Saturday, July 30, 2011

Socks Alive! A Day at Sock Summit 2011

Hoorah, it's Sock Summit II! If I had not been teaching a summer course and had unlimited funds, I'd have spent all four days up there taking classes and shopping the marketplace. As it was, one exciting day was all I could afford in time and funds, and one day I could do since -- hoorah again! -- I live within easy driving distance. I had my wad of cash for yarn (my best way to budget at these events), and after collecting Nanci and Janita to drive up with, off we went.

We found the registration desk and spotted the first celebrity sighting of the day: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, a.k.a. the Yarn Harlot.

I signed up for one class, "Making the Next Monkey" with Knitty editor Amy Singer, all about designing the next sock as great and popular as Cookie A's "Monkey."

Just to show what total geeks knitters can be, we have SockGate leading into the Marketplace:

Celebrity sighting repeat: the Yarn Harlot at the speed knitting contest.

The Worlds Largest Sock gets additional work:

Rosie and Janita at Newton's Yarn Country, where merino yarn was being sold by the pound - a sweater's worth in one skein.

And it was half price too!

But reading the fine print, I found the command "Keep Refrigerated." (So it was a meat label -- eh, it works.)

Another celebrity sighting: Anna Zilboorg (on the left), author of Knitting for Anarchists, at lunch:

Janita and I ran into Jen (a.k.a. Cap'n Jenny - can I count that as a celebrity sighting?) and Lacey at the Sock Museum:

There were several winding stations for people who want to wind their skeins into balls, either because they don't have a ball winder and swift at home, or because the yarn is calling out, "Knit meee! Knit me NOW!" I took advantage of this swift maker's booth that had a gigantic ball winder for my pound 'o merino because my own ordinary ball winder wouldn't handle something that size and I didn't want to have to cut it into smaller balls.

I fell in love with this cardigan, Clarissa by White Lies Designs. I found this model at the Sanguine Gryphon booth, done up in their silk/wool Codex. They were out of this color, but I went shopping for other possibilities after I dashed over to the White Lies Designs booth for the pattern.

To the thrill and delight of our knitting group, our own Stephania of Three Fates Yarns was a vendor this year:

Me 'n Steph. I'm definitely calling this another celebrity sighting.

I got so many pictures from the Sock Museum that I'll post those later. For now, here's a recreation of an 11th century Moorish sock.

Whee, my very first flash mob! Those in the know practiced the flash mob dance ahead of time, and a few hundred of us gathered oh, so casually in front of the convention center, listened for the music to start, fumbled through the dance, and cheered afterwards:

(ETA: If I can get this to embed -- the flash mob, courtesy of someone called knittinglikecrazy on YouTube:)

This was the loot I came home with: An official Sock Summit logo notions bag and tiny notions case, two autographed Knit Princess comic collections, two pocketed little Sock-aholic tote bags from Knitters Brewing Co., my giganto skein of merino, two skeins of plum-colored merino DK yarn from Fly Designs for my Clarissa cardigan, a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy sock yarn in a vibrant black/purple colorway, the Clarissa pattern, and my Sock Summit program. Not visible because I had them safely tucked in a pocket in my purse were two teeny antique steel crochet hooks, small enough for putting beads onto yarn for some beaded knitting projects that I have planned.

Wow, I shopped all of Sock Summit and came home with only one skein of sock yarn? That's okay -- I know a really good place to get all the sock yarn I want whenever I want, right Stephania?

Monday, July 25, 2011

What came in the mail

Besides all the lovely new yarn I spun up, something else delightful came out of Tour de Fleece. I won a gift certificate from FatCatKnits, which I promptly spent on 12 ounces of Polwarth roving in their Esther colorway.

It came in the mail today!

Gawrsh, but those colors are gorgeous!

Blues and purples are hard to photograph, even in natural light, but that comes pretty close. 

Now I have to hurry up and finish my Romney fleece so I can spin this up! 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tour de Fleece Day 23: Across the finish line!

Hoorah, the Tour is done! Unlike those riders over in France, our team has had no crashes and no dangerously rude paparazzi to slow us down. Only little things like, y'know, earning a living or chasing after small children or various small animals to interfere with our spinning time.

