It’s taken me almost a week to recover from the retreat. I have so many new ideas and projects to try that it’s hard to know where to start. I did start on a pair of Socks that Rock but then decided I need to finish some of my class samples before I forget what I learned.
While the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat is mainly focused on knitting, both years that I’ve attended I’ve passed up the knitting classes in favor of the spinning classes. This year I felt a bit conflicted when I saw the class called Fine Finishing the Japanese Way. Unfortunately, it was offered the same day as the Estonian Lace class with Nancy and Judith. I couldn’t pass up a chance to take a class with this duo.
Fortunately I heard by word of mouth that the teacher of Fine Finishing the Japanese Way, Jean Wong, would be at the Seattle Knitters Guild Meeting the night before the retreat.
Jean is an expert Taiwanese knitter that immigrated to the Vancouver area over a decade ago. While she was still living in Taiwan, she decided to expand her knitting skills to knit sweaters for her child and ended up taking classes through a rigorous program offered by Nihon Vogue through Nihon Amimono Culture Association. The classes were so intensive that she ended up quiting her job just so that she could keep up. Her talent was recognized by her teacher and she was encouraged to start teaching classes and earned a teaching certificate through this organization.
When she immigrated to Vancouver she couldn’t converse in English thus she had to give up teaching. Eventually she decided she decided to learn English, as an example for her child, and also started attending guild meetings even though she couldn’t understand much at first. Now her English is very good and she has built up enough confidence to start teaching again in the Vancouver area. She now offers Nihon Vogue classes through Wool and Wicker and is selling a DVD called knitting with jean – professional finishing techniques.
She brought tons of items to show at the guild meeting and gave a slide show of items that were knitted by her students. As she showed these items she mentioned that her clasess focus on teaching students how to take an item from a pattern (or their own design) and draft a full size pattern based on their measurements. The pattern is drawn onto graph paper that’s the actual size of the finished piece. Someone asked about the graph paper and she showed us a sample. The graph is actually hand drawn by the student using a special gauge ruler from Japan. I thought that this would be a handy tool so I ordered one from Wool and Wicker.
It’s a collection of rulers that match each possible gauge that one can knit. It came with instructions but since I don’t read Japanese, I can only guess what it says from the pictures. Perhaps some day I’ll get an opportunity to take one of Jean’s classes and learn how to properly use this tool.
While all of the samples she brought were impressive, I was especially intrigued by the clever construction technique used on a hat that she had with her. I think she’s working on putting together a pattern that she will be selling, but in the mean time, I’ve been trying to figure it out on my own.
I’ll describe what I did and you can following along by looking at the picture on the right, which shows the hat spread out flat.
It’s worked flat starting with a provisional cast on (which I didn’t do this time) – the long open edge on the lower left in the photo.
I then knitted twenty rows decreasing every other row on the outside edge (right edge). This leaves the left edge straight while the right edge starts to curve.
After knitting twenty rows I then knitted across the piece to the left edge and picked up ten stitches along the left edge. After picking up stitches, I knitted another twenty rows, decreasing along the right edge just as I had done previously.
The twenty rows & picked up stitches were repeated until I had four ridges (or spines) on the top.
At this point I would have sewn the remaining edge together but left it open so that I could show how this was done.
While my version is done in garter stitch with dull gray Cascade 220 yarn, Jean’s version is constructed in a different stitch pattern. Her finished sample was done with a skein of Noro Kujaku but she mentioned that it’s a great pattern for using left over yarn. I look forward to purchasing the pattern from her and seeing if I was on the right track.