Sunday, February 27, 2011

Madrona 2011 - Part 3

Dave and I were pretty restrained in the yarn-buying department at Madrona. I bought three projects-worth of yarn for myself, but one of those I am knitting for someone else. I also bought some yarn for a friend, who commissioned me to get some of Jared Flood's Shelter.

Cindy - here is what I got you:

The mittens are gorgeous (I met some in person), and I thought if would be fun for you to have a pattern of Jared's to go with the yarn. The blue is a really beautiful shade, which you can see better in this next photo:

The real colour is very rich, and actually somewhere between these two photos. Let me know what you think, Cindy.

Franklin Habit gave an all-day workshop on how to photograph your fibre. Maybe I'll take that one the next time it's offered! It's so hard to get the colours right on the camera, even when the light seems good in person...

Here is the Shelter project I got for myself. There are three skeins of yarn, but this gives you the idea:


This is the yarn I bought to knit a shawl that I've promised. It's hand-dyed and very pretty. There are three strands in graduated shades. I haven't decided how I want to work with them yet. I could hold the three strands together, or maybe two at a time so the colour shifts from lightest to darkest... Any suggestions?

And finally, in home knitting news, this is a baby sweater I'm knitting for a dear friend's daughter, who is expecting this spring. I'm just about finished the back. The pattern can be found here.

PS: Franklin Habit has a great post summarizing his Madrona experience here.  Can you find me in the panorama shot? Hint: I'm in the far right-hand panel, near the seam with the next panel to the left. Half of Dave's face is there too!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Madrona 2011 - Part 2

I got up the courage to prepare and cut my sample steek this morning. I think it went well for a first time. Jared instructed us not to "go all precious" with our samples, so I tried hard not to. I do like things to look nice, though.

First, I put in a line of large basting stitches in a thinner yarn of a contrasting colour. This is the line you must not cross when you're crocheting on each side, and marks where the steek will be cut, down the centre of the centre line of stitches.

 Here is the line of single crochet along one side of the steek. The rest of the swatch naturally folds back along the crochet edge. I crocheted across the inner half of the beige stitch and the outer half of the orange stitch just to the left of the centre line for each knit row.

In these next three pictures you can see the line of single crochet on either side of the blue basting line. The crochet pulls the centre orange line of stitches open to expose the 'ladder' of stitches, both orange and beige, that will be cut. You remove the basting yarn before cutting.

And finally, the steek is cut, and if this were a cardigan I'd be ready to pick up stitches along each edge and knit a button band, or sew in a zipper.

And in this last shot I'll show off how pretty the back looks, because I now have good technique when working with two colours!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Madrona 2011 - Part 1

We got back from Madrona on Sunday evening and suddenly it was back to life as usual: a school day yesterday, and a day of homework and housework today. I had a great time at Madrona, though. When we arrived on Saturday we went right to the Marketplace, which was fantastic. It's like being in a dozen yarn shops all at once, most of which are carrying yarn you'll never see anywhere else! We did some good shopping, the results of which I will display in a later post. I didn't end up taking any pictures - it just didn't seem to be the thing to do during the either the keynote or the class I was in, and in between there wasn't really much to photograph. I didn't think it would be okay to take pictures at the Marketplace.

Franklin Habit was the keynote speaker at the banquet that night. He gave a talk on the history of printed knitting patterns. It was entitled B is for Purl, which actually made sense when he explained that the first woman to use abbreviations in knitting patterns used P for knit (plain) and B for purl (back)! He is a very good public speaker, in addition to being funny and very well informed on his subject matter. Nancy Bush was sitting at the next table to us, knitting away on dpn's on a complex-looking cabled sock!

On Sunday morning I took a class with Jared Flood called Introduction to Shetland Color Techniques. To be honest, I would have registered for any class that he was doing that morning, since it was the only time I was able to take a class, but it turned out to be interesting and I learned quite a bit. Jared is absolutely charming, and I couldn't get over how young he looks to be so admired in the knitting world. He had a class-full of women. One of them had been to every one of his classes since the Thursday morning! At the beginning of the class he came around with the handout and shook each participant's hand while introducing himself. As I said, charming! I wore the Cobblestone Sweater that Dave (ravelry link) knit me and Jared admired it. At the end of class when I went up to thank Jared, Nancy Bush had come in with some samples of Estonian knitting to show him, and I got to admire them too.

We learned how to knit speed swatches, which is a bit of a misnomer when you're first learning because the beginning of every row is incredibly slow at first. The idea is to be able to swatch knitting in the round without having to have enough stitches to truly knit in the round.

Here is my swatch right after it was bound off.

All the yarn at the top of the picture is from where you carry the yarns across the back of the work on each row in order to start again at the right - kind of like a very large and messy i-cord.

Here it is showing a bit more of the front.

Once you've finished, though, you tidy up the edges by pulling all the strands of yarn snugly, and then you trim the ends so that you end up with a bit of a fringed bookmark, as one of the participants suggested.

You end up with this. I decided I might as well block it a bit. If you're going to spend three hours with Jared Flood and only have this little swatch to show for it, it might as well be tidy!

It's not finished yet, though. Jared demonstrated how to cut the steek along the parallel lines up the centre after reinforcing with crochet, and so I'll be doing that next (pictures to follow). The slightly messy checkerboard stitches at either end are not actually part of the pattern, but are only there to anchor the yarns at the beginnings and ends of the rows.

