Tag Archive | learning new things

Socks! And a shawl.

While I was off work in January recovering from surgery, I went on a bit of a sock binge.  Results below.

temperance-2 First up, the Temperance socks (Ravelry project page).

Pattern: Temperance by Liz Abinante

Yarn:  Footprints by Blue Ridge Yarn, colorway Secret Garden.  Per Webs, this yarn’s total weight for the full put-up is 108 grams. That means it’s 81 grams for the 300 yard skein and 27 grams for the 100 yard skein. When I was finished, I had 18 grams and 8 grams left, respectively.

Total yardage used: 304 yds.

temperance-1Needles:  US size 2 DPNS.  Pattern calls for using US size 1 1/2 needles. I need size 2 to achieve gauge.

New techniques? Yes!  First toe up socks, first short row heel, first time using different colors for different parts of the sock.  I discovered  I don’t like toe up socks.  The cast on and first couple of rows are really REALLY fiddly and annoying.  That was with DPNs.  I may try again using two circs.  Maybe.

Satisfaction with end product:  Pleased!  They fit pretty well, and I’ve worn them several times since completing them.  In fact, I’m wearing them as I type this blog entry. The yarn is soft and warm and comfy, especially after having been washed a couple of times.  The socks come through the washer and dryer just fine; I wash them inside a mesh bag so they’re protected from rubbing against other clothing, and I use the gentle/delicate cold water wash cycle and a low heat dry cycle.

Next, Hummingbird Spring (Ravelry project page).

hummingbird-4Pattern:  Hummingbird by Sandi Rosner

Yarn: Stardust by Magic & Moonshine, colorway “Crocus”. I love this yarn. It’s soft on the hands, comfy on the feet, and has a hint of sparkle when the light catches it just right.

Total yardage used: Roughly 293 yards

Needles: US size 1 1/2 DPNs

hummingbird-1New techniques? Short heel sock #2.  Progress, not perfection.

Satisfaction with end product:  Good enough, even with the following hiccup.  According to the pattern blurb in the book (The Knitter’s Book of Socks), this pattern was written specifically for a “highly-variegated colorway”. They must not have meant THIS highly-variegated because the lace pattern is virtually invisible.  Still, it’s a nicely written pattern, and fun to make. I may try it again in yarn with less contrast in color values.  The completed socks are machine washable (on gentle, in a mesh bag, as explained above) for ease of care.

Finally, Dragonfly and Rosebud (Ravelry project page).

dragonfly-rosebuds-1

You may notice that this photo employs sock blockers.  Yes, I finally bought some.

Pattern:  Veil of Rosebuds by Anne Hanson

Size: Medium

Yarn:  Skinny Bugga! by Cephalopod Yarns, colorway “Dragonfly Tattoo”.  This yarn is amazing. It’s too bad Cephalopod Yarns closed up shop and took down its shingle.

Total yardage used:  274 yds.

Needles:  US Size 1 DPNs

Mods: Medium size called for casting on 56 stitches at the cuff. That’s too small for me, so I cast on 64, knit the ribbed cuff, and then decreased by 8 stitches in the first row of the lace.

New techniques? Still working on perfecting that short row heel.  This technique has entailed a bit of a learning curve but I’m getting better.

pussy-hat-1Satisfaction with end product:  I love how these turned out!  Excellent match of yarn and pattern.  The lace pattern is gorgeous and highly visible in this colorway.  The only issue has to do with the short row heel.  I need to remember to knit the foot a teensy bit longer than I do with a flap-and-gusset heel to make sure the heel turn fits on my actual heel instead of getting pulled under.

Somewhere in the middle of all the sock knitting, I made three PussyHats. Two were dropped off at a collection point for the January 21st march that took place in Atlanta and worldwide, and one I kept for myself for future marches.  You can visit my Ravelry project page here.  Bet you can guess my politics now!

I finished the Cadence Shawlette (Ravelry project page) a couple of weeks before surgery in December.

cadence-4Pattern:  Cadence Shawlette by Emily Straw; 5 full repeats and 1 partial repeat (up to row 21) before the garter stitch edging and the bind off.

Yarn:  Brisbane by Queensland Collection, colorway “Coral Trout”.  This colorway name tickles me:  I can’t see it without thinking of Pete Dexter’s novel, Paris Trout.

cadence-5Total yardage:  288 yds, plus a little extra (see notes below)

Needles: US 9 circs

Satisfaction with end product:  Love it.  It’s warm and cozy and colorful, just right to brighten up drab winter days.

