Correction, she's really cool! Yesterday's class was fantastic!
I walked in and Cookie was sitting up at the front table futzing with her camera and in my head I was like "whaaaaat? this is crazy!" but everyone just seemed so calm - they were sitting there knitting or whatever. I guess I didn't expect everyone to be standing and screaming like we were in the same room as the Beatles, but inside I kind of felt that way! There were only about 13 people in the class which was great because we all got personal attention! First she talked about all the calculations you have to go through before casting on - it was fantastically mathy! Oh, within the first hour I felt like I'd gotten the best tip ever and it wasn't even about sock design. Someone asked her what cast on she used, and how to make it stretchy - she uses the long tail and talked about how sometimes you'll hear that you should use a bigger needle to cast on so that it's not so tight, but that all that really does is make the stitch taller, when what you're really aiming for is more space between the stitches. She showed us how she just puts her thumb on the needle when she's casting on to create a little extra space between each needle instead of cramming them up so tightly next to each other. Duh! that's so intuitive, but it never hit me before! She also taught us how to "scientifically calculate" the "suckage" of different pattern stitches and figure out how many stitches your sock really needs to be - just because you normally do a 64 st sock, doesn't mean it'll work for everything. She showed us how to take a stitch pattern and chart it out to see what it does and how to combine things to get the number of stitches you need - and even how to expand or shrink a stitch pattern proportionally to make it do what you want and fit the target stitch number. Then she showed us how she designs the fantastic cuffs that she does - where they flow into the stitch pattern. Then we all picked stitch patterns and graphed them out and calculated our socks and she came around and talked to each one of us and gave us advice and told us different things we could do - she was so sweet and helpful and totally remembered all of our names and the stitch patterns we were doing. it was amazing! I feel like I copped out a little by picking a pattern that I ended up doing around the whole sock, instead of incorporating multiple patterns (although that is often more difficult to make work because the stitch numbers just might not be right and it's easier to combine columns that you can manipulate easier) and then I also tried to design a snazzy cuff, but when she looked at it she didn't feel like the stitch pattern had enough really strong lines to warrent it, and recommended a 1x1 twisted rib, so I switched to that (which is very pretty - I fell in love with it the first time I did one of cookie's socks.)
We all ate and knit for a few hours then she went over how to decided on where to divide your socks for the top of the foot so that the design flowed nicely - this is where I realized how much she remembered about what each of us was doing. She went through everybody's socks up in front of the room by drawing out the design patterns on the wall (pretty much all by memory - like saying "ok, Chris is doing something that has some alternating yarn overs on the edges, like this, and then increases and decreases in the center of a 5 stitch knit background, and it's a 9 stitch repeat") and suggesting where to split based on the repeats and how to make the edges look perfect and intentional. Oh, it was just great and I learned more than I really thought I would! Plus, it was so cool and informal and people could just ask questions and talk to her like she was a regular ol' person.
Oh, and while we were knitting she came around and took pictures of all of our handknit socks that we were wearing (Emily - I was wearing your Taylored socks, so you'll be famously documented!) and took pictures of what we were knitting! Here's Cookie taking a picture of MY sock! whee!
What a great day!!!