Monthly Archives: August 2009

Progress

This morning I got up, had breakfast, and then sat down to finish plying my fourth skein efforts at the Little Gem. Lo and behold, I have managed to turn Kim‘s beautiful merino/seacell pencil roving (called ‘Brains belong inside your head’) into a skein of something approaching DK-weight.

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Still not balanced, but I am feeling better about my consistency and am definitely looking forward to more practice. I think I will try for about this same weight on my next couple of skeins, and hopefully not injure my poor Little Gem in the process…I have been having the odd surprise with the wheel, things like the drive band dis-lodging itself spontaneously from the treadle, and although this has been intermittent it definitely plays havoc with trying to maintain consistent speed.

And speaking of things that are purple, earlier this week I pulled out my current shawl project which I started before Sock Summit, but which has sadly been languishing ever since I came back from it. This is the Swallowtail shawl once again, which I am trying to enlarge by extending the bud lace to 19 repeats and intend to work a 3rd repeat of the lily of the valley.

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Wouldn’t you know it, even the nupps aren’t so bad any more. I could even start to enjoy them. I’m hoping to put in some quality time with this in the next week or so (famous last words, no?) so that I can move on to new things and have this as a fall wearable.

I hope your weekend is a good one! Keep the knitting close by.

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Filed under lace, shawls, spinning

In case of yarn avalanche, do not send rescue

Last night I went into Toronto to play with Lisa (currently undergoing a trifecta of woe), and had enough time before dinner to have an hour or two of sitting and knitting at The Purple Purl and ruminating on yarns for future design samples. (The marshmallow squares continue to be to die for).

Aug26-Purl

I stayed long enough, however, to witness that sacred event, delivery of new bags of yarn into the Local Yarn Shop. This is a sight to behold, so much Noro. I managed to resist buying any.

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For now. I might need more striped knee socks in my future, though. Just maybe.

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Filed under yarn stores

Wooly environs

Yesterday, I went for some driving adventures around Southern Ontario with my friend Dee, who needed to drive off to take her son to and from day camp outside of town anyhow. So, we made very good use of the intervening hours and decided to investigate some yarnly locations and to see what we could see. There are a lot of spots to choose from in this province, and so much to knit with.

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Wellington Fibers was our main destination, as it took the longest to get to. Dee is developing interest in mohair blends and glove/mitten knitting, and I had an itch to supplement the skein of their 2-ply mohair/wool laceweight I bought back at the Knitter’s Frolic in April, so we were both happy to make the trip. It was well worth it. When we arrived, co-proprietor Lorne and his sociable dog were the only ones in the store, and he was happy to let us browse at our leisure. Then, after a few minutes, he asked us “would you like to see how the yarn is made?” and we thought about that for about two and a half seconds and said “SURE!” So, we were duly treated to a tour of their mill works, where they spin not just their own wool but also process orders for other wool suppliers in the area. It was great fun.

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They raise their own angora goats and use their locks for the mohair blends of yarn as well as spinning fibre, and buy the wool locally from sheep farmers. He explained about their process of washing and preparing the fibres with natural, less harsh treatments than larger scale operations use. Their yarns really are beautiful. We each came away with a few skeins (I did indeed, supplement the laceweight, and hope to bring this out into use soon once my current shawl WIP is off the needles), and I’m sure they are not the last. They are regular vendors at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair (in September!) and the Toronto Knitter’s Frolic (in April), and are definitely worth a look.

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After lunch in Guelph we went off in search of another stop new to both of us, Greenwood Quiltery. Dee had located this one through searching for local yarn shops Ravelry, which, I have to admit, I didn’t even know was possible on Ravelry. (I need to brush up on new features). They are, as the name suggests, a Quilting shop, and their main wares are in fabrics and quilting supplies, and they host a gallery space on the upper floor of the building.