Notes: I wanted to use every inch of the Brisbane, so I essentially played yarn chicken and kept knitting until I thought I had just enough for the bind off. As it turned out, I got 3/4 of the way through the bind off before I ran out of yarn. Luckily, I had remnants of another worsted wool (Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted) in a colorway similar to the color section of Brisbane at the bound edge, so I was able to finish the bind off instead of tinking back 200+ stitches.

I’m knitting my library.  Well, mostly.  Maybe you can join us!

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2016: Plans, not resolutions

I abandoned making New Year’s resolutions ages ago because I always ended up breaking said resolutions and then beating myself up for failure.  Now I make plans or set goals.  Because plans can change if circumstances change and no fault accrues; and if goals aren’t met, any progress made toward those goals is a win.  Baby steps are still steps in the right direction.

Reading plans and goals:  I mentioned a couple these in Sunday’s Year In Review: Books blog post but they belong in this post as well.  My goal is to read and finish 52 books; then write at least a one-paragraph review and post it here as well as on Goodreads.  I also want to read more non-fiction.  Even though about one third of the books in my house are non-fiction — history, politics, sociology, and religion, mostly — I managed only one non-fiction title in 2015, and that one (Drift by Rachel Maddow) came from the library.  Speaking of the library, that’s part of the goal as well: to continue to make use of the library and of books I already own.  I simply don’t have room to acquire any additional physical books; and spouse and I have set Trigger Warningsome financial goals that limit my discretionary spending. What discretionary spending room I have, I prefer to save for yarn.  Or travel.  More about that later, though.

A couple of LibraryThing Early Reviewer titles rest here on my desk, Get In Troublewaiting to be read:  Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman and Get In Trouble by Kelly Link.  Getting those read and reviewed will do two things: alleviate the guilt I have for letting them sit as long as they have and add toward the annual reading goal.

Other than those two specific titles, and a general notion toward adding more non-fiction, I have no restrictions or plans for my reading material.  In the past couple of years, what I read and the order in which I read it has been dictated by the local library system.  I have a wish list, and when a title on the wish list becomes available, that’s what I read next. It’s rare that I don’t have at least one title from the library checked out.  Maybe cutting down on the wish list items will aid toward reading down the physical Mt. TBR in the house.  But that’s not a priority.

Wildflower 6Yarn plans and goals:  2016 will be the Year of Knitting Selfishly. All the knitting I did in 2015 was for other people.  This year it’s all about me and it’s all about the stash.*  First thing will be to finish the Wildflower Cardigan, an Alana Dakos pattern that’s been waiting patiently for more than a year.  The partial sweater is shown at right; the yarn is Elsebeth Lavold’s Silky Wool in Acorn. After that, I want to find the right pattern for a cotton shrug I’ve been wanting to make in a turquoise Cascade Ultra Pima.  And at some point this year, I hope to find some use for the two colorways of Rowan Plaid that’s been in my stash for going on 8 years.

Needles 2*Let me say at the outset that I do NOT pledge to go “cold sheep” — that is, not buy any new yarn — because that’s a sure-fire way to set myself up for failure.  What I can do is shop the stash first and, if I go to a yarn store because I’m traveling or because I’m accompanying someone else, I can limit myself to a single skein or two of exquisite sock yarn.

Speaking of finding patterns, I’ve decided to take part in Snapdragon’s Knit Your Library Challenge (click the link to learn more).  I’m confident that somewhere within all the pattern books and back issues of knitting magazines filed away in this house is any project I could possibly wish to make.  Matching the yarn to the pattern to the mood will knit-your-library_2016comprise a major part of this challenge, I think.  Sometimes I want to knit something new, but can’t make a connection between the stashed yarn in my hand and the library patterns that show up in Ravelry.  And the reverse is sometimes true:  I find a library pattern that I love love love but nothing in the stash works for it. When I have some time to breathe, I will spend several hours matching patterns and yarns and lay them out in an organized fashion. I’ve already got a couple of matches in mind.

Technique goals: This will be the year I finally tackle a Fair Isle project: a little one, like a hat. Three stashed skeins of a fingering weight cashmere blend in complementary colorways are screaming at me, so I want to shut them up. I also want to learn some different sock heels. I’ve always done the “flap and gusset” heel, so a short row heel and an afterthought heel are on my list this year.

