What’s new about Stitches South this year? New venue! New classes! New transportation options! New yarn! Well, the new yarn and the new classes are a given, but the rest? All new!

I never particularly liked the Cobb Galleria Centre, so I wasn’t displeased when I heard several months ago that Stitches had changed locations this year, especially when I heard it moved closer to the airport. The chief thing I disliked about the Galleria was the lack of easy public transportation options and the PITA of parking. Okay, parking was free, which is always a plus, but the Centre itself isn’t all that easy to drive to: exit here; no, here!; turn right, then left, then right, then omg I’m totally lost inside this corporate office park and just where the hell is the parking garage, anyway? And the conference center itself, for all its high ceilings and large rooms, felt claustrophobic because there are so few walkways with windows, and those few it has are all overhung with huge verandas, so not much natural light actually reaches the interior.

GICC 2The new location at the Georgia International Conference Center is everything the Galleria is not: easy access to and from the interstate, easy parking (you pay for it but the Stitches discounted parking rate is $5, the same as a round-trip MARTA ticket; either way, the best deal in town, or darn close), easy public transit options by taking MARTA to the Airport Station and the Sky Train from the airport to GICC. The center’s concourse is bright and airy, with lots and lots of windows all the way around the building, and art installations in almost any direction you look. You can’t really see them in this photo, but scattered throughout the curved concourse are round leather ottomans of varying sizes, perfect for sitting and knitting alone or in groups. Some are even big enough for three adults to lie down across them — which is what I saw one giggling group of women do while having their picture taken.

Speaking of art installations, take a gander at this mobile. It’s huge! And fascinating! I stood and studied it for quite some time. It’s too bad there wasn’t a convenient bench or giant round ottoman in the vicinity, because I could have sat and studied it for at least a good 30 minutes.

Mobile 1

(And now that I say that, I see in the first picture above there was in fact a giant round green ottoman that was behind me when I took the second picture. *sigh* Next year. Actually, I just found on the GICC website that an audio art tour is available, so I may do that next year, too.)

If GICC has a drawback, it’s that the only food available within the convention center is the one concession stand inside the exhibit hall and various vending machines scattered throughout the building. The closest real restaurant isn’t within an easy walking distance — it’s close to a mile away, and you’d have to know where you were going in the first place, something that many Stitches attendees, including me, won’t necessarily know. XRX provided a remedy to that situation with a free shuttle to local restaurants at mid-day and during early evening hours. I didn’t take advantage of the shuttle — with only one day at Stitches this year, classes morning and afternoon, AND a ticket to the banquet that evening, the only time I had available to shop the market was mid-day. Again, maybe next year.

This year I took two classes: Secrets of the Sleeve Cap with Patty Lyons; and Mix-It-Up Miters with Edie Eckman. Both are utterly delightful, and I highly recommend anyone to take one of their classes.

ClassroomClassrooms were spacious, if a little dim. “Secrets of the Sleeve Cap” was in the morning, with no knitting involved, just math, making it a good class to take first thing in the morning. But it was cool math: algebra and geometry and engineering combined. I mean, who knew the Pythagorean theorem and the point of inflection were crucial to making a sleeve cap, right? Anyway, the gist of the class was to teach us how to design a well-fitting sleeve cap as part of designing or altering a sweater pattern; and also how to adjust the pattern for an already-designed sleeve cap when row gauge isn’t quite on track. Very informative and not as difficult as one might expect! I also learned about a thing I didn’t know existed: a bendable ruler. I will be stopping by my local office supply store soon to pick up one of these nifty tools.

Between classes, I shopped the market, but that story will have to wait until I get all the pretty yarn and button pics edited and organized.

Classmates“Mix-It-Up Miters” took up the afternoon, and this class was hands-on and practical, so we did bring out our yarn and needles. By the way, those two lovely ladies on the right are Becca and Lori, who flew in from the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the sole purpose of attending Stitches South. I didn’t know them before, but I’m glad to know them now. Girls, if you’re reading this, make sure you come back next year, y’hear?

EdieI took this mitered squares class because the remnants of many skeins of sock yarn are floating around my craft room — well, technically, they’re not “floating”; they’re stored in a plastic box — and I just can’t bring myself to toss them out because there’s still so much yardage left on each. Some of them may have up to 25 or 30 yards left. (Even if there were only three or four yards left of each, I wouldn’t get rid of them, but that’s beside the point.) I’ve looked at several patterns specifically for sock yarn remnants, like The Beekeeper’s Quilt, but it turns out the patterns I liked best that suited my parameters — (A) free and (B) relatively non-fussy — involved either entrelac or mitered squares. I learned entrelac last year or the year before, but hadn’t learned mitered squares. Thusly, a need and a class that suited said need! Edie (to the left) was most helpful in talking us through the anatomy of the square, or rectangle as the case may be. I can now safely say I understand the whys and wherefores of the mitered square and feel confident about creating my own “crazy quilt” type blanket with all that leftover sock yarn. (The practice swatches below were made with worsted weight, BTW.)

