Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The lovely and talented Leigh Radford

I don't know how much time I'll have here, since Owen may have limited patience with crawling around picking lint off the carpet, but I am totally amped up from my class last night and wanted to share.

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!


Blogger candsmom said...

How awesome!! I love that it's such a small and intimate class. Having that individualized attention must be so great. And what a thrill to be able to talk with Leigh Radford- I think I'd be all tongue-tied, but I'm dorky like that. After all that, getting to fondle yarn must've been icing on the cake. (or pecan in your cookie, in your case ;-))Can't wait to see what you're working on!

11:35 AM  
Blogger keohinani said...

gawd, my stash for a knitting class like that! well, maybe not. but there is nothing like that in hawaii. NOTHING! gaaah! i'm seriously going to have to visit the Pearl district on my next trip to Portland. you can be my tour guide when i go up there on a yarn crawl! :) seriously, though, that sounds like a great class. Leigh sounds truly amazing! and like Chris, i can't wait to see what you're working on. that's homework i would love doing and putting in extra credit would be so easy.

12:32 PM  
Blogger msubulldog said...

How wonderful to have such a small class. And a One Skein book--what a fabulously necessary thing! I need to get more adventurous in my yarn selections and combinations. Maybe I just need to make a trip to Lint! Now there's an idea. :)

1:58 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Wow, that sounds so great!! I'd be dorky like Chris (not to call Chris dorky - that's not what I mean, I just mean I'm agreeing with her) and not know what to say. I'd be too intimidated to knit!! Leigh's book is really cool and I can't wait to dive in to some patterns. If there is a non-dorky, non-stalker like way to mention that a friend in CT loves her book, feel free!! You are going to get so much out of this class. And I’ll be saving my (now frugal) pennies for her new book in the spring. One skein – perfect!!!

2:17 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Ooooh, are the knitting goddesses smiling on you or what? :)

Sounds amazing! And I, too, will be among the first in line to buy Ms. Radford's One Skein. What a great idea!

BTW, I have been meaning to make sure that you and Amanda (msubulldog) know each other.

Are you in the mood to knit a hat over the next month or two or so? C'mon, say yes! ;)

3:31 PM  

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