Category Archives: Classes

On the needles

Cookie A teaching at ThreadBear
Cookie A teaching at ThreadBear

We had a great visit with Cookie A last weekend. Her classes appeared to go well from the outside, but we had genuinely glowing reviews from the folks in the chairs. From my own perspective, it was wonderful to actually get to spend a little time with her. We’ve met several times at busy industry events where one seldom has more than a few minutes to get what you need, make a little small talk, and move on, but this was the first time we had a real conversation. I hope she had fun. For myself, I was charmed.

One of the things that we discussed was her great regard for Cat Bordhi’s Visionary Retreat for prospective authors. Cat had suggested the retreat to me over sushi during her visit to ThreadBear in August, and while I was certainly intrigued, I’d back-burnered the idea in the face of the heavy-duty workload that I’ve set for myself at ThreadBear over the year or so. Cookie’s obvious reverence for the experience, though, gave me the incentive to pull that idea back onto high flame. No, I won’t be headed to the island this year, but I’m definitely blowing the dust off the designs and concept.

Along those lines, I’m pleased to say that I’ve finished the School Days Pullover pattern that I wrote for the CAYSC Back-to-School Shop Hop that ThreadBear participated in at the beginning of September. We’re in the process of culling the e-mails from the backs of everyone’s passports, and they should be sent out next week. I’ve already got a couple of people knitting from the pattern already, so if any problems crop up, I’ll be sure to let you know here.

Since this is supposedly a knitting blog, I suppose you might like to see what I’m working on.

Tubularly-knit sock in progress
Totally Tubular Sock Construction in Opal

Tubularly-knit sock in progress
Totally Tubular Sock Construction detail

This is a model for a class that I’ve just scheduled called Totally Tubular Sock Construction. The idea came to me as Rob and I were packing to go to Long Beach this January for a trade show. Since Rob and I tend to be squeeze in pretty tight on planes, I thought a very compact project that didn’t require a lot of thought would be ideal. I also had a beautiful skein of Colinette Jitterbug that everyone had told me wouldn’t make a pair of socks in my size. So, I cast on the number of stitches that I’d normally use to make socks for myself, and just started knitting. I didn’t worry about cuffs, heels, or toes. I just knit.

Over the course of the trip and trade show, I had a very simple project that I quite literally was able to walk the trade show floor working on. I had tons of people within the industry—designers, vendors, and other shop owners—ask me what I was doing, and when I explained, it was as if I’d told them the sky was falling. “Why go to all that trouble?” they asked.

Well there are a few reasons not the least of which is that I don’t own a pair of my own hand-knit socks. I own several individual socks, and I have no compunction about wearing any two of them. I’ve had more than one person genuinely delighted to see my mismatched hand-knit socks, and frankly, I enjoy the silliness of it. But I really would like to have pairs. And I do suffer from Second Sock Syndrome. If I’ve already knit one sock in that yarn, casting on a second one sounds like the soul of boredom.

This way, I only cast on once, and by the time I’m done with the original tube, I have all of the basic fabric for both socks, and all I have to do is the fidgety bits that are really the most fun for me, anyway. Where’s the downside of that? Yes, I wind up picking up stitches, but if you’ve ever worked an afterthought heel, you can work an afterthought toe and cuff. It’s not hard work, and it doesn’t require a lot of brain power. Yes, in the pair that I’m currently working on, I did start off with a cuff, because I hadn’t intended to make this pair tubularly, but as it happened, it became convenient to do so. I also added some calf shaping, but the essentials are there. As for the Jitterbug socks? Well, I had more than enough of the Jitterbug for the body of both socks, and decided to use another technique to jazz up the cuffs, heels, and toes, but that’s for another post.

Chris Bylsma's Symphony Jacket
Detail of Chris Bylsma’s Symphony Jacket in autumnals

Chris Bylsma's Symphony Jacket
Working ball of yarn(s) from Symphony Jacket

Also on the needles, is Chris Bylsma’s Symphony Jacket. I saw this garment on Chris, and I was immediately smitten. I love blending yarns anyway, and this project is the perfect canvas. The basic idea is picking a palette of yarns in various colors, textures, and fibers that suit the project and chopping them into bits and tying them back together. It sounds a bit crazy, but the results… well, judge for yourself.

