Over the course of the next few months, we will be introducing you to the wonderful teachers, vendors and sponsors that have made Knit Nation possible.
Wendy Johnson is a lifelong knitter who has since April 2002 chronicled her adventures with ‘sticks and string’ at WendyKnits.net. I am really looking forward to meeting Wendy – by all accounts she is a lovely person, and a great teacher. She is the author of Wendy Knits: My Never-Ending Adventures in Yarn, Socks From the Toe Up, and Toe-Up Socks for Every Body.
Some of the heel constructison in Socks from the Toe Up are unusual and very interesting – the short row heel was the first one Wendy learned when she started knitting socks – but the other two are her own creation. She has worked out and deconstructed them to be able to work them top down as well.
We asked Wendy whether she’d been to the UK before and found that as a child Wendy lived briefly in Pinner, a small village in northwest London and became a lifelong Anglophile as a result. She hasn’t been back for over 10 years, so we are really thrilled to be welcoming her back to London.
One of my standard questions for anyone coming to London is what foods they are looking forward to eating – normally I expect fish & chips/bangers & mash as an answer. But I was intrigued to find that Wendy practices clean eating which has meant she has been able to shake off her allergies – something I really must look into. Thank goodness there is alot of choice for food around London and near Imperial College. Ranoush Juice on the Old Brompton Road has great fresh lebanese salads, Rotisserie Jules for chicken and fresh juice on Bute Street. There are also a couple of supermarkets nearby including Waitrose by Gloucester Road tube, Tesco on Old Brompton Road and Wholefoods Market on Kensington High Street, so plenty of clean eating choices!
Since we’ve got alot of knitters travelling from abroad, the question of airport security & knitting needles is a common one. Again Wendy suprised us – she told us that she almost never knits while in transit on a plane or train – she prefers to read!
Wendy taught herself how to knit cables when she was 18 years old after many painful and frustrating hours of trial and error, and out of that experience she developped her class Cables With and Without a Cable Needle to save others from a similar experience.
In her cable class you can learn to cable with or without a cable needle – whichever you are more comfortable with, but Wendy encourages everyone to try without. The students work a cabled swatch that has a variety of different techniques on it. The swatch is large enough (well, depending upon the yarn you use) to be used as the front of a very small pillow or half of a little purse.
Wendy’s favourite knitting technique is cabling without a cable needle which she learned at a Knitting Guild of America convention about 10 years after learning how to cable. She said it was an epiphany – saving hours of knitting time by reducing the number of steps needed to make a cable (not to mention reducing the frustration from dropped cable needles and ensuing stitches!).
Fly On the Wall
I’m really curious as to what classes our teachers would take if they had the time. When asked, Wendy responded with “I’d like to take all of them! But having to narrow it down to one, Shirley Paden – because I’ve never seen one of her designs I didn’t love!”
A Little Story…
We asked each of our teachers to share a funny knitting story. This is Wendy’s:
The funniest knitting story I have to share just happened recently. I had my car in for routine maintenance and was in the waiting room, knitting away. An older gentleman came in and sat down opposite me. He watched me knit for a while and finally said “That’s interesting.” When I looked up, expecting the usual generic comment about knitting, he continued “You don’t often see Americans knitting continental.”
Our next teacher to be featured is Shirley Paden on Thursday 15 April. See you then!