My Vogue Knitting Live class was ‘Snips n Zips’ with Franklin Habit, aka steeks and zippers. I’ve got experience with both techniques but I’m always looking for ways to improve my finishing and add polish to my knits.
I’m happy with my steeks, but you can see my zippers buckle. They’re definitely passable. I wear that brown sweater, my Rhinebeck Sweater from a few years back, frequently. They are not perfect though.
I’ll just get straight to the money shot because this is a perfect zipper! I couldn’t be happier. Those lines are so lovely. I’m really pleased with my work.
The big secret? Basting the zipper into place before sewing it down. It helped immensely. The buckling in my previous zippers is due to the fabric shifting as I sewed. It’s something I, especially, need to combat. Loose fabrics like I knit, shift a lot as they’re being stitched.
Always sew zippers at a table, was Franklin’s other advice. Allow the table to support the weight of the garment. That will help stabilize everything and making sewing easier.
So, I’m super happy with the zipper portion of the program. I will say though, I do not prefer Franklin’s method of steeking. He teaches the slip stitch crochet method.
And he teaches it very well.
He’s got great visual aids, both drawn and 3D. That board represents 4 rows of 5 knit stitches, the center stitch being the one cut. With a very large crochet hook and lengths of thick i-cord he demonstrates precise hook placement and stitch formation. It’s so helpful.
He’s an extremely experienced teacher, having presented this class to over 2000 students. Even before that though, he tests all his classes on a group of volunteers back home and really spends time thinking about where students run in to problems and how to avoid them. Simple tips like always sew with the zipper closed. It’s a simple observation and a simple adjustment. I like not having to reinvent the wheel.
All that said, I don’t like the crochet steek method. I did it in class to be a good sport and see if my dislike was still reasonable. It is. Here’s why…bulk. I’ve got plenty of my own bulk. I do not need garments adding any extra.
On the right side of the swatch, you see the slip stitch crochet method. On the left side, my preferred technique, a sewn reinforcement with a simple backstitch. When the stabilizing stitches are sewn like this, you’re putting a lot less yarn into it, it makes perfect sense that it would be less bulky.
Of course, I’m also basing my decision on Lopi. The yarn you cut influences these decisions in a big way. Sticky wools barely need any stabilizing stitches at all. If I was using a superwash wool, my choice might be different. (Like don’t chose superwash wool!) I might consider a crochet steek at that point.
Franklin had lots of samples for us to see. Much to my surprise, the lovely blue and grey floral vest he knit was from a superwash, Lorna’s Laces Sport. Slip stitch crochet steek and it’s a gorgeous garment. Certainly not showing any signs of unraveling.
Of course, the first thing I did was turn it inside out. How does Franklin finish garments? Turns out, his insides aren’t all that different from mine. If you work with precision, those details just fall into place and sort themselves out.
The biggest difference between our work is gauge. Firmly knit fabrics are not my thing. Franklin’s gauge is unbelievable to me. My homework was knit with Lett Lopi on Size 4 needles. Franklin just happened to bring a tea cozy he made with Lett Lopi on Size 4 needles.
It’s tough to get a sense of drape without the samples in hand but look closely at the stitches and you’ll see. There’s daylight between and behind my stitches, you can see the looseness. Look at his stitches, they’re tight and closely packed. No daylight there. Same yarn, same size needles, both knit in the round…completely different fabrics! Moral of the story: Gauge matters, take time to do a swatch or three. It’s true. Sorry.
SO, I had a very good class experience. My only real complaint, Vogue makes the teachers collect their own materials fees in class. We had a $5 fee for the zippers. I’m not faulting Franklin for collecting it but I know how much zippers cost (less than a dollar) and I know how much I paid for this class ($125). And Vogue couldn’t afford to toss Franklin a few extra bucks for materials? It was a sold out class. How cheap are they? Also worth mentioning, they materials fee was not on their website so we didn’t even know about it. I poked around, other classes had their fee listed so I’m sure it was an unintentional oversight but c’mon…it’s not like this is their first rodeo.
As for the rest of the classes I talked to people about, seems the bad stories were overwhelming. All those good things I said about Franklin, they were missing entirely from other teachers. No class notes, no long history of teaching, no thought and intention put into curriculums, no well oiled classes.
Instead, it was first time teachers, people who are instagram famous for designing shawls but can’t teach worth a damn. Designers who can sell patterns but lack quality public speaking ability. Authors who changed class itineraries with no notice.
I was surprised at the big name knitters who put out substandard classes. It’s too bad. Conventional wisdom around here said VKL gets better teachers than Stitches but after this weekend, we need to rethink that idea. I’d say it’s more accurate to say VKL gets bigger name teachers, that’s not to say they can teach at all.
There was one other guy who got very high marks though, Josh Bennett. He did not disappoint! I had a feeling he’d be a good teacher. I watched him mentor designers throughout the course of Skacel’s Fiber Factor. He provided great insight into the design process in those videos and the importance of editing. If you haven’t seen the Fiber Factor, you can check it out on YouTube. It was an attempt at giving knitwear designers a chance at reality tv style design challenges. It didn’t last into a second season but I definitely learned a lot about designing knitwear by watching it.
Anyhow, Josh Bennett…he’s a yes! Stay tuned tomorrow for lots of sweater pics, including the sweaters Josh designed for Marvel, inspired by Black Panther and a sneak peek at the garments in November’s issue of Vogue Knitting!