Friday, January 16, 2015

I will be teaching for the first time! ♥

This is something I didn't expect...

I have always had mixed feelings regarding teaching.  I have not been asked many times whether I would teach a class... But when someone did ask me, I kept wondering to myself... 'What could I teach someone?  Everything I've learned, I've learned it from the internet...  What could I possibly know that someone hasn't already written about it?'

I am, however, the kind of person who really enjoys listening to people and learning from someone's voice and experience.  I believe that when something is written, it always sends out the same message, but when we learn from someone who has learnt something before, we can hear a few tricks here and there, and we are free to discover what their true perception about something is...

I am also the kind of knitter that believes we will never ever learn all there is to know about this art.  I still feel a beginner knitter for so many reasons... There are so many techniques I haven't tried, and I am not talking about complicated stuff... I haven't tried, for example, to steek a sweater...  And I have never learnt how to design a shawl with different lace patterns...

So whenever someone asked me if I would teach a class, I would normally answer 'No way!  There are still so many classes I need to take myself!..'

Well, life is full of surprises and in one of my latest trips, I was very kindly invited by Madtosh Crafts and Happy Knits to come to the US with my partner in crime Veera and do a series of events.  The main reason for this is that we are working on a new collaboration together (I'll post more about that in due time!!!), and they invited to feature it at their stores and host some Trunk Shows and Meet & Greets...
And, of course, the question was asked again: 'Would you teach a class?...'
I looked at Veera, who was there with me... I looked around... And without giving it much thought I said: 'Why, yes!'

So there you go, folks.  I am teaching not only 1, but 3 different classes, in 2 unknown to me cities, in a country very far away from home, in a foreign language, in just... 2 weeks.

There will also be some free events, so there's no need to sign up for a class if you don't feel like!  Veera and I will be there and we'll be showing Interpretations 2 for the first time!
Call the yarn stores to get the proper timetables for these.

So, in case you are in the area, and want to come say hi... Here are the topics I will be talking about.  I am not sure I can call these classes, I feel more comfortable calling them talks, or conversations.
Hopefully my theory is right, and I'll learn from the attendees as much as they'll learn from me.

Madtosh Crafts (Dallas): Wed, Feb 4th - 9 to 12 AM
Happy Knits (Portland, OR): Sat, Feb 7 - 10 AM to 1 PM

In this workshop we’ll discuss my sweater design process from start to finish.   This is a fun class for anyone thinking about designing their first sweater (for fun or for work), but also for those who are interested in knowing what goes on behind the scenes. 

We’ll talk about:
  • How to find inspiration (Pinterest, fashion designers, brands).
  • Following trends and adjusting them to what knitters want to knit. 
  •  Important measurements to consider when designing (shoulder span, full bust, sleeve circumference, hip measurement, etc).  Tables of measurements and their meaning. 
  • What is ease (garments don’t always need to be the same size as the table of measurements!). 
  • Making notes for knitters on how to customize their garments (e.g. sleeve length, body length). 
  • Overview of different sweater constructions and how to choose the one that best suits your idea. 
  • What makes a design unique (small little details that make a design stand from others). 
  • Discussing some samples and their construction techniques.
  • Basic concepts on grading patterns to different sizes. 
  • Using spreadsheets to grade a very basic pattern (converting it to different sizes instructions).

Madtosh Crafts (Dallas): Tue, Feb 3rd - 1.30 to 4.30 PM
Happy Knits (Portland, OR): Fri, Feb 6th - 3 to 6 PM

This is a fun class for anyone who’s been intimidated by this awesome way of shaping your knits, and also for those who want to better understand how to use them. We’ll discuss:
What are short rows and why do we want them in our knitting?
Different techniques for you to try: wrap and turn, German short rows, Japanese short rows, etc.
How to use wrap and turn effectively to customize your sweaters by adding:
  • bust darts
  • shoulder shaping
  • curved hems
  • collars that fold….
  • seamless top-down sleeves Circularly shaped sweaters that use short-rows as basic construction technique (Opposite Pole, Ecuador, Make a Wish, Meridien). 

Madtosh Crafts (Dallas): Mon, Feb 2nd - 9 to 12 AM
Happy Knits (Portland, OR): Sunday, Feb 8th - 3 to 6 PM

In this friendly workshop, we’ll talk about how to choose a sweater that will make you really happy after spending so much time knitting it. We’ll discuss:
How to choose the best shapes for your body.
How to take measurements of your body and choose the right size of the pattern you want knit.
How to customize a sweater to your own body according to your:
  • Waist length
  • Arm circumference
  • Bust measurement
  • Hip measurement How to add:
  • Bust darts
  • Waist shaping
  • Curved hems
  • Length to the back so that it doesn’t ride up 
How to choose the proper length for you.
How to choose the right yarn for a project.
A quick look at some of my samples and their sizes, shapes, lengths and styles.

