Archive for Saturday, September 4, 2004

Knitter offers classes online

Tips and patterns available at blogger’s Web site

September 4, 2004


— So you've mastered knits and purls, stitched scarves, conquered cables and you're looking for a new challenge.

Consider taking a class with the diva, the mistress, the empress of the online knitting community: Wendy. Yes, fellow knitters, that Wendy of, whose multiple projects and amazing productivity have inspired and frustrated legions of knitters who visit her Web log. She's teaching a fall class in lace knitting at Knit Happens in Alexandria, Va., and she promises it won't be a daunting experience.

"It's fun, and it isn't nearly as complicated as you might think," says Wendy, whose full name is Wendy D. Johnson.

Johnson, widely regarded as a pioneer in the online knitting universe, started out about a decade ago with various knitting listservs, where about 3,000 knitters worldwide would post daily updates on their projects. Now she's part of a large community of knit bloggers, who post pictures of their work, question and answers, tips and patterns.

The knitter behind the blog is a 47-year-old team leader at the Labor Department. She chronicles each project -- and there are many -- on her Web site, complete with photos: One complicated Fair Isle cardigan after another, punctuated by the occasional pair of socks or a silk sleeveless number, leaving the rest of us more desultory knitters wondering: How does she do it?

She has a photographic memory, so she can look at patterns or color charts once, instead of the back-and-forth routine most knitters rely on. Her mathematical mind gives her a quick grasp of patterning, size and gauge. Finally, she is really, really fast. She uses a style learned from a picture knitting guide she was given as a child, which is neither the right-handed American style or the left-handed "continental" technique some say is most efficient.

Originally a "solitary knitter," Johnson has found a large cyber community through her Web site and dozens of other sites and blogs. Knitters around the world contact her for advice. After Sept. 11, 2001, a knitter in England e-mailed an invitation to go stay there, where she would be safe. "I can truly say that I have made close friends through knitting and the Internet that I wouldn't have known in any other way," she says.

Although the lace knitting course will be among her first forays into teaching, Johnson relishes the informal instruction she dishes out on her Web site and at knitting get-togethers. But lately she's had a particularly satisfying teaching experience: "I taught my boyfriend to knit, and he really got into it," she says. "He's always been supportive and interested. ... Now he's knitting too."

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