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We talked a bit with the owner (whose name I sadly neglected to find out), who was friendly to talk to and who explained that the store’s focus will always be quilting, but she has been enjoying developing the knitting room as a part of it. Sure enough, tucked away in the back of the house is a small room lined on all sides with yarn, needles, notions, and books. They carry enough Koigu to make Koigu-lovers happy for days, I can report, but also a steady supply of labels like Fleece Artist, Blue Sky Alpacas, and Malabrigo. It was a very pleasant stop to browse in and I admit that I may have rescued a lone skein of lilac Berocco Ultra Alpaca (had to be done) and a skein of Malabrigo Silky Wool.

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Although both of us are starting to get antsy about work lives resuming in higher pace, Dee did say quite wisely that there will be a time soon enough when we will long to have days like this, and lo, I am glad we did it. It shall have to be repeated again in the future. Have you had a local yarn visiting day lately?

Until next time, keep the knitting close by!

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Filed under knitting tourism, stash, yarn stores

Spinning wheels

“That” time of year is starting to get me. The time of year when I resist the fact that August is half over, when I want to go back to June and try to be more productive than what I have managed to scrape by with so far, when teaching anxiety dreams start to creep in (the sort featuring me in front of a room full of petulant and waiting students, with no lecture or lesson plan whatsoever), and I generally want to just dig a hole in my yarn stash and sit there and make the rest of the world go away.

Failing this, however, I am trying to remind myself that all the miscellaneous tasks and necessaries swirling around in my head still benefit from small progress as long as it is consistently done, and I am trying to take these small victories where I can get them. It is on the one hand, very nice to be surrounded by new yarns, but very dangerous to be distracted by them.

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Intriguingly enough, spinning is proving to work well with this state of mind. Over the last week or so I have been applying my efforts to 20-30 minutes of daily spinning and putting trust in this that I will, as a result, get better. (Admittedly, I also don’t want to do more than this much at a time as I am reluctant to add new forms of fiberly RSI to my list of stressors at this particular time). I like the fact that spinning forces me to concentrate on it and it alone. Unlike with knitting, I can’t watch TV at the same time (though I can listen), for example, so I like to think that this is also helping my brain a little bit.

I’ve barely dusted off my new Little Gem since it arrived, but I started out on it with the remainder of some white wooly roving that Kim lent me when she was letting me borrow her wheel as a try-out. I can tell that I am getting a little more consistent. My ambition in goal-setting terms is to be able to spin sock yarn (or fingering weight, at least…because, well, why wouldn’t a person want to be able to spin their own sock yarn?), though Kim keeps trying to apply sense and logic and has said things like “Glenna, maybe you should first try to just get to a third skein.”

Aug20-Skein3a

So, fine, Kim. Here’s my third skein. I hope you like it. I do. It’s about 100 yards weighing in around 90g. I spun the singles on the middle/third whorl groove and then plied it up into a 2-ply. It hasn’t had its bath yet, but even still I like the way it looks. It’s not balanced but it’s less over-spun than my first attempt, so score one for progress.

I’ve also got Skein #4 in the works, as I’ve started to work with some lovely merino/seacell pencil roving of Kim‘s that she gifted me with at the end of July. She very generously gave me a packet of her purple/pink (‘Brains belong inside your head’) and one of the bright green (‘Pond with the wind’), and at first blush I was starting to think she gave me two packets so that in case I royally screwed up the first one I would have a backup to fall on. It’s beautiful, soft, shiny, but really got away from me at first and it took me a couple of tries to get the hang of it.

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Happily, last night I finished up the first half of it and tonight or tomorrow will start up on the second half. I’m trying this on the second-smallest whorl and am curious to see how it plies up and if I can keep my skills going in the forward direction here.

Forward motion, it’s a good thing. On that note, I’m going to try to apply this to some more non-knitting tasks. Fingers crossed.

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Oh my.