Today's work was progress on my Romney fleece:

And my final production count for Tour de Fleece:

Romney, cashmere, alpaca, and pygora. Now we need a Tour de Knit to turn our lovelies into various knitted object.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tour de Fleece Day 22: On beyond TDF goals

With my TDF goals met, it's on to the next challenge. I've got an 8 pound gray Romney fleece that I bought at a Sheep to Shawl festival in the spring, and I'm going to spin at least part of it in the grease until I have enough for a fall coat -- maybe Yank from Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines.

I spread the fleece out and found that some parts were cleaner than others. Hmm, might not have been skirted well. I'll take it to spinning group tomorrow and see what the experts think. In the meantime I pulled out a few ounces that looked relatively clean, used a pet brush and a comb to open up the locks and get bits of hay out, and started spinning. I haven't spun in the grease before. It's proving rather challenging, since I'm used to clean, combed top. Here's what I've got so far:

There are several shades of gray in the fleece and I'm trying to blend them randomly as I go for a heathery or marled effect.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tour de Fleece Day 21: Challenge day conquered!

This day was the challenge day for TDF. My challenge was to spin the entire second 1 ounce pygora batt. That I accomplished:

And after letting the singles rest a short time, I decided to go ahead and ply it:

The colors didn't photograph well in the artificial light, and it still needs washed and thwacked, but that represents a little over 200 yards of approximately fingering weight 2-ply.

Yay, TDF goals done! Now on to... I have to decide what I'm on to next!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tour de Fleece Day 20: The end is near!

The end of the Tour is near, and so is the end of my pygora. I'm halfway through:

Tomorrow is the challenge day. I'm going to challenge myself to work through the entire second half in one day. If I can do that, then I WILL make my goals!

Here's the cashmere, finished, all 315 yards approximately of fine laceweight:

Mmmm... cashmere...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tour de Fleece Day 19: Ah, faith and pygora!

(If you say that with a fake Irish accent, like the Lucky Charms leprechaun, you'll realize I was trying to make a rather weak joke there.)

With the cashmere done, it's on to 2 ounces of 80% pygora/20% merino batts from Rainbow Farms Pygora. I got a hefty start on it today, over half of the first of two batts.

The batts look like this:

And the singles are looking like this:

As soft as pygora usually is, this batt feels surprisingly "crunchy" to spin. But then, there's a whole lot of blue dye coming off on my fingers, so I'm guessing this will need a whole lot of washing (and perhaps more heat-setting) after it's spun to remove (or set) the excess dye and restore the silky softness.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tour de Fleece Day 18: Ply, ply again

And here's two ounces of cashmere, plied and ready for skeining and washing:

I got it all done in one evening, though I might have been faster about it if I hadn't switched directions in the middle and had to unreel and re-ply a dozen yards or so.

And now on to the pygora, the last of my TDF goals. I'd better hustle, too -- just five days left!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tour de Fleece Day 17: Rest day, but not.

Today was a rest day for the Tour de France and the Tour de Fleece, but I was so close to getting the cashmere done, that I went ahead and did it.

Taa daaa! Two bobbins of cashmere, ready for plying!

I just might make my TDF goals.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tour de Fleece Day 16: And home again

We're back from Spokane. Just so you know, this is what 14 hours of knitting looks like:

That's the Three Fates Mystery Sock KAL, designed by BlueDragon on Ravelry to celebrate our friend Stephania's Three Fates Knitting getting into Sock Summit as a vendor. Yay, Steph! I'm using one of her eponymous sock yarns on this one. I'd have finished the first sock, but we haven't gotten the clue for the toe yet.

The funniest thing I saw on our trip to Spokane was this truck at a gas station in on the east end of the Columbia Gorge. You'll have to click on the picture to see why it's funny. First look at the company name on the back of the tank. Then look at the bumper sticker.

 On arriving home, I still got some spinning in. Made some good progress on the cashmere -- might even finish tomorrow.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tour de Fleece Day 15: On the road

Travel, even by car, isn't always conducive to wheel spinning. Someday I may get one of those bitty wheels that are small enough that you can spin in the car -- if you're a passenger, of course! -- but since I don't have one yet, and we had a seven-hour drive scheduled for today so we could attend a wedding in Spokane, I took along my spindle.

I've been working here and there, now and again, on a 1/2 oz stack of silk hankies. Tonight I'm finally finishing with 'em.

I'm thinking of plying this with some very thinly-spun deep navy wool that I have to make a couple hundred yards of laceweight.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tour de Fleece Day 14: A bit of a bit

Canned cherries, picked currants, juiced currants, made jelly, tried dyeing wool with juice from currant pulp (more on that later), packed for a trip this weekend, drove up to Portland to fetch my son who will house sit...

