Monthly Archives: August 2009

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

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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.”

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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…

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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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“Yeah, but we’re really talking about a lot of skeins, here.”

This morning I got up, got a Starbucks latte, and headed to the Oregon Convention Center. There, I chatted with Ravelry’s Jess and Stephanie Pearl McPhee before going on to classes with Janel Laidman, Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen. Then I bought yarn in the marketplace and went to the Opening Reception where, after a wonderful greeting by Stephanie and Tina, the entire reception room burst into spontaneous applause and standing ovations, and then we all hung out and talked and mingled and I shook Barbara Walker’s hand and had conversations with Lucy Neatby and Sivia Harding and Abby Franquemont and Ann Budd. And then I talked to Deb Barnhill about toe-up socks until the room was nearly empty, and then we all went off to our separate crash pads hotel rooms, and now I’m having difficulty believing that all of this is actually happening to me. I suspect I am not alone in this.

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Day One of the Sock Summit has passed, and already I am having difficulty recalling everything I have absorbed and experienced so far. It is a singular thing, being here. Anything else I try to compare this to has some level of institutional formality or structured system of recognition or higher levels of impatience or air of…well, normalcy, that really has no place at Sock Summit. Everyone I have met so far – attendees, teachers, vendors – absolutely everyone has commented on how much this is unlike any other event they have attended. I am trying to think of another event or gathering that I can compare this to, and am coming up short.

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Everyone has a smile, everyone is game, everyone is knitting.

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Rebecca and I keep having conversations throughout the day and saying things like, “Hey, you know [X knitter] I met/took a class with/talked to/shook hands with is the nicest ever.” And then the other will respond with, “But you know who is also the nicest ever? [Y other knitter] I met/took a class with/talked to/shook hands with.” And on it goes. And this goes for teachers, attendees, vendors, everyone. There are unlimited photos, conversations, and sock appreciation, and this weekend isn’t even half over yet.

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Today, I touched a sock knitted by Elizabeth Zimmerman. I learned about colour-work from Janel Laidman. I learned about knitting socks from Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen. I listened as Stephanie Pearl McPhee and Tina Newton described the Sock Summit journey in alternating laughter, delirium, and tears. I met dozens of people and many new friends. So far, Sock Summit is awesome.

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Can’t wait for more.

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Big Day Ahead

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Sock Summit is here, the knitters are arriving, and registration is already in full swing. There is a friendly energy around, whenever you encounter another Sock Summit goer. Today will be Day 1 of classes, activities, and general high-intensity frolicking…

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Yesterday I arrived, registered myself up, and then had dinner with my uncle who lives nearby who I haven’t seen in many years. It was a fun time, and I’m glad I did.

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More evenings of knitterly fun lie ahead. Now let’s pretend I’m on completely full night’s sleep, shall we? Right. More later…

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Leaving for the very plausible state of Oregon

It’s here, the week thousands of us have been waiting months for…I leave very early tomorrow morning for the long trek to the west coast and the exciting Sock Summit event. For better or worse, I can tell you this is certainly going to be the content of my next few blog posts, so I hope you won’t mind coming along for the ride! All I can say is that I’ll be blogging…what or who, well, the adventures will unfold as they may.

To look forward to, I’ve got:

  • One 4am wake-up call (tomorrow…let us not speak of this any further)
  • Four thee-hour classes
  • Two travel-knitting projects (socks in Lorna’s Laces sock, shawl in Tanis Fiber Arts fingering weight)
  • One volunteer shift
  • Three parties/special events
  • A twelve-hour one-way trip (that’s with airport time)
  • One fun roomie/partner-in-crime to share the week with
  • And unpredictable amounts of yarn, food, drink, and revelry

My homework is done, my suitcases are packed, all that’s left is to fly out tomorrow morning. It’s gonna be one heck of a week to remember, and I can’t wait to arrive and have the journey behind me so the real fun can begin.

(Also, that subject line is funnier if you’ve seen the X-Files pilot episode…and if you already knew that, then you might be my new best friend.)

Here’s looking forward to meeting a few knitters on my travels tomorrow, and good thoughts for those already en route. Catch you on the flip side!

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Pretty Wicked Stockings

After having several projects in progress for the last little while, it feels very good to be reeling in a few finished ones. These knee-high stockings are finished after a few weeks’ work and I’m glad I decided to do them. They’ll be coming with me to the Sock Summit and likely be my Ravelry party-wear. Because where else would you wear a wicked pair of socks like these but to a gathering of knitters?

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Cast On: July 11, 2009
Cast Off: August 1, 2009
Needles: 2.5mm DPNs
Yarn: The Sweet Sheep‘s own fingering weight, in incarnations from 2007 (shamrock green) and 2008 (joker purple), and Malabrigo Sock (black). (Incidentally, the Sweet Sheep will also be a vendor at the Sock Summit this week, and Michelle is just about the nicest person ever.) I worked the stripes in rows of 2-4-2-4 (black-purple-black-green) on repeat, and chose to keep the purple for the heel and toe since Michelle’s earlier blend (in the green) did not have nylon in it but her later one (purple) did, and I wanted to preserve the strength of the nylon blend at those points of abrasion.

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Pattern: There is no specific pattern for this, just math and gauge. I started with my known gauge for this yarn, multiplied that by the number of inches around at my upper calf, and then subtracted 2.5 inches’ worth. This gave me the # of stitches for the upper calf. I subtracted about a dozen stitches from this number to work the ribbing, then increased immediately.

I worked the upper-calf # of stitches for 5 inches, then worked pairs of decreases at the middle of the back of the leg every 4 rows, until I reached 64 sts. From there I continued even until I was at the length I needed to cover my whole leg (making sure to try this on for verification), and from this point on it became just a plain sock with a heel flap and gussets and wedge toe.

Overall, I’m pretty darned pleased. And as a bonus, I also finished up my pair of on-the-go socks I’ve had for a little over a month, in Socks That Rock Lightweight (I think the colourway is ‘rolling stone’, but can’t be completely sure because it was a mill end picked up at Rhinebeck). These are plain Knit 3-Purl 1 ribbing at 64 sts around, and I squeaked ‘em out with just a teensy bit of yarn leftover. STR Lightweight’s yardage pushes my Size 11s to the very edge, but I can usually make it through on a single skein.

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Socks, socks and more socks. What are the odds that in a couple of weeks I’ll have a sudden urge to cast on 7 new sweaters? I’m thinking…pretty darned strong. But I’ve got more sock knitting in me this week, which is a darned good thing.

Happy knitting today, folks!

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