So, okay, so Knit Picks came out with new shades of their Palette fingering weight. So, okay, I might not be biggest fan of some of their other yarns, but Palette sort of owns permanent real estate in my stash, and i’ve done three fair isle sweaters with it now and I love it. So, okay, after a few years of gradual and delightful stashing, I already own an unreasonable amount of this yarn. But artists need a palette and cooks need a pantry and knitters need yarn…And fair isle knitters are totally justified in owning a wide palette for their potential canvas.  (They ARE TOO be quiet back there.) So, okay, so I ordered another dozen balls of it.

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But, um. I just wish fingering-weight colour-work knitted up a little faster than the rate at which I seem to stash the supplies.

If my stash comes to eat me in the middle of the night, please know that despite its actions as a result of mistreatment and neglect at my hands, I’ll still want it to go to a good home. Maybe I’ll just go hug it to reassure it that I still love it and I’m definitely going to knit it all really soon. And, uh, right along with dealing with all that stupid real life crud that I am forcing myself back to now that my post-Sock Summit haze has cleared. Real life gets me every time. And maybe also this other sweater, shawl, and two pairs of socks I’m already knitting.

I’d better get busy.

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Still smaller than New Jersey

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I was, admittedly, not going to do a post-Sock Summit stash enhancement post (contented as I was to simply hug my new stashlets and pet them and call them George), but then a few people prodded me about it, and verily I cannot help but want to share a few of the goodies. As the sign above taken from the Red Fish Knitting booth would seem to indicate, my seemingly sizeable stash is still smaller than it could be, and heck, it’s pretty, so why feel guilty, right? Right.

The Sock Summit marketplace was formidable. It was enormous, bigger than I think any of us expected. Most of us made multiple visits and shopped as much as we could, but sadly even the most dedicated among us couldn’t see everything there was to see. There was also the challenge of fitting in the marketplace around other things – for many of us the largest portions of our days were taken up with classes, or volunteer shifts, or seeing some of Portland, or simple meet-and-greet on the spot, and so our shopping had to happen in sort of precision strikes of an hour or so. Still, it was very hard to resist. So many pretty things, so little time.

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One of the highlights of Sock Summit was the Dye For Glory competition that preceded the event. Yarn dyers were invited to submit entries in several possible dyeing categories (I think they pretty much covered every possible method of applying colour to yarn, and the entries were all gorgeous). Well, colour me surprised and pleased when Lorna’s Laces entered several colourways – y’all know of my love of knitting Lorna’s Laces Jaywalkers. When I saw the red/grey/purple ‘Vampire Tea Party’ colourway I knew I’d have to have that one. When I found it in person nestled right next to the pleasantly green ‘Ghoul’s Gala’, I snagged that one as well, since green is a shade sadly lacking from my expanding Lorna’s Laces stash. (Now that I am 1.5 pairs away from having a Lorna’s Laces Jaywalker pair for every day of the week, I feel the only option at that point is simply to keep going. Maybe one for every day of the month. Who can tell.)

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Blue Moon was, unsurprisingly, a strong presence at Sock Summit and their centrally-placed booth always had people browsing. I had planned to simply get a skein of their special ST-2 colourway (how could I resist all the red/pink/purple shades?), but then saw that they had a sizeable rack of mill ends and snagged two of those as well. And then throughout the weekend I would find myself being drawn back…and get more. I surprise myself to have brought back this small heap of Socks That Rock, two heavyweight, one mediumweight, and four lightweight, mostly mill ends. I think this’ll do me for STR for a while, and will let me skip the lineups at The Fold at Rhinebeck. (Famous last words, or no?)

Stash-BriarRose

Speaking of Rhinebeck and gaggles of knitters, one vendor I was very happy to have a look at under milder shopping conditions was Briar Rose. Surely they need little introduction, no? Beautifully dyed skeins in long yardages. They are always popular but even though I’ve seen them at Rhinebeck I’ve never made a purchase there. After a bit of decision-making time I took the plunge at their booth at Sock Summit, and made my way off with a sweater’s worth of their bulky weight in a purple-green combination called ‘sonoma’. Perhaps this will take the edge off of the fine gauge sock knitting I am bound to be doing in the near…well, until the end of time, at this rate. Heh.

