Category Archives: knitting tourism

The goods

My Rhinebeck shopping this time around was fairly precise. I made a list going in, and stuck to it, and then stopped shopping and browsed and chatted and ate food the rest of the time. All good too, of course! I often get taken in by the pretty things and buy one or two skeins (especially the sock yarn, which is so beautiful and tempting), and then regret not saving more of my budget for a really great amount of sweater yarn.

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In addition to 2 more Signature circulars, a book and a hug from Stephanie, and a really great mug from Jennie the Potter (for which I have to thank fellow Rhinebecker Abbie, who stood in line for me and may have snagged one of the very last mugs there, I did indeed get some lovely yarn. (The mug is my 2nd from her, and I can see why everyone mobs her booth – they are just wonderful for a cuppa or a latte at home, and have such pleasing hand-painted designs.)

I’ve gotten a few lovely skeins of sock yarn from Miss Babs before, and at Sock Summit this past summer I really strongly considered their worsted weight yarns but didn’t have room. This time, I made a beeline for the display of Yowza Whatta Skeins, and brought home 3 in a lovely brownish grey colour called “Field Mouse.” It’s about 1600 yds altogether, and I think it might be destined for the cardigan sister pattern to Royale, which I’ve been wanting to work on for the last year.

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I also brought home 2 more giant bumps of yarn from Briar Rose, in this bulky and flaming red shade of Abundance. I think it’s going to be something big and cozy and cabley.

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It’s a big world of yarn out there, and I love what I have access to through the yarn shops and dyers here at home, but at Rhinebeck there is always the thrill of getting to see a different selection of indie dyers and craftspeople, and it is wonderful that so many of us can benefit from this big yarn world in so many different ways.

In conclusion, yarn is awesome.
What yarn are you waiting to pull out of your stash – new or old?

Happy knitting today!

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Returned

If you should ever have the opportunity to attend a 4-day knitting conference (convention? I can never decide which one Sock Summit actually is), followed by a 6-day trip to San Francisco, I do recommend it. It’s especially recommendable if you can find knitters to visit with while you’re doing it, because that means that by the time you hit the tourism wall and say “I think I’m done cramming myself into lines with other tourists to take pictures of the same things other people are cramming themselves into lines to take pictures of,” you’ll have people around who will say “Okay! Let’s go have coffee/ice cream/beer/dinner/wine/things covered in cheese and sit/knit/chat/all of the above” instead.

I mean, an extended fun-time vacation also means that re-entry is going to be just that much harder, but I’m topped up on creative inspiration to keep my knitting wheels turning for a little while, and am excited to return to discover that all those fun projects I was meaning to get to in August are still waiting for me.

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Although I do have to say, it was in that state of mind on Friday morning that I discovered the Ferry Building really is awesome. I had a cup of tea and sat for like an hour, then browsed the bookstore and shops. Can I do that every day?

The last few days of my San Francisco jaunt were spent thusly, having coffee and wandering the Mission with Stephen and his two sweet French bulldog gals, kidnapping Jacquie to Oakland for Homeroom mac & cheese (I recommend the one with garlic), finding Erin in Berkeley to drink beer and talk geography and then wander the UC campus, and visiting A Verb For Keeping Warm just when they were having a reception with Cookie A and Anne Hanson.

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And then on Saturday Liz drove us wine tasting in Napa, which I probably don’t need to tell you was pretty great. It really helps to be visiting friends who do not at all need convincing or persuading to do the same things you like to do. (Then we saw the Harry Potter film a 2nd time, to, uh, soak up the characters. yes. Not at all to stare at Neville’s sweater some more. No siree.)

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So now my job is to pretend I’m not jet-lagged long enough to get some laundry and cleaning done, catch up on emails, and figure out what I’m doing this week. I’m a little concerned that August is already one week done, but will do my best to catch up.

Knit on! Catch you again soon.

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Postcards

Dear internet

Am having lovely time traipsing around San Francisco. Spent two days artistically wandering around museums, parks, and urban landscapes, appreciating all of it muchly and being mostly unplugged from the internet.

Today it turns out that two days of walking and artistic appreciation is my limit before I need a day of leisure and food and staring blankly at walls or perhaps a trashy novel, and will return to the appreciative artistic tourist life tomorrow.

Miss you all,
Hugs and kisses,

Glenna

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PS the Starbucks people think my name is actually Helena. That’s actually sort of too cool to get annoyed about.

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PPS tomorrow I’m going to look at more yarn.

PPPS I know you’re all surprised.

