„Advanced Design&Construction“: Workshop with Laura Bryant

7. Februar 2011 | Von | Kategorie: Design, Empfehlungen, Tipps, Vogue Knitting Live

Photo: Laura Bryant

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When choosing my workshops at Vogue Knitting Live I was attracted by the word „advanced“ in Laura Bryant’s workshop title. I do not consider myself being that advanced, but I hoped to be challenged and to really learn a lot. The term „construction“ scared me a bit – as I supposed quite a lot of math and technical content, and neither am I a math expert nor is it one of my favorite subjects. However, it is a good thing to confront yourself with your weak points from time to time, and I had the slight hope to know more than I thought and to learn a lot of new things in the field of knitwear design.



Laura Bryant studied arts and design with a focus on color and textile. She is the founder and owner of Prism Yarns, a manufacturer of hand dyed „stuff yarns“. Stuff in this context means that yarns of different quality and color (but comparable weight) – up to 30 to 40 – are knotted together. Garments obtain variegating surface and structure due to changing colors, qualities and yardage. Furthermore, Laura Bryant works as a knitwear designer and wrote several books (see below).

Laura Bryant appealed to be self-confident, pragmatic and down-to-earth and made very clear statements. Right at the beginning of the workshop she left no doubt that it was only appropriate for advanced knitters and expressed her hope that every student was aware of this. I was a bit amused by this first impression I had from her – it reminded me of strict teacher. But I was sure we would get to know other facets of her personality. I was curious how it would go on.

She gave us little time for warming up. She started by explaining the importance of gauge and swatch (just a side note: none of the pros is working without swatching…). Rule of thumb: the bigger, the better, as more exact and significant. This means: not only should you make a swatch of net 10 cm (at least 10 cm x 10 cm in the desired pattern) plus some edge stitches (e.g. seed stitch to avoid the swatch from rolling in), but knit a swatch even much wider and longer than 10 cm x 10 cm . The advantage of a swatch of this size is that measuring will be easier, and you can much better determine the consumption of yarn: If your row gauge is looser than indicated in the instruction (less stitches per row), you will use less yarn. If your row gauge is tighter (more stitches per row), you will need more yarn.

Laura Bryant handed out a four page worksheet in close type. Curves and angles smiled at us…

Laura Bryant began drawing a triangle at the flipchart. The horizontal represented the desired width, the vertical represented the desired length, and the diagonal (number of stitches to be increased) should be calculated. With the help of the boxes (each represented an inch in width and length) and a gauge, she explained how to knit the distance between zero stitches/height and the desired number of stitches/width. The number of rows divided by the difference between the number of starting and end stitches gives the rate of increase (increment).

Calculation of a Curve in Knitting

The next step was the calculation of increases in a curve instead of a diagonal. Laura Bryant’s started her introduction to this assumed mathematical challenge with the sentence
A curve is nothing else than a multiple of angles.“
Her drawing at the flipchart showed that the principle of boxes, stages and gauge helps calculating. The curve is thus divided into stages and angles of different width and height. Following this, you can calculate the increases at each stage.

This was the first part of the workshop. Laura Bryant then gave us detailed and precise instructions for the construction of knitwear. Here are some examples:

  • measuring correctly: in order to get the correct shoulder width put knitting needles under your arms – the width between them shows the shoulder width
  • shaping waistline without increases/decreases or princess seam: e. g. by using smaller needles, pattern change (ribs, cables, linen stitch/chevron stitch), knit a separate waistband
  • neckline: bind off stitches instead of putting them on an extra needle to later pick them up again
  • shoulder seams: sew/crochet them instead of 3 needle-bind-off (gives a stronger seam)

Laura Bryant a „strict teacher“? No way – this impression had disappeared already after a few minutes. Laura Bryant is bright, very likable, and has a good sense of humor, and she is a real expert in her field. I learned very much because her teaching abilities are excellent.

If you want to learn more about her: This video is a preview on „A Knitter’s Guide to Color“, a DVD available at Interweave. Here you can read an interview which was published in Knitch Magazine (both in English).

Laura Bryant’s books (Amazon Germany) can be found here.

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