It's past ten o'clock at night and I'm at home after an exhausting, exhilarating, inspiring day. I've decided to blog about it right now; keeping my hands busy at the keyboard will prevent my giving in to a strong impulse to paint all the dining room chairs cobalt blue and butter yellow.
I can't help it. I just spent eight hours with Brandon Mably and Kaffe Fassett.
Brandon was ringmaster for a full-day workshop on color knitting. I've never seen anyone at the helm of a class so kinetic. He was everywhere in the room at once–encouraging, explaining, cajoling. We undertook a simple chart, Kaffe's well-known Persian Poppies, using a method of color selection that required us to relinquish a certain amount of control over the finished product.
That idea gave me the Creeping Shivers, but one is either a man or a mouse so I decided to throw caution to the wind and play along. After all, Brandon is famous for knowing how to mix colors, whereas my idea of Mardi Gras is three shades of gray in one sock.
I had only been working on my swatch for a couple of rows when it became obvious that with this sort of selection at hand,
I nevertheless opted to wind two balls composed entirely of the same hushed, restrained, lukewarm colors I invariably pick for every project I design myself.
Well, it became obvious to Brandon, anyhow. He took away the darker of the two balls I was using and, without so much as a by-your-leave, simply ripped out the next of the three shades of respectable brown and substituted something else. If you look very closely, perhaps you can spot the place where Brandon subtly altered my palette.
Yeah. Right there.
Instead of decking him like a red-blooded American male I just kept knitting, and I'll be damned if the son of a bitch didn't turn out to be right. In context, that deep rose brought the whole section to life and spared me knitting poppies that looked like, as Brandon put it, "burnt doughnuts." (If you've had enough of knitting workshops where everybody's stuff, no matter how terrible, is showered with gooey praise...sign up for Brandon. It's refreshing.)
When we broke for lunch, all the swatches went up on the board for charette and it was dazzling to see how one pattern changed in different yarns arranged by different hands.
In the second half of the workshop I went in and made some changes to my colors, and for the first time actually enjoyed playing with colors instead of just picking one color to pair with grey and rushing out of the yarn store.
I think that in the end, the swatch showed some improvement, although as I grew more excited about the colors my chart reading went straight to hell.
In the final critique, Brandon paid me the compliment of saying if he saw my swatch worked into a scarf he'd run down the street after it for a closer look.
I considered pinning it to the seat of my pants.
Kaffe's lavishly illustrated lecture took place in the evening. I can't do it justice in a retelling. He took us through a selection of his pieces (and quite of few of Brandon's), dwelling on what inspired them and what made them tick.
I was particularly fascinated at the number of ways the guy can re-work a motif in different media. A found fabric inspires a piece of knitting, which becomes a piece of needlepoint, which turns into a tapestry, which shows up in a painted still life. Over and over. And in each case instead of the new version looking like, say, knitting pretending to be tapestry (the kind of thing I loathe), the adaptation breathes new life into the motif. Genius.
I came away with a renewed urge to create and a seismic shift in my awareness of color.
Both events were well-attended, but the day was particularly special for me. In spite of all that was happening the Star Attractions graciously sat for portraits. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Knitters 0162 and 0163 of the 1,000.
It is a comfort to know that whatever may happen with this project, whatever I may do for the rest of my life, I have already assured myself a place in the History of Knitting as the man who got Kaffe Fassett to knit with bone white Cascade 220.