Reflections of a different classroom

In February I began attending a weekly craft gathering at The Happenstore in Annandale, which then transformed 2017 into the year of CRAFT! I spent the year knitting, crocheting, making, tinkering and sewing, there was no project unfinished and my hands never busy enough! I was continually inspired by the Tuesday “Craft night in” group, I loved our weekly chats, we shared skills, laughs, ideas. . . Even though I have been knitting for years I always thought of myself as untrained as I learnt from my Nanna to knit with instinct, eye and whim. At The Happenstore I worked my way through formal patterns, learning abbreviations, stitch names and techniques from those around me (and Youtube), getting assistance from the brains trust as I needed every Tuesday. . .

I was an inspired student in someone else’s space, I grew in confidence to try projects that were harder, learnt new skills and I challenged myself.

With my newfound confidence in December I put my hat in the ring for something I felt was quite brave, I applied to be a TEST KNITTER! *for those non-knitters, test knitters trial a pattern to work out necessary corrections prior to publication by making the pattern themselves* My test-knit application was successful and I worked with French knitwear and pattern designer Julie Dubreux aka “Julie Knits In Paris” – https://www.ravelry.com/designers/julie-knits-in-paris – Julie’s patterns and style aren’t the typical knit which is why I was attracted to her as a test knitter, she creates non-traditional patterns I would love to make and wear. Julie set up an email thread with the other 18 or so test knitters (who came from ALLLL over the world), Julie was intending to release the pattern at VOGUE KNIT LIVE in New York – I had a MONTH to make a sweater.

This was an opportunity to test myself and those growing formalised and refined skills. I was signing up to knit a jumper during the heat of summer!

I started small by swatching the yarn, testing needle sizes and practicing the techniques –  the design is called “Lolly Sticks” named after the alternating colourwork section that creates the shape. . .

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Then I began the pattern starting at the neck, calling out for help as I needed with the test knit email group as my support. . .

I continued to knit this merino jumper through the heat wave of summer, taking the project on trains, to picnics – sneaking in knitting time while dinner was cooking. . .

The jumper is almost finished with the last section on the second cuff to go, you can check out Julie’s pattern here: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/lolly-sticks

 

I always think of myself as a reflective teacher, continually reflecting on my practice, improving and developing. A highlight of 2017 (the year of craft) is that I became an appreciative reflective learner. Becoming a part of unconventional classrooms outside my PLN and industry to focus on self development has left me feeling fulfilled by the challenge and personal growth.

If 2017 was the year of craft I am not yet sure what 2018 will bring.

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Crochet Pattern Reading

 

I can’t remember when I learnt to crochet, just like knitting it is something that my Mum taught me to do that was instinctive based on the look of the stitches, I understand the shape the trebles and chains create and only recently learnt how to read a pattern. Pattern reading has become one of my craft night goals, the ladies there have become my brains trust for recommendations, deciphering instructions and support through reading patterns. Jackie gave me her pattern and assisted me to start, initially walking me through the schematic image to match the techniques I knew to create a triangular shawl. . . .

 

 

Resources for new skills I learnt

Crochet pattern schematic key:

 

Creativity, making, learning. . .

There are fond memories in my life that have shaped me into a maker, a designer, a problem solver and a creative soul. Memories of standing on a stool while my Pa worked on his lathe, sawdust going between my ankles and socks, sitting at the dining table while my Mum sewed – using scraps to make finger puppets or scrunchies, Nana asking if I was cold – the next visit I would have a beautiful new handmade knit made especially for me. . .

 

While I teach design at high-school level, I practice my craft in works and projects of my own, to not only further develop my skills but to also promote a passion for design. In projects, I like to combine traditional techniques with advanced technologies to create imaginative design pieces. Recently I started spending Tuesday nights at The Happenstore, using the weekly craft night in as an opportunity to embark on a journey to continually develop my skills, my blog is also a reflective journal of my learning, experimentations and making. . . .

 

T-Shirt yarn projects – Textile industry waste

Before these T-Shirt yarn projects I had never crocheted in the round using a magic loop method for cast on, using this new technique I created a yarn basket as well as a baby rug:

 

Resources for new skills I learnt

Magic loop – http://www.crochet-world.com/blog/?p=7618

Crochet rug pattern I used as a starter –   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0lus0FjSlE

 

I have now been saving/collecting T-Shirts so that I can make my own T-Shirt yarn (rather than using premade t-shirt yarn).  I am thinking of it as a way to repurpose old clothing as well as the opportunity to use the same techniques with non-textile items as the material – such as plastic bags or re-woven textile waste materials (collecting various waste materials, cut offs and selvedges) . . .

 

“Australians are currently disposing of 6,000 kilograms of fashion and textile waste every 10 minutes, and while some of it may go to op shops, only about 15 per cent of donations are actually sold again locally.”

– http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-27/war-on-waste-make-your-own-clothes/8487510