Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hard work ...

this learning new things. But good for me, you see when you teach .. its good to be reminded how hard it can be to learn new things, very good, that makes me a more patient teacher. This weekend I spent two hard days being a novice again, and not only that but a novice that found learning a new skill not as easy as expected. A frustrated novice. That meant that I had to spend some time knitting, doing something that gave me peace and control .. so there is a sock with some progress and the gansey grows its first sleeve (with a tiny bit of frogging) .

So - Tambour work, a kind of embroidery more akin to crochet than embroidery worked using a threaded needle. The fabric is stretched tight as a drum in an embroidery hoop and a special hooked needle used to loop up thread from the underside of the work. The workshop was specifically on Tambour Beading ... but first we had to learn to make the chain stitch successfully ... harder than it looks. Once had to tension the thread, draw forward a chain loop, insert the hook in such a way the little sharp barb slides thru the tight fabric rotate the hook, wrap the thread around the hook ... and smoothly draw the needle and new thread loop thru the fabric and the old thread loop without snagging anything ... or loosing the loops. The explanation is wordy ... the actions are even trickier. I swear that the way you sit, the position of your eyebrows .. and the frame of mind you are in all affect the success of that little operation. So by end of day one ... I could sort of consistently draw a loop from the underside ... sort of, well to be honest actually not consistently at all, there were loops and tangles and oftentimes a snag that resulted in half an hours work pulling undone. Chain stitch is like that - one snag and its unraveled before your eyes - yes you can frog your work as easily as knitting. But by day two much more consistent chain stitches were being formed by the whole class. Look I was even feeling enough control to manage a spiral! When it works its like a smooth coordinated dance of hand and thread and needle ... just like knitting!

After day one ... I had to work something soothing .. something that I was totally in control off. So Bayerische came out of the WIP basket and I worked another complete chart repeat. Progress at last ... and a feeling that I could do this (even if Tambour had me in a muddle).

Day two and back to Tambour, the 'right' side of the work depends on what you want ...if you want chain stitches .. you work on the right side ... if you want beads .. well that is trickier. Beads and sequins are applied and stitched into place on the underside of the fabric .. that is right .. no looking at what you are doing. This I failed at miserably on day one, completely .. I thought I could .. I thought I was ready, but when I swung my hoop around I'd find 3 beads ... 7 bead less stitches and then a bead ... or 2. Not good for my moral - at all. Day two I resorted to practicing and mastering the fundamental stitch .. the elusive chain stitch. I vowed not to try to bead until my chains were consistent.

And after lunch .. well I felt more in control and was able to successfully attach beads. OK bugle beads ... apparently the easiest to work with .. but I could do it. Those lines of longer chains - thats the working side, the one I was looking at .. down here in the next image is the underside ... what I couldn't see as I was applying the beads and sequins.

On The right side of the fabric .. well I still have a bit to master, like straight lines and spacing .. and evenness .. but its a start, and after 9 hours of tutition I'm happy with this small progress. I know how hard it was .. so I'm very happy.

During the week and the evenings Toby's gansey plodded along in the background ... I finished both saddle shoulders and started working a sleeve. I love the way the yoke knit and purl work pulls in the yoke, and creates and armscye curve.

And how the saddle shoulder lengthens the shoulder and forms a shoulder shaped curve ... just where its needed. For a garment knit as a square, with no increase or decrease shaping ... its pretty cool how a body shape can be created by knit and purl stitches pulling and working in tension together to distort the fabric.

So I've repeated some of the elements from the yoke at the top of the sleeve .. and continued the cable down the sleeve. I didn't initially do that but 3 cm of plain sleeve ... well it seemed lacking some thing .. and my sketch had the cable continuing. So I backed up (frogged) and reknit ... and am much happier.

so I'm... tired and with not a lot to show for 10 hours of learning,
and happy I can already knit .. imagine if I was learning that all over again?
It would probably be as slow :-)
na Stella


Knitting Linguist said...

Wow. That looks really hard! I'm impressed you learned so much in such a short time :) I think you're absolutely right about how important it is as teachers to sometimes go through that neophyte feeling again -- it's easy to forget how hard it is to learn something new. I've been inspired by you and am going on a real, live retreat for a week! One class in spinning, and one in garment design. I'm going to be pushing my boundaries on all kinds of fronts...

Anonymous said...

Well done on the beginning tambour work. I suspected that it would be devilishly difficult at the start.

As for the gansey... I too love the armscye curve created by the knit/purl ladder on the sides of the yoke and am looking forward to using that feature on Bill's Staithes gansey. The shoulder does not look right to me. The first thoughts that came to mind were too many rows or, failure to switch to a smaller needle. It might be a good idea to do a quick block and try it on Toby. I fear that the curve may actually pooch up on the body. But I may also be talking through my hat!


giggle...some day i will have to tell you about my embroadery adventure.

Annieofbluegables said...

I'm in awe. I have never heard of Tambour work. It is beautiful. I'm also impressed with your beautiful knitting. Something I am doing less of and more frogging as I learn to knit.
You are amazing.

KathyR said...

Bayerische was soothing after the Tambour work? Perhaps that shows just how difficult learning this new skill was! It could definitely be stunning once mastered, though.

JustApril said...

Crafty overload! WOW =)