Think Like An Artist – My Knit Stars 6 Masterclass

For most of last year I was focused on creating and developing my Knit Stars 6 Masterclass, Think Like An Artist. This class distils my creative practice and experience into one exuberant project that is both a celebration of women artists, and a masterclass in translating patterns, colours and sounds into stranded colourwork design. I called the project Think Like An Artist because all the way through the video class and extensive accompanying handout, the focus lies on exploring diverse creative practices and applying them in our knitting.

Think Like An Artist: handout cover, on which Felix peeps over a series of three cowls, which are clearly the same design, but each one is worked in a different colourway

To create Think Like An Artist, I first surveyed my mailing list for ideas for what you might like me to teach at Knit Stars. After receiving the most amazing and helpful ideas (thank you) I designed my class with a view to addressing the most commonly requested topics:

  • a class that would talk more deeply about colour relationships
  • a class that would speak to the same celebratory feminist themes as the Balance for Better Blanket on which I worked with my good friends at KDD&Co.
  • a class that would explore knitting and sound
  • a class that would focus on developing patterns and motifs

My Knit Stars Masterclass builds skill in all these areas. It revolves around the creation of a cowl, which offers a practical, wearable canvas on which to experiment with all these different creative ideas. It’s worked in twelve sections, each of which speaks to the work of a different creative artist through the medium of stranded colourwork design. The segments of the cowl, and how each one was conceived, are explained in the comprehensive handout that accompanies the class, and in the videos. Each section in the Think Like An Artist cowl comes with a short introductory essay to that artist, and an accessible and fun breakdown of how I went about turning ideas from their practice into motifs and patterns for stranded colourwork design.

a sample page from Think Like An Artist, showing the chart inspired by Jane Wight's work, an artist's impression of how that work looks once knitted, and a sample of the finished fabric in the design

This is a page from the handout, but in the video content of the class, I was able to really expand on this subject and – thanks to Robin Fox and his amazing production team – to really show the textures, colours and details of my own creative process as an artist.


Integral to my work on Knit Stars were the supportive relationships I had with my yarn partner for the project, John Arbon Textiles; the amazing Knit Stars team; and my fantastic fellow Knit Star, Jeanette Sloan. Jeanette oversaw the video shoot for my class, ensuring that the way I was explaining things made sense and was technically on-point. She also brought friendship, joy and support to my work, as well as creating her own incredibly inspiring and thoroughly recommended masterclass for Season 6: Beaded Colourwork.
Thank you, Jeanette!

Felix and Jeanette in Felix's studio, holding up the clapper board for the filming of the Knit Stars 6 Masterclass!

Meanwhile, my friends at John Arbon Textiles created a mountain of mini-skeins so that we could offer Knit Stars Masterclass owners exclusive kits in three different colourways with which to make this project.

three separate palettes of yarn colours, each inspired, respectively, by Alma Thomas, Bobby Baker, and Georgia O'Keeffe; each palette is arranged as a kind of colourwheel around the artists' name

There’s a whole section in my masterclass dedicated to picking out a palette for stranded colourwork design. This project really explores the unique possibilities offered by the Knit By Numbers 4ply Yarn range for changing colours (hue) while maintaining contrast (values) across a yarn palette. Again, this is content that is explained carefully in the video masterclass, but also in the handout that accompanies it.

sample palettes page from the Knit Stars masterclass handout

All of the ideas for my masterclass were beautifully recorded by Robin Fox and his production team. They worked so hard to bring to life the practical skills covered in the masterclass, but also to convey the atmosphere and ethos of my making. They recorded the squeaky gates in my street; sent drones up between the houses to document the brickwork patterns; and set off in the blazing sun on one of our filming afternoons to find the exact manhole cover that had inspired one of the motifs used in my project. I had found and used the pattern from the manhole cover to speak to the undercelebrated work of the artist Dorothy Grebanak (one of whose most famous works was a woollen textile rug emulating a functional NYC manhole cover) and Robin Fox didn’t leave until this last detail was filmed.

The crew from left to right: Ali (sound), Robin (cinematographer), Felix and Ollie (lens whisperer and drone operator) all beaming at the end of a long day of filming.

In the months after filming, much work went into producing samples in all the colourways (shout out to my wonderful sample knitters, Natalie and Wendy); into editing and subtitling the video classes (shout out to Knit Stars); and into getting kits to everyone who’d ordered one (shout out to John Arbon Textiles). In November last year, Think Like An Artist debuted to Season 6 masterclass owners. I loved working on the patterns, celebrating and researching other artists, working with Jeanette and John Arbon and the film crew – I loved all of it. But most of all, I loved seeing folk using my ideas to make or modify the cowl, or to make sweaters or scarves, but most of all TO MAKE THINGS, after watching my class.

Felix wearing all the cowls in all the colourways on top of a black dress, in front of a green forest

It’s also been fantastic to receive messages from folk saying they loved meeting the twelve artists whose work inspired the sections of my cowl design: Alma Thomas, Althea McNish, Ann Southam, Bobby Baker, Daphne Oram, Dorothy Grebanak, Georgia O’Keeffe, Geta Brătescu, Jane Wight, Wendy Carlos, Yayoi Kusama – and all the unnamed and undercelebrated artists on whose shoulders our creative stitching stands.

Felix wearing the Alma cowl and looking forward to the camera

A few folks have been in touch to see if it’s possible to just buy the handout, now that the pattern-rights have returned to me. I do have a long-term plan to turn it into a book, however it’s not going to happen right now! Presently, the only way to do any part of Think Like An Artist is to sign up to Season 6 of Knit Stars and gain full access to it – along with access to all the other amazing masterclasses produced by friends and comrades for Season 6: Live Colorfully:

💫Dana Williams-Johnson: Fearless Sweaters (+ dog sweaters!)
💫Casapinka: Stranded Knitting and Simple colorwork
💫Ambah O’Brien: Explore Shawl Shapes
💫Jeanette Sloan: Beaded Colorwork
💫Vincent Williams: Cables: Level Up Your Skills (with Cameo from Adella Colvin)
💫Jennifer Berg: Navajo-Inspired Colorwork
💫Nina Machlin-Dayton: One Cowl, 16 Decorative Techniques!
💫Kaffe Fassett / Brandon Mably:
💫Louis Boria: Your Perfect Hat
💫Jacqui Fink: Color + Emotional Health

For that reason, I thought you might appreciate learning that today through Sunday, September 25th, Midnight Pacific, you can purchase Season 6 for only $199 (usually $229). This is an affiliate link, which means that if you use this link to make purchase, I will earn some commission – this is a great way to support your favourite Knit Stars: thank you.

Over the weekend I’ll be back with an amazing process story from two very dear friends who took this class together, so you can hear from someone else what it’s like to do Think Like An Artist as part of Season 6 of Knit Stars!

Yours in LIVING COLORFULLY,
Fx

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