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Filling the well

Well knitting friends, Sock Summit has come and gone for a second time. Good times were had by all, though I can attest that about 99% of us were pretty much saturated by Sunday. I think a naptime section of the Oregon Convention Centre would go over big. Maybe just a few sleeping mats and pillows in 20 minute spurts, you know? To let the knowledge sink in and the fatigue pass for a few minutes. But all in all, I think the fatigue is okay when you know you’ve been doing lots of mingling and learning and knitting and thinking, and this was a pretty awesome event. Steph and Tina and all the ST-1 and ST-2 team members deserve all the adulation in the world.

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It was bigger than the first time around but no less significant, and I am always impressed at how easy it is to “run into” knitters you know even when you are in such a big group. There were knitters all over the airport and on my flight to San Francisco (I am carrying on the vacation a few more days, taking the liberty while I’m already on the west coast), and it turned out that I spent the end of my Sock Summit trip much the same way it began – in an airport with Sandi Wiseheart. We knitted and chatted about our classes and thought about Knitting and Related Plans, and it was good. Sometimes I think events like this are the best purely for the non-event times, because when else do you get thrown in the path of knitters at such regular and like-minded intervals?

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On the last day of Sock Summit I attended a lecture with Fiona Ellis, and spent the rest of the day mingling around the marketplace, and getting to do two things I didn’t do last time at Sock Summit. One was to visit an actual real live yarn shop in Portland (you know, actually leaving the marketplace at the convention centre and going to a store. Whoa, man. Michele (thanks, Michele!) offered to drive me to her spot which is Twisted – and it is indeed an awesome shop.

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It is a pretty brilliantly arranged space – they have managed to create a shop that feels both big and small at the same time, is lit perfectly to show off all the colourful yarn, AND they have a great selection of materials – both yarn and tools. They also had one of the most fantastic bulletin board posting I have ever seen. Check this out and even if you can’t see all the notes, you can get the idea:

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These are all swatches knitted by folks at the shop, all with the exact same needle size, yarn, number of stitches and rows, and the same swatch style (flat, with garter at the edges). And you know what? Not only did none of them achieved the exact gauge written on the ball band, but none of them had the same gauge as another person in the group. Maybe two of them had the same stitch gauge, but differed in row gauge, or vice versa. It was great. This is why gauge swatching can be so powerful, my knitting friends.

The other thing that happened on Sunday is something that was new this time at Sock Summit, which was the ‘Fleece to Foot’ competition. Six teams of spinners and knitters worked from freshly-shorn fleece to produce as much as possible of a pair of handspun and handknit socks. And that fleece, it was as fresh as you could get. The nervous young sheep waited amongst the camera happy knitters, then protestingly but cooperatively sat for their public shearings.

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Then the fleece was sorted for the best locks and Clara Parkes (yes that Clara Parkes) took the first ones to card up and spin as a sample guideline for the spinning teams, who then worked for the next five hours as furiously as possible. I missed seeing the completion of the competition, but it was pretty great to watch in the early stages.

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Although I have now left Portland I have the rest of the week in San Francisco to look forward to – likely a combination of tourism and leisureliness, and more eating and visiting with knitters. Here’s hoping all of that goes according to plan.

Have a great week ahead! Catch you next time from The City.

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“You can’t fight the light.”

So, if you should happen to have the chance to spend your birthday at a Sock Summit or similarly knitting oriented extravaganza, may I just take a moment to recommend it quite highly. Yesterday, I started with a “second breakfast” befitting the occasion (cupcake held from a purchase day before, from Cupcake Jones),

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did some crazy awesome swatching with Cookie A and ‘oddball stitches’,

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then convinced fellow classmate Jane to come with me to split a hamburger sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches (thank you, Brunch Box – we regretted nothing), then picked up knitter Johanna and stopped at the Saturday Market for ice cream.

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Then I filled a notebook listening to photography wisdom from Franklin Habit,

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joined with several hundred other knitters for a “super secret” (maybe not so secret) flash mob,

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and then met up with a bunch of more knitters for dinner.

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Thanks, knitters! Can we do it all again next weekend? I don’t think I want Sock Summit to end.

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Still going, still good

One thing I learned from the last Sock Summit is that, for me at least, having knitting classes 4 straight days in a row is a recipe for being really really exhausted by Sunday afternoon. This time, I planned for that and allowed myself a day of no classes whatsoever on Friday. It worked out pretty well.

I spent a few hours strolling around the marketplace (acquired 2 more skeins plus a 15-minte chair massage which was GREAT), and chatting with knitters there;

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Then I had the most delicious brown rice bowl for lunch from a food cart, which I ate too fast to be able to take a picture of it, visited a cupcake place and scarfed down a life-changing chocolate ganache cupcake, and hit Powell’s later with some fellow knitters. (Powell’s were ready for the knitters).

