by this clever, productive way to knit. It involves holding the yarn on a long straight needle while you knit - and I cannot really say much more right now, as Susanna will be continuing to teach this class throughout the country.
What I CAN say, is that it is fantastic - easier than you can imagine, and it works.
If you have the opportunity to sign up for this class, run, don't walk (check Susanna's blog for her complete class schedule) .. and take it right away. wow. It is being taught in the Pacific Northwest again soon .. check it out here
We learned about the history of the Laplanders - and their colorful use of yarn. Lapland is the land of the reindeer - think really cold. I imagine that the brilliant colorways light their days through the long hard winters.
Susanna had us choose our own colors. She provided the yarn. It was great fun. She then had us color in our graphs to match the yarn we chose - so we could follow the pattern more easily. With many deep breaths, and pauses to stretch my hands - I found myself completely enchanted by this clever style of knitting. It is efficient, productive, and every single stitch is caught as you knit along - which leaves no loose floats on the back as in Fair Isle. Incredible. Susanna had us make small wristlettes in the class. Here's how I began:
and then after 3-4 hours here's where I was when I left:
Yes, that truly is all I accomplished in 3-4 hours. Size 000 needles, Satakeli yarn. I am in love. The magic of this technique keeps all your 11 balls of yarn untwisted - and easy to manage. It is a technique that reminds me alot of weaving....
Susanna is a kind a gentle teacher - who encouraged all of us. I will say it once again : take this class. There are now 19 people on the North American Continent who know how to do this technique... Susanna, plus the 18 students who were there last thursday. Let's make it hundreds of folks who learn how to do this. It's such fun.
At the end of class - and it was a very quiet class, full of "expert knitters" (and me.. sigh) - who were so focused that they were silent - knitting intently on their beautiful wristlettes, we were all jubilent. We pulled out a big table, and all layed out all our partially knit projects on the table. Here's the photo. It is amazing how one pattern blossoms into all of this. The colors were such fun.
And so I now leave you with one last photo.. it touched my heart. (sorry for how dark it is.. but I still had to share it with you all) These teensy little mitts were knit by a 79 year old man. To give you an idea of how big they are; these little sets of mittens are pins to wear on your lapel. .. with one of those tiny gold safety pins in the back ... think, just how tiny those little gold pins are - then realize that they barely show behind these mittens... AND, these teensy mitts all had THUMBS knit into them.... lets all have a moment of silence for this amazing knitting.
So what did I do after finishing this class? I went out and bought 5 skeins of Satakeli yarn, of course! I see some sort of complicated Lapland Mittens in my VERY near future.
Applause to Susanna - it was a great class. And if you don't believe me, check out Stephanie's blog as well.