Sasha Kagan Spotted at Noshville
May 16, 2005
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.