Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I know what I did last Weekend!

I took a course in Couture Finishing Techniques. It was given by Katherine Lowe.
I have wanted to meet this woman and take her class for over 2 years. Her knitting and techniques are in a class by themselves. If Kaffe Fassett is one end of the spectrum, in that he's a color genius who paints with yarn, then Katherine is the other end. She's a perfectionist in terms of all finishing techniques. If it's true that god is in the details, then he/she must be wearing one of Katherine's hand-finished garments. She doesn't sew - she joins and the techniques are flawless. She uses couture finishings and tailorings to insure beauty of fit and form.

The course was 2 days long, and at the outset, she said she'd spend 1/2 a day on theory. Katherine is a scholar and a professor of french literature who basically transferred her teaching skills into the knitting classroom. I think it is for this reason that she truly enjoys the lecture mode. She is a purist and takes the subject of yarn to heart. However, I would have preferred it if hands-on demonstration had balanced out the lectures during the two days. As it went, she spent a day and a half, talking and that only left us with a little more than 4 hours to learn some of her brilliant techniques.

Using a combination of many different sizes of circular needles she shows you how to join seams with a knitting technique instead of a tapestry needle. Her buttonholes and her binds offs are a subject of conversation in heaven, I am sure. All in all, I am thrilled to have met her and learned from her , but as i said to her, 'This will never be subway knitting.'

And therein lay the rub for me. I cam imagine doing this type of work for a first baby (just once) or if I decided to knit a cashmere cloud. But, I'm the type of person who uses her knitting the way Linus uses his blanket. For security, to fill down time, sometimes just because it's there. I do great work, if i do say so myself, but it's work done in the middle of my life and not always with great lighting. Sometimes I fudge it, sometimes I screw it up, but always I love the magic of the doing as much as the done deed and I believe that comes from the surprise as much as from the "plan". Knitting as perfect as Katherine's is too much of endurance test for me - and knitting, like life, loses its charm when it's about endurance and measuring myself against the perfect ideal - and she has created the ideal.
She has also created a wonderful compilation of work in the form of a hand-bound journal named, aptly, "The Ravell'd Sleeve". It's well worth having. It's a beautiful addition to anyone's knitting library. Her first two editions are out - with two more to follow.

I'm off to The National Needlework Association's Convention in Columbus, Ohio - it's the 20th Anniversary and I'm thrilled to be going. I'll write about it next week. I'm taking the requisite second suitcase!


Anonymous Becca said...

This is such an excellent post ... I agree with all of it ... and especially the balance of it. Love your blog!

9:20 PM  

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