Finally, I intended to have this blog entry ready to be published yesterday. Remember what I said at the top of this entry about plans? The universe had plans that trumped mine. I had to take my husband to the emergency room yesterday afternoon: he is currently hospitalized and we expect him to remain in the hospital for several days yet. His condition is not life-threatening — well, not really. I mean, it could be, but mainly it’s a chronic condition that periodically flares up and makes our lives miserable. I’ll be able to catch my breath when he comes home. In the meantime, I’m getting lots of knitting and reading done while sitting by his bed, in between the times I run home to take care of the pets. Thank heavens for an understanding employer.

2014 in review: Yarn

2014 wasn’t a productive year for yarncraft. I finally figured out why this past weekend, after Jacquenetta was gone. When she became so ill, she spent so much time in my lap during the evenings that knitting and crocheting came to a virtual standstill. I couldn’t work on projects without getting her fur all over them, but I could read, so I traded yarn for books. Snuggling her for the last few months of her life was worth every moment, and be damned to lackluster productivity in the yarn arena.

Projects finished in 2014: Three.

Wanderer Scarf 2The first, finished on New Year’s Day 2014, was the Wanderer Scarf, seen here modeled by spouse. The pattern and the yarn are from Rowan. It was intended as a gift for a friend in Washington, and finally was mailed off to said individual shortly before Christmas.

Buds and Blooms 21Next was my new favorite cardigan, A Rose in Winter, finished January 31. The pattern is “Buds and Blooms” by Alana Dakos. The pattern calls for endless endless stockinette, but that only serves as a backdrop for the gorgeous details: the buds and vine pattern up the back, the flowers on the pockets, the deeply ribbed collar. I also loved the yarn I used (Chris by Schaefer, now sadly out of business), and that gorgeous pomegranate color.

Penny's Granny 2The only other finished project was a giant granny square baby blanket, made for the new grandbaby of one of my colleagues. I grabbed a variety of high quality acrylic leftovers in my stash and threw them together to come up with the color scheme for the blanket. This is the fastest, easiest baby blanket I’ve ever made, and the pattern become my go-to pattern for quickie shower gifts.

Projects started in 2014 and not yet finished: Three.

Wildflower 6The day after the Rose in Winter cardi was finished, I cast on another of Alana Dakos’ patterns, the Wildflower Cardigan, using Elsebeth Lavold’s Silky Wool in a deep caramel color. This is another cardigan with vast expanses of stockinette but exquisite little details that make those vast expanses worth the tedium. The back of the cardigan is finished; the right front has been sitting here in my craft room, waiting patiently for me to pick it up again. Soon, my darling, soon.

Tunisian Terror squaresAt Christmas 2013, Mom picked out a blanket pattern in one of my afghan books. In April 2014, she bought the yarn and shipped it to me. Thus, the Tunisian Terror was born. The thing that slows me down with this project is the boredom. Each square is the same: one color surrounded by a border of black single crochet. The pattern calls for some multi-colored squares, but I haven’t got there yet. And each square, once finished and assembled, will be cross-stitched, so there’s some excitement to be had down the road. The finished blanket has 63 squares. I’ve got roughly half of those done.

Ultra Pima cardi attemptCome summer, I decided I needed to knit a lacy cotton cardigan to wear over sleeveless dresses, which serves two purposes: warding off the air-conditioned indoor chill that is everywhere during summer in the South; and making said sleeveless dresses appropriate for the office. Yes, I know it’s old-fashioned of me, but some reptilian portion of my brain won’t quite accept that “sleeveless” is now in keeping with professional office attire. I am determined to use this turquoise-colored Cascade Ultra Pima that’s been hibernating in my stash for several years, but have had nothing but trouble in finding the right pattern. I think I’ve started three or four separate patterns with the Cascade and ripped each one of them out after getting roughly five inches into the piece. I’ll keep experimenting until something clicks.

Projects started in previous years but not finished: Nope, not telling. Let’s just say there is more than one (*cough*spouse’s socks*cough*)

New techniques learned:

  • Tunisian crochet: Learning Tunisian crochet (Tunisian simple stitch only) was easier than I thought. I will no longer shy away from Tunisian patterns, even if they call for something other than TSS, because if I can learn that stitch by reading the directions, I can learn them all!
  • Mitered squares: This technique was taught me in a class at Stitches South in April. I have yet to put the technique to use, but the instructions and my practice swatches are sitting right here in my craft room, just waiting.

