Sunday, November 16, 2008

Magical time with friends

What a great way to spend a Sunday - an afternoon with my knitting buddies, along with heaps of yarn, loads of cookies and cake, lots of laughs, and a fun project to work on together. Christy had recently asked me if I would do a little workshop for the gang on the Magic Ball knitting technique, which is what I have used in the 1,000 Petaled Lotus chair seat project. I was happy to oblige, and today was at long last the day to get together and have a blast making up our own personal Magic balls.

(Needless to say, there are endless jokes, insinuations, and other ribaldry that can be had on the subject of magic balls, and in the interest of maintaining a high tone in this blog I will restrain myself from making them. As all of the jokes we could think of were already made during the workshop the fun has pretty much worn off anyway. )

First came the obligatory indulgence in cookies and cake, coffee and tea. The ladies all sat very politely through my lecture on what the Magic Ball technique actually is and while I showed my samples. They had great questions and were an excellent class. The fact that several are former or current schoolteachers might account for their excellent behaviour. They even took notes.

I had a bunch of books out for inspiration - all of my treasured Kaffe Fassett books; books of charted designs for colourwork knitting; colour theory, etc. I can still remember vividly the first time I saw Kaffe Fassett's Glorious Knits - it was in the early 1980s, and I can honestly say that the book changed my knitting - and my life - forever. Stephanie brought some of her own to share as well.

I had asked everyone to bring yarn to contribute to a mutual pile to work from, and clearly, there as a group we must own a lot of yarn if the contents of this pile represents only the oddballs and scraps we were all willing to contribute. We started to consider how much money spent on yarn the pile represented but gave it up quickly; none of us could count that high.

All of us are handspinners, some for many, many years like Christy, Stephanie and Cathi; others of us for less time, but handspun yarns are perfect for this technique. Magic Balls look best best when they have lots of yarns with some subtle mixes of colours, like tweeds and heathered tones, and handspun yarns are so often beautifully irregular and rich in mixed shades. All of us have oddments of early spinning experiments that might not look good on their own but that mix in beautifully in a nicely shaded magic Ball. We had plenty to work with; as Kaffe says himself "If in doubt, add 20 more colours..."

So after a wonderful few hours spent with some of the best people I know, we all had a wonderful Magic Ball to kit with. It's great fun to see how we can recognize each others' Magic Balls just by the colours we each favour and use a lot, and agreed that sometime it would be fun to try this again and have each participant use a colour range deliberately outside of our personal comfort zone. Another workshop for another time.

Thanks, ladies, for spending your day with me! And to those who couldn't make it, you were missed, but we will try it again another time.

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