I didn't get a chance to cast on a new sock before we left on Thursday, so I finished the first sock of the pair for me before starting the new one for Rob that I was planning. As it turned out, I now have a sock whose toe was knit while listening to Franklin's talk, so I think that's pretty special. Here it is by the crocuses I discovered beside our patio in this afternoon's sunshine.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I have a busy week ahead, which has made for this last week being busy with preparations. On Thursday, Dave and I will be driving to Salmon Arm, which is about a five and a half hour drive, and over a rather serious mountain pass. The freeway we will be taking was pretty ugly on the weekend, so hopefully the weather and road conditions will improve. We are going to attend a writing-themed teachers' conference that Dave has been involved in organizing. Gail Anderson-Dargatz will be a featured speaker - her last novel was set in the area we are traveling to. I am going to be presenting a workshop on assistive technologies to help students who struggle with writing (and reading). I've been spending a lot of time preparing. It's funny, because I teach all the time and regularly present to my peers at school, but this 75 minute workshop (on a topic I know a lot about) is making me very nervous!

Friday afternoon we will be driving straight back after the conference, because, and here's where it gets a bit crazy, but sometimes that's just the way it is, on Saturday we are driving down to Tacoma (about three hours south) for the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival. Dave and I have tickets for the Saturday evening banquet, at which Franklin Habit will be the keynote speaker. I'm really looking forward to that. On Sunday morning I am taking a class with Jared Flood, of Brooklyn Tweed fame. I'm very excited - he is such an inspiring designer. He is also a fantastic photographer - I wish I could photograph a cake of yarn the way he does! In addition, he seems to be a very nice person. I sent an email to his website last night because in all the excitement I'd forgotten to check the materials list for his class until Saturday, and it turns out it's very hard to pick up some Shetland yarn in a hurry. I had an answer back from him this morning and he was very kind (to the badly prepared student - you'd think a teacher would know better!). The marketplace at Madrona will be fantastic as well - any requests? I'm planning to find myself a birthday present there, since my birthday is on Thursday.

I've also been knitting, but still socks. Sorry about that - I suppose they are getting boring, but I do have a different project to start soon. On Thursday night I finished the blue socks for my friend next door. I gave them to her before I got a finished object photo, so I'll try to track them down on her feet soon. On Friday I had to be at an all-day professional development workshop, so I quickly cast on a sock, because I have trouble sitting for five or six hours without something to knit. I'm glad I did, because it turned out we spent the day on the blue plastic folding chairs this school district favours (these exact ones) and after a few hours I needed the knitting to keep my mind off how uncomfortable the chair was! I ended up getting the leg finished by the end of the day. Here is the sock I started:

I bought this yarn at Fun Knits on Quadra Island a few years ago because I loved the colour (it's closer to life if you 'biggen' the photo). I had the skein wound and waiting in the sock yarn bin, so this is the one I grabbed. I can't find the ball band at the moment, but I'll try to dig it up.

And finally here is my attempt at a glam shot of a cake of yarn:

Definitely not up to BT standards! The colours are showing up a bit paler than in life, It's so hard to get the lighting right sometimes. I went outside to get mid-day north light, but it's not quite there. However the different hues are showing up nicely. These socks (yes, again) will be for another friend next door. I would have started these on Friday but the skein wasn't wound and I didn't have time. I'll take these along for travel knitting this week. The other sock is for me so it can wait a bit! This yarn is Cascade Heritage Paints, and I got it at the Wool Station in Fairhaven.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A sale, some sock yarn, and some socks

On Saturday, Dave and I went to the big sale at Dressew in Vancouver (they don't have a website). It's mainly a fabric and sewing accessories store, but they also carry yarn. It was the store's 50th anniversary, so for 5 days they had everything in store on sale at 50% off. Saturday was the last day of the sale, and we arrived around 4 in the afternoon. We had to line up outside, as the employee at the door was only letting in a few people every time a few people left. We lined up. Outside. On a cold damp day. For yarn. Just wanted to make that very clear - however I think it was well worth it. Last summer Dressew bought out a yarn distributor and acquired a huge stock of Rowan and Regia yarn in discontinued colours. They've been selling it for $2 a ball.

Here is what we bought on Saturday. 53 balls of Regia sock yarn. $53 (plus tax, of course). Now before you begin to doubt our sanity, please keep in mind that I am teaching sock-knitting at a retreat in May, and so a lot of this yarn will be making an appearance there (but probably only if you are in my class!)

I've also been making progress on my current sock project - I've finished one and am on my way to the heel flap on the second. I have found a worthy recipient for these ones, and as a bonus, her feet are only size 6!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snowdrops and socks

Here are the snowdrops I mentioned last week. There's a particularly sheltered spot near our local library where the early spring bulbs always seem to come up sooner than anywhere else.

I'm working on another sock - it's all I seem to want to knit again these days, but I guess there's nothing wrong with that, really. I've misplaced the ball band for this yarn, but I do know that it's a cotton blended with wool and nylon. As I took the picture I realized that since I bought this circular needle in July I've knit almost every sock on it, unless I already had a sock on this needle and wanted to start another one. It's a Chiaogoo RED and it's still the best circular needle I've worked with. The points and the join are really superior.