Stash acquired: Um. A lot. A good sight more than I used, that’s for darn sure. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Stash used: Not very much. As noted above, I only completed three projects. I’ll never go cold sheep, because such is beyond my willpower, but this year will probably be a diminished year in stash acquisition because I’m not going to Stitches in April. It’s been moved to Nashville and the travel budget just isn’t available. So, yay for the bank account? And yay for shopping the stash!

So, here we go, 2015! New year, new crafting opportunities, new patterns to read, new AND old yarn to fondle, new techniques to learn or put into practice. It’s going to be a good one.

Inspiration Saturday, after a fashion

At the time I write this, it’s shortly before 1PM Eastern Daylight Time.

I’ve been up since 4:30. That’s AM.

My husband snores like a freight train. *sigh*

© Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine

© Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine

But I’ve tried to put the time to good use. A few days ago, I started making a little lace shrug, using a bright turquoise cotton DK I’ve had in my stash forever. The pattern I chose (pictured left) isn’t exactly what I want, but it’s the closest thing to what I want that I found while searching Ravelry. I’m not even two inches into the project yet, and I’m already not liking the pattern. This is now the third time I’ve started something with this yarn and started hating it (the pattern, not the yarn) before getting very far. It’s rather frustrating.

Why am I so determined to make this yarn into a lace cardigan? I have a sleeveless dress that is in desperate need of a cover-up to make it suitable to wear on camera. Ultra pima 1And besides, who couldn’t use a turquoise blue lace cardi? The yarn, by the way, is Cascade Ultra Pima. It knits beautifully, and I will find the right pattern for it, or die trying.

So, while I was awake in the wee hours of the night, I started searching Ravelry again, and expanded my parameters somewhat. Free patterns or in my library; 3/4 sleeve, V-neck, buttons optional, DK or sport-weight, leave off the yardage limit, leave off the lace requirement, but specify plant fibers rather than animal fibers. Maybe I’d find a coat or a tunic-length cardigan that I could shorten and adapt to meet my yardage requirements. And I found something. Still not exactly what I want, but in my bleary-eyed befogged state, I saw past the pattern and into the nebulous realm of …

© Vogue Knitting

© Vogue Knitting

(cue dramatic music)

Design!!

Or at least major modifications.

I looked at this coat and ticked off the things I don’t like: Can’t stand the lace patterns, and it’s waaaaayyyy too long. But it has a V-neck, buttons, and 3/4 sleeves. I pulled the magazine off the shelf and read the pattern. Okay, I see the spot where I can cut off the bottom two-thirds of the coat and turn it into a cropped cardi. What about the lace pattern? Next I pulled a stitch dictionary off the shelf. And I found a lace pattern that will work with the number of stitches needed for the back…but not the front. Wait, what if I…? And here’s where the calculator came out.

A rough sketch has been made. No, you can’t see it because my drawing skills are crap. The rough dimensions and a preliminary stitch count are calculated for a cardigan in my size. The rest of the math is still pending because a swatch has yet to be knitted.

In between all this calculation, I’ve eaten breakfast and weeded the backyard (spouse helped with both).

Now, I’m hot, sweaty, and tired, but a little exhilarated. I think a shower is in order, and then I’m going to resume work on the Debbie Bliss cardigan. Because I read that pattern again, too, and realized my frustration and dislike was due to a misreading of a particular line in the written lace instructions. (This is why I prefer charts.) I’ve tinked back to the beginning of the error and will start afresh. And continue the design work a little later on.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress on all fronts.

5KCBWDay7 — Looking Back, Looking Forward

Blog Week 2014 Banner

Blog prompt: Look back on last year’s Day Seven post. Did any of the techniques, ideas and hopes for the last 12 months that you wrote about ever make it onto the hook or needles? Did anyone cast on and complete the project researched in last year’s Day 2 post? One year from now, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?