Mitered Squares 1

At the banquet, the menu was as follows:

  • Mixed Field Greens with Fresh Raspberries, Candied Pecans, Crumbled Goat Cheese and a Champagne Vinaigrette
  • Blue cheese crusted beef tenderloin with truffled mashed potatoes and a port demi-glace
  • Fresh fruit tart with sliced seasonal fruit and berries on French pastry cream in a fresh baked tart shell

All of it was delicious.

I entered the Student Fashion Show and modeled my “Rose in Winter” cardigan (see this blog entry, and this one, too). Lots of amazing projects were entered, including one by a woman who, although not a professional knitwear designer, teaches fashion design and merchandising at a local university. She created the most intricately designed colorwork tunic-length cardigan I have ever seen. I wish I had a picture. Keep watching the Stitches website because I can almost guarantee that one will make the grade for publicity shots.

And, in other news, I kept the four-year winning streak going and got a door prize!

Cowgirl Bandana 1

I don’t know that I’ll use the yarn to make the intended pattern, but we’ll see. It’s lovely yarn, though: a fingering-weight merino/bison blend with a tight twist. With 400 yards of each color, I have lots of options.

There’s yarn booty from the market to show you, and buttons, too, but that’s another blog entry. Watch this space!

How did two months go by without a single blog entry?  Well, tomorrow I’ll be at Stitches South.  I’ll have stuff to show you when I get back, so expect an update (with pics) sometime in the next few days.

In the meantime, I’m quite pleased to know I did NOT miss Knit & Crochet Blog Week. It’s next month. You can read all about it over at Eskimimi Makes. Join us!

This was the view from my front stoop at 7:30 this morning:
Ice Storm 1

And here’s the same view at 2:30 this afternoon:
Ice Storm 2

Yes, once more we can safely say…
Georgia Is Closed

Before all you Northerners laugh yourselves silly, you have to understand we just don’t DO snow in the South, y’all! Ice, neither, in this particular instance. Yes, that’s ice. We’ve had a steady downpour of ice rain, or sleet, or very tiny hailstones, or whatever the HELL you want to call it, since about 2:00 AM, and it’s likely to last at least through tomorrow. We’re lucky here in the avantaknits household in that we haven’t lost power; our refrigerator and cupboards are well stocked; cable, internet, and Netflix are up and running; and I have plenty of yarn and books to keep me occupied.

Buds and Blooms 21Speaking of yarn, remember the cardigan I finished a couple of weeks ago? I reblocked it and took a couple of new pictures. Yes, this is a WIP post, but I’m sharing the finished cardigan again anyway. Deal with it.

Buds and Blooms 20And as soon as that precious knit was finished to my satisfaction, I started on my next project, the Wildflower Cardigan by Alana Dakos. (Click the link to be taken to the pattern website.) I’m using Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in a caramel color. After the decorative edging at the bottom, it’s endless endless endless stockinette, which makes for easy television knitting. But it’s also endless endless endless stockinette, which makes me insane for some variety after a while, which is why I’ve only progressed about three and a half inches up the back.

Wildflower Cardigan 1

Wildflower Cardigan 2Here’s a closer look at the detail of the decorative edging. Pretty cool construction technique involving lots of passed-over stitches — a little fiddly, maybe, but it turns out great. As always, click the pics to see them full-size.

Because the endless endless endless stockinette eventually makes me crazy, over the weekend I started another giant granny square baby blanket with an autumn-toned color scheme. It’s intended for the first grandbaby of one of my colleagues.

Penny's Granny 1

Spouse's socks 1And of course, spouse’s socks. Which haven’t been touched since the last time I posted about them in November. *hangs head in shame*

ab2a5-tami_wipThis post is part of the WIP Wednesday Round-up hosted by Tami’s Amis. Click the badge over there and see what other folks have been up to recently!

The cardigan was finished Friday, but it was too late to take pictures. So we did our photoshoot on Saturday instead, and I edited the pictures this morning. Behold!