Chris Bylsma's Symphony Jacket
Progress on Chris Bylsma’s Symphony Jacket in autumnals

And finally, I’m knitting Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Tomten Jacket as inspired by Franklin Habit. Franklin’s coming to ThreadBear in January to teach the class and for a book signing for It Itches, a collection of his knitting-related cartoons. I’m loving the project, and I’m having a lot of fun watching the Jojoland Rhythm migrate through colors.

Elizabeth Zimmerman's Tomten Jacket
Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Tomten Jacket in Jojoland Rhythm

Elizabeth Zimmerman's Tomten Jacket
Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Tomten Jacket in Jojoland Rhythm

Not MY work, per se…

Things have been a bit chaotic on this end, but I’m very pleased that one of the projects that was recently chosen for Knitting Olympics was ThreadyBear. Kirsti of Kirsti Knits finished hers for a gold! Congrats, Kirsti!

Kirsti's ThreadyBear
Kirsti’s ThreadyBear

Much love, folks.
-Matt.

I’m so excited

No, I’m not a Pointer Sister. Tonight is the second night of my Fair Isle Techniques class, and I’ve got a new teacher’s pet. Carol came in yesterday to show me her progress, and she’s already at the neck steek.


Carol’s ThreadyBear.


Carol’s ThreadyBear (detail).

MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!! I love it when folks get addicted to this stuff. I enjoy it so much, and it’s just really, really cool when one of my class participants gets that kind of rush to see what comes next the way I do.

Also, I wanted you to see my Colinette AbFab Throw in progress. I’m working on this for both our Domino Group and the Afghan Rebels Group that meet here at the shop.


Absolutely Fabulous Throw Kit. Diamonds pattern. Versace colorway.

Much love, folks.
-Matt.

Getting there

I don’t have a huge amount of time, but I did want to update everyone on the progress on ThreadyBear.

The local class started Monday, and of course, I’m well ahead of the class, but I’ve also put them on a time table to catch up with me very quickly. It’s so much fun to be teaching this class again, and I’m very excited to have the first shipment of Spindrift in stock.


Jamieson’s Spindrift

Yes, that means kits will be forthcoming. Yes, that means I have to finish writing up the tutorial preceding the actual knitting instructions (this is, after all, a beginning Fair Isle project). And yes, there are still about four million other things that I also have to keep up with in the meantime, but man, I love this stuff.

As for the class, though, I’ve got five, and one sent me a photo today of her progress to date. She’s already hit the first mile marker: the underarm steek cast-on.


Laurie’s ThreadyBear just after the underarm steek cast-on.

As for my own, I’ve cut my neck steek and finished the neck ribbing, cut open the first of the arm steeks, and started down the first arm.


Matt’s ThreadyBear a quarter of the way down one arm.


Matt’s ThreadyBear neck and arm detail.

Class won’t meet again until the Monday after the Fourth (that would make it the eleventh, yes), So I’m hoping everyone will be able to make it at least as far as Laurie has. Good job, kiddo! You’re officially teacher’s pet. 😉

Oh, and before I forget… the absolutely fabulous Colinette Absolutely Fabulous Throw Kits are on special for the Fourth of July Weekend for 10% off suggested retail. They’re one of the items we aren’t able to discount on a day-to-day basis, so this is a special treat for anyone interested in one of these monsters. They’re gorgeous knit up, and I’m working on one that I haven’t pictured yet in mitered square diamonds. I’ll post as pic if I’m able to before the weekend.


Colinette Absolutely Fabulous Throw Kits.

Much love, folks.
-Matt.

Slowly but surely…And don’t call me Shirley!

You know, this business amazes me every day. We just got in our fall order of Manos del Uruguay, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.


Manos del Uruguay Wool

I’m known around the shop for working with color, and I’ve just got to say that this stuff is out of this world. Their colors are always amazing, and if you’re familiar with their palette, you’ll notice the two new shades… the bright acid green solid in the top left corner and the coordinating multi in the top right. They definitely weren’t what I would have expected from Manos, but they’re certainly brilliant.

