inspiration: workshop Stephen West

Once in a while I very much enjoy following a workshop. To learn new techniques or to find out how other people do certain things. Recently I followed the “Colorplay the Westknits way!” workshop with Stephen West at Ja, Wol in Rotterdam. This is by the way a really lovely yarn store with a great assortment of natural fibers, handmade or hand-dyed yarns and fair trade yarns. Absolutely worth a visit!

If you are familiar with Stephens work, you know that he is a true master in combining color and texture into eccentric but wearable pieces. Gorgeous examples include Exploration Station, Color Craving, Esjan and the Askews Me Sweater. During this 4 hours workshop he explained us his philosophy and guided us in experimentation involving lots of color, lots of texture and combining yarns.

Stephen remarked very accurately that everybody has his own color preferences, colors that are often reached for first when planning or starting a project. In the same vein there are also lots of colors, textures etc. we often don’t even consider using and walk past quickly: “Not my color”, “to busy” etcetera. It is his goal to no longer say “no”, but to become a “yes” knitter.
A too bright color? Use it as an accent. Too wild texture? Use it sparingly for that something extra in your project. Something not “your” color? Double it up with another yarn to give a whole new effect!

Various techniques like knitting an i-cord / slipped stitch edge (striped!) and short rows were also reviewed.

What I personally find so interesting, is that this working from color and material is so much different from how I usually work. I get the idea about a design, work it out on paper and then knit my sample from this pattern. Stephen Wests approach is start with a whole selection of varying yarns, a general idea for a shape and then he starts knitting. Only during the project he decides what the item wants to be.

Not only subject makes this workshop so interesting. Stephen west is a very charismatic person, easily engrossing his public with the stories of his knitting adventures. Add the pleasant surroundings of Ja, wol, the lovely tea and brownies the owner of the yarn shop Saskia served and you have a wonderful recipe for a well spend Sunday morning.

One thing is sure: I now have plenty inspiration for many new designs!