 
Last year I discussed several things:

  • Making the cardigan worn by the little girl in the movie The Fall.
  • Organizing my craft room
  • Attempting Fair Isle
  • Attempting Tunisian
  • Making sock puppets for my friend based on a photograph

Success rate? 60%. I achieved three out of the five goals. Behold the craft room:

Craft Room 1

And the Tunisian:

Mom's Tunisian 9

And those sock puppets, which got their own dating profile in this year’s Blog Week Extravaganza:

Avatars 1

For next year, I’m putting Fair Isle and The Fall Cardigan back on this list. Also, I want to finally write up and publish the pattern for a pair of fingerless mitts I designed as a gift several years ago.

San Luis Mitts

I’ve gotten multiple requests for this pattern, but have procrastinated writing it up for so long that I may have lost my initial notes on the project. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because I originally designed the mitts in a bulky yarn and have since decided a lesser-weight yarn is a better choice.

Magazine Review: Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2009Blog content-wise, I’m considering a return to magazine reviews. I pared my knit and crochet magazine subscriptions down to two (from a high of seven), Rowan and Vogue Knitting. Back when I had so many subscriptions, I was trying to review each magazine as it came in. That meant upwards of 30 magazine reviews per year, which resulted in a stack of unread issues sitting next to the computer, giving me guilt. I don’t need more guilt, thank you very much, so I stopped the reviews. Vogue and Rowan only may be manageable: Rowan publishes two issues per year, and Vogue publishes five (six if you count the special crochet issue, but that’s not included in the subscription). Rowan CoverWriting timely reviews will require a certain amount of self-discipline. I’m not good with self-discipline, and I need to be, because the next step for this blog — not next year, but within the next five — is to turn it into something that generates a little income. That means content other than me running my mouth about my latest project or the last book I read. It means patterns and tutorials mainly; perhaps little stuffies, if I ever design any. I don’t expect to make excessive bank here, just enough to cover the domain fees.

And that’s quite enough ambition for my little corner of the interwebz.

As Blog Week draws to a close, I just want to say I appreciate each and every one of you who’ve dropped by during this past week. I found a few new bloggers to follow and hope at least one or two of you enjoyed my articles as much as I’ve enjoyed yours. See you around! And y’all come back now, y’hear?

5KCBWDay3 (Blog Week Day 3) — Photography Challenge

Blog Week 2014 Banner

Blog prompt: Refresh your skills at creating attention-grabbing pictures.


 
I’m not sure I ever had any skills at creating attention-grabbing pictures in the first place, much less any skills to refresh. But the prompt included ideas such as using props and scenery. Looking around my craft room, I have plenty of things that might make suitable props. The challenge lies in creating a fresh environment — you should read that as “clear out the frakkin’ clutter” — in which to take an attention-grabbing picture.

So what I did was shoot a few of my props. Tell me what you think.

Styrofoam Heads

I’ve used these styrofoam heads before.

Chemo hats 2Chemo sunhats 1

Admittedly, they were posed on an ironing board, so the aesthetics weren’t ideal. However, I’m sure I can find a better place to shoot them. Maybe out on the deck? The photo of the Moorish Mosaic Afghan looked fabulous, in large part (I think) because of the outdoor location. And the curious dog.

Mosaic Afghan 12

I also have all sorts of little knickknacks floating about that could probably be incorporated in project pictures. One of them is up there with the styrofoam heads. Here’s another of the same family.

Coffee to the RescueThese are Zingle Berries. My husband bought them for me years and years ago because the little female figure reminded him of me. I have several of these little statuettes, and they’re each more adorable than the next. Sadly, the line is discontinued, but you can still find a few on eBay. Anyway, I can see using one of these figurines in a photo with, say, a small item like a scarf or pair of mitts.

The challenge I face, really, when it comes to interesting finished object photos, is the items I usually make tend to be large scale: cardigans and blankets for the most part, with the occasional shawl tossed in for good measure. I’m open to suggestions on how to stage photo shoots for these projects.

I do like shooting yarn porn. In fact, I’ve decided from now on, I’m going to start all projects with a yarn and buttons combo shot. Like this:

Purple with Lime Green Buttons 2

Gray with Buttons 2

Blue with Glass Buttons 2

Apricot and Green with Resin Buttons 3

Yeah. Yarn porn. That’s what I’m good at.

WIP Wednesday: Tackling Tunisian

Mom's Tunisian 5I started on The Tunisian Terror Sunday evening. And you know what? It’s not so bad!

I read through the pattern once more before chaining a single stitch and discovered I had missed something the first go-round. Something really important: the majority of the colorwork is applied AFTER the crocheting is done. A few squares have minimal crocheted color changes, but the rest of it? It’s cross-stitch! Can you say major sigh of relief? I knew you could.

