7.09.2012

Craftsy Course Review: Lace Shawl Design


I have a confession to make: Understanding knitted lace is extremely difficult for me. Intricate cables? No problem. Twisted stitches zigging this way and zagging that? I can design the heck outta those. Fair Isle? Intarsia? Biased fabric? Definitely skills I have firmly tucked into my designer's toolbelt. But ask me to design an allover lace shawl with beautiful transitions and a lovely border, and my heart will skip a beat. Of course, I've designed with lace many times before, but as a general rule of thumb I use lace as an accent - not as an allover texture. There is just something about the rather disorganized nature of the stitches, the way the charts don't always represent the finished nature of the fabric, that my left-brained self can't seem to process. Oh sure, I've taken advanced lace classes before and have textbooks up to my eyebrows on the subject, but it seems that every time someone starts trying to explain lace to me, my brain goes fuzzy and all I hear is white noise.

Enter Crafty's newest knitting class by Miriam Felton, Lace Shawl Design.

As soon as I heard Miriam had filmed this class, I knew I desperately needed to enroll. Embarassing for an established knitwear designer to admit to, but there you have it. I needed help, and I was hoping Miriam could provide it for me.

Containing well over three hours of instruction from a woman who clearly gets what's going on with lace, this class did not disappoint. Miriam's confident voice and lovely, slow pace was exactly what I needed to stay focused and understand what was going on. And, because of the nature of Craftsy's unique platform, the few times my brain did get fuzzy, I was able to rewind and listen again. Not something you can do in an ordinary classroom! Carefully planned to enlighten even the beginning lace knitter (Miriam does suggest you have a working knowledge of charts before enrolling in the class), the course starts with the basics of shaping lace and moves on through more advanced topics like what causes undulations and biasing within lace, how to create a working shawl chart from a pattern you found in a stitch dictionary (this section alone is worth the price of admission), how to beautifully transition from one lace pattern to another, and more. Miriam covers top-down shawls, bottom-up shawls, crescent shawls, rectangular shawls, shawls with garter tabs, shawls with all-around borders, shawls with central panels that flow seamlessly into a border, and pretty much every other type of shawl you could ever hope to devise. There's also a lovely section called "Bringing it All Together", to round up anyone who might have gotten lost along the way (not saying that was me, or anything). As if that wasn't enough, there is an incredibly detailed section about fixing mistakes that covers what to do if you've missed a yarnover, how to safely rip out multiple rows without tinking back each stitch, how to drop down multiple rows across just a small section of your work, inserting lifelines...you name it, she covers it! The class wraps up with "Bonus" sections on taking gauge, making a swatch, properly executing yarn overs, and casting on.

This class did a few things for me. First, it boosted my confidence. I actually did know a lot of what was covered already, which made me feel less like the lace doofus I'd made myself out to be in my head. Not many people can do that for me these days, at least not when it comes to knitting skills, so I thank Miriam for that. Second, it gave me a much better working knowledge of how to manipulate a stitch pattern to suit my pattern needs, and vice versa. Third, it made me make a mental note to give Miriam a ginormous hug the next time I see her, because that is how awesome I think this class is!

If you think you might be interested in enrolling in Miriam's Craftsy course, you can get the class for 50% off by using this link*. And if you do take the class, come back and leave me a little note to tell me how you liked it, won't you?

*seriously. That makes the class like 20 bucks. Or like six dollars an hour. So go sign up already!
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