Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Catherine Lowe: Amazing, mind blowing, really cool stuff!

This weekend I went to the really awesome Catherine Lowe workshop that my Wonderful Mum helped me to attend.

First: Catherine herself. She is a gracious, educated and kind woman with a wonderful sense of humor! She had delightful annecdotes, excellent clear instructions and an elegance that one does not see very often any more with our high-speed society that does not put much stock in the niceties of manners.

Here's the Cliff's notes version of what I learned.

  • The difference between hand knitting yarn and comercial manufactured yarn and why your stitches sometimes end up looking wonky no matter what you do.
  • The value of swatching and swatching BIG (10x10 or 12x12).
  • The value of creating a selvage for finishing
  • Measuring gauge properly
  • Invisible front-side seaming
  • Finishing: the difference between buying Ready to Wear and Couture finishing in knitted garments and how to create such
  • Decorative edging
  • Creating prefect Mitred Corners
  • Tubular Ribbed cast-on (which is way cool)
  • Taking Rib Gauge
  • Creating a double Welt finish on the edge of a garment (this is too cool...)

It was fantastic and by the end of the second day, when Catherine showed us some really cool technique, I broke down and said in a small voice "I think I love you..." which prompted the entire class to burst into laughter (there were only 8 of us so everyone got some personal attention). Then a few hours later, I was getting ahead of myself and Catherine gently asked me to wait for the instruction, to which I replied "Sorry, I'm just a little over-eager." One of my classmates chimed in "Sometimes that happens when you're in love...." Which sent us off into further gales of laughter.

The complete Catherine Lowe workshop was 4 days long, broken into two parts. Part 1: the Basics of Couture Knitting & Part 2: Couture Design Elements. I was able to sign up for only the first two days, for which I am eternally greateful as I learned things that will help me for the rest of forever and answered some of my early questions about garment construction.
The first two days were amazing and by the end of Day 2, I was exhausted and I'd taken pages and pages of notes. I was so glad to be home. Then in the evening one of the women who is in my regular Thursday night Advanced Knitting class and was also in the Workshop called.

She said "Jen, I can't take in any more, my brain is fried and I can't go to the next two days. You would be doing me a huge favor if you would go in my place. I will feel terrible if I just don't go. I know you have to go to work on Monday, I wouldn't even care if you couldn't go on Monday. Please will you go for me and then someday I'll come to your Knitting Group and you can teach me all the stuff you learned in the 2nd part." {gasp! my heart was pounding in my chest}

"What? Well, I, um..."

"You wouldn't owe me a penny. Please, think about it and you know, see if your husband is okay with being abandoned for the whole weekend and let me know."

Dear Reader, this Gracious Woman has just offered me the opportunity of a lifetime. I mean how often is Catherine Lowe teaching such a small class only 15 minutes from my house!!??! I was blown away by her generosity.

"Oh, are you sure?? I would love to, but let me think about it, talk to my husband and I'll call you back okay?"

I hung up the phone and my husband who was sitting on the sofa half-listening to this exchange looked at me with an exhausted wary eye. I gave him my biggest, cheesiest, smile.

"What?" says Wary Eye.

"PLEEEAAASSEEE?" said the Mile-wide Grin


Now, Dear Reader, normally this wouldn't be a big deal but we've both been really busy lately and haven't seen much of each other at all and we were planning on spending the day together on Sunday to make up for some lost time.

I explained the proposal and Wary Eye said "Do whatever you want." Well, as we all know, that kind of response can mean more than just "Do what ever you want." Ultimately, I was such a mass of ecstatic wiggles that even Dear Exhausted Wary Eye had to smile and say "Yes! Alright! Go! Have fun!"

I called back my Magnificent Classmate and when she picked up the phone I nearly screamed YES!!! YES!! YESSSSS!!! (I'm glad she had caller ID or she might have called the cops for phone harassment!)

THEN she offered to drive over her swatch homework and her directions so that I wouldn't be unprepared for class the next morning and wouldn't let me come and get them from her. Sheesh. Her husband and her lovely daughter found my house late Saturday night in the pouring rain and delivered unto me her beautiful pale pink swatches and her class instructions which I dutifully reviewed before going to bed that night.

Since she didn't want any money from me, I did the next best thing I could: I gave her one of the nicest bottles of wine we had in the house. A fabulous bottle of CigarZin from M. Consentino vineyard that we picked up on our Honeymoon. It's a delicious, full bodied, fruity Zinfandel. I don't know if they like fruity wines but if they do, they'll love this one. (At least I hope so.)

I couldn't go to Day 4 as I had to go back to work, but I've got the class handouts and I'm thinking I might be able to figure out the techniques she's talking about. I'm also hoping that my Thursday night class instructor will bring her swatches to class this week.. (Hint, hint!)
The long and short of it is, if you ever have a chance and are interested in Couture Construction and Finishing Techniques, take a Catherine Lowe workshop. It's worth every penny!


Blogger Alyssa said...

Sounds like you had a great time - be sure to bring your samples to GROUP tonight:)

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Lynae said...

I can't even tell you how jealous I am.

I was at TBF at lunch today getting some more Addis...yes, I needed more. There were a bunch of people coming in for a class.

I need to quit my job and devote myself full time to knitting....and going to knitting classes.

Yeah, independently wealthy would be helpful too.

I can't wait until tonight!

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Lynae said...

Oh, and LOVE the CigarZin!

Course, I am partial to Cardinal Zin also!

3:40 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Okay its thursday. Bet you are still high from last weekend!
What a great time and post about it all. Worked last GROUP night. Maybe in 2 weeks! Al tells me they are redoing the cafe area......

12:50 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

What good fortune for you!

2:15 PM  
Blogger knit_chick said...

You learned quite bit in that class! It's so cool and nice of that woman to let you take her place, too!

11:29 PM  

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