Remember the scarf craze? I do. I remember talks with Lisa over coffee in the morning before the shop opened that went something like this (but those of you who know us know that I am leaving a lot out):
"What happens when the scarf craze is over?"
"Well, we'll lose some customers but I bet the ones who stay will become really excellent knitters."
Lisa predictions have held true. The knitters we have kept as customers are some of the best knitters in the area. Creative and technically proficient and not afraid to take on a challenge. Last summer was definitely the Summer of Lace, and the winter has been focused a lot on colorwork. I've been thinking a lot lately about what comes next and I've figured it out. It's what I always wanted...we've become sweater knitters again.
I remember when I first started working in knitting shops in 1997. Everyone made sweaters. Customers would come in and say, "I need 11 skeins of Galway for this sweater [pointing in big hardcover Starmore book]." And all I did was pull colors and get yarn from the backstock. They were the days of Kristin Nicholas intarsia sweaters and Alice Starmore's cables. It was great. I cast on a lot of sweaters in those days, admittedly many of which are still on needles in tupperware. I should have seen it when we sold our weight in Felted Tweed this fall for the Tangled Yoke Cardigan. I should've known when the books we were ordering stopped being titled things like "Learn to knit! Ohmigod!" or "Super Funky Kooky Knitting" and became "Selbuvotter" and "Knitting Lingerie Style" or "Fitted Knits". These were real knitting books that didn't assume you were an idiot. They had complicated patterns and were confident you could follow the patterns or intuit what was being done and making your own alterations. Wonderful. And now we are going to take you all one step further. Lisa has wanted to do a class with Joan Michael McGowan for YEARS! She got in touch with her 3 or 4 years ago and asked her about coming to Philly to teach a group of knitters who could really keep up with her. Being on the west coast, Joan doesn't make it out our way often so the plans to have her come out kept being put on hold. A couple months ago she got in touch and said she would be out our way on business and would love to come and do a workshop. We were totally psyched. Those of you familiar with Joan's work know she is a shaping genius. She comes from a fashion design background and has devised great methods for applying design room fitting techniques to knitting. This class is going to be great for all of us who have been knitting sweaters and wishing we could modify them for our bodies. She says she is "...dedicated to the concept that large is just as lovely as little, and there are many styles that show off your shape..." no matter if that shape is flat-chested or ample. For instance, I know that I am very short waisted and when I do a pattern with waist shaping I always have to do lots of math to adjust the shaping so that it's actually happening at my waist, and not around my hips. Some of us are constantly adjusting shoulder shaping or wondering if we need to add some short rows at the bottom edge of the back of a sweater for fitting, um...the, ahem, derriere. Maybe patterns you love never seem to be sized for you on either end of the size chart, or one part of you is a medium and another part of you is an extra large. Whatever your body type, you should be able to enjoy knitting yourself sweaters that fit and look great. Joan Michael-McGowan is going to help us do this. Get out your tape measure ladies and gents, we're going to whip our knits into shape!