Saturday, April 25, 2009

Phew ... back, and its all over ... finally,

Really, I do feel like that, tired and exhausted and weary ... all three at once, but also happy and pleased with the way things have gone. You will have to excuse me for being absent from blog-land for nearly 2 weeks ... there just wasn't time. Now I'm home, the Margaret Stove Lace workshop has been attended, the festival festivities are done, and the conference has opened, run and closed ... all done and over.

During all that I did knit, so there are finished projects, and I spun a little, and I meet Ravelry knitters ... look. This was a mere 14 of what must have been far more at the festival, I can not even begin to remember all their onscreen names as well as their 'real names' ..., and I won't embarrass myself by naming some and not others, and I'm know some were not able to be there because they were manning their stalls ... at least another 10 or 20 were working or lurking at the festival.

I've never been to one of the Creative Fiber festivals before .. and I enjoyed it, the mornings were filled with talks and various educational demonstrations, while the afternoons were for visiting the numerous displays of fiber art and craft ... and shopping. The trade hall was impressive, to walk in and be greeted with a view like this ... and to know this was but one of 4 isles of stalls. Wow! Fiber, more fiber, yarn, tools...

Morag (Vintage Purls) and her team of expert knitters and crafters seemed to score a prime location mid-center of the end of the hall. She had C and K on deck showing, telling, selling and modeling the varied uses of KnitP needles. Luckily there was seating right opposite .. which seemed to be a resting space for many knitters and crafters. Her stall was much less full at the end of the show. The down side was none of them seemed to get much beyond the hall and to see the other activities .. but I can let on at least 2 brand new baby Majacraft Gems went home (Morags stall was right opposite Majacrafts stall). I'm told A cradled her new wheel in its bag all the way home.

Yes there was some stash additions, modest ones, here, this all started before the festival at Margaret Stoves workshop in Timaru. I fell in love with her Artisan Yarn so managed a small skein (20g 300m), and was introduced to Italian Centolavaggi, a merino superwash laceweight yarn. With some of my fiber money spent before I hit the festival I was careful ... but still managed to find some economical treats. The Scottish Donaval Silk (top left) was not at the festival - it a prize shared by S, yarn she won for her owls and waiting for me once I was home. Clock wise from the top left, there is 200g of Suri Alpaca, 200g of Rosebank double gilled naturally coloured merino. The middle row has 2 skeins of Vintage Purl Sock yarn (Pink and navy semi solid), a skein of Centolavaggi (100g 1400m), and a plaited 100g cake of VP's combed perindale. Last line has the Artisan Merino Laceweight, a Majacraft turkish spindle and 20g of 50:50 silk and superfine merino from Inspire Fibers.

I even managed to spin while away, this is some of the twice gilled merino, spun fine. I've never knitted any of my spindle spinning, never spun enough to knit up - so that is a current goal. I also mastered the turkish spindle, or at least am at the beginnings of mastering the turkish spindle .. for I did have return to the shop for more lessons on how to create the center pull ball (there is no instruction leaflet in the bag).

I struggled with the selection of my travel knitting, but settled on finishing socks, new socks, and mittens. I did finish Garnet, a lovely deep red cabled sock ... far easier to knit than expected. One of those clever patterns which once set up has an order to it that makes the knitting straightforward. Bear admired these .. so they are his, Morag's Mr K also admired hers as she knit them, so they seem to be masculine socks - at least in this colourway.

I also managed to finish First Cubs Mitts,

and work a second pair for Second Cub. These are Striped Maine Mitts from Robin Hansen's Favorite Mittens and I like them. The pattern has the feeling of being polished over time, the thumb gusset grows 5 stitches from 2, to keep the stripes in line, and similar tight design work follows to keep the other increases and then the decreases working neatly with the stripes. I can pretty much knit a mitt sans thumbs in one night - making these a 3 night project. I used the same blue in both cubs mitts, and love the way this shade works with both black and white.

There was much less joy with Bears Mitts, this is iteration number 3 or 4 (I forget how many frogs visited on my trip). Now the pattern calls for 3.5 mm needles, and DK weight, with a gauge of 7sts. I'm using the yarn I make Owls in and have dyed the last two skeins pale and dark blue. I can't get gauge .. or knit easily on those needles, so I switched to larger ones and knit a smaller size ... but its huge. Now Bears have sizable paws ... but this is more like an oven mitt. Question is do I frog .. or knit a single oven mitt? They are thick enough. Come to think of it, Bear admired the mitts in the book ... but he has mitts recently knitted that he has not even worn yet, we are not into full winter yet, only mid autumn so its still tame weather. Perhaps I'm not meant to knit these.

