I learned to knit a few years ago and in the beginning, was very ambitious. I tried written patterns, ribbing, cabling (once – gave up quickly) and my favorite – INTARSIA! I drew out all kinds of designs on graph paper so I could knit items (mostly coffee cozies for my Etsy shop) that had cool little pictures on them. Here are a couple things I knitted back in the day:
A tree! (I used a variegated green yarn)
One of my favorites was a black/white houndstooth, but I can’t find any pics of it. Boo!
So! I thought I was going to take the knitting world by storm . . . and then I found fabric. OH LAWD. Fabric got a hold of my soul and knitting kind of fell by the side of the road. I still knitted, but decided on using simpler knitted designs in my shop and haven’t touched anything more complicated than a knit stitch in at least a year! (For those who don’t knit, the knit stitch is the foundational & easiest stitch to knit).
Anyway, a while ago I came across a blogger named Allyson who writes about her knitting adventures, among other things. She designs, teaches and sells her creations, and she’s funny to boot. Check out her blog, The Sweatshop of Love.
This is Allyson! I shamelessly stole her photo from her blog!
One day I noticed she had an opening in one of her classes, so I signed up – to learn how to knit the cowl she’s wearing right ^ up there ^. My class was Monday night, and here’s what happened . . .
Hi, this is me.
The beautiful indoors of my suburban Metra station (the Chicago-area commuter train system). During the morning rush hour, the gate is opened so you can get a muffin/coffee or your train tickets.
View from my seat as another train whizzed by . . .
Once I got into Chicago, I walked a few blocks to the Blue Line – Clinton stop. No, not Bill, Hillary or Chelsea. Rather, DeWitt Clinton, an important guy in Chicago history because of his involvement in getting the Erie Canal built. In other historical news, he was a senator and Governor of New York.
Looking down the track at the Clinton stop . . . typical subway platform in Chicago. Stay behind the blue line when the train is approaching, kids!
After a 20-30 minute ride where I read Twitter the whole time, I emerged in Chicago’s hip Logan Square neighborhood.
It was at Choi’s Chinese that I noticed the address and realized I was walking the wrong way down Milwaukee . . . time to turn around! I have a good sense of direction and know how to find my way around, but the 87 streets coming to a crazy intersection right at the Blue Line station mixed me up a bit.
The Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church (aka Minnekirken). The NW part of Chicago is home to a lot of different once-Scandinavian neighborhoods & histories.
Look! Things are getting artsy! I think I’m headed the right way!
YES!! I found it! New Wave Coffee, home of knitting lessons by the Sweatshop of Love! That’s my kind of sweatshop.
New Wave windows.
First photo I took while trying not to look like I was taking photos and it was probably all good but I still felt nervous. New Wave was very funky inside – bright colors, folks on laptops all over the place, tables/chairs/couches spread all over the place.
Second photo I took while trying not to look like I was taking photos and it was probably all good but I still felt nervous. Great art all over the place, and framed album covers/posters. I wanted to people watch!
And then I saw Allyson! She was just as nice as I thought she’d be. I felt right at home and welcome to chill out and enjoy myself. Very soon the other 4 ladies taking the lesson arrived, and we gathered around 2 tables.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with the knitting pattern – I know how to knit, but like I said, it’s been quite a while since I’d really stretched my knitting muscles, so to speak. Allyson’s pattern was super easy to read and understand, and I was reminded that this is something she thinks is important – making patterns easy to understand and truly representative of the work required. Even with my limited knowledge of knitting terms and abbreviations, I was able to get knitting right away.
I was the only one who cast on my stitches with a knitted cast on . . . Allyson and the others all used a Norwegian cast on, which is something I’d never heard of before. Want to see them both in action? Here’s a short video demonstrating the knitted cast on which requires two needles (though slightly different than the way I do it because I am self-taught and taught myself some wonky way) and here’s one demonstrating the Norwegian cast on, which is done mainly with your fingers and only one needle. Not sure if this is exactly how Allyson does/teaches it, but you’ll see a different in the two types.
After a bit of time, I’d gotten through my first cable and had this:
By the end of the lesson I’d finished quite a few more cables!
That’s Allyson in the striped sweater (that she knitted, natch). I told the ladies to look very intent on their work. Most of the time, though, we were talking & laughing.
One thing I loved is that we were all of varying skill-levels, and Allyson was able to work with us all, the whole time. She gave a lot of encouragement and took the time to investigate our mistakes.
I wholeheartedly recommend that if you’re in the Chicago area and want to learn how to knit, want some special help with your knitting project or want to learn something new, you should get in touch with Allyson. She offers a really good time along with top-notch instruction in a laidback, seriously fun atmosphere.
Progress! A couple more movies-while-knitting and I’ll be done!