... oh, and got a leetle bit o' spinnin' done.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tour de Fleece Day 13: Crawling

I'm still feeling yesterday's cherry picking in my shoulders, and today I picked the pie cherries from my own little Montmorency tree, pitted them, froze them (two quarts!), and started canning yesterday's sweet cherries (14 pints so far -- probably 3 or 4 left to go that I'll do tomorrow). And then my currants are dead ripe and ready to pick, so I'll have to pick and juice them tomorrow, since we're going out of town for the weekend, and I start teaching a summer class on Monday, and the currants won't hold that long.

Hence I'm only crawling along with the cashmere.

Well, there are far worse things I could be crawling through than cashmere.

What I'll do while were out of town, I don't know. Probably take a spindle with me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tour de Fleece Day 12: Just a wee bit

Since I spent the better part of the day prepping for a class I start teaching next week, then came home, got dinner, and went out to pick cherries for the local gleaners group, I didn't get in a lot of spinning time. Just another "row" on the cashmere.

And since tomorrow will be spent canning the cherries that I came home with, not to mention that my currants need picked and juiced for jelly, I don't imagine there'll be a lot of spinning tomorrow, either.

I wonder if leftover currant pulp would yield a colorfast dye? Hmmm...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tour de Fleece Day 11: Half past cashmere

...and over halfway past this year's TDF goals! Finished the first of two ounces of my cashmere roving, and started on the second ounce. Plied together, this should make a yarn about fingering weight.

I'm thinking about dyeing it or having Three Fates Yarns dye it for me. At first I thought a soft blue, but now I'm leaning toward ruby red. I'm imagining the middle of winter, dreary weather, long days at work, and how a brilliant red cashmere scarf could liven that right up.

Hello, artists and illustrators, I have a bone to pick with you.

Suppose you're an artist. You've been commissioned by a greeting card company, or a fabric company, or a children's book company, to draw some illustrations that depict people (or animals or robots or whatever) in the act of knitting.

You're an artist, right? You know all about drawing from models, or even from good photographs.

So why, oh WHY, do you and your kind keep illustrating knitters in the same stereotypical way -- the very, very wrong way? Why are you going with the image of what everyone "knows" knitting looks like instead of -- hey, here's a wild and crazy idea -- actually looking at knitters?

Let me show you. Here's how you non-knitterly artists depict knitters (source of images: Microsoft Clipart site).

Like this:
 And this:
 And this:
 And this:
 And this:
 And this:
Do y'all see what I'm seeing here? I'm not just talking gray-haired old ladies in rocking chairs here. Here are young people and even sheep all doing the same damn thing. Do you see it?

Do you?

Here I'll point it out to you:
Yes, THAT. I see that all over the place, in cartoons, in children's books, in fabric used to make knitting bags, for freak's sake! Straight knitting needles held like pencils, with the knobs waggling in the air, making a V-shape, and the points poking down into the knitting doing -- what?

Now, there are lots of different ways people hold knitting needles, but believe me, artists and illustrators, when I say that the V-formation IS NOT ONE OF THEM! This does not work. You cannot knit this way.

How about this?

Not quite. The needles are better, but what's going on in the middle of the piece? She could have just bound off a neckline and has the live shoulder stitches on the two needles, but I suspect that the artist has no idea that the live stitches are supposed to be on the needles -- that somehow the points just poke at the fabric and something happens.

Why, artists and illustrators, WHY do you keep on drawing knitters this way?

For once, go down to the local independent yarn shop, or find a knitting group, and watch people actually knitting. They do this (yes, sometimes with kids and cats included):

 Or you can even show it like this:
Notice that the needle ends are down. The hands are on top of the needles, palm down. The live stitches are on the needles, and as they are worked, they are passed from one needle to the other.

Now, there are different ways of holding the needles. Sometimes English-style knitters hold the right-hand needle like a pencil, so it looks like this (source: Wikimedia commons):

But there's no knitting style where both needles are held like pencils. Most knitters look like this fellow, palms down, even though the yarn tensioned around one's neck isn't common (source: Wikimedia commons):

Okay, got it? Young people, old people, men, women, indoors, outdoors, it's all good, just don't give us the V-formation with needles flapping around uselessly. Art is all about observing, so observe, okay? Have a look at actual knitters. The whole knitting community will thank you.

Now... don't even get me started on stereotyped "scientists" in the clip art galleries!

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