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Teach a knitting class and start a revolution

 

I’m fortunate to be retired and to spend my Canadian winters in the Italian Alps. The winters are tamer there, less snow, and a lightweight down-filled coat is all you need. Since I don’t ski, I wanted to occupy myself with other than patchwork and quilting, and so decided to offer a knitting class in the small town of St-Pierre where I live during the winter. Because knitting socks on circular needles is pretty much unheard of in these parts, I knew I would teach a knitting class and start a revolution.

The poster read, “I’m learning how to knit socks” and featured a pair of socks I had knitted. The picture was inspired from A. Zilboorg’s Fancy Feet.

The poster read, "I'm learning how to knit socks" and featured a pair of socks I had knitted. The picture was inspired from A. Zilboorg’s Fancy Feet.
The poster read, “I’m learning how to knit socks” and featured a pair of socks I had knitted. The picture was inspired from A. Zilboorg’s Fancy Feet.

 

 

It never dawned on me that this would be cause for a revolution! Italians have been knitting socks for millennia, top down, flap heel, one-at-a-time, with 4 double pointed needles. And that’s how it’s done!

I never thought I would get anyone attending the course offered. So I asked for a ridiculous low fee which included everything: wool, needles, written instructions, videos, on-line-support, classes and the guarantee that in 7.5 hrs the attendees would leave with a finished pair of socks. Gulp.

Let me explain the previous gulp.

About 4 years ago, I decided I had enough of gray or left-over yarn socks that my aunt would knit. I wanted color, lots of it. But she wouldn’t hear of it. Socks, in her age-group and culture were not a fashion statement, but rather a garment to keep you warm. I had never knit a sock or anything of substance, really. I don’t consider myself a knitter – I mean I know how to knit and purl and so forth – but take a pattern away from me and I’m lost. Plus, I’m lazy. I need instant gratification.

So if you knit one sock at a time, you only get 1/2 instant gratification. Not good.

The solution was the book by Melissa Morgan-Oakes, which taught how to knit two socks at one time, toe up, with one pair of circular needles. (http://melissa-knits.blogspot.ca)

Family and friends got awesome socks for Christmas!
Family and friends got awesome socks for Christmas!

 

 

Recently retired, I had all the time in the world, so I struggled through all of the socks in her book and everyone got socks for Christmas. The difference with my socks was that I used variegated Merino wool that I bought at the market in Aosta, Italy, so they were gorgeous, well…beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The yarn merchant at the market in Aosta, Italy.
The yarn merchant at the market in Aosta, Italy.

 

 

That was 3 years ago. My aunt thought I was crazy when she would see me with the two socks hanging from the circular needles. She didn’t understand how it worked. I barely understood it myself, let alone trying to explain wrap and turn in Italian to her.

And then the tipping point, Melissa was not enough. I needed more.

I must have emptied the shelves from books on sock knitting of the local bookstore and must have sent the librarians in a tizzy with my obscure, foreign language book requests in the city. Inter-library loans, special requests to friends abroad, used books pilgrimages, internet searches. I couldn’t get enough information on how to make socks and designs.

Two years ago, I launched into Fair Isle socks, concentrating on Turkish traditional patterns. I started by copying some patterns, then I was on my merry way in mixing and matching patterns, and colors. I was knitting all year round, completing friends’ and family requests.

One of the results of my mix and matching patterns and colors
One of the results of my mix and matching patterns and colors

 

 

One year ago, I launched into designing my own patterns, having realized that by modifying all the pattern designs I was coming across, I was, in effect already designing my own. And that’s another story, since it splits into the creation of an e-book.

So back in St- Pierre, Italy, in January 2015, the posters go up around town, at the hardware store, the numerous coffee shops, the restaurants, the grocery stores, the bakery, the gelateria.

I sit by the phone a week away from course launch and received 0 phone calls.

Tune in tomorrow for part 2 as I try to teach a knitting class and start a revolution. Luigina

 

 

About Luigina Baratto

Knitting was always around me, but I only started knitting 4 years ago, when I decided to knit two socks at a time. Today, I can’t imagine a day without knitting. I also like to dabble in quilting, jewelry making, writing, and teaching. On my spare time, I enjoy retirement by signing up to half marathons and all sorts of crazy morning fitness classes.

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