Saturday, October 22, 2011

Glasgow School of Yarn... Taking a Pew with Stephen West!

Yesterday, I took a day trip to Glasgow School of Yarn, organised by the wonderful Yarn Cake.

I took a class with Stephen West!  Here he is, the man himself, wearing a glorious man-shawl he designed and knitted, and demonstrating how to cable without a cable needle.  It was a pretty small class, so we got individual attention and could ask all those burning questions about his work, his life, what flavour of jelly beans he prefers... oh no, not really! I made that last one up!

I felt like a bit of fraud, because although I am a total fan-girl (a male dancer who designs knitting patterns?  Wow!  Carlos Acosta, stand aside, Mr West is coming through!) haven't actually knitted any of his designs! :O
But that is going to change because I am INSPIRED!
He had brought along an entire trunk-load of his work.  There were sample shawls, hats, mittens, a bag from past, present and future publications.  He talked through his design process, colour, yarn and stitch-pattern decisions.
Two-colour stripes are a bit of a WestKnits trademark, and I think they are one of the features which make the shawls appropriate for men as well as women.  I came away itching to make the Transatlantic Shawl for The Boy!
I love the holes in it!  I mean - what a crazy zombie-friendly idea!  And the vertical stripes?  The garter stitch sections, adding texture?  SO COOL!
Oh - did I mention we actually got to handle his knitted samples?  :D
Sadly, he didn't have any of his books available at the class.  I have sent a hopeful message to the Yarn Cake, asking to reserve a copy of WestKnits 2, if at all possible.  He mentioned a future publication on the theme of Movement - I will be queuing that one as soon as it comes out - Stephen West legwarmers?!  Yes please!
The event was held in the Mackintosh Church, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, but I didn't take many pictures of the interior.  If you look through the hole in Transatlantic (above) you can see a glimpse of this stained glass window:
Maybe if you ask her nicely, Christine will post her photos of the architecture, as she was far more diligent than me in this regard.  Hello Christine!
And Ms Ripples has taken a photo of our class from below, here.  I am gutted to note that Mr West is blocking your view so you can't see that this is a picture of him talking to Christine and me!  LOL

Of course, the purpose of the class was to practise various techniques.  When I look at my tiny swatch, I have to laugh that this was my output from three hours of knitting!  But I had another five hours' worth of stitching time on the train, so I also have half a sock to show for it!
And anyway... three hours with Stephen West?  Priceless!
P.S. And yes, there was cake too - mmmmmmmmmm! ;)


didyoumakethat said...

Oh my. I'm sorry about whatever the tragic accident was to get you there, but so glad to read about your fun in HEAVEN!!! That sounds so brilliant.

Sarah said...

Roo: Just can't wait to see what creation you'll come up with. So glad you were able to have a day away, doing something you enjoy so very much!!

Hugs from across the pond.....

Anonymous said...

You must must must knit a Mr West design I have done 2 and they are most satisfying and drape beautifully and can be played around with..e.g.using different yarns etc.
laura in Toronto

Sigrid said...

I can see why you're a girl fan. his stuff is great/ And I can't wait to see Betty Jean next weekend!

feresaknit said...

You may not have knit anything yet but you did spread the word and I knit the knitalong shawl which I wouldn't have come across otherwise - so you are a Stephen West pusher! ;D

Oh and I now need to knit another one as a friend (who rarely asks for anything crafted) has said she'd like one for Christmas!