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A visit with Anne Berk: Intarsia knitting movie star!

Apr 30, 2012

A note from Kathleen: I met Anne Berk last year at Interweave Knitting Lab and we instantly became friends. Anne is a master knitter who's most well-known as an intarsia knitting expert. I asked Anne to guest blog today and talk about her experiences preparing and filming her latest intarsia DVD, Intarsia Indepth. There's a lot that goes into producing these DVD workshops, and Anne captures it wonderfully. Here she is!

I thoroughly enjoyed creating the Inside Intarsia and Intarsia Indepth DVD workshops for Interweave! The producer,  Marilyn Murphy is a real pro and a pleasure to work with.

    
Ann Berk on set
The first step was coming up with the concepts for the two DVDs. For Inside Intarsia, how to introduce a knitting to intarsia, and for Intarsia Indepth, how to take them to the next level. I thought about what projects I would design to support the class, and what my objectives for the workshop would be.

Designing a video workshop is much like designing a class, except that the students will not be right there with you. With no time spent on student/teacher interaction, a lot of ground can be covered in a short amount of time. However, without any questions to answer, and without sensing what the students are thinking, we had to anticipate everything that they might ask, and try to hit as many points as possible.

I began to assemble class samples and make a list of additional samples I needed. It takes a lot of yarn and knitting needles for a workshop, because the film crew couldn't sit around while I knit a few rows and get to the next step. Everything we wanted to demonstrate needed its own separate piece of knitting, called "step-outs". The needles need to be wooden, because metal creates a glare on camera, so I bought circular wooden needles in bulk in the sizes used for workshop projects.

I was able to choose the yarns myself at Twisted, my LYS in Portland, Oregon. Besides all of the step-outs, I knit multiples of the projects, as I needed WIPs at various stages, finished items, and before and after felting examples of the iPad case.

    
Marilyn Murphy prepping a section of the set
The completed section of the set.
I organized the step-outs in labeled Ziploc bags and I included extra yarn and anything that I might need for each specific demonstration. This meant multiples of any tools used, for each bag, because we couldn't stop filming to search for something.

I'm a long-distance runner, and I run for one to two hours at a time a few times every week. During my runs, I would pick a workshop topic and practice teaching it in my head. After my run I'd take notes of what I thought needed specific demonstration and whether I had a set-up prepared for it.

I was teaching classes at Twisted, which helped me to refine my message. Input from the talented and enthusiastic students was extremely helpful and directly impacted the workshop content.

When I arrived in Colorado the day before taping, all my preparation and rehearsal was done and I was ready present the workshop. Marilyn prepared the set with samples that I had brought and charts that she had prepared.

Above the video camera was a large screen that worked as our teleprompter. I don't use a script, so cameraman Garrett Evans put a photo of Johnny Depp in the viewfinder, so that I could at least have a "student" to address. This was fun, and if I ever meet Johnny Depp, I am going to expect him to know how to knit intarsia!

The set-ups for each topic were placed on large trays that look like bakery trays. We shot in sequence, and when we finished a topic, trays were switched out. Because I had such great trust in the team (and because Mr. Depp looked like he was having a good time), I was very comfortable and quite enjoyed sharing my passion for my subject.

When preparing for any big event, such as a wedding, a theatrical performance, or a race, the training takes months. But on the day of the event, you just enjoy the moment. Filming a knitting workshop is a very similar experience. Trust your preparation, try to leave everything on the field, and when you are done, know you did the best you could, and don't second-guess yourself.

Interweave is building an extensive library of video workshops which are an incredible resource for knitters, enabling them to expand their knitting horizon in the comfort of their home, at their own pace. I am very proud to be a contributor to the series.

I hope you'll try Inside Intarsia and Intarsia Indepth, available in the Knitting Daily Shop!

Happy knitting,

Anne Berk


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Comments

on May 1, 2012 2:36 PM

This looks so inspirational...especially as I prep to knit a Fair Isle vest for the first time ever. Intarsia know-how will help me in the journey!