Now that the summer is over I thought it was time to learn a new skill (or two) and as a result I have booked myself on to several one day workshops over the next couple of months. I do like this as a way of trying something new because as everything is condensed into a day I feel there is often more focus than on some courses which spread out over several weeks.
The first two workshops have been completed and I am delighted to have learned two new skills! Both workshops were half days at The Fluffatorium (www.gilliangladrag.co.uk) in Dorking, Surrey.
The Fluffatorium, Dorking
Last week I spent a couple of hours with the delightful, and very patient, Claire who taught me to knit. I have always wanted to be able to knit and over the years have made several attempts all of which have ended in doom, despondency and general failure. When I spotted a morning knitting workshop I took the chance and booked in. There was a moment of alarm when the day before Claire telephoned me to say that I was the only person who had booked in on that particular workshop, but she would be happy to teach me on a one-to-one basis for an hour and a half. Fantastic! The following morning I arrived at the wonderfully and Roald Dahl-esquely named Fluffatorium in West Street, Dorking. On arrival I was made very welcome and after a lovely cup of tea we started. Claire set me straight on how to hold the yarn so that it didn’t get mixed up and then we cast on a few stitches using a method which makes the bottom of the work look like a chain. After a while spent perfecting the basic garter stitch we moved on to purl stitch. This has caused me lots of difficulty in the past and Claire made it seem so effortless. Still, I managed and after a lesson in casting off it was time to go down to the shop and choose some yarn for the scarf project.
The course aims to make a scarf using massive needles and this amazing slubbed yarn by Colinette called “one zero”. This yarn is spun in a thick and thin strand so the thin parts are closer in thickness to a thick sewing thread while the thickest parts of the yarn are loosely spun together and are more like soft wool tops. The whole is dyed in various colours along the length of the skein. I chose a predominately pink skein called Rose Garden which has some green, blue and lilac in as well as the pink. Before the wool could be used it had to be rolled in to a ball, I remember sitting with my arms outstretched as a child while my Mum rolled skeins of Arun wool into balls. One this was done I cast on 20 stitches and knitted a couple of rows before it was time to go home. I managed to finish the scarf, complete with tassels in 3 evenings and jolly pleased with it I am too!
My scarf – under construction, close up of fab huge stitches and modelled by Kat
Today, just one week later I went back for a morning session learning the gentle art of Crochet. Now that’s crochet pronounced crow-shay and not crotch-het. The fundamental difference between knitting and crochet, to my mind at least, is that with crochet you use a hook on which is one stitch at any one time, while knitting uses two needles with multiple stitches. This time I was accompanied by two other lovely ladies each equally as novice as I was. The ebullient Claire met us and after selecting some yarn – I chose a fluorescent orange we settled down in the upstairs “classroom” and started to crochet.
The delightful and colourful training room at The Fluffatorium
Ever patient, Claire began with the absolute basics like how to tie a slip knot – essential for starting a piece of crochet. Once this was mastered, we began by making a short chain, simple enough until you then start to hook back into it and make a double crochet. Once we were suitably comfortable with that it was time to have a bash at the treble crochet and I don’t mind admitting that I quite literally managed to get myself into a knot! Still, no need to panic as Claire calmly and efficiently explained what I had done wrong and set me back on track. By mid-morning we had covered the basics and moved on to making a round. Again I managed to get a bit tangled up but a second attempt was more successful.
Crochet samples in vivid orange
The final part of the morning was spent learning the time-honoured skill of “The Granny Square”. Everyone will recognise these, everyone’s granny will surely have made blankets or table mats from these. I found this to be a bit easier than the straight up and down, and even with a couple of errors I felt more confident in what I was doing and even managed to make a colour change – I chose neon highlighter pink – the clashing colours seemed like such a good idea at the time, and they certainly brightened up a dull and rainy day even if the orange did begin to make my eyes ache after a while!
Neon Granny Square
I really enjoyed my workshops at the Fluffatorium and am so grateful to Claire for her patience, for sharing her skills and passing on her knowledge.