With my Garnet socks (well Bears) done, I started a new sock, Estonian socks from Nancy Bush's Folk Socks. This sock has adorable colourwork at the cuff ... but I knew I couldn't manage a chart like that while travelling so have knit them toe up. I copied out the chart ... but forgot the key for the chart, so my socks are 'inspired by' the NB pattern. You see .. without the key I had to make up what happened at the chain twisted cable ... and returning home I find what I've knit is not what was in the pattern ... still it works for me. I've knit sock one up to where the colour work cuff begins, and am increasing for the gusset of sock two ... My plan is to work the colour work cuffs one after the other on slighlty larger needles. I also worked a fake-toe seam, shamelessly incorporating the horizontal braid we practiced at Margaret Stoves workshop, its very much like the Vikkel braid I used on Bears last mittens. I liked the way the horizontal stitch gives a base to the knit'n'purl panels, otherwise they would grow out of plain stocking stitch and that always feels like a non-design decision, opting out for lack of a better idea or solution.

Lastely there was mail when I returned home, Cookie A'Sock Innovation arrived which was nice. A lot of very pretty socks and I'm curious to see which be the most popular most quickly ( Rick or Bex?). Am I alone in feeling a little disappointed in it? The socks are lovely and her explanation of how to fit lace to a sock clear ... but I'm not sure its well named. Perhaps I'm tired and jaded after the MS Lace workshop - where we practiced intricacies of shaping lace .. and modifying lace work to fit corners and panels. Perhaps I'm a fan of Toe Up (TU) - and she dismisses socks by saying Cuff Down (CD) makes it easy to divide the pattern into the instep and heel/foot. If you plan a sock ... surely its just as easy both ways? Maybe I'm just jadded and can't see its glory?
I also had waiting a second hand copy of Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton - Wow, if you can see past the clear 80's styling this is a great book. I love her methodology, little swatches are knit that sample garment construction elements ... and look really really good. The design work is of the 'colouring in' or 'texturing' standard shapes, and working with stitch and colour and proportion, rather than innovative shaping, but it has much value. I highly recommend this one, which was recommended to me by Susanne. Lastly I got a little box of goodies from Suzanne .. a Namaste Buddy Case (wow!), and generously shared her Owls loot with me from having a winning entry in Kates Owls competition, and so the yarn as photographed above, with Owl stickers, and some of the nicest markers I've seen. There may have been one or two other little goodies I'm one spoilt knitter this month. I sent her one of the Little Radiator Tees ... (I think Little Radiator is building her website right now as the full range isn't loaded - but you can download the pdf here).

so that is me .. up to date and back on track. Writing this has been good - I'm going to abandon and frog the oven mitt sized paws for Bear (he needs them not this winter), and relax back into home and routine, and think of all the friends I meet while away.
na Stella


Erika said...

Yeah, I was a little disappointed in Cookie A's book as well. The design advice is good as far as it goes, but it's not anything I hadn't figured out for myself (yep, if you want to make a square shape bigger you need more stitches AND more rounds). I didn't feel she shared much of the insight that makes her patterns so striking. (Though, to be fair, I don't know how you share creativity.) I also had the feeling she saved her best designs to sell as individual patterns; the ones in the book are less appealing, IMHO, than those on her website.

But I'm still glad I bought it, and if you think about what the big knitting publishers were producing a few years ago, we now have an amazing range of fairly advanced knitting books to choose from. It's a good time to be a knitter.

KnitMotive (also on Ravelry) said...

Designing Knitwear is one of my favorite books on designing. She's very creative, so for me it's very inspirational and she's triggering all kinds of ideas.
Thanks for reviewing Cookie's book; I am an avid toe up knitter and to be perfectly honest; I prefer if a book not tells me that I should knit cuff down. After all, there is a reason - actually, more than one - why I prefer knitting toe up :-)

Knitting Linguist said...

It's so funny you should mention the Deborah Newton book; I just decided last night that that needs to be my next knitting book. I'm sorry to hear that the Cookie A book wasn't all it's been cracked up to be (although I've been kind of wondering...). It sounds like you had a fabulous trip -- your acquisitions are all absolutely gorgeous, and your knitting turned out so well! Frogging the Bear mitten is probably the best bet, and it'll free up some space for something else fun :)