A couple of weekends ago I spent some time in Portsmouth in the company of some of the other students doing the City & Guilds Hand Knitting Course. The C&G hand knitting courses level 2 and level 3 are run by Fiona Morris at Distance Knitting and they are designed to teach practical knitting and design skills and techniques.
I have been stuck on module 5 for quite some time, having come to a standstill with the final activity – designing a fashion accessory. So I was really looking forward to this weekend to be able to get some guidance from Fiona and get back on track (of course I could have contacted Fiona sooner rather than wait for this weekend, but I decided to procrastinate for a bit longer and busy myself with other projects until then!)
The classes started on Friday so I arrived in Portsmouth for the Thursday evening to avoid travelling early morning. The lady who organised the weekend did an amazing job and together with her husband managed the catering for all of us, including evening dinners at their home. We were well and truly looked after! We even had little sheep name badges made by her daughter.
A large part of the course is around designing and learning creative techniques to develop patterns, so Friday was ‘design day’. The objective for the day was to make different types of coloured and textured backgrounds for use in future design work. It was like being back at school again – out came the paints, crayons, stencils, tissue paper, card, paper, glue, glitter, inks, pastels – basically anything you could draw or make a mark with! With no final outcome in mind we just played around with the materials and got creative.
Here a couple of my finished ‘pieces’:
In my mind, the doily on the right lifted off and was supposed to reveal a clean white image underneath but the inks had seeped underneath, but it really didn’t matter – the beauty was there were no rules!
These backgrounds are required for module 6 so I am happy that I am one step ahead in that module already 🙂
Saturday was back to the knitting. We spent some of the morning looking through some of Fiona’s design work and the processes used to develop ideas from a visual source to a finished garment. It was so interesting to look through the sketchbooks and see the techniques used to draw and manipulate images, and ways to explore colour combinations to create a final pattern.
We also learnt how to do continental knitting. I found the knitting part was pretty straightforward and can see how it would be much quicker once you get the hang of it…
…but purling? Ugh. I just couldn’t get it!
It’s a useful one to learn for knitting though and I will probably use (with a bit more practice) it for future projects worked in the round or fairisle work – anything that doesn’t require purling!
After lunch as it was such a lovely day we took a walk to the local yarn shop, Seeded.
Check out their amazing crochet clock!
I was quite disciplined in the shop and just bought 1 ball of Louisa Harding Pittura. I’m not sure what it will be yet – I was thinking of a shawl but one of the other ladies on the course has made some socks with it already and they look so pretty!
Once back at the hall we got on with our modules and Fiona spent time with each person demonstrating different techniques such as picking up stitches for necklines, armhole shaping, buttonholes or looking at our with module work. Whatever we needed help with really.
I was quite happy with my module work up until the designing a fashion accessory part and when the time came to show my design work I was pretty sheepish. I knew what Fiona was going to say and I was right, I had selected an image for my design source and jumped straight into knitting samples without really exploring the design elements first, apart from a few scrappy drawings. So it’s back to the drawing board – but this time I feel a lot happier and determined as I am much more clear on what I need to do. I have found a new image to work from and am just waiting for the photo’s to come through the post so I can crack on 🙂
Sunday came around all too quickly and I was pleased to conquer the vertical buttonhole, which turned out to be no-where near as difficult as I thought it sounded!
It’s still a bit of a kerfuffle though as its worked using 2 balls of yarn.
Fiona also brought in some of her knitting stitch books for us to have a look through. I really liked some of the patterns in the Japanese stitch books but these aren’t so easy to come by so are unlikely to hit my bookshelf any time soon.
It was such a great weekend and so nice to spend time with Fiona and the other students. There is already talk of another weekend next March in Birmingham. Hopefully I will have finished module 5 by then 😉
Happy knitting! x