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Veera and Joji Knit Fort Worth

I’ve been to Madtosh Crafts before, but never for a class.  In fact, I’ve never done any kind of craft with a group since college.  My first thought was to attend classes at Fiber Fest, but they filled up almost instantly.  My disappointment was completely assuaged by getting a spot in small classes of twenty to twenty five knitters with Veera Välimäki and Joji Locatelli last week for “Veera and Joji Knit America 2015.”

Veera and Joji were promoting their newest collection Interpretations 2 (below) by visiting Happy Knits in Portland and Madtosh in Fort Worth.

See the short sleeved purple garment (True Friend) towards the back?  I am so knitting this in Tosh 80/10/10.

Besides classes there was a trunk show,

and a special colorway dyed by Amy, with Joji and Veera’s input, just for the occasion.  It’s Mockingjay, the perfect gray.

and a special colorway dyed by Amy, with Joji and Veera’s input, just for the occasion.  It’s Mockingjay, the perfect gray.

 Madtosh Crafts is a beautiful places to be creative.  I totally escaped into the world of thoughtful crafting for those hours.  I’m thinking I need regular breaks like this, not necessarily classes out of town, but maybe camping on the beach, a long day hike, or anything to recharge me creatively during a stressful time in my life.

 As soon as I got back, my non-knitting family and friends wanted to know if I learned anything, what I can do differently now, how I will use this.  My knitting friends online, of course, were all like, “Woooow, how cool!”  No explanation was needed.

But I’m pleased that beyond it being cool to be around such inspiring designers, I really did learn some things I can use to modify existing patterns or create my own designs.  Not sure when that will happen, because I’ve already jumped into another KAL, but I am properly motivated.

The classes I took were geared toward more experienced knitters (many of my classmates were test knitters or designers).  I figure between them, our teachers, and our colorful surroundings, some creativity had to rub off on me.

My first class was Shawls and Shapes with Veera Välimäki .  Remember I’ve only made one shawl so far, but did begin to queue bazillions of shawl patterns after that.  But I’ve just never been motivated to look beyond a Ravelry pattern search for a design.  After having Veera lead us in a sort of “Choose Your Own Shawl Adventure” kind of activity, I feel like I have to create one myself.  I’d never have pictured myself designing a shawl, but now I have campfire shawl ideas, scarf-like shawl ideas, wedding shawl ideas, all rolling around in my head.

These are her mini shawls she brought to give us an idea of basic shawl shapes- so cute and perfect.

Then there’s my mini shawl.  Yeah… not so perfect.  I began with a circular shawl, then added short row stripes.  But, hey, I was paying attention to Veera, not my increases.  Our notes included basic recipes for all the various shapes and tips for edges and blocking.

I most definitely want to knit one of Veera’s shawls now.   I’ve always been more of a sweater and hat knitter.  Even though all of Ravelry has knit a Color Affection, I still have not.   However, I’m thinking of making Stripe Study in these lovely colors of Tosh Merino Light.

 It’s appropriate, as my second class with Veera was all about Stripes.  She covered horizontal, vertical, short row stripes, textural and blocked stripes.  See her neat swatches, below.  You know how you know there are neater ways to deal with introducing new colors and jogless stripes but you keep doing things the same old way because you’re too lazy to learn anything new?  This was my chance to focus, and practice these techniques until I got them.  Well, my brioche needs work, but whose doesn’t?  I especially liked the helix striping technique.

Here are my not-so-neat swatches.  Keep in mind I took the “bring yarn scraps for classroom use” email seriously.  I did, indeed, bring scraps- scraps of puke green, burgundy, navy, and purple.  They weren’t quite as lovely to behold as my classmates’ coordinated pairings in madelinetosh, but you get the point.  

Veera did cover using the color wheel for stripes, value, and hue.  My swatches looked ever more like abominations to me as the class went on.   When I’m knitting “for real” I usually just wing it with colors, but I like the idea of using a more thoughtful approach to how I incorporate it in a design.

This is a good time to segue into Joji’s class on Aproach to Sweater Design.   Remember, I just made one of Joji’s lovely designs, Dragonflies?  Well, she discussed her entire design process: from keeping track of inspirations, to brainstorming construction methods tailored to your reader, choosing yarn, and some size grading.  We practiced getting true measurements and solving fit problems with industry standard sizing.  I liked seeing how she thought/drew everything out, on paper, from the beginning to the end.   It was a good push for those of us who gets lots of ideas for designs but assume someone else is probably doing it better, so why bother.   Joji encouraged us to just try thinking it through and see what happens.  By the way, I think I’m gonna have to learn Excel.  Boo.

One thing I thought was cool was her challenge for us to forget what we know about construction and just envision what we want made in a new way, then see if we can get there, practically.  That sounds like a great experiment in creativity.  It’s the kind of thing you do when you’re a new knitter and want to make something that looks “beyond your skill level” using simpler techniques.   Anyway, I was completely inspired.

And that’s the main thing I got from this event.  Besides all of the techniques I had learned,  I was leaving with the desire to make things burning brighter than ever inside of me.

Thank you Veera and Joji for the inspiration!

(more on instagram and flickr)

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  1. I've been waiting to hear about this…I have to live vicariously through you! Thank you for all the lovely photos…I really enjoyed seeing them. I love those mini shawl shapes. What an experience!

  2. Sounds like it was a really inspiring workshop. I love the idea of forgetting about what you've learned about construction and just 'winging it' like a fearless beginner. Interesting thought!

    I'm in love with that green jacket! Holy cow is that ever stunning. I've been gawking at it on Ravelry as soon as I saw it on your post last night, and my fingers are just itching. And all those fun fabrics and yarn colours? Man, I'm inspired, just from your post! lol

    Thanks for sharing. I've been excited to read this post since before you left!

  3. It sounds like it was a wonderful class! I like learning new techniques and it seems that's what you did. I hope you've enjoyed it!

  4. Michelle that sounds so amazing and I only wish I could have been there! That mockingjay colorway is to die for, I wish it was going to be something repeatable, but alas.

  5. This looks like it was just as amazing as I had hoped it would be for you! I'm inspired reading about your inspiration!

  6. It was, Christine! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I tried to include as much info, without giving away their class materials, as I could. I know what you mean about living thru other people's posts. I totally do that about Rhinebeck, Iceland, the Shetland islands, etc.

  7. I do, indeed, fell blessed for being able to go. The inspirations and techniques were great, but sometimes it's just nice to get away, too.

  8. I joke that I am a lonely knitter without the internet, but I imagine you are too, or were, because of the isolation of your job. I hoped I could relay some of the inspiration I received to you guys.
    The Adventurous jacket is very beautiful! I'm itching to knit another of Joji's designs, but True Friend and Twenty Ten will be first.

  9. You know, I had no idea there was a Mockingjay color way until I got to the store. I saw the baskets full and was amazed at the color depth. Someone told me it was a limited thing for Veera and Joji, so I grabbed a couple skeins. I'm glad they said something, or I'd have planned to wait on buying it.

  10. That makes me feel really good to hear. I know how much I appreciate the inspiration I receive from other crafters, like Veera and Joji, like you and your blog, and the other blogs I read. I love being a tiny little part of someone's inspiration, even if it's just passing along info.

  11. Yeah that would have been a bummer to miss out on it. I can't wait to see what you knit up in it. I feel like it is one of those perfect shades of grey.

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