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Confessions of a knit-wit

Laura A. Ball
Special to the Daily Sally Melville travels the world teaching people the secrets of knitting. The stay-at-home mom turned knitting guru will be at The Yarn Studio in Minturn today and Saturday.
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MINTURN – Some people spend their whole lives in search of their calling, something that will satisfy the soul and lead them to a fuller existence. Sally Melville says look no further than what made you happy when you were 7.”They say whatever a child becomes taken with at the age of 7, whatever absolutely obsessed you, is what a person’s meant to do in life,” Melville said. “It’s been true for me.”At age 7, knitting obsessed Melville. Today, the stay-at-home mom turned knitting guru and internationally known author has a booming career, with five published books and an extensive teaching schedule that takes her around the world. Today and Saturday, the knitting queen will visit The Yarn Studio in Minturn to teach four workshops: “Creativity;” “Learning to Love Intarsia;” “First Choices/Basic Shapes” and “Basic Maneuvers.”Yarn Studio proprietor, Kathy Morrow, who opened the Minturn shop in 2002, met Melville at her first buyers’ market in Long Beach, Calif. “I took one of her classes and I came out having several epiphanies,” Morrow said. “I thought, ‘I wish I would have known these things 25 years ago.’ She’s discovered ways to make it easier and more creative. Whenever I can take a class from Sally, I do. Even if you have been knitting for 25 years, you will come out of her classes wiser.”When Terry Cohen of Edwards discovered Morrow’s studio three years ago, she was intrigued with the beautiful yarns the shop had to offer and the shop owner’s enthusiasm for knitting. She asked Morrow to teach her and fell in love with it. Every Tuesday, you can find her at Morrow’s knitting circle at the studio. “I just became addicted. It’s a lot of fun,” Cohen said. “I was drawn to the fibers and the challenge of learning something new, especially something that’s a creative outlet. And then the satisfaction of making something. Now I’ve got to keep outdoing myself.”

Cohen will get a little more knitting in this weekend, as she plans to attend three of Melville’s workshops.’Creativity’Even people who don’t knit can benefit from Melville’s “Creativity” workshop; everyone from lawyers to scientists to knitters have attended in the past.”Creativity at its simplest is problem-solving, whether it’s world hunger or knitting or trying to talk your teenage son into coming home before his curfew,” she said. “My whole knitting career started with a knitting problem I had to solve.”Melville was knitting a sweater that wrapped around and hugged the body in an unorthodox way. It was awkward, but she wouldn’t give up. When she was done it was completely asymmetrical and adorned with embellishments.”I had a real weird little sweater that I fixed and everyone wanted one,” she said. “I don’t know where I found the persistence. I think it was poverty. I couldn’t afford to give up on it. Winston Churchill said, ‘Creativity is the ability to go from one failure to another without the loss of enthusiasm.'”In order to tap into creativity, Melville said it is necessary to access both the left and the right brain.

“We tend to be a left brain dominant society,” she said, explaining that the left brain likes familiar patterns, logic, rules and regulations, while the right side is more intuitive, more visual and likes to put things together that don’t belong. “Interestingly, knitting puts you into your right brain and that’s where we love it. It says yes to the universe. The right brain is imaginative, more positive, more happy. It’s a nice place to be and it’s an important place to be.”‘Learning to love Intarsia’The best way to explain Intarsia is painting a picture with yarn, in other words, using color changes. Although it requires careful attention, Melville said it’s not as hard as it looks.”A lot of knitters avoid it if they can. It takes away from the rhythm of knitting and that’s what we love about knitting,” she said. “But often knitters make a mess of it because they tend to overwork it. It’s really much simpler than we think.”If you’re beyond a scarf, you are skilled enough to take the class. Knitters can learn everything from knitting a sweater with various color panels to knitting a picture a child or grandchild has drawn. “I think it’s the next step to getting into the more difficult and talented parts of knitting,” Cohen said, who plans to attend the workshop. “It kind of opens doors.”



‘First Choices/Basic Shapes'”I always introduce this class by saying that really good knitters can make really unattractive sweaters. That doesn’t mean the sweater itself is ugly, it means that the sweater might not look good on the person it’s made for,” she said.A great workshop for beginners, Melville will discuss everything that can make or break a sweater in the first 20 minutes from picking the fabric, the color, stitch pattern and your silhouette, as well as how to custom draft a pattern to suit styles you like.Cohen said one of her biggest hesitations before she took up the craft was creating something outdated, something she wouldn’t wear. She’s since found that’s not the case. “None of us wanted to do old-lady knitting,” Cohen said. “It’s getting more and more hip. The pattern books in the last three years are becoming so interesting and hip. My son in college at CU came home and said a lot girls and guys are knitting at school. I think it started with young people getting back into it. It kind of amazed me. I’ve even made three sweaters for my husband, and he loves them.”‘Basic Maneuvers’

Melville will teach everything from how to hold your needle to casting on, including wrapping the yarn around your neck while you knit in “Basic Maneuvers.””It’s a great way to give your hands a break,” she said. “We don’t make anything. In fact, we have a very ugly piece as the result, but it’s a lot of fun.”It’s a great class for beginner’s to learn good habits and a great class for advanced knitters to learn alternatives to what they may already know.”When you teach someone how to knit it’s a tremendous gift for the rest of their lives,” Melville said. “It’s good for your hands, good for your heart, good for your soul.”Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14641, or laball@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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