Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Melville Workshop Musings

I’ve been knitting like a fiend for 23+ years, but it is only in the last 3 days that I have been to a knitting workshop. Not just any ‘ole workshop, but one run by Sally Melville. The LYS that I frequent most often was offering the workshops, and I decided to rope a friend into attending. The only one that fit both our schedules was called Knit to Fit and Flatter and required us to produce paper doll replicas of our own bodies. This form of reality took multiple days to process and should be on every health-conscious person’s refrigerator. It might also help if it was posted at every donut/coffee shop between one’s house and workplace. Anyway, I recovered from that shock in time to listen to some instructions, which included producing clothes for our doll selves. It was good to get covered up and to learn that certain styles can be made to be flattering. I went home and dragged out all the sweaters that I wear frequently and discovered that these were the ones that “followed the rules”. I now feel totally empowered to make sweaters that will look appropriate on me and I will hesitate less to get rid of the sweaters that I love to look at, but not wear. I can’t promise I will actually get rid of these, I’m just leaning that direction. Small steps.

The best part was to return for another workshop a few days later with some of those rule-abiding sweaters, plus one that I knew could look better on me. It was made prior to my new understanding of the rules. I thought it would prompt Sally to say, “see what I mean”? She did say something like that, and then asked for some scissors to show me how to fix it. I don’t have a before close-up, but here is the aftermath of the sweater modification. Perhaps my other rule-breaking sweaters will meet a similar fate. I’m very excited to bind off the raw edge and add it to the rule-abiding pile.

In general the workshops were productive and very fun. I hung out with 2 good friends at the first one (I only roped one into it, the other came under her own volition). We all bonded by enduring the distress of viewing our paper doll selves. Here is mine, fully and appropriately dressed in my ideal short-length unfitted sweater and an A line skirt. I don’t actually own such a skirt, but that’s what I should be wearing. Maybe not those colors.

Sally’s view is that patterns should be more flexible than they are, with indications of where to lengthen or shorten the body or to adjust the sleeve to fit better. This principle is applied in the Knitting Experience series, but it’s dialed up a few notches in Mother-Daughter Knits, with the first chapter all about the fit and flatter material that was covered in the Paper Doll Self workshop. I know that this book is going to be an important reference for my projects going forward. I don’t generally follow patterns, but I may be convinced to follow some from this book. It helps to have seen some of the sweaters, modeled by Sally herself. More info about Sally is at her website: http://www.sallymelvilleknits.com/index.html
Thanks, Sally, for the inspiration and the useful information.


Oogyknitter said...

Wow, great story! How did you make the paper doll - tracing a shadow, lying on a large sheet of paper and tracing your outline, or something else? Regarding all those unfavorable sweaters - why not felt them, and make them into equally beloved pillows, or squares for an afghan?

neuroknitter said...

The paper doll was made from a photo that was shrunk down. We did a bunch of measuring during the workshop, of waist length, arm length, etc. and used our height to determine how long a particular style of sweater should be. The paper clothes were made by dividing by the same number that we used to shrink our selves, so everything was proportional. It was very interesting to see how a longer sweater looked with various width pants and skirt types. I think I will use this technique to design sweaters because it will be possible to see how they'll look on me.

I do have a pile that I intend to felt, but something is preventing me from doing it. I'm going to send the pile to you, Oggy!

Oogyknitter said...

LOL - then your pile can join my pile in mocking me for letting it languish for so long!