"There is also a matching puppy sock."
The entire audience of the packed Knitted Tessellations class at Vogue Knitting LIVE on its last day let out a desperately-cute "AWWWW!" as a sock with a kitten pattern was held up in front of the room. This caused Franklin Habit to giggle along with his class before moving on to the next topic, the hands-on portion of his class where his students attempted to apply the two rules of tessellations and the methods of shape transformation.
Habit, a Chicago-based knitwear designer, photographer, teacher and blogger (not necessarily in that order), was teaching Knitted Tessellations in the morning session of the last day of Vogue Knitting LIVE, held at the Marriott New York Marquis over the weekend. The kitty sock being used as a visual aid to the class was one of several aids to make a potentially boring and intimidating class topic both interesting and engaging.
"The baby never really lets go of the mama's hand," said Habit, referring to manipulating a square into another shape that locks onto itself by pivoting a piece on an axis. His visual aid in this case was a felt board with felt shapes in two colors. His arsenal of tools also included buttons, scrabble tiles, and various photocopies of a knitting chart.
Not that Habit needed visual aids. His personality is why his classes continue to gain popularity, and the empathy for his audience ease the pressure of doing math and playing with blocks, two vital activities in the class, as a grownup. "Nobody has ever died as a result of anything that has ever happened in my Tessellations classes," said Habit. As he was walking through his step-by-step thought process when designing his kitty sock, he flipped from one visual aid to another and said, "This is the action sequence!" In exhibiting the final stitch pattern and indicating the inside pattern of the shape had nothing to do with the outsides locking together, Habit reiterated his point by telling his group, "I could have made a frowny kitty. I could have made a noseless kitty!"
Still, the subject matter of tessellations, or repeated shapes which interlock with no gaps to cover a plane, is a dense topic for a Sunday morning. During the "design your own" portion of the class, Habit walked around the room and gave one-on-one encouragement and advice to anyone who may have needed it, and complimented everyone's creativity. "All true creativity requires effort," said Habit, encouraging students to try making their own knitting chart with their new tools. "This is the one class where I really get to see the students create."
After three hours of learning, laughing, and designing, some students were pooled outside the classroom to chat before breaking up for lunch and the afternoon sessions. "We're learning high-falutin' words, too!" said one student, half-jokingly. "'Obfuscation'...when was the last time you heard that word in a sentence?" Hudson, New York native Melanie B. exclaimed her enjoyment with the class as well. "It was nice to get an understanding of how the visualization of it works with the math. It was also actually refreshing to not be knitting!"
This sentiment was echoed throughout the last day, as many knitters were enjoying the best knitting hangover of their lives. For the students who came out of Franklin Habit's class, they were walking away armed with two simple rules of shape manipulation that would help them in their designing until the end of their days.
Or, as Franklin Habit puts it, "When we have all passed along to the Great Fiber Festival in the Sky."
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