In the meantime, I keep swatching and learning the few tricks I still needed to learn about short rows... ;)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A January Love Story

As you know, I have a hard time writing on the blog... I am not the most fluent when writing longer things...  I feel more confident with little captions, and therefore I am always more drawn to let out my news on the social media...
But, from time to time, something starts growing in me and I feel compelled to write a little bit more about it... Sometimes a caption is not enough to tell a whole story.

I have had the honor to meet thousands of beautiful talented people on Ravelry... And of course, as more people got to know my work, I met a lot of dyers and other designers who I ended up working with.  Some of these people, however, really liked what I did before my designs were popular... and one of them was Sundara.  For some reason we fell in love with each other's work from the very beginning.  
I must say the first time she commissioned some work for her, I was in total shock!  I couldn't believe she considered me good enough for the job, and she put my design on a Luxury Yarn Club, together with two of my all time favorite designers. 

Getting Sundara's parcels... It was always exciting.  Why?  Because we talked about the color she wanted to make, but she would never send me a photo of the finished yarn.  Her parcels were always stopped by the customs office in my country, so I had to spend a couple of hours trying to get them out, filling forms and waiting in line... It only added to the excitement!  And when they finally gave me her parcels, I would always leave the customs warehouse, sit on a fence and open them slowly... They were always MAGICAL!

Her last parcel (containing the yarn I used for today's design) was sent to an apartment while I was staying in New York last year... And of course, it was not delivered in time!  Since our flight ended up being delayed, we stalked the USPS truck all around the Upper East Side, until we finally found it on a doorstep.

Una foto publicada por Joji (@jojilocat) el

The little box contained two skeins of her Fingering Silky Cashmere in the Romeo colorway, and her note said: Try to make something with just 1 skein, as this is a very special yarn!...

As I wound the skein into a little ball, I remembered all the collaborations we had made together... They are not that many, but they were all really meaningful for both of us.  We always invest a lot in each of these, and they always came in very special moments of our lives, either good times or hard ones.  As I reflected on the colorway's name (Romeo), I thought of ours as a love story, and I decided a wanted to design something that spoke about it.

I didn't have many yards, so I needed to make something meaningful, but small...  The yarn's qualities were enough to make it special: being 65% white cashmere/35% silk, it was by far, the most luxurious yarn I had ever knit with... It didn't need much stitch action to glow...
I thought of the revesible cable to represent our work stories enwtining and growing together, and a flared body to show off the fabric's softness and sheen.  With a slight wing shaping, it reminded me of Juliet's wings on the movie... one of the most romantic ones I've seen.

This brings up the story of another friend, one of the best ones I've had the honor of meeting, Jenica.  She's been the sweetest friend to me since my early Ravelry's days, and many times she's borrowed me her talent to write texts for the introductions of my patterns.  When I told her what I was working on, she decided to write some poems for this design... She has a true talent!  Sometimes it is difficult to include everything we write with the pattern, so here it goes just some of her magical words.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Curious about Romeo and Juliet's time together, we thought up this design…

Fortunately, you don’t have to be an emotionally unstable Romeo to appreciate the unique characteristics of this shawl. Its construction is not complicated and due to its side-to-side assembly you won't have to manage hundreds of stitches at once, making this one a good beginning cable and short row project. For those more experienced knitters there is just enough romance and action going on to keep the plot interesting.

Although a sacrifice was made on Romeo's behalf, you won't have to surrender too much of your time to complete this adventure. The reversible cables are a character in this story that will require your attention, keeping your interest like any good productive relationship. The gentle drifts of stockinette in between will be your solace to help keep the knitting sailing at a good pace with an occasional wrap and flip for some short row shaping.

Choosing a marvelous yarn will be your only important decision.  A romantic look and feel calls for a delicate yarn, one that is sumptuous. Since you will only need to commit to one skein, I encourage you to go ultra luxurious, in a perfectly complimentary colorway that makes the love in your eyes shine like a beacon.

As Romeo looks down on his love one last time I imagine him sweetly wrapping her up in a shawl to keep her warm during her final slumber. As he puts his arms around her and kisses her one last time we reflect on those relationships in our lives that we should take more time to honor.

Romeo and Juliet were together for three days before their time together ended. How long will your romance last?

We hope you like our new story together...

~Joji, Jenica and Sundara