Barry Klein and the baby sweater

baby sweater barry klein top down classI’ve tried about five times to write a concise post about my top-down sweater class at Stitches, and each time it quickly becomes a 2000-word manifesto about how obsessive I am. Suffice it to say, when I take on anything new, I want to know everything about how it’s done. Sometimes I wish I were able to just follow a recipe (both literally and metaphorically) — I mean, someone labored over it, why not benefit from that? — instead of inventing or reinventing every dish to suit my own taste. But alas, I’m not. Whether it’s food or gardening or any craft or design discipline (beyond the one I actually have a degree in), it’s important to me to understand materials and methods, the how and why, so that I can go my own way with a solid understanding of the implications of whatever decisions I make.

You get it: same with knitting. What I wanted to get out of Barry Klein‘s all-day sweater class was not a prescription but knowledge, and that’s what I got. Like I said, this was a class about top-down sweater construction — seamless sweaters, that you can try on as you go! That’s a thing I want to know how to do. Barry didn’t just say do this, now do that. He discussed the hows and whys of the top-down method. And he was very generous about it. Plus I made a baby sweater! Well, most of one. 90% of the people in the room were more experienced and faster than I was. So while I totally got what we were doing, I was slower to complete each step. Barry was concerned about us all being up to the same point — the point where we would take the sleeve stitches off the needles and cast on stitches for the underarms — by the time we reconvened after lunch. I was in jeopardy of not having the mandated four inches, but wasn’t concerned about it. I was there to learn, not to finish a baby sweater, so it was fine with me if I had disproportionately small armholes. But I caught up and I’m so glad, because this thing is adorable. I’m excited to finish the sleeves and torso, for practice, and then move on to making a sweater that will actually fit my broad shoulders and narrow torso at the same time, which is the whole point.

The hilarious thing was the diversity of sweaters from one knitter to the next. Everyone else was doing colorwork or stitch patterns, in every color under the sun. You see mine up there. I was so very clearly the minimalist in the room.

One thing I have to tell you about Barry. He has all kinds of credentials and claims to fame, but the one that made me say WOW out loud (no joke) was when he mentioned in passing that he knitted all of Freddy Krueger’s sweaters for “A Nightmare on Elm Street”! I also have to tell you that if you get a chance to take a class with him, do it. I’m working out how to get in on his “Perfect the Fit” class somewhere/sometime soon.