The lovely and talented Leigh Radford
The class is Design Your Own Sweater at a lovely little shop called Lint in Portland's Pearl District. For those of you who don't know Portland, "The Pearl" is one of those urban renewal areas that used to be old warehouses and vacant lots but is now filled with trendy shops, restaurants and pricey lofts. Lint fits in perfectly there - modern architecture and tons of gorgeous yarns that are very nicely displayed. They don't have the selection of the Yarn Garden, but the layout is much more conducive to browsing and fondling.
There are only three people (including myself) in the class, so it's very intimate. The first class was kind of an orientation, where we talked about what we wanted to do (I want to try a raglan worked in the round with some stranded colorwork), looked at the "textbook" (Ann Budd's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns), and talked about yarn selection. Then we wandered around the store, picking out balls of yarn and asking Leigh how they would work for what we had planned. It was so great to have an expert to tell us "yes, that yarn would be great for colorwork" or "that yarn would give you problems because it wouldn't stick together very well". Leigh is also a big fan of combining different yarns for effect, and showed us several different combinations that were quite interesting (a strand of Silky Tweed and a strand of dk merino wool, for instance). She said that she often likes to carry along a strand of Kidsilk Haze to give her knitting that little extra magic.
After we got done pawing the yarn, we wandered back up to the little library area and grilled Leigh about her book. The shop has the knitted screen door on display in the window, and we talked about that for awhile. She also talked about the yarn choices and failed attempts leading up to a couple of the sweaters (i.e. she was trying to work with yarn that just wouldn't cooperate and ended up using something different than she originally intended). She has a new book coming out next spring that is called "One Skein" and has a bunch of patterns using a single skein of yarn or odds-and-ends from your stash. I can't wait! She had on a pair of fingerless mitts from the book, knit out of bits of Koigu, and they were (of course) fabulous.
We also talked about how she got her start in designing. She's been knitting since the age of 12 (or 13? I can't remember exactly in my sleep-deprived state), and designing for five years. She estimated that she has completed about 70 designs in the last year and a half, which equates to around 4-1/2 designs per month. She is a machine!
I ended up buying a little yarn (after all, I had my 10% class discount that had to be used), but not too much. I got a skein of Blue Sky Alpacas Cotton, just to try it out, and a few skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky to work into my sweater (I'm going to use the DB Merino Chunky that I got from WEBS awhile back).
I can't wait for next Monday!