If you’re Rhinebeck bound, we would love to see you at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night. Details here.

Sasha Kagan Spotted at Noshville

Dear Kay,
So. Yesterday, the birdlike, funny Sasha Kagan materialized at Angel Hair Yarn Co. for an afternoon, and it was one of those great times when you get to peek behind the curtain.
She has been in the knitwear design business for 30 years. I look at her drifts of pullovers and cardigans and waistcoats and swatches, and my head pretty much spins. How many times have I pondered Sasha Kagan’s designs, in Rowan magazines? Flowers and vines and leaves–all lovely, complex work. But yesterday, when Sasha showed us pictures of her beautiful home, I understood in a snap what’s egging her on. It’s her yard, people. Sasha’s got this 15-acre piece of heaven in Wales that would provide anybody with enough inspiration for a lifetime. She’s got the bracken, and the rose hips, and the delphinium and lavender and roses and pansies and leaves and vines and crikey–the woman has no choice! It’s a freakin’ arboretum out her back door.
[Nonknitters, just skip this paragraph. We’ll be done soon.] Sasha has an intarsia technique I’d never seen, one which is a bit like Fair Isle and which makes all those delicate tiny intarsia flowers hang together better. In short, she weaves the background color behind all the tiny bits, not starting a new ball every single time the background color appears. There’s a two-stitch technique for the weaving. Very efficient, but it does create a double thickness of fabric. I’d always thought intarsia was all about creating a single-weight fabric; shows what I know. Sasha likes the dimensional quality this technique gives to her flowers and leaves. I’d explain the Whoopsydoodle Maneuver to you, but I’ve forgotten how Sasha explained it and so I’d have to use my explanation: put the picture color first, upsy, over, offsy, knit. See? It makes it so easy!
So many swatches. One of the reasons I have always been so intarsia resistant is that it seems so fiddly, so start-and-stop. The Whoopsydoodle Maneuver makes it a bit more rhythmic, but I still find myself with a tangle of yarns, which I ignore until the situation becomes dire. Sasha kept chirping about how it all turns into a smooth little rhythm. I’ll keep plugging away at my swatch. We’ll. See.
The idea of knitted plaid is always funny. One textile recreated as another.
Quintessential Sasha: autumn leaves.
Why, it’s a pair of flowery waistcoat-wearin’ gals, just standing around waiting for the line dancing to start at the Wildhorse Saloon.
This sweater (I’m practicing my curtsy) is a festival of four-ply, my favorite weight of wool. This is just a headbanger of a pattern.
The workshop was too short for us to explore our own ideas–we were all too busy figuring out how to whoopsydoodle. I’d come to the workshop straight from a weekend in the mountains of Grundy County, and the color of the week up there is GREEN. I have a batch of green yarns that look just like the forest floor. It would be fun to see whether intarsia is worth it when the colors are close cousins of each other. Would all that fiddling result in something worth having? Or would it be too indistinct? The drama is killing me.
A great group, a welter of ideas, and excellent celebrity knitter spotting. We need to go on one of those Baltic knitting cruises or something. Or have a Grundy County Knitting Symposium.




  1. Oooh, do all the greens together! Yes, do! You could do your whoopsidoodle (am I spelling that correctly?) or just stripes, or a slip-stitch melange of greens, but do show us tons of green together! (I like green…)
    And hey, I love that purple flowery lacey sweater in your first picture. Wow… That’d take a bit of concentration, wouldn’t it!

  2. I did some intarsia of my own this weekend (no, I haven’t blogged it, yet) – probably not Sasah Kagan quality, though. I did, however, carry the yarn behind the work on occassion – mainly by accident, when there were too many bobbins next to each other. If only I’d know if was a valid technique! 🙂
    As for the greens, I think I’d do a sample swatch first, just to make sure it’s going to be worth the effort…

  3. She is more inspiration than Kaffe Fassett when it comes to beautiful intarsia work. However, I’m going to be knitting a KF sweater pretty soon when I get my nerves up to do all that colorwork. What have I gotten myself into?
    I would have enjoyed meeting Sasha doing her intarsia technique. It sounds like it does hold better than doing plain intarsia.
    I’m envious that you met Sasha. Maybe she’ll come to Pittsburgh one of these days.

  4. I love looking at her designs too … just looking is already a pleasure! You are soooo lucky!

  5. What’s the nearest airport to Grundy County, and will your boys play with my girl? Surely you’ve talked Sasha into it arleady, right? Sign me up!

  6. I took a class on intarsia/fair isle in February – unfortunately I was sick for the second class.
    I don’t think I quite got it – lucky you for being taught by a master! And I’m dying over her garden – my camera would probably explode!

  7. Oh Ann – I forsee intarsia in your future. You just sound a little too enthusiastic to keep resisting ! Anyway, whoopsydoodles that make your fabric too thick can usually be sorted out with a severe, targetted blocking. And if not, you can always beat yourself round the head with the iron for being so nuts as to try whoopsydoodling at all.
    Heather x

  8. When I have more time than now, if you want, I can tell you the “to be continued” part of the class I took with her seven years ago, but of course it wouldn’t be the same without the Welsh accent.

  9. Oh I am so toying with the idea of that one in the Rowan 37 mag, the one hanging in the first picture. Whoopsydoodling here I come!

  10. Now I know this has nothing to do with Sasha Kagan, but I just spotted a new buttonhole bag for ya over at http://now.what-happens.com/2ktog/ down a few entries. Mine is still as lovely as ever and people always comment on it. It seems the throwing in the wash step is more interesting to most than the actual knitting.
    Okay, back to intarsia…

  11. that sounds like a lot of fun!
    Sasha’s designs are so pretty, maybe too pretty for garments. perhaps, a project for my next life could be a flowery knitted blanket, maybe even made of squares with different flowers from her designs. need to go and lie down in a dark room now!


A bit of news from us, every now and again.

(Your email is safe with us.)