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And, oh yes – I finished the crochet bind-off on my Peacock Feathers shawl and then BLOCKED IT. (Thank you, hotel bed). I do indeed get to wear it as my birthday shawl today.

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Today for my birthday I get to take knitting classes all day, shop with knitters, then have dinner with knitters. Looking forward to all of it!

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“No way can I get 100s of people to do THAT.”

There’s that story about the daredevil who made a really crazy jump, and did it awesomely, and then crashed at the end of it and needed several casts and recovery time. And when they asked him if he would do it again he said no, because, “I really miss the first time.”

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Being at Sock Summit 2.0 is sort of like that – those of us who were lucky (super dee dooper lucky, believe me we know) enough to be there the first time around still really miss it. But unlike the daredevil, we’re ready to be back and raring for more. A lot of it is oddly familiar. We made it our routine so intensely for 4 days in a row, that even 2 years later, getting off the tram in front of the Oregon Convention Centre yesterday morning felt a lot like…well, we were trying to figure that out. Not like coming “home” exactly. Sort of like coming back to a college reunion, but where you actually want to see most of the hordes of people who are there. I can only imagine the conviction it took for Stephanie and Tina to commit to this show a second time. As they said at the Opening Reception – this time, they knew what they were in for.

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The first day was pretty darned great. I went to a full day class with Cat Bordhi (her “Knitting Sleuth” class), and sitting with fellow Canadian knitter Dennine (who is wearing an awesome yellow shawl here that I’ve totally forgotten what pattern it was when I asked her) in a class that started at 9am, it wasn’t even 9:30 yet before we both turned to each other and whispered, “well, I don’t know about you but I just got MY money’s worth.” It was mind-expanding in the way that Cat Bordhi’s classes always are.

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And with the help of perseverance, stimulating conversation, and the promise of a yarn-filled marketplace, all of us made it through our Day 1 classes and carried on for the shopping. And shopping there was. (And still is, I’m sure). The marketplace is just about worth the price of admission on its own, and it gave the “experienced” half of our hotel suite group a lot of glee to see the “new” members of our group happily looking over their purchases last night. It’s like Rhinebeck on crack. And air conditioning.

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It’s a bigger group this time, which you can tell just by being here. There are more people around and the vibe just feels bigger. And different and better, in many ways. Um, Sock Summit 1.0 did not have a flash mob planned for Saturday, just saying. (See below for a very short video clip of the Opening Reception practice. My delighted laughter may not stop.)

Now Day 2 is on its way, and I’m happy to have it as a free-roaming day, for more market perusal and a visit downtown for Powell’s. It’s good to have a loose day this time around for some slower pace and recharging. And just being around the Sock Summiters is pretty great in itself.

Happy sock knitting, whether you are in Portland or elsewhere!

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Let’s go

Yesterday I arrived in Portland just in time for the sun to go down, after a looooooong afternoon spanning all the time zones between Toronto and Portland. I was lucky enough to be on a direct flight which I was halfway convinced was actually just an illusion and that partway through the Captain would come out and tell us we were actually going to be making stops in Denver and Honolulu and would arrive in Portland sometime next Tuesday, but no. It turned out that there were other knitters on the plane as well, which was even better. I chatted a bit with Sandi Wiseheart and we waited for our bags while comparing Designer Angst Stories, and shared a taxi. So that surely bodes well for the trip, I think?

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Then when I met up with my Vancouver roommates, they told their tales of the train, it turns out Meg shared a seat with Anna Zilboorg for a large portion of her journey. As one does.

I think this must be just how Sock Summit IS, though. So many knitters are converging from so many places that we may be flooding the channels a bit. The US customs agent who saw me couldn’t have looked less interested when I told him my reason for travel was to take a weekend of knitting workshops. I think a few earlier SS fliers may have broken in the Customs agents before me. I thank them. (And I really do think it’s a shame that all the Americans coming to Sock Summit will not have that experience – I think every knitter should have the rite of passage of having to explain to a US border guard that their reason for travel is knitting.)

And now Day 1 is about to start, and I’m going to have another rite of passage – pretending to have had a full night’s sleep when about to start a full day class with Cat Bordhi. It’s going to be awesome.

Catch you with more tales next time!

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Just the right age for this, actually

Yesterday marked another year of the Toronto TTC Knitalong, an event that has changed hands from one set of organizers to another over time, and sees a slightly different yarn shop landscape every year in the city, but has been going strong for four or five years now. It is an excuse to roam the city as knitters, shopping and knitting and generally raising the visibility of the craft as we go. The participant fees contribute mostly to a hefty charitable donation to Sistering, a local women’s charity, and mostly it’s just a good time and an excuse to be part of a roving band of knitters for the day. And we lucked out and got a sunny hot day that wasn’t quite so hot as to be mimicking the face of the sun, so that was a bonus.

