Maker Monday: Meet Lace Knitting Expert Laura Nelkin

Posted by on Mar 25, 2013 in Knitting | Comments


Longstanding Craftsy instructor and knitting expert, Laura Nelkin, is back at Craftsy teaching yet another awesome online knitting class. In Lace from the Inside Out with Laura Nelkin, you will learn how to block your shawl, add lace edging, and all you need to know about nupps! We had a chance to sit down with Laura and ask her about history with knitting, and how she comes up with all those creative names. We think you’ll get a kick out Laura in this free video, and we think you’ll absolutely love the lace knitting class!

Knitting lace… I learned how to knit when my daughter was a toddler and I jumped right into a Debbie Bliss cabled pullover for her because I didn’t know that was hard and that I shouldn’t be trying that as my first sweater. And pretty soon after that I decided I wanted to design a sweater because I why not? I didn’t know I couldn’t design a sweater. And I did a lace border on the bottom. I read a little bit about lace and I figured out a little chart and then I twisted all my yarn-overs so all the yarn-overs were closed up and it wasn’t opening up right. And then I actually showed it to somebody who is an expert knitter and she showed me how to do a yarn-over correctly. And then I had to chop the bottom of that sweater off and reknit the border correctly and graft it back onto the sweater again. So that’s my great first lace knitting story.

I love teaching and I had no idea that I was going to love teaching. I had never really done any teaching before but I find that I do love having an audience, I love having people listen to me. I love cracking up a room. I love looking at all of these faces looking at me intently learning the next thing, and then just getting everybody to crack a smile or giggle out loud. I also adore that I learn as much from my students as they learn from me. Often times a student will come up with another way of doing a beaded bind-off or another way of thinking about where a bead is sitting on a stitch that I haven’t looked at before. So whenever I teach I always come out of a class with a new tid bit and to me that is the magic of knitting. That it is this craft that we can share and learn with each other. And in my Craftsy classes people are constantly posting something where I’m like, “Oh what if we did that? Let me try that.” And I’ll go grab my needles and my yarn and I’ll try it out. And then I’ll say “Wow you came up with a new idea. Let me think about how we can incorporate that.” So teaching really does allow me to grow as a knitter and a designer as well.

I do put a ton of thought into naming my patterns. Sometimes I name a pattern before I knit it, like when I’m still in the design phase and the name will give me a jumping board for working on it. Other times I’ve finished a whole piece and then I have to name it. So for example with the lifecycle design that I did for Lace from the Inside Out, I was looking at each stitch and I knew I had to name each stitch, and the only stitch in there that already had a name was the cocoon stitch. So I knew I had the word cocoon and I was kind of thinking about the lifecycle of an insect and looking at all the different phases that an insect goes through and what they’re called. And my husband helped me get on some biology websites to find all the different names. So we came up with egg and then we came up with instar which is a toddler insect, then we have the cocoon, and we had nymph which is more of like a teenage insect before it’s really ready to leave the house. And then an imago is another name for an adult insect. But what I really liked about the name of “life cycle” for the shawl is that this is a blanket that can be given to a baby or this is a shawl you could be knitting for an elderly loved one- it’s all about the lifecycle and that really held some great meaning for me.

When I think about what I’m excited about for people with this class I like that skills are being built and that you’re starting over a small number of stitches. Because with the lifecycle shawl or baby blanket, whichever they’re choosing to make, they’re starting over 8 stitches. And when they end, they’re ending up with 600 or 800 stitches on their needles. So it’s pretty important as we advanced the skills that they’ve really gotten built before we go onto the next thing. And I think it’s fun designing in that way, so that when they’re learning nupps for the first time, they’re doing that over 40 stitches instead of over 600 stitches because it’s a little harder to rip back when you get to that point in the shawl. So I like the way that I’ve designed this with different steps of learning happening based on how many stitches you have on your needles. So it’s really about a progression. And what I’m really excited about for this class is for the people who didn’t feel like they needed a beginning lace knitting class, I really do think that there are things in this class that they’ll really get out of it by working through the piece. And they’ll end up with a stunning finished product and something that they’ll have for years to come.

Come on back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow to learn a great lace knitting tip from Laura!