Last night's presentation at the DKC was one of the best I've seen by a newly published knit designer.
Elise Duvekot herself was clear, well spoken and entertaining and the patterns in her book, Knit One Below are lovely. Elise is a resident of Holland but wrote the majority of the book while living in Toronto. She acknowledged the wonderful concentration of local test knitters as being a big part of that process. The focus of her talk though wasn't on her patterns but rather on the technique of knitting into the stitch below on which the book is based. Her encouragement to us was to use the book as a jumping off point with this wonderful technique rather than an end in itself.
When using this stitch every alternate stitch on the right side of the fabric is simply knit into the stitch below the next one rather than the one actually hanging on the needle. Purling one below is done on the reverse. Each alternate row both sides is a resting row worked straight and in the stockinette manner. When two colours or even two radically different yarns are used on alternate rows there is an interplay of texture and colour that is quite unique. The treatment of the purl row is what sets this stitch apart from the likes of Fisherman's Rib or Brioche Stitch.
The knitted fabric with this stitch looks a bit like a flattened rib or even a very well blocked stockinette with absolutely no rolling at the edges or ends so no added edging is required to control it.This was evident on the scarves like the stunning Tattersall Scarf (rav link) and wraps like the Gossamer Square (rav link) she brought along to show, all of which sat very well on the body and had gorgeous drape.
Elise assured us it does not take any more yarn than regular stockinette and the gauge is so much bigger she reported her socks like the Pinwheel Socks from the book (rav link) are done on 40 stitches rather than the usual 63 or so.
The fabric is similar in heft to garter stitch but feels much lighter. I modeled a pullover knit in bulky wool but it felt surprisingly soft and light to wear.
The stitch also yields fabric that felts very well into a generous and sturdy material well suited to hats and bags.
Before the meeting I spoke with one woman who I know to be an extremely skilled knitter and she said she uses the book in just the way Elise suggested, as a reference for variations on technique. (Just to give you an idea of this particular knitter's ability, her current project is working Norah Gaughan patterns in Noro. The thing is, she explained, the Noro is not at all like the yarn called for in the patterns and with the structure of Norah Gaughan patterns being generally pretty novel she finds it difficult to make accurate adjustments before thoroughly understanding the process for any given knit. So this woman knits each piece first in something close to what's called for and then once she has the gist of what that piece requires calculates her adjustments and re knits it in Noro.)
The knitting skill and knowledge that is in the room at a DKC meeting is amazing.
Another example of knitting excellence last night was that Wanietta Prescod, Canada's fastest knitter was in the front row. While I was up on the stage helping with the fashion show of Knit One Below Knits I have to admit to staring. Her hands just fly!
The other speaker was the founder of SOAK also gave a brief presentation. She is from Toronto and came to the knit world via machine knitting but was wearing her first hand knit wrap. She told us how SOAK is expanding its product line beyond knitting. I was interested to hear her explain that many "unscented" products aren't truly without scent they just have a masking agents added to prevent the consumer from being able to smell the actual odors (off gassing) of a product. Yuck! (BTW SOAK's unscented version is a truly scent free product.)
I had my Australian wool that Lyn sent me in my bag because I was swatching with it while on the subway ride downtown. When I mentioned to the knitters around me how I had come to own this yarn and told them of my tentative plans for it several knitters commented on it and wondered aloud between them at its weight and twist and noted its lovely halo - imagining how it might bloom after blocking.
Its so fun to mingle with knitters! Thanks for dropping by eh!