Knitting Foundations

Boonville Winter Knitting Retreat – Homework, Supplies and Logistics! Oh Yes!

Tuesday, Dec 7th Morning Workshop:

Designing Your Favorite Seamless Sweater With a Variety of Yoke Options – All Are Welcome!

Would you like to experience the comfort of knitting a seamless sweater in the round on YOUR gauge, on any yarn, where purling is the exception and no daunting “finishing” is in your near future (no seams to sew up in the end!). Have you dreamed of knitting a favorite sweater in your most coveted hand-spun, but stop in your tracks when you think of the frustrations associated with “getting the right gauge” for the pattern you have in mind?  Or, would you like to explore other seamless neckline options – yoke, “box-the-compass”, and more? Join us for this workshop! The most wonderful thing about knitting this sweater is you have built in “Check points” – constant feedback about the fit of your sweater – no need to hold your breath wondering “will this be the right size”… until it’s all finished.


Knit a swatch with the yarn you plan to knit with on your sweater – for your first sweater, I suggest a lighter colored, worsted weight yarn, but I am not one to get in the way of what pleases you! To do this, using double pointed needles that match the weight of the yarn you are using, cast on 30 stitches and work 6 rows in garter stitch. Then work 3 inches in stockinette stitch stopping after a purl row. Next, change your needle size, either increasing or decreasing size depending upon the tension you are getting in the fabric, and purl one row. Repeat, working 3 inches in stockinette stitch and one row of purl stitch, etc. until “you, the yarn and the fabric are content” (Jackie Fee). Note: Write down the needle size you used in each section. We will talk more about the use of swatches in class, but for now have in mind – which needle size are you most comfortable knitting with? Which needle size produces the fabric drape you like the most? Do the stitches look squeezed and tight? Or relaxed and loose?

What to bring!

The yarn you will be using.

Important! Your favorite sweater or sweatshirt or that of the loved one you are making the sweater for – we will be taking our measurements from this garment.

Stitch Gauge

Tape Measure


Paper and pencil

Knitting Needles:

16 inch circulars for neck and sleeves (2 sizes smaller than those you will work the body of the sweater on), 24 inch for body (on size you determined was best from doing your swatch) and sets of double pointed needles in both sizes to use for ribbing and body

A copy of Jackie Fees, The Sweater Workshop (not required to do workshop). The book will also be available for purchase at the retreat if desired – including a hand-signed bookmark from Jackie with her very CLEAR instructions on the Kitchener Stitch!

Thin Stitch Markers in a variety of colors.

Curved Darning Needle

With Jackie’s kind permission, I will provide a handout of my augmented version of the “Gauge Page” from her book The Sweater Workshop.

Tuesday, Dec 7th Afternoon Workshop:

Permission to Design With Color – the Persian Poppy Shawl – All Are Welcome!

Come prepared to have fun with color!  We will explore our color work in a variety of ways – how to generate a color palette from a digital image and taking advantage of what the Color Wheel has to offer us, and more. Fair Isle technique will be demonstrated with a few different suggestions for handling a large number of colors, as well as how to knit in those pesky ends of yarn as you go. This is a great project to let go of all of your assumptions about what colors you are “allowed” to work with and the “correct” combinations to use. Come enjoy your sense of color!


Go to your favorite greeting card shop and get a postcard/card of something, doesn’t matter what, only that you are THRILLED BY THE COLOR COMBINATION YOU SEE. It could be a landscape, a photograph, a famous painting… you decide. (If you find your color palette in a needlepoint book or magazine – by all means bring that instead!) Next step… dig around in your yarn stash (I know you have one!) and pick out as many natural fiber (cotton, silk, linen, wool, mohair, bamboo, soy, etc.) colors with a variety of textures that you have to match the colors in the card. So for the Poppies pick out around 15 fairly close tones and for the background around 15 more fairly close tones but with a little more variation. And for the poppy centers, find 3 colors that pop a little – when you look at them you think “oh!” Bring all this to the workshop!

Now, for the shawl, you want a nice drape to it. So, to get acquainted with your fibers you are going to make a stripped swatch. With one of the yarns you picked out from your stash, cast on 30 stitches and knit back and forth a couple of rows to create a garter stitch border (keeps the fabric from curling). Next, pick a circular needle that is a few sizes larger than the one suggested on the yarn label and knit a few rows of stockinette stitch (knit one row, purl one row) of a variety of your colors. Try not to worry about how the colors look together – you are getting information about the drape of your fibers together. Do this for a total of three inches. Don’t forget to note on a piece of paper the size needle you started your swatch with and what you change to along the way. Next look at the fabric you produced so far – do you like the drape, or is it a little too tight or stiff. If it is, go ahead and get a needle sized one or two sizes up from the needles you’ve been using and knit a couple more rows of the garter ridges (knitting all rows). Changing colors when you’d like, knit a couple more inches in stockinette stitch. Note, the sole purpose of this swatch is to find the drape of the fabric you like!  And most importantly, you want a nice loose tension. Once you have produced a fabric you like the drape of, go ahead and leave the knitting on the needles and bring to the workshop!

If you don’t get to this swatch making before the workshop – no worries, we will be doing more of this in class!

What to bring!

The postcard/card that portrays the colors you are thrilled by.

The stash you picked out after doing the above homework.

Paper and pencil.

Bring circular needles (24 inch) in the size that produced the fabric drape you like. (Bring more needles above and below this size if you have them).

Reminder – folks attending the retreat will receive a one time, 25% discount at the Village Knitters Yarn Shop here in Santa Rosa –, before or after the retreat – just let them know I sent you!

And for those lodging at the Boonville Hotel – check in with be after 3 pm on Monday; continental breakfast is included each morning and they will be serving “small plates” for Monday and Tuesday dinners ($12.50 each) – vegetarian will be one of the options. We will have an evening class after dinner on Monday, Dec 6th – Innovative, Last Minute Gift Ideas. And don’t forget, when you arrive – sign up for your 1/2 hour consult with me on any knitting interest scheduled sometime during the retreat!

Again, your registration is binding. Cancellations will be refunded only if the retreat is completely full and we are able to fill your space.

Lastly, if you need assistance getting your materials together, have any questions regarding the homework, or the retreat, feel free to contact me by email or by phone 707 486 9370

See you there! Happy Knitting, Jessica

P.S. Go to this link for dining options in Boonville – and for more information about the Anderson Valley – Anderson Valley Chamber of Commerce


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