Lizards in the Leaves

Rustlings in the green....imagination, art, whimsy

Dec 15, 2011

Long Delayed Report on Gwen Bortner's Entrelac Workshop

Posting that picture of my entrelac scarf yesterday reminded me that I never wrote about the Gwen Bortner  workshop held here at RiverWools many moons ago.  Many.

Gwen is the author of a great book on entrelac knitting, Entre to Entrelac:

and designer of many magnificent entrelac projects for it.

It was a thrill to take a class from her. But it was even more of a thrill to get to go to supper with her and hear her talk about designing, publishing and her journey to doing what she’s doing today. There’s an interview with Gwen here and for more from Gwen’s own self, she blogs with another knitter here.

To prepare for the class, I knitted two entrelac scarves (one of them in yesterday’s post) and learned to knit “backwards.”

Though it’s not exactly backwards, I don’t think.

Whatever it is, it’s the most wonderful skill to have. Entrelac is made up of little segments of stockinette knitting, just a few stitches across, 8-12 stitches usually. If you don’t know how to knit backwards, you will be constantly turning your work to purl back across, then turning to knit again and turning to purl. Every few seconds (or however long it takes you to knit 8-12 stitches.) Over and over and over again.


(that’s the best way I can represent it without a video of the hellish sequence)

The project though which Gwen taught the class was a hat - entrelac in the round, and each block a different color or colors,  all freely chosen by the knitter. You could even mix it up with the stitches, too, we were not limited to stockinette. So there was a nice blend of the structured element of the pattern, with the unique color and texture choices of each of us. 

I chose silky Noro Shirakaba and didn't get too inventive with stitches.

Luckily I've learned that weaving-in of ends can be meditative. There were a lot of them with all the color changing.  (Hecate has a great post on the weaving-in-of-ends and the intentions with which we knit.) 

End-weaving is also good to take to social knitting groups at the yarn shop - the conversation and laughter flows and before you know's done.

A picture of the workshop:

Gwen and Jen, who usually works Mondays at the shop. ( Jen makes lots of lovely things, and ever since taking Andrea Wong's class in the Portuguese knitting  style, that's the way she knits.  You can see the little pin on her shoulder. Very cool.)

Finally, I just have to mention that I was sitting next to Lana Holden. Yes, that Lana Holden, the designer of Skew and a whole host of other patterns.*  (She wore her Involute wrap to class.) Now, it’s not the sitting next to Lana that is the noteworthy thing. Lana’s from here and we meet up with each other all the time. 

No, what’s noteworthy is the little glimpse of Lana doing what she does so well— becoming intrigued by a stitch challenge, getting an idea of a permutation, then setting about figuring out just how it can be realized.
You can see in the top picture, she's finished her class hat.

But here she's gotten quite busy on something else:


That day, she thought for sure that the entrelac hat could be knitted top down. So she spent the last bit of time in the workshop playing with that. Next time I saw her, she let me take a picture of what she managed to come up with.

Sure looks like the perfect beginning of a top-down-knitted-in-the-round-entrelac hat to me.
I'm in awe of people who can visualize, then proceed to do mathematical incantation and manifest the vision.

Lana’ blog is here, though she spends way more of her time thinking, experimenting, designing and getting her patterns out than blogging. Maybe that’s as it should be.


*Skew on Ravelry has to date been ‘favorited’ by 7878 knitters and shows up in 2883 projects - that means 2883 knitters on Ravelry have knitted her pattern AND taken pictures of their socks AND taken the time to post them. Impressive!




At 12/17/11, 1:13 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

Do you know what sweater Lana is wearing? It's wonderful!!

At 12/19/11, 9:43 PM, Blogger 'Zann said...

Lisa, it's not a sweater, it's her cape/poncho pattern Involute, kind of a steampunk-inspired design. You can make it as a shawl or go the full circle. Very cool, isn't it?


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