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    ...trying to get from "Oooooh, shiny!" to a design.
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  • Jen Johnson began knitting in 2007 while pregnant with her daughter and does most of her knitting for her daughter and son. When she couldn’t find the patterns she wanted, she added designer to her job titles of Navy wife and mother. Jen loves the inspiration she gets from all the beautiful yarns available, as long as she doesn’t get distracted by—ooh, shiny!
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Shawl Design with Kirsten Kapur

shawl design

When the email came out from Fibre Space a few months ago with the list of upcoming classes, “Shawl Design with Kirsten Kapur” was the first one my eye lit on. I love shawls. You wouldn’t know it, looking at my project page–sadly devoid of any shawls, although I have knit a shawlette–Mary-Heather Cogar’s Simple Things. I love the pattern (obviously, since I’ve knit not just one, but two of them), but part of what I love about it is that it’s great for showcasing colorful hand-dyed yarns that would obscure intricate lace patterns. So my lace shawl experience is non-existent…

…which would probably make the idea of me taking a shawl design class sort of silly, but I’ve never let a little thing like inexperience stop me. Now that I know about shawlettes (I think part of the reason I’ve never knit a shawl is because of the size and time; I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that I knit children’s items because they’re smaller and quicker), I can see me knitting more, and I’d love to be able to design my own. More than that, I knew I should jump at the chance to expand my design knowledge, even if I never design a shawl pattern to share.

So I signed up right away, thinking there was a good chance the class would fill up quickly…and looking around the room as the class got started today, it looked like it was sold out. I’m sure as much as the class itself, the teacher was a draw. I didn’t recognize the name Kirsten Kapur at first, but she’s the designer behind the great designs at Through The Loops. Her Pembroke Vest in the inaugural issue of Petite Purls is on my to-do list for every male in my family under the age of 8. And this was personally exciting for me because I’ve never taken a class from a well-known designer before.

The shawl design class was a 4-hour class, and I have to say I was surprised when people started cleaning up their gear that 4 hours had already passed…at the same time couldn’t believe that I’d learned so much in just 4 hours. As I told Steve, I left both confident that I could design a lace shawl with multiple stitch patterns and in even more awe of people who do design those intricate patterns. I knew intellectually that a lot of work would have to go into those designs, but now I know that from a bit of experience as well.

Really, the whole experience was wonderful. Kirsten is an awesome teacher: friendly, personable, fun, and very confident in her subject matter. I was really impressed by how she managed to juggle a class full of people with a wide variety of experience; she easily bounced from students having trouble with charting their initial stitch pattern to others who were asking about altering stitch patterns, to others still asking for advice on designs they’d started putting together before the class. And I enjoyed working and chatting with my fellow students, who all seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as I was.

At the end of the 4 hours, I left with the beginnings of a shawl design. It’s nothing intricate or terribly special, but I’m quite proud of it. I learned how to pick out lace patterns–both an initial pattern and then other patterns to coordinate with it, and I learned some tricks on how to modify lace patterns and fit them in. I think my resulting design is going to be cute. Now all I need to do is find the time to finish it…but I’m going to finish it and knit it!

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One Response

  1. That sounds so fun! I have never taken a knitting class, but that is definitely one I would love to take. I can design simply shaped knits for the kids, but to actually wrap my head around designing lace is a challenge I look forward to facing some day! Good for you. 🙂

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