Stash-Roving

Now that I have a spinning wheel and will now have to actually start using it seriously can devote more efforts to developing a fibre stash, I did look out for a few nice bits of roving. These ones followed me home from Becoming Art and Wool Candy – two small Etsy dyers I’m unlikely to come across in person soon – and some absolutely decadently soft Australian merino from Ms. Gusset, an indie Australian dyer who I think is still new and developing her business. I don’t think she’ll have too much trouble, with beautiful things such as these.

There are, admittedly, other bits and pieces from my Sock Summit stash, though many have already been gifted away or are reserved for gift knitting. Another thing I haven’t blogged about too much are the actual projects from the four wonderful classes I took, but I think I will enjoy coming back to these throughout the coming fall. (Oh God. It’s almost fall. Someone help).

Today I’m enjoying a restful and hermity day in air conditioned comfort and allowing myself some time to ponder some design work. I hope your weekend is a good one, and that you have some knitting stash to enjoy!

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“A what?”

Now that I am home, bleary-eyed, and contemplating the regular non-knitting world, and pondering what has just happened…

I think it is a crying shame that so many of the Sock Summit attendees only had to travel within their own country, and therefore never had the experience of telling customs & immigration officers that their purpose of travel was for “a knitting convention.”

You should try it some time, it’s fun.

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Filed under knitting in public

“What is valuable in the knitting world has changed.”

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Aug9-Luminary

The final day of Sock Summit has concluded, I am now in the very slow packing phase, and have absorbed so much and met so many new people and touched so much yarn and have so many new things I want to knit on, that I have entirely reached saturation. I am not sure I am capable of coherent conversational ability let alone blogging, but heck, I’m going to try.

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Last night at the Ravelry party (all kinds of fun), I was talking to WonderMike (formerly of Y-Knit podcast awesomeness) about how we were all just continuing to use the same vocabulary to describe this week/end. He was going with “amazing” over and over again and I had started really favouring “ridiculous” – ridiculous numbers of people, ridiculous amounts of knowledge, ridiculous quantities of yarn, ridiculous levels of sock-knitting enthusiasm. We vowed to start trying to use other words, but even still it would mean basically the same things, like “awesome” or “fascinating” or “marvelous.”

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I am sure that many of us are pondering how to re-enter both our knitting and non-knitting lives, now that we’ve had this super-saturated event filled with knowledge and interaction. (Sleep and a stiff drink are still high on my list, personally, but as for a Step 2…) On the one hand, it will be great to be in our own beds again and settle a bit, but on the other, home has the disadvantage of not being filled with my 1600+ closest knitting friends. I would find it hard to believe it, though, if an event of this sort of magnitude wouldn’t have some kind of gradual ripple effect. All of us are going home with our heads full, and we’re going to have to spill that out when we meet knitters at home. I mean, dudes, I learned a gusset stitch pickup thing from Meg Swansen that is so much better than the crud I’ve been doing, and if I even get to pass that on to a few more knitters it’ll be just one example of the millions of big or tiny ways the Sock Summit has enriched the knitting community.

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At the Luminary Panel this afternoon, Tina and Stephanie hosted a panel of some of the most experienced and knowledgeable knitters in the industry today, which just happened to coincide with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s (99th) birthday. The amount of wisdom and curiosity in their collective heads is pretty staggering, and yet also very approachable because I think their questions resonate with a lot of the questions ‘regular’ knitters also have on a regular basis. It is hard to sum up everything that was said in that panel, but I rather like the way Lucy Neatby said at one point quite simply, that “knitting satisfies many needs and we are lucky to have it.”

