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Last Sunday, I woke up early instead of sleeping in, packed up my yarn and crochet kit, and headed down to the Lion Brand Yarn Studio to take two classes during Crochet Masters weekend.
My first class was Tartans & Plaids with Jenny King. Jenny’s is the woven crochet master featured in Crochet Master Class: Lessons and Projects from Today’s Top Crocheters and has self-published 15 books on tartan rugs (also known as plaid blankets in the U.S.). Jenny lives in Queensland, Australia, where she operates a yarn shop in addition to designing crochet patterns. Although Jenny is a prolific and well established designer, her name only recently came to my attention as the author of Learn to Do Bavarian Crochet.
I read more about Jenny in Crochet Master Class but was dubious about creating my own woven plaid crochet project. Full disclosure: I was a plaid fanatic in high school (perhaps because I never wore a Catholic school uniform like my cousins? or maybe it was just the grunge years?), but I have never had much success with crocheting plaids – they always come out messy, or skimpy looking. I am also not down with fringe, so that fringe finish on crocheted plaids never really wowed me.
I was very excited to see that Jenny would be in New York City teaching, but even her pedigree as a designer didn’t completely convince me that she could actually teach me to make attractive and full looking crocheted plaids in three hours. Let’s be honest – some people are great designers and some people are great teachers, and only a few are both. Luckily for me, Jenny is one of those few!
Jenny opened the class by sharing some historical details about Scottish tartans. She has designed about 200 crochet patterns that feature the plaids of various clans. The project for the class was based on the Fire Department, City of New York (FDNY) Emerald Society Pipe Band plaid, which was a very nice local touch. Making the mesh base was simple enough, and Jenny provided me (and the rest of the class, of course) with a few tips for joining colors and keeping our ends tidy.
Jenny also has a great sense of humor. She kept the class lively by sharing anecdotes and tips. She also admonished us, “You have to check with Jenny before ripping out!” and “Don’t point out your mistakes!” She also told us that she has never made a gauge swatch (egads! It’s like designer sacrilege!).
Finally, with mesh complete, we were ready to start weaving.
Jenny introduced us to the Tartan Weaver, a great tool that makes weaving much easier and faster. Her method uses chains rather than strips of yarn for weaving, and she also shared quite a few tips for sizing and weaving the ends of the woven chains.
I left the class feeling pretty good. Finally, a plaid project that is neat looking and where the woven strips actually fit into the mesh! I decided to order two of Jenny’s books, The Tartan Rug and U.S.A. and Canadian Plaid Afghans, from her website. I’m particularly looking forward to the Black Watch pattern, since that has always been my favorite plaid.
I’ve made a bit of progress since class. I made another mesh and all of my green chains and my white chains.
After the two meshes are woven, I plan to join them and make a small, decorative pillow. Thanks, Jenny King, for teaching me how to make plaids that don’t suck!
For more Year of Projects posts, check out When Did I Become a Knitter.
Edited to add: Lion Brand Yarn Studio updated their blog with a slide show of pictures from the Crochet Masters weekend. You can see me in picture 15 from the night of the book signing (I’m crocheting in the second row in the picture with a blue top), in picture 31 (to the left of Margaret Hubert in her Freeform class picture), and in picture 37 (as the last student on the left side).
…and, a little shopping
I didn’t use the recommended Lion Brand yarns for my project. As I mentioned, I’ve cut back on buying acrylic yarn, and the Lion Brand Yarn Studio was out of Lion Wool when I bought the supplies for the class. I ended up using an old skein of Bernat Lana I had laying around the house and some Patons Classic Wool in the recommended colors purchased at Michaels.
I felt a bit guilty since I know that the main reason the Lion Brand Yarn Studio offers over 100 classes per month is to sell yarn. So I decided to go shopping in the store and spend about as much as I would have spent on buying the yarn there. I bought two skeins of LB Collection Superwash Merino.
And I decided to test out this sweater stone.