Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cable Design with Norah Gaughan at Vogue Knitting Live Chicago

I had a packed schedule this year at Vogue Knitting Live.  I attended four classes and two lectures.  I have already told you about the first class taught by Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochi Land.  Today I'm going to tell you about Norah Gaughan's Lecture "Pattern Stitch Development & Design Possibilities" and her two part class "Cable Design Workshop".  Norah Gaughan is a famous knitting designer and stitch innovator.  She used to sell swatches that would be shown to different clothing companies to help them pick how to design their sweaters.  (All photos in this post are from the class, not the lecture.  Norah knit most of the fabulous swatches that I'm sharing with you.)  

The Lecture

The lecture took place during lunch on the first day.  The room was packed of knitters excited to hear what Norah had to say about her design process.  Norah is inspired by science and nature (she even has a biology undergraduate degree!) as is reflected in her book Knitting Nature: 39 Designs Inspired by Patterns in Nature.  Her designs have really intricate stitch patterns and are full of visual interest.  She is a very bubbly and warm person.  

What were her best design tips?  Swatch and swatch again, you don't have to get it right the first time.  Think about the knitter - complicated tihngs that require constant directions can be hard to knit (*cough* 14 cable hat).  Be determined, but not in a hurry.  

One of my favorite parts of the lecture was when Norah shared the Salvador Dali quote, "Those who do not want to imitate anything produce nothing."  This quote fed into her explanation of where she gets inspiration for her designs.  I can identify with the conflict of wanting to borrow or modify something you've seen without feeling guilty.  I left the lecture feeling totally inspired and excited to learn cable design from her the next day.  

The Class 

I got a seat right up front.  After seeing her lecture the day before I was so excited.  Plus there is a huge stack of handouts waiting for me to flip through. They included charts with different types of cables, exercises to draw cable instructions and extra graph paper.   Yay!  She had such huge smiles that I felt immediately comfortable in front of a legend and so excited.  Plus, I was having a ton of fun taking notes for this blog post by hand.  

I'm practicing drawing and expanding cables
We spent the morning knitting swatches and learning about cables.  In the afternoon, we focused more on designing our own cables.  You can cable ANYTHING, not just stockinette.  We cabled ribbing, twisted stitches, lace... the mix is so cool.  A PKP X PKP is especially cool (and is a motif she uses a lot in her designs.)  

There are so many ways you can design with cables.  I now see them much more like drawing than I ever had before, and can see ways that you can move them in and out of each other.  Norah recommends using a program called "Easy Draw."  I think that my excel methods might be a little complicated for moving huge cables around a design, so I might need to look for something else someday.  

Cabling twisted stitches
Norah color codes her cable charts to make them easier for the knitters.  She also includes vertical lines in the charts that define the edge of what is cabled.  This makes it much easier to visualize what the knitting will look like from the chart.  She also brought post its for us to use to keep place where we were on charts.  

Exercise - draw a line on graph paper and then make the cables to create the line in knitting.
If there is a hole between cables, an extra purl stitch can help alleviate the tension. (See my finger poking through the hole in the photo below.  There is no hole in the orange swatch)  

If you ever get a chance to take a class with Norah Gaughan, DO IT.  I want to take EVERY CLASS I CAN from her now and will absolutely be looking out for conferences she is at in the future.  I am feeling so inspired and would love to update my 14 cable hat design with more deliberate and modified cables.  

My swatch from class - practicing Norah's cables before starting to design our own.  I think the swatching section was really helpful before the design section because it gave us a great starting point. 

Stay tuned, I'm not done telling you about what I did at Vogue Knitting Live, Chicago!