Aug8-MarketplaceBeaconHill

Sock Summit 2009 was truly a unique event and I am lucky to have been able to be a part of it. I’ve met a lot of new people (and uh, new yarns) that I hadn’t met before, at least in person, and it was a great boost. It has expanded my brain and I hope the good that has come from Sock Summit will be passed on throughout knitting world, and that anything less than good will be managed and made constructive. Nothing has been said for sure about if/when/where another Sock Summit will happen (though I doubt very much that the organizers would make this an annual event, as I can only imagine the recovery time required after such an undertaking…), but even if this is the only one that ever exists, it is already an event of which stories will be told for quite a while.

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And now, I have some packing to do. If it’s all right with you, I’m just going to let the remaining photos from the last couple of days speak for themselves. Long trip ahead tomorrow and I’ll be sure to catch up again from the other side. I hope you’re enjoying your knitting corner of the world, wherever you are. If you’ve been at Sock Summit and have other blog posts/photo posts to report from it, please leave a link in the comments, it would be lovely to have more stories to read!

Thank you, Stephanie and Tina and all the Sock Summit teams. You did good.

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“Twenty years ago there was no SSK.”

Something happened this afternoon in my class at Sock Summit, for which I am still now just grasping the magnitude, and I may need to have a stiff drinkie and a lie down before I go forward with my evening.

Right, so I was in a class taught by Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen (quoted above), which was also being audited by Barbara Walker. And at one point Meg was explaining different ways of working decreases, and paused since she had the opportunity, to ask Barbara if she was indeed the one who first thought up the SSK.

And Barbara Walker said, “yes.”

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“Their record was for 256. Their record was doomed.”

Day Two of Sock Summit is behind me now, folks, and the whirlwind is still going strong. My feet hurt, I am 99% out of touch with non-knitting non-Portland world, but I’m just continuing to tell myself that’s OK because at the moment knitting world is going pretty great down here in Portland. Today, I got up, hung out with some knitters, listened and learned about design from Marjan Hammick (Yarnissima), and talked a little German with her, participated in a record-setting Guinness Book of World Records knit-in, bought more yarn, escaped to downtown for a delicious hamburger, investigated Powell’s bookstore where I scored a hardcover copy of Meg Swansen’s Knitting, bought cupcakes, and did a quick turnaround before heading out to the Sock Hop at the Portland Art museum.

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It continues to be pretty trippy, being here. At the Sock Hop I chatted with a few people and commented that “you know, this is all pretty hysterical,” and whoever I was talking to would nod vigorously. Someone (the Canadian gal above from Make One Yarn Studio whose name I cannot remember), added that it is hard to know “am I done?” at the end of the day/class/event/etc because it all sort of meshes and keeps on going in your head.

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At this point, any delusions I had about presenting photos or captions in any detailed or logical order is sort of breaking down, so I’ll just wing this a little bit. There are a few things about knitting world that this event is reaffirming for me, not the least of which is the community and shared knowledge.

Marjan, for example, takes inspiration from Bavarian stitches just as much as from the photography of Brooklyn Tweed. Cat Bordhi happily puts aside her circulars to knit on two straights if it means the World Record people require it. If you are any knitter at all knitting any particular pattern and need sudden help, another knitter will come rescue you. Everyone is learning from each other.

And if, say, you are Meg, and you are, say, knitting your own lace wedding veil, it turns out you can bring it to the Sock Summit and get people like Barbara Walker and Nancy Bush and, oh, EVERYONE EVER to knit a few stitches on it…

Aug7-SockHopMeg

And if, say, you are Meg and you pull out your lace wedding veil and realize there is a dropped stitch situation going on, in the middle of a Sock Hop, the other knitters will all stand around and support you while you go ahead and fix that.

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Also, if the Guinness Book of World Records shows up, this means that over 1200 knitters will show up and blow the previous Australian-set world record out of the sky, and still even feel a little bit bad about it for the Australians.

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Pretty cool, using yarn to set a record. Also it’s pretty cool to hang out with this many knitters for this many days. I’m sure we’re all going to go through withdrawl by Monday. Good thing it’s not Monday yet.

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More tomorrow, folks, more tomorrow.

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