Mom's Tunisian 7The technique isn’t hard, but it is time-consuming. I crochet faster than I knit, so I’m accustomed to flying through a crochet piece. Tunisian is much slower than regular crochet, so I’ve only finished one square and started on a second in three evenings of work (haven’t made a stitch as of yet today, but that will be remedied once this blog entry is posted). For someone who’s accustomed to whipping out one or two crocheted afghan squares in an evening, it’s a little frustrating. But this is a new technique, too, so maybe my speed will increase with practice.

It’s amazing how much Tunisian looks like a square of stockinette knitting. A far thicker fabric than a square of plain stockinette, but still… And the back even has “purl” bumps. What do you think of that? I think it’s pretty cool.

Wildflower Cardigan 5As you may have guessed, the Wildflower Cardigan has gone into hibernation for the nonce. I may alternate between the two projects: do four or five squares on the afghan, knit several inches on the cardigan, lather, rinse, repeat.

I left off just at the point where I was to start the pocket on the right side. The pocket linings were knitted first; now the exterior flap with its pretty flower motif will be made and the lining attached. Note to self: remember to read through the entire directions on the pocket again when you return to this project.

ab2a5-tami_wipToday’s post is part of the WIP Wednesday round-up, hosted by Tami’s Amis. Click the badge over there to see what other fabulous projects are in the works.

Stitches South 2014

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!

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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!

Stitches South is bad for my bank account.

The title should tell you everything you need to know. But, this is a blog entry; therefore, more typing will be involved. And pictures. I’m sure you can handle it.

Ella Rae Lace MerinoI picked up my friend Kelly, who came in from Baltimore, at the airport Wednesday evening. We picked up her rental car Thursday AM, because she signed up for the whole package. I had registered for just a few classes, given that back in December when I made the reservations, I had no idea what our financial situation would be, what with the move and finding a place to live and potentially making two house payments (which actually did happen for a few months), and all the other general iffiness that was going on during the grand transition to Georgia.

Silky Wool ThundercloudBut I digress, as usual.

Anyway, I had classes Thursday afternoon, all day Friday, and Saturday afternoon. No classes tomorrow. Thursday afternoon was Knitting in Both Directions with Gwen Bortner. Let me just say, knitting and purling backwards is far easier than I ever believed. The class was small, and marred only by one woman who must have put her obnoxious pants on that day. Gwen was good about keeping her in line, though, so although she was annoying, she was more or less contained.

Starry NightYesterday’s morning class was All About Steeks with Sandi Rosner. Before this class, I was scared spitless by the thought of cutting my knitting down the middle. On purpose. Now, though? Gimme the scissors, baby, I’m ready. Well, I will be after practicing Fair Isle on a swatch. I took a Fair Isle class at Stitches two years ago, and haven’t used it yet. Now I can combine the two techniques! Woo!

Dragonfly TattooYesterday afternoon was all about Curvy Knits (Plus Size Knitting) with Marly Bird. Marly is a hoot. Yes, that was a deliberate attempt at a pun. (Bird? Hoot? Never mind.) The class was a lot of fun. We laughed at ourselves, but got a little serious about body issues, too. I learned a lot, and even feel emboldened enough to tackle the job of customizing a pattern to suit my particular body shape and maybe even finally designing that cardigan I’ve been envisioning.

Silky Wool Greyed BlueKelly bought me a ticket for the Friday night dinner and fashion show as a thank you for letting her use our guest bedroom instead of staying at the hotel, so we sat through that with great interest. I saw several designs I really liked, but was also reminded why I let my subscription to Knitter’s Magazine lapse: lots of novelty yarns — which I detest — and rather staid designs. XRX designs are notable for a gifted use of color, I’ll give them that. But during the year that I subscribed, a bare handful of patterns from those four magazines caught my interest and, of those, I knit just one.

Swan PrincessDinner was notable for three things. One, I should have checked the menu because both the soup and the entree featured mushrooms. Ick. Kelly ate my soup and I easily picked the mushrooms out of the sauce on the entree. Two, I won a door prize! Lovely skein of sock weight from Miss Bab’s. It’s called “Cosmic”, and the colorway is Swan Princess. That’s a picture of it at the beginning of this paragraph. Isn’t it pretty?

