Madison knits 8 hours a day. She loves ultra fine lace weight, but she isn’t averse to heavier yarns. Some of her favorite pieces are worked in aran weight. She’s sampled many different shawl patternsshe refers to them by name with the familiarity she uses for members of her family. For her they are road maps, with strengths and weaknesses, easy parts and challenges. Her favorites are the patterns from Fiber Trends and Fiddle Sticksthe Sheep Shawl is still one of her favorites. She also loves patterns from Meg Swanson’s A Gathering of Lace, especially Eugene Beugler’s Frost Flowers and Leaves, and XRX’s Victorian Lace. She’s also made shawls designed by lace knitters/designers Sharon Miller and Evelyn Clark.
Madison teaches three classes for lace shawl knitters. For each class, attendees knit a sample shawl. As an introduction to lace knitting, Madison has beginners work the Field of Flowers shawl from Fiber Trends, a pattern that samples a variety of lace knitting techniques: provisional cast on, picking up stitches, knitting on a perpendicular border. It’s also worked in garter stitch, good for keeping the focus on the lace techniques.
For the intermediate class, Madison has her students work Fiber Trends Spinners Shawl. This shawl is a triangle and it allows the knitter to make individual choices. It can be worked in a fine yarn, or in an aran weight.
In her class for advanced lace knitters, Madison uses a pattern from Fiddlesticks, Creatures of the Reef. This shawl incorporates motifs in the overall lace background. The 437 stitches called for at the cast on is not a number for the faint of heart. Tip: Use a knitted on cast on so there’s no chance that you’ll run out of yarn on stitch 428.
Madison St. John
More advice for lace knitters? Use a needle with good, sharp tips and a slick surface (Addi’s lace needles are great). A stitch marker in a different color than those used in the rest of the project is a good way to remind yourself of the right side of the fabric. Be patient. Lace knitting is a commitment. Find a quiet space where you can concentrate and count your stitches often.
When she isn’t knitting lace, Madison works in her garden of antique roses, takes ballroom dancing lessons, kayaks, and scuba dives.
Madison St. John wearing the Flirty Ruffle shawl, from Fiddlesticks.