How does an all-day Sunday workshop, studying the mechanics of sweater design, sound? If the teacher is Ysolda Teague and the setting is the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, and you’re a knitting addict, then this sounds like Possibly.One.Of.The.Best.Days.Ever!

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The workshop (full of great knitters) was focused on the theme of top-down knitting, and more specifically, on the prospect of knitting seamless or mostly-seamless sweaters from the neck down that feature more than just raglan shaping at the yoke of the sweater. We discussed everything from compound raglans to seamless set in sleeve shaping with short rows, set in sleeves with a neat saddle option, and even traditional round yokes that you often see on fair isle sweaters.

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The workshop was incredibly in-depth and nicely paced, as we delved into the mathematics behind each type of yoke shaping and how that shaping could be tweaked to flatter your particular body type. Behind the subject of the workshop itself, Ysolda (in part through her self-published book, Little Red in the City), has become a champion of choosing knitting projects that suit your own measurements and shape, whatever those may be. Common sensical in her approach, she empowers knitters of all ages, sizes, and shapes to realize that garment patterns are often written to a set of arbitrary measurements that don’t often match up to real knitters with real bodies. With her techniques to recognizing and altering patterns to enhance each knitter’s assets, such as learning more about how armhole depth, bust measurement, and garment length may be interrelated, you can approach every pattern intelligently to assess if it will work for you and what, if any, changes need to be made to enhance its fit. The entire atmosphere of the workshop was positive and very sophisticated in its discussion of garment design and alternative approaches!

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Of course, Ysolda herself was a fantastic teacher and brought the subject to life with so many fantastic examples. In the morning especially, there was an incredible discussion about the importance of swatches, from yarn selection to needle choice and multiple gauge measurements, washing techniques and even hanging swatches to glean as much useful information about the future fabric as possible. I found myself so engrossed in what was happening that I forgot to take notes! Oops! I have a distinct feeling, though, that the material imprinted itself on my brain. I can’t wait to put it to work going forward. I’ve been trying for a long time to get into one of her classes, but my schedule or the class timing always worked against me. Not this time! If you ever get a chance to take one of Ysolda’s classes, DO IT. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn!

As usual, the Lion Brand Yarn Studio was a fantastic setting for this intensive workshop – there is color and crafting inspiration everywhere you look, so I always love visiting it and seeing what’s new.

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All in all, it was a day VERY well spent and I can’t wait to dig deeper into these new techniques and discover ways to incorporate them to become a better knitter and a better designer! 🙂

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