Thursday was as good a day as I have spent for ages. I went along to my LYS, The Knitting Parlour , to attend a workshop with Debbie Abrahams and what a brilliant and wonderful day it was. The workshop was all about how to achieve a professional finish, and included techniques such as blocking and pressing, joining the shoulders by casting off the stitches together, picking up stitches around the neck, sewing in a drop-shoulder sleeve, sewing the knitted panels together using mattress stitch and sewing in the ends.
I can do all of the above adequately but not to a high standard, so I was very keen to learn how to do them all better.
Now Blossom, I know you sat very patiently at Colinette a couple of years ago and showed me how to do mattress stitch but I've never really "got" it so I thought the workshop would be a good opportunity to reinforce the principles and more besides. Debbie had provided us with "homework" - a little teddy's sweater to knit, and we started by blocking the panels. Not mentioning any names, but someone misread the pattern and her sweater had a scoop neckline unlike all the others but hey ho - perhaps we'll just call it a design feature ;-)!
It was so lovely to meet so many other knitters - some of them Ravellers, some of them who had no idea that the internet was such a useful tool for us all. There were sock knitters and almost complete beginners and it was fab to meet them all. Debbie was simply lovely, a charming, patient and friendly young woman, and such a good teacher :-) She was wearing a beaded hand knit in Rowan 4-ply soft which she said had washed and washed - there was no sign of pilling at all.
We started with a three needle bind off - now I didn't know that it's best to use a needle one size larger than you've knitted with to do this, it makes it less tight. Picking up the syitches on a neckband was a revelation - I taught myself to do this, it's amazing what CAN be achieved when it's done correctly.
And as for mattress stitch - well by George I think I've got it! I haven't finished teddy's jumper yet, Debbie said she wanted us to do a sleeve and side seam and leave the rest to work on at home. But I have sewn the best dropped sleeve ever and the best side and sleeve seams too and am chuffed to bits.
I learned a lot yesterday, the workshop ( which included a lovely lunch ) was very good value for money, and I wouldn't hesitate to anything similar again there. I have a list of 2009 Rowan workshops at The Knitting Parlour if anyone would be interested in going. I bought Debbie's DVD, entitled funnily enough "A Professional Finish" and also there was a little retail therapy I'm afraid ( it's not often I pass on 10% off ) I bought some Sirdar Click Aran in shade 128 and pattern no 9073 A great way to recharge the batteries.