Baby Camel SilkFinal notable item? Obnoxious woman was at our table. And unchecked, she’s a nightmare. She dominated the conversation; she had a story to top everyone else’s; and she made fun of my dislike of mushrooms. Okay, that last bit was perhaps a little nitpicky, but I tell you, she was awful. I told Kelly later that it didn’t matter how much money her husband made, or that she had traveled the world: you can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you can’t necessarily take the trailer park out of the girl. (Disclaimer: I’ve known some perfectly lovely people who’ve lived in trailer parks. But sometimes the stereotype, unkind as it may be, rings true.)

Big Round ButtonsKelly and I shared the last class this afternoon: Casting on for Toe-Up Socks with Sarah Peasley. Sarah is a doll. Very sweet. And pretty thorough, too: I learned some great techniques to cast on, useful not only for toe-up socks, but for hats or bags or anything that has a bottom/top that requires grafting. Sadly, though, Sarah’s sweet dollhood was insufficient to the task of controlling THAT WOMAN. Yes, she was in the toe-up sock class, and thought it revolved around her, to boot. When she looked through the list of techniques, she remarked that the only one she wanted to learn was being taught last, and looked at Sarah as if she expected her to rearrange the class. Then she talked virtually non-stop over most instructions being given, causing me and several other people in the class to lose track of where we were in the short rows or some other bit of the cast-on being taught, and had the gall to be offended over her story being interrupted when Sarah asked for everyone’s attention. Two people left the class early because of her. The only bit of peace we had was when THAT WOMAN left the classroom herself because her friends were getting on the bus and she HAD to go see them off. Sarah mentioned that we were about to do the cast on she had been waiting for. She left anyway; and when she came back, we were all but done, and she didn’t get to learn her precious technique after all. I call it poetic justice.

Glass ButtonsBut enough about that. I suppose you noticed all the pretty pictures scattered throughout this ramble. And you took note of the title, right? Yeah. Serious damage to the bank account. But I’ll tell you what they are now. And click the picture if you want to see a larger image! From the top: Ella Rae Lace Merino (which, despite its name, is fingering weight), colorway 122 Cocoa Teal; Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, colorway 79 Thundercloud; Dragonfly Fibers Pixie, colorway Starry Night; Cephalopod Yarns Skinny Bugga!, colorway Y096 Dragonfly Tattoo; Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, colorway 104 Greyed Blue; Miss Bab’s Cosmic Handpainted Sock (scroll down just a bit after you click the link), colorway Swan Princess; Wild Orchids Fiber Arts Swiss Mountain Baby Camel & Silk, undyed; large round vintage plastic buttons that screamed “Take me home!”; and small glass vintage buttons that did likewise.

It occurred to me as I was entering these yarns into stash on Ravelry that I now have five different colorways of Silky Wool, and decided one of these colorways will be my next project. Now to find the right pattern: one that requires as close as possible to 1900 yards of a DK tweed. Wish me luck!

So, anyone else out there in Atlanta this weekend? What all did YOU buy at Stitches?

Stitches South Day 2 and 3

Just a quickie update because (a) I’m exhausted; and (b) my laptop battery is fading fast….

Yesterday’s classes were “The Joy of Finishing” and “Fearless Fair Isle”. I have conquered mattress stitch, and am no longer terrified by Fair Isle.

Yesterday evening we had the Knitter’s Magazine Fashion Show, with lots of gorgeous knits, some of which were given away as door prizes. I did not win. And cameras were not allowed either. *pout* While we were safely ensconced in a nearly hermetically sealed hotel, a thunderstorm was raging outside, complete with tornados. We were blissfully unaware until the power went out in the middle of the fashion show. After about 15 or 30 seconds, the backup generators kicked in, and the show was back on.

By the time the show was over, the electricity had been fully restored and we went on to dinner. Grilled salmon and wilted spinach on a bed of….grits. I was surprised at how well the textures and tastes blended. Because I don’t eat grits. Or spinach. 🙂

After dinner, Kelly and I attended the 2nd Annual Stitches South Pajama Party….again, no pics right now because I used the digital camera. As soon as I get home and have access to the USB cable, I promise.

Today’s classes were “Cut and Paste” and “Double Dare”. I can now graft with relative ease and have the basics of double knitting with multiple colors.

More details on all of this stuff when I get home.

I do have a few crappy cell phone photos from today….
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