January 2022 Studio Hours: Chantel Conlon on Macramé

2 February 2022

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Our first Studio Hours of 2022 saw us welcome some new faces to our Zoom screens, as new Studio Members took advantage of the January sale to join our dynamic community.

We began with a presentation by guest speaker Chantel Conlon, designer of D&T’s recent Cascading Diamonds Wall Hanging pattern (see Michelle Woodvine’s interview with Chantel for more information). Chantel operates her business, Lots of Knots Canada, from Kitchener, ON. She is a mixed media macramé artist, materials supplier, and content creator.

We were treated to insights into the launch of her business, from her initial inspiration through the growth of her popularity on Instagram (@lotsofknotscanada) as she shared her explorations and offered tutorials. She authored a book in 2019, Mixed Fiber Macramé, and now focusses on the business full time and maintains an active YouTube channel with weekly tutorials.

Chantel loves to incorporate mixed materials and mixed techniques in her projects. We talked about “macraweave” projects, where first the warp skeleton is made with macramé rope and knots and then parts of the piece are woven using plain weave or other techniques, often incorporating roving, yarns, ribbons, and other materials. During the talk, we saw only a simple version of this technique, but I later sought out more examples where intricate open knot-work contrasts with areas filled with roving. The warp skeleton hangs down, tensioned by the weight of the rope used.

This first look at macraweave led us into a spirited discussion of other, similar weaving techniques including the ancient warp-weighted looms of the Vikings and Egyptians, and closer to home, the Salish weaving techniques of this continent’s west coast.

Chantel answered technique questions and we discussed methods of securing the project while working on it. For a symmetric plant hanger, for example, a clothing rack can be used to check that knots are at the same height. For a project such as the Cascading Diamonds wall hanging, securing the work to a clipboard can help keep the materials organized. Kate experimented with working that project in yarn rather than rope. As the yarn is much less dense than the rope, the knots work up smaller and much tighter.

We had time to chat about other kinds of macramé projects, exploring ideas such as rugs, pillows, bags, cases, decorative figurines, hammocks, fences, and trellises! Also shared in the chat was a link to Vanessa Barragão’s work featuring complicated, vibrant pieces combining many crafts.

Thank you, Chantel, for the inspiration!

Show and Tell

Note: where possible, pattern links are given to original sources. Ravelry links are indicated with (R) after the link.

After our energetic discussion with Chantel, we launched into our first Show and Tell of 2022.

A member shared her finished work from Sarah Schira’s Imagined Landscapes Mystery Gnome-A-Long from December a delightful gnome, backpack, and small gnome friend

We also chatted about the book Knitting Comfortably: The Ergonomics of Handknitting by Carson Demers, a physical therapist, spinner, and knitter. A member found it useful after some extensive gift-knitting sessions and recommended it as a place to learn skills to keep us crafting safely! Another member recommended an interview with Carson that was featured in episode 102 of the Fruity Knitting podcast.

We saw a wonderful hat, Da Crofters Kep (from Shetland Wool Week 2021). I love that the knitter, unprompted, showed us the inside, knowing that knitters appreciate the beauty of the reverse side of stranded colourwork.

Another member shared a bulky, bias-knit garter square and showed how it could be transformed into a fingerless mitten, inspired by a pattern from Karida Collins (pattern in MDK Field Guide 18). You simply knit a square until the sides are the circumference of the hand at the knuckles and then seam, leaving a hole for the thumb. It’s a great functional project for beginner knitters.

As always, we saw socks—some finished, some still on the needles. I loved the self-striping yarn from area 51 fibres (a dyer from Regina, SK). This Studio Hours gathering was on Jan 11th, but there were still plenty of holiday projects on the needles, including some Jarvis socks (from Kate’s Custom Fit Socks book).

Another member showed us how crochet projects can be completed one-handed, and recommended that if getting injured, we make sure to only break our non-dominant hands!

Two members shared knit blanket projects that they are designing, and I look forward to seeing these patterns soon! One was a delightful textured blanket in shifting, marled colours, the other a modular blanket of stranded colourwork octagons with lace pieces in the places where multiple octagons meet.

We also had a quick glimpse of a Peeta (R) sweater, knit in Indigodragonfly R.O.U.Sport yarn. The member was one row away from binding off after getting a lot done during our Studio Hours session.

Finally, Kim shared her anticipation of upcoming adventures with her serger sewing machine and recommended Fabcycle, a Vancouver fabric store dedicated to reducing textile waste.

And that closed another energetic hour filled with connections, inspiration, and the sharing of links and knowledge. Thank you everyone for kicking off our year with such enthusiasm.

Featured image courtesy Chantel Conlon.

Copyright © Sarah Thornton except as indicated.
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About Sarah Thornton

Sarah Thornton is a connector - she loves bringing people and ideas together, especially over local fibres and foods. When not teaching college Biology labs, she knits, spins, designs, teaches, and occasionally weaves in her new studio space on Vancouver Island. She's also a cyclist, skier, hiker, and gardener! Find her patterns and classes at sarahthornton.ca and @sarsbarknits on Instagram.

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