Monday, May 2, 2016

Knitting in class

Sunday morning I dragged myself out of bed VEry early so Pete could take me to Trish's house, from whence Trish drove the two of us to a 9am class on Colour Theory for Knitters. Trick question: do the stripes in this Vesper Sock yarn obey the laws of colour theory?


Obviously the class was very well done and enjoyable - I mean, for a start, what knitter isn't interested in colour, at least a little bit?  And it was part of this year's Knitter's Frolic program, another guarantee of excellence. Plus it was held at the Japanese Cultural Centre, which I love.  The building itself is beautiful, as is the landscaping around it, and the rooms inside are spacious and well lit and comfortable, and ladies' rooms are plentiful (so important after too many much needed cups of tea.)   And to add to the novelty value, on Sunday mornings cars are always pulling up to let out children carrying large cases shaped like swords.

I love that there is an alternative weekend-at-dawn activity in this city to hockey, to which many of my friends have to hike their kids at all hours.  There are only so many rinks in the city, you see, and only so much ice time to be had, so games are sometimes scheduled an hour's drive away at a truly painful hour of the morning or quite late at night.  Sometimes I that if the government really wanted to manage traffic levels through public transit, they would run hockey shuttles to get people to all the rinks they need to be at for 6am or whatever.

(I also love that I have never had to go through any of that myself, beyond waving 'bye! to Pete back when he considered it perfectly logical to drive 45 minutes on a worknight for 11pm ice time.)


But back to the class.  Stephanie Pearl-McPhee was teaching it, so that was fun, and she'd set out a huge colour wheel on the floor made from coloured squares, which we used in the second half of the class to assemble a 5-colour faux yarn combo of our choice, and that was also fun as well as a nice reason to get out of our chairs.

I learned things I didn't know about colour, like the fact that we can only perceive it because of the colour receptors in our eyes, and that we don't all have the same volume or quality of those so people often perceive colour differently.  I understand now why some colours match and why some really don't (hint: it's to do with their position on the colour wheel), and how to coax combinations into some semblance of order (also to do with their position on the colour wheel.)

Especially exciting: the tips on tools to help in this process.  First up, a purse-sized, double-sided colour wheel!


and also, a colour evaluator to lay over a group of colours to reduce them to their colour value aka their particular shades of grey, the better to determine whether colours will contrast in a pattern, or just look meh.


I am particularly smitten with this tool, which is available in quilting stores. Or, you know.  Online.  I'm probably going to order one that way rather than wait to get to a physical store because House Paint.


Of course, that's the reason I wanted to take this course, apart from the fact that Trish was going and we almost never see each other now that we're not living a couple of blocks apart.  With so many colours to choose for the house - tiles, counters, floors, drapes, paint - I need all the help I can get figuring out what colour palette is going to make us happy for at least a good chunk of the 30 or so years we expect to live in it.  This class, plus the one I'm taking at the end of the month (three days on paint colours, versus three hours on yarn combos) are going to take me a long way toward not messing up completely.


I won't recap the whole class here because it was Stephanie's work, but I will say that beyond the wheel, one thing to consider for colours that go well together (or not) is whether or not they have a relationship to each other.  If they don't, they'll look wrong.  But if you add in another whole bunch of colours that do, the original ones will form a bond with them and fit in after all.

Hmmm.  Kind of like we humans' social existence, isn't it?

Okay, back to this business of knitting in class.  When I packed my bag the night before I threw in a sock that was close to being finished because I wanted it done and it's taking me forever to find time to get it off my needles.  Then I thought, this is my chance to show Trish my stripey gloves! So I threw them in too, even though all that's left is running in ends and picking up for the thumb, which I'm not ready to do because I can't decide on colours.  (aieee.)

When we arrived in the classroom, I got what I needed out of my bag, and then I noticed Trish already had her project out and was knitting, so I brought out my sock.  I mean, we had 15 minutes before the class started, and as she pointed out, everybody knits in a knitting class.  Which was true - everybody was knitting.  People tend not to knit in site visits or kitchen design meetings so I'm totally out of practise with this and when Stephanie started the class, I kept knitting.  I mean, everybody else was.  And I knew she would, if she were in the class and not giving it.  Also, it was a plain sock - I can knit those without even looking at my needles.

About halfway through, I noticed that only a few other people were knitting any more, but the ones who had stopped had been knitting something complex and were now taking loads of notes.  I didn't have to, because for a while my day job was to write up conference sessions and edit them down into daily convention reports, and I discovered that in spite of being a visual learner I retain quite a lot of what I hear, verbatim.  I noted down the things I knew I'd forget, like the source for the colour wheel or how many colours you can choose in a row on the colour wheel before they start to look odd together (answer: five at most), but mostly I just knit.

It was about two hours in that I realized I would have a problem. I was almost ready to decrease for the toe of the sock.

I was going to run out.  of KNITTING.

How is it possible for a sock that takes six months to get anywhere near the end of its foot, even during a five-hour train ride to Ottawa, to be suddenly almost finished during just one class?  And how is it possible for me not to have anticipated this and packed the second sock pictured at the top of this post?  GAH.


I finished this sock with thirty minutes of jam-packed class to go, and I should have just been able to sit and listen and do nothing with my hands but it was like I'd gotten back in the saddle.  I haven't been allowed to knit for that long without stopping in - is it two years now, since we started planning the house?  Yikes!

So I pulled out my stripey fingerless gloves and ran in ends till the class was done.  It wasn't as mindless as knitting, but it was a huge victory.  Also: topic-appropriate, as an example of how throwing a ton of colours together gives the illusion that they all play nicely.






Ready for the answer to today's trick question?

The trick is, I don't have a clue.  The blue and orange get along - they always do - and the grey is a neutral that gets along with everything, but deep mulberry and pink?  erm.  I do like them together, so either it's just me and probably Julia as well, or else Julia broke the rules - successfully.


How did your weekend go?