Friday, April 22, 2011

Dining With Wisdom

I recently received a one-of-kind invitation to dine with Shirley Paden! For those who may not know her, she's a world-renowned knitwear designer. Getting a spot in one of her workshops is a feat. A dinner invite is "beyond, beyond". Of course, I accepted.

Memorable conversation can be had around any dinner table and that evening was no different. We had fun and good fellowship as we laughed and talked about everything from husbands to make-up. And of course we talked knitting.

Of the four of us, I was the newest knitter, having started about four years ago. We asked Shirley several questions and she graciously and honestly answered them all. I sat back and drank in the opportunity as I listened to her share her perspective on the shift in the fiber retail industry. She talked openly about the business of knitting, including her long-lasting relationship with Interweave and Vogue Knitting. She spoke of her students and those who work for her.

She told us stories of her early beginnings as a designer and her recent trip to Denmark. I asked about her fabulous pieces and learned that they are knit one time only. As I listened, I realized that the knitting community, while vast, is really small and that the giants in the field are generally welcoming and accessible.

After a couple of hours had gone by, I sat back in my seat as revelation whispered in my ear. You are dining with wisdom. It is said that when you want to learn about something, you find the best in that field, whatever it may be, and you learn all that you can from them. I was in the midst of a golden opportunity. And I'll never forget it.

Shirley was in town conducting her Finishing Workshop. Taught with the organization and attention to detail that is a Shirley Paden trademark (take it from a trademark attorney), it was a great investment of both time and money. She provided us with everything from the darning needle and contrasting scrap yarn to the miniature garment pieces that we practiced on.

We learned to see the details in the knitted pieces. They became like fabric in our hands as we eyed the patterns in the stitches. We became familiar with recognizing stitch direction and learned the proper way to seam for optimal strength. We even got a taste of her Casting-On Workshop when she shared four different cast-on stitches and the kind of edging produced by each.

I absolutely love knitting. I left the workshop armed with a new perspective on the craft. I now see hand-knit garments with a different eye. And I understand, a little more, the adage "the devil is in the detail". Thank you, Shirley, for giving me all that I need to conquer this knitting devil!

Until next time...

Friday, April 8, 2011