Archives for August 12, 2012

Stitches Midwest – Sunday

Today was the last day of Stitches and I had one class today, Stranded Knitting: Just Beyond the Basics with Beth Whiteside.  I also did a little more shopping before my class.  Sadly I didn’t win the grand prize announced at 1 PM today.

I enjoyed my class today and I liked Beth quite a bit.  It was the last class of the last day and you could tell.  Everyone was a bit scattered brained and I could see Beth was getting frustrated with herself as well.  I didn’t have a problem following along.

I’ve already done some fair isle so I wasn’t too worried about the class.  The real part I was interested was the steeks.  The idea of cutting my knitting just freaks me out and I was obviously not alone.

The idea with steeks is that the wool will automatically felt with use and body heat so any loose ends will take care of themselves. This takes a bit more faith than I have.  Luckily we learned how to secure both ends of the stitch and then we cut down the line.  It wasn’t nearly as intimidating once the sides were secure.

Along with the steeks we also went over the basics of stranded knitting.  It was good overview and I even tried some other ways of holding the yarn.  My favorite part was when I tried using both hands any my right hand hated the feel of the yarn on it so much that I flung my needle away just trying to get that yarn off my fingers.  Obviously I’m not going to be an English/throw knitter anytime soon.

I had a great time at Stitches and I’m really glad I went.  I will definitely be going next year but probably with a lighter schedule.  I’ll post an overview of everything, including the goodies I came back with, sometime during the week.

TKGA Master Hand Knitter 1 – Shameful Post #1

Week: 4

Currently Working On: None


Well this is my first shameful post for not working on the MHK1 program this week.  I’m not feeling all that bad about it because it was a super busy week.  Plus the Stitches classes I took did offer some tips and such I’m sure I’ll need at some point for this program. For example:

  • To avoid holes in your make one increases always pick up the strand with your right needle
  • Don’t pull your selvage (first/last) stitch tight when you see a big loop; it just makes the edges worse and more uneven


Klein, Barry. Class Lecture.  Perfect the Fit.  Stitches Midwest, Schaumburg, IL. 10 Aug 2012.

Pascale, Judy. Class Lecture.  Accessorize with Beaded Belts. Stitches Midwest, Schaumburg, IL. 11 Aug 2012.

Bortner, Gwen. Class Lecture.  Entrelac Basics. Stitches Midwest, Schaumburg, IL. 11 Aug 2012.

Whiteside, Beth. Class Lecture.  Stranded Color: Just Beyond the Basics. Stitches Midwest, Schaumburg, IL. 12 Aug 2012.

Stitches Midwest – Saturday

Saturday was my second day at Stitches. I went alone but met up with my friend Laura during my break between classes.  My two classes were Accessorize with Beaded Belts with Judy Pascale and Entrelac Basics with Gwen Bortner.  I can’t even begin to explain how exhausted I was by the end of day.   It was made ten times worse by the headache I had all day.

It went like this: by 10 AM I had a dull headache, by 11 AM it was a constant throbbing headache.  I immediately went to eat lunch and get caffeine and this brought it down to a dull headache again.  Then I was shopping with Laura and by 1 PM I had my original headache plus now a tension headache from carrying everything around shopping.  I’m afraid I wasn’t the best of company.  By 4 PM I had one of my worst headaches and nausea was starting to kick in.  The drive home and dinner brought it back to a manageable headache.  So I took some medicine and went to take a 30 minute nap … and woke up at 4 AM.  Ooops.  I feel great today =)

My morning class was Accessorize with Beaded Belts with Judy Pascale.  I’m afraid to say that the class was enjoyable despite the teacher and not because of the teacher.  It made me appreciate Barry Klein from Friday’s class a whole lot more.

The good part of the class was the subject.  I’d already tried beading before with my Ambigram Scarf but I didn’t have the easiest time so I took this class.  What I learned is that I knew how to do it just fine but I need better materials.  If you really want to do beading then get good beads.  It’s worth the extra money to have consistently drilled holes that go on smoothly.  If you try the cheaper beads then you will hate bead knitting.

My favorite part was she had sample beads so we could try out different colors with our yarn.  I need to make friends with a bead jewelry maker because trying out the beads with the yarn makes all the difference in final appearance.

By the end of class we had our knitted sampler with three different belt patterns we received in class.  I tried four different bead colors with my orange tonal yarn and like the dark beads the best.

The last good thing about the class when we talked about the construction of the belts.  How you can make a button hole near the buckle attachment and place different buttons on the inside of the belt to make it smaller/larger, the different types of belt buckles to use, etc.  I will have to go shopping for some belt buckles now!

On to the bad; I would not recommend Judy Pascale as a teacher.  I know some people may love her but for me it just didn’t work.  I felt like we were her audience instead of us being her students.  She talked non-stop and when she paused it was to confirm we were listening and not for us to ask actual questions.  She was also very defensive.  The class was listed as easy level but she insisted it was intermediate and kept commenting on how one of us was a beginner.  Then when another student commented that it would have been nice to have a solid yarn she was very upset because the class description said a solid was required. Okay so someone at Stitches may have incorrectly listed the class but that’s not the students’ fault.  I felt that her “compliments” were just hidden insults.  For example, she commented several times on how great it was that so few people signed up because she could give extra attention to the beginner in class.  If I had posted last night I would have an entire rant about her but for now I will leave it at that I will never take a class from her again.

My afternoon class was Entrelac Basics with Gwen Bortner.  I’ve never tried or read about entrelac before and took the class to try something different.  The class was very straight forward and accomplished its goal of teaching everyone how to knit in entrelac.

It seemed ridiculously easy but that may just be a sign that the teacher was good.  I liked her style.  She was very direct and stayed focused on the class.  Her reasoning is that people try to “correct” patterns and that is why they have difficulty doing entrelac.  If you read and follow the directions exactly then it’s very easy.

I think she was right.  Every time I’ve had difficulty with knitting I’ve learned to turn off my brain so to speak and do exactly what the pattern says.  Then I’ll go back after I’ve done everything and see if it looks right.  This is exactly what you need to do for entrelac.

I’m sure I could have learned entrelac on my own but having someone demonstrate and show you what to do definitely speeds up the process.  By the end of the class I had a coffee sleeve (the pattern was for a cozy but I wanted a sleeve so changed to an open bind off).  As for Gwen I would take a class from her again but I wouldn’t go out of my way to take her classes. I know I would learn what I came to learn from her but wouldn’t get much else out of the class. Again, I would say Gwen Bortner is a good teacher but Barry Klein so far has been far and away my favorite.

I have one more class this afternoon and some more shopping to do this morning.  I better be on my way!