As for my knitting, most of my recent work has been associated with classes that I’m teaching this summer. I’ve done tons of swatching for my Sock Options class where I go over several techniques of use to sock knitters from using circulars to knit one or more socks at a time to heel and toe options to various ways of getting started and finishing off. I’ve also been developing a pattern for the toddler coat that I posted photos of recently for a class I’ve dubbed DIY Victory Coat for the V-shaped construction and the ease of varying the size to suit your intended wearer.

Later this summer, I’ll be doing an intarsia class, and I’m really looking forward to working through the SWAK Intarsia Workshop book in preparation for that class, but I’ve also just placed orders for some intarsia patterns and yarn that I’ll be working on for shop models later this fall.


I’m doing the and the Karma Throw (left) Bloomfield Throw (right).

In the meantime, I’m finishing up the pattern and model for my Traditional Fair Isle Techniques class that I’m teaching in July. The pattern is ThreadyBear, and those of you who’ve been around for a while will remember that I actually started writing this pattern while we were still in the old Indiana shop.


Body of ThreadyBear Teddy Bear Fair Isle
with two more panels before the shoulders.

Personally, this is the one I’m most excited about at the moment. As I said, I started the pattern over a year ago in Indiana, and I used it as the class project in my Intro to Fair Isle [ultimately named Traditional Fair Isle Techniques] class there. There were too many colors in the original, though, at least for such a small project for beginners to the technique, and I broke up some of the dual color changes that confounded some of my folks back then. It’s been nice working on this little guy, though, because it’s been like having those folks with me again. Hi, Margaret! Hi, Monica! Hi, Mary and Pat and Melissa and everybody else that acted as my guinea pigs for that class. What a hoot! You can see pics of some of their accomplishments in my archives.

It’s a fun class, and I’m really looking forward to working through the project with a class again, but if you’re not in the area, you may want to bounce over to Yahoo! Groups where we’re about to start test-knitting and finalizing the ThreadyBear project for learning Fair Isle knitting at a distance.

Visit the ThreadyBear Yahoo! Group

So that’s what’s up. Other than that, I’m still tearing the shop apart and putting it back together again to make room for yet more new stuff coming in.


The front counter is now in the middle of the front of the store facing the front door so that you’re not forced to walk all the way around the far side of the counter or stumble through our mail station (which, I might add, is now completely out of the public space and behind the counter).


Official Olympic Norweigian Ski Sweaters and Ingeborg.


Our big wall of DiVé at the black tables (our standard classroom and technical help area). That’s a huge wall of Lana Grossa behind there.


Cha-cha-Land includes Trendsetter, Kertzer, Crystal Palace, Ironstone, and several others.

So now what? Oh, there’s always more coming in the back, so I’m sure it will all shift around again soon. *sigh*

Much love, folks.
-Matt.

P. S. By the way, check out our new patterns from Trish of Bloomin’ Knitiot.

threadybear triumphant

threadybear triumphant

Hallelujah!

Friends and neighbors, go tell it on the mountain. The last session of my Intro to Fair Isle class was tonight, and my students and my pattern came through with flying colors. Of the original seven, six of my intrepid students remained for the second class, and all of the six finished the class. Over the five sessions of the class, a few missed one class or another, but tonight, I had five of the six, and I know the sixth is sure to do well. She’s a regular customer, and she always does a great job at her projects.

Want to see their work?

This is the beginning of the Nova Scotia colorway that our friend Pat is working on. She did get a late start because of a trip that she had to take in the middle of the class, but she’s done a spectacular job in her short time of working on the project. She was able to take into account the late instruction in corrugated ribbing, so I absolutely had to show it off for her.

This is the Thistle colorway that our friend Monica is making. We all had quite a delight watching her steek her first armhole. She’s done a great job.

And this is the Marigold colorway that our friend Melissa is knitting. I would love to go into great detail about how spectacular each of these are, but frankly, they’ve all already heard it from me. I’ll leave to you further congratulations for them.

As for the rest of life, I actually got a decent lead on a property for the new shop this afternoon. It’s the first one I’ve seen, really, but I’m hoping it won’t be the last. I’ve got to say, though, it’s a huge relief to have at least one property under my belt. Now, we just have the zoning hearing on the current property to deal with next week. Wish me luck!

Much love, folks.
-Matt.