Buds and Blooms 11

Buds and Blooms 12

Buds and Blooms 13Pattern: Buds & Blooms by Alana Dakos, from Botanical Knits
Size: 45″
Yarn: Schaefer Yarn’s Chris, in Pomegranate, 6 skeins, or roughly 1255 yards. No links to the yarn because Schaefer is out of business.
Needles: Addi Natura, size 9; Addi Natura, size 10
Satisfaction with end product: I am totally in love with this cardigan. It fits well, and the yarn is gorgeous and soft and velvety. The neckline as blocked out to pattern schematics is just a hair too wide, so I may reblock it, but otherwise it’s wonderful. I expect to get a lot of wear out of this cardigan all year round, even in summer: everywhere we go in summer, the air conditioning is set to Arctic levels. The yarn is supposed to be machine washable, although I haven’t tried that. I’ll throw my swatch in the washing machine for a test run first.

Here are a few more detail photos. As always, click the pic to see the full-size photograph.

Buds and Blooms 16 Buds and Blooms 18 Buds and Blooms 14

d1010-fofridayI have one skein of the pomegranate yarn left. I think I’ll make a hat to match the cardigan with it.

Although it’s late, this post is still part of the FO Friday roundup hosted by Tami’s Amis. Please click the badge to check out what other folks have finished this week.

100_3534It’s been a bit busy around here. First I went to California for a few days and had a lovely time with my girlfriends at our annual slumber party. On the plane ride home, I caught a cold, which promptly dived into my lungs and became severe bronchitis, so I’ve been home sick, coughing and sneezing and hacking and wheezing, for more than a week. Then yesterday, Snowmageddon hit the Atlanta metro area and my office called to say don’t bother about coming back to work today as planned because the federal government is closing due to weather. I got a Facebook notice from a work colleague about an hour ago that we’re closed tomorrow as well.
Georgia Is Closed

Normally, this sort of unscheduled time off work doesn’t bother me much, but our technical training class resumes next week. I’ve missed more than a week of prep time, not to mention rehearsals, and now all my co-instructors will be out as well, which does not bode well for our scheduled broadcast Monday morning.

I wonder if the broadcast will be postponed a day or two because of our absence from the studio… Well, that’s not my decision. Whatever happens, we’ll muddle through.

What I can tell you, however, is all this time off has resulted in the Buds & Blooms cardigan being nearly done. I’m finishing up the last bit of knitting on the collar, then the seaming and sewing on of buttons can commence. Take a look:

Buds and Blooms 7

Isn’t that just lovely?

The instructions for this cardigan say to block after assembly. I hate seaming unblocked pieces, so I went ahead and blocked the back, fronts and sleeves before adding the button bands to the fronts, seaming the shoulders and picking up the collar. ab2a5-tami_wipThere’s a bit of a pucker from the unblocked yarn on the button bands, but a light reblocking after final assembly should take care of that.

This post is part of the WIP Wednesday Round-Up. Click that badge over there to see what other folks are working on this week.

Much happy progress on the Buds and Blooms cardigan! Behold:

Headed toward the shoulders.

Headed toward the shoulders.

The color looks excessively purple under the Ott light.

Back vine detail with button

Back vine detail with button

And the closeup is closer to the true color. One of these days I’ll figure out how to properly make color corrections in my digital photographs. But not today.

At this point, I’m about 2/3 the way through the second skein of yarn, with five more full skeins left, so running short of yarn shouldn’t be an issue. This is a very good thing, since Schaefer no longer makes this particular yarn, or any other yarn, actually. They have gone out of business. That’s too bad, because this stuff is marvelous to work with. It feels almost like velvet on the stockinette portion.

ab2a5-tami_wipI’m hoping I’ll have the whole cardigan done in time to wear it to California at the end of next week. An ambitious goal, but it’s possible. Maybe. *crosses fingers*

This post is part of the WIP Wednesday roundup hosted by Tami’s Amis. Click that badge over there to see more progress!

Spouse as model.

Spouse as model.

So, the Wanderer Scarf is finished. Feast your eyes upon the beauty!

The scarf, I mean. Although my husband the model is awfully handsome, too. :)

Pattern: Wanderer Scarf by Martin Storey
Yarn: Rowan Soft Tweed (discontinued), colorway Twig, 5 skeins (435 yards)
Needles: Addi Turbo US 11
Finished size: Approximately 6 inches wide and 8 feet long
Satisfaction with end product: I think it’s wonderful. The texture is amazing, and it’s cushiony soft and warm. I hope its intended recipient will like it.

Here are a few other pictures that show the texture in more detail.

If you click the pic, you can see them full size.

Wanderer Scarf 10Wanderer Scarf 7Wanderer Scarf 6

And now, for your amusement, here are pics of spouse being silly with stereotypical catalog model poses.

Wanderer Scarf 3 Wanderer Scarf 4

With goofiness like this in my house on a daily basis, is it any wonder I keep him around?

7cde9-fofridayThis post is part of the FO Friday roundup, hosted by Tami’s Amis. Click that badge over there to see what other folks have finished this week.

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