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Along with Lisa, I was a captain for the Red Team this year, which started in the north end of the city at Passionknit, stopping at Mary Maxim and then Knitomatic before finishing at Romni Wools. Many of the shops offered discounts or prize draws, which was an added bonus and extra bit of enabling. (I very nearly had a falling down in front of the Malabrigo Chunky in Romni Wools, then came to my senses. Though I did emerge with a bit more Cascade 220 and Royal Alpaca by the end of the day). And then we had beer afterwards, and lo, it was good. Team Red was a pretty awesome team (not that I’m biased), and I know a lot of folks went home smiling with a lot of new purchases, and even some new Works in Progress on the needles.

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It is always a lot of fun doing things like this, because you can go around for the day completely immersed in Knitting World, without actually leaving the Real World of the city. You get to be among your own kind (with whom you can say things like “hey I almost lost it in front of the Malabrigo Chunky over there”, and they will know exactly what you mean, or they will not blink an eye if you do things like read a pattern on your cell phone in one hand while casting on with the other), and yet you don’t have to retreat to the woods to reach said Knitting World. It’s like day camp for knitters.

The other fun part about this is encountering the reaction from non-knitters, because in using streetcars and subways to get around on a Saturday (or even walking around), while also knitting (because a lot of knitters plan ahead and bring projects they can work on while standing or riding transit), and while carrying bright red tote bags…uh, well…we get noticed.

We had an interesting bit of chatter with one guy on the streetcar who was genuinely curious what it was that we were doing (he wondered if we had arranged to have a team on every single streetcar/subway in the city), and we explained about the knitting and the shopping and the charity and the fun. He nodded and seemed to think this was reasonable, but then commented that we “seemed a bit young to be knitters.” We explained to him that, no, actually knitters come in all ages and in fact some of the fastest growing age demographics in knitting are the young adults.

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It is easy, immersed in knitting world and only sharing our craft with other knitters, to forget that some people actually experience this world as brand new information. It always seems like people should have caught on by now, that everyone should know by now that knitting world is actually pretty big, is located everywhere, and lived by people in all walks of life. Sometimes, you need to go out with a big group of knitters and pull out your knitting in the middle of a busy subway, just to make sure that everyone knows that, just in case they’ve forgotten – because they sometimes forget.

And really, we are all, in fact, just the right age for this.

Happy knitting this Sunday! Wherever you are.

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Departures

Vancouver, you’re all right. But I mean, we knew that, right? We got the memo on the west coast awesomeness. But I’m glad to have verified that for myself. The air is just different out here. The west coast is paradoxical in many ways – prosperous but socially polarized, expensive but sustainably-minded, and yet I still come away thinking that it’s the west that’s going to save us. People out here care about stuff. (Which isn’t to say that people out east don’t, of course. I think being surrounded by oceans and mountains every day must translate something different, perhaps.)

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I capped off my visit yesterday with a day of walking – the park, the downtown, the art gallery (awesome and trippy exhibit involving a mirror of mazes) and a bit of visiting with Meg, who was fresh from the awesomeness of Madrona knitting weekend and happy to chat about knitterly things. Erin has been a lovely host and made sure I saw lots of the city, though I admit this also feels as though I have eaten the entire city, so maybe one makes the other possible. There were also a lot of conversations about Sock Summit (I met both of them there 2 years ago) and our hopes to attend, learn, volunteer, and continue the path of knitting world domination in general.

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Knitting-wise, Vancouver has much to recommend it. I only made it to 2 knitting shops but they were wonderful. Baaad Anna’s (love the name) in Hastings Sunrise is small but well curated, and friendly. And sarcastic. (See above). I came away with some pottery mugs and whimsical buttons.

Sunday dawned with anticipation of a yarn shop visit as well as brunch with Erin’s knitting friends, who were all fabulous and whose names I am going to forget right now, but take my word for it that it was a great brunch, both for the food and the company. (Seriously, go to Burgoo. Do not pass go, go directly to the delicious piles of food).

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We carried on to Three Bags Full, which is a remarkable little shop. Several local yarns along with a very sturdy selection of standby pics – possibly the best selection of Cascade 220 I’ve seen outside of Romni Wools in Toronto, which is saying something. I had a falling down in front of the Noro Silk Garden and came away with a sweater’s worth, but someone had to take that hit for the team since I learned that all four of the other ladies were on a stash diet. (They’re also all waiting to see who goes out first. Heh.)

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And today it’s back on a plane again and back to reality, but it’s been a slice and I’ve got new yarn, a bunch of knitting progress, and 2 pounds of Vancouver coffee coming back with me to prove it. Thanks, west coast, let’s do it again some time!

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