Nihon Vogue is a Japanese knitting certification that covers 5 years, from beginning (standard) to certified instructor. In North America, there is only one certified instructor, Jean Wong, who is actually teaching– she lives in Vancouver, B.C. (Canada). Therefore I feel very fortunate that I live in Seattle and am able to avail myself of her expertise through Madrona Fiber Arts. There are 13 students in my class, including myself. Jean’s website is Knitting With Jean, and there you can purchase her DVD on fine finishing techniques, which is well worth the price.
At the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat, always held just before President’s Day in February, Jean teaches a tailored knitting class that is very similar to part of the Nihon Vogue curriculum. The retreat is held in a beautiful hotel that also serves as a glass art gallery. The marketplace is incredible, as are the classes, which are geared more towards advanced knitters than many of these types of events.
Our course books are written in Japanese, but at least we can look at the pictures. When we finish meeting for a class, Jean stamps her Chinese name in red powder on our attendance sheet. We must attend 85% of the classes to be able to apply for the Year One certificate, which will be taught on an average of once per month over the next two years.
The first two projects we must knit are 1) a top-down raglan and 2) A round-neck vest. Both of these are in stockinette using light-colored, smooth wool yarn.
On Saturday, we measured each other, and then Jean verified our measurements. All measurements are in centimeters, which is different and makes me feel smug. Ha!
So we measured head, neck, shoulder, back, waist, bust, hips, hip depth, armhole, upper arm, elbow, wrist, sleeve length, and fist (yes! for pockets). Then we did a bunch of calculations to determine how many stitches to cast on for our raglan, and more calculations to determine how many stitches to increase from the neck to the bustline, and with what frequency. Our homework, due in November at the next class, includes knitting our raglan until we reach the bustline. Mine is already done! I can’t believe it went so fast– and now it must be put on hold. Maybe I’ll start another one, in a different weight of yarn.
We cast on using a crocheted provisional cast-on, at the neckline. I used 80% of my head circumference as the neck circumference. This is the smallest you should use, for a close-fitting neckline. The yarn is just gorgeous, the Pebble Beach color of Alice Starmore’s 3-ply Hebridean, just recently restocked at Virtual Yarns.
In class on Sunday, we began drafting a pattern for our vest, using engineering drafting paper and special rulers that were purchased as part of the class. My vest will be in Blackwater Abbey 2-ply worsted, Iris.
I need to finish my afghan square before I start my vest, however. Here it is, halfway done. I’m using one of the cable patterns from Aran Knitting, which I redrafted so that repeats will fit half a drop below. It’s quite dense, and required that I double the number of stitches from my cast-on when I began the cabling.
It was a busy, but fun, weekend. I learned a lot, and I’m looking forward to learning a lot more.
On the personal front, our nest is finally empty, as our last lad started university this week.