Hooray for Stitches West! To spend a few days with thousands of knitters, wandering slowly so as not to miss seeing the completed projects most attendees are wearing, amongst others who can appreciate the effort that went into what I am wearing, getting giddy breathing in the wool fumes and seeing all those lovely skeins hanging and piled about… mmm… yarn.

This all took place last weekend but I needed some time to think and to organize my loot. I went three days this year. Friday I went to the Market and all the lovelies went straight to my head. Here’s a photo of this year’s loot:

StitchesWest2007

Loot inventory, starting in the upper left in the photo and going kind of in a Z-shape:

  • 7 skeins of Cascade 220 in colors I don’t have in my stash.
  • Jordana Paige’s Knitter’s Purse.
  • Philosopher’s Wool Kilim kit: I have visited Philosopher’s every time I’ve been to Stitches but never purchased from them. The smallest size is very big on me so I’ll have to resize it when I knit it.
  • That pile of Dale of Norway Tiur yarn is a cardigan kit, booklet just below the yarn. I don’t see Tiur on the Dale site; perhaps it’s discontinued?
  • A copy of “In Sheep’s Clothing” + random tiny skein of orange mohair.
  • Blue Steinbach Wolle sock yarn for my husband, sock #1 already in progress.
  • Yarn for two three! pairs of socks for me: Trekking, Lorna’s Laces, and Fleece Artist. Restraint really is in order as my sock drawer already only closes with considerable effort, and a couple of pairs are usually in the wash. Clearly I need larger drawers.
  • Laceweight in lightly variegated purples, probably to be something out of “Victorian Lace Today.”
  • JaggerSpun Zephyr 2/18, destined for the Peacock Shawl, colorway aptly named “Peacock.”
  • Unscented and very effective hand lotion from Honey Lane Farms. I resisted the temptation of their beautiful alpaca yarn this year.
  • Two skeins of angora blend yarn in very light pastels. In my mind I see this as embellishment on baby sweaters; we’ll see.
  • Large skein of superwash wool from Tess’ Designer Yarns, intended to someday be a sweater for my niece. At 540 yards I can probably make a sweater for someone about 6 years old. She’s currently at 4.5 months so I have some time to gather my thoughts.
  • Two skeins of Eros ladder yarn for simple garter stitch scarves = bus knitting. and more random skeins for general stash enhancement, not that the stash needs it.
  • And lastly, 4 skeins of Noro Kureyon for a felted bag. I don’t own a washing machine so I’ll have to (1) break down and pay for multiple loads at the laundromat (at $2.25 per load 😦 ), (2) felt it in the sink (ick, ick), or (3) visit my parents and beg to use their washer. Hmm.

Most of my loot was acquired Friday. I showed exceptional shopping restraint Saturday and Sunday. The two-day class I took had 2.5-hour lunch breaks, allowing me lots of time to shop those days, but all I got was the Fleece Artist and some of the Cascade 220. It helped that I was tired (why so tired? I spent Friday and Saturday nights with some knitting girlfriends. Mmm… good company, yarn, red wine, and dark chocolate!). I did go out Sunday and buy a clasp and buttons as a gift for the little sweater I made in class.

The class was fantastic! Beth Brown-Reinsel taught us how to make a tiny Danish Skra-Troje (well, “Skrå-Trøje,” but typing it without the diacriticals is easier). “Skrå-Trøjer” is the plural. Beth is a wonderful teacher and knows her traditional sweater history. The full-size original sweater is in the Kalundborg museum in Denmark. It’s a man’s sweater, was knitted about 1878, and is thought to be the only one of its kind. She mentioned an upcoming book that includes this sweater and several other traditional ones. There’s not much room left where I store my knitting books but it sounds like this one is going to be a must.

Here’s the front of the little Skra-Troje I made in class:

MiniSkraTroje_2007Mar03_Front

And the back. Those sleeve lines are supposed to be in that position, across the back of the elbow as they sometimes are on a man’s suit jacket (as I was told; I had never heard of this design detail in men’s clothing).

MiniSkraTroje_2007Mar03_Back

Pattern: Beth Brown-Reinsel’s, part of our class materials.
Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun, 100% wool; Worsted weight blue for the body; Sport weight white for the body and red and blue for the cuff edgings.
Needles: size 2 for the body ribbing, size 3 for cuff edgings, size 4 for everything else.
Size: 6″ across chest, 15.5″ sleeve cuff to sleeve cuff, 7″ tall

I am very pleased with it as my 2-color stranding on double-pointed needles has not been up to my standards thus far. It looked a little lumpy before blocking but some steam flattened it out nicely. Beth had us try different methods of holding the yarns. After some experimenting, I settled on one color in each hand. When working this way, the dominant color (blue, in this case) is held in the left hand when knitting and in the right hand when purling. Yes, the back and fronts were worked back and forth after the split for the armhole. The original sweater was also made with multiple weights on the body, most likely out of necessity. I finished the front, back, one sleeve, and the finishing details (tucking in ends, front facings) in class and finished the second sleeve at home this week.

Here is a close-up of the sleeve edging that looks like a little braid (actually made of two-end knitting), of which I am quite proud:

MiniSkraTroje_2007Mar03_Detail

I’ve mentioned before that I like symmetry. I, of course, was the student in the class who had to ask if rotating the two ends the opposite direction would be the right way to make the little braid go the opposite way on the edge. It turns out I was right, but since I had already knitted both edgings I left it alone.

Although I’ve been knitting for 13 or 14 years now, I have only taken one class before this one: one on making socks after making 3 failed socks. This class was worth the time and effort. I also recommend Beth highly; she is a great instructor. Exciting new techniques learned: working with one color in each hand, two-end knitting, and weaving as you go.

At the very end of class, a friend of Beth’s came by. After a few minutes of other students familiarly referring to her as Nancy, I realized who she was. I asked and confirmed that she was indeed Nancy Bush. Hey, I made her Chalet Socks last year!

Socks_2006Sep14_ChaletSocks

I was wearing my wedding shawl and she recognized it as an Estonian pattern. So I learned a bit more about my shawl and got to tell a designer how much I enjoyed a pattern she created. It was a nice ending to my day.

One more note about Friday: with the class badge I was wearing, I got to stand in the short line to get into the Market. When the doors open and most folks crowded the booths right inside the door, I went off to the side and end a few aisles over and encountered Eugen Beugler and Lew Deyong of the Lacy Knitters Guild in Mountain View. They kindly talked lace with me for a few minutes before the general mob began making its way in that direction. They do exquisite lace work, very beautiful and detailed. Lew showed me a small circular piece made of Tencel yarn. He crumpled the piece up in his hand and showed me how it pops right back into place upon release, looking like it’s freshly blocked. Wonderful stuff, if a little slippery to work with. None to be had in the Market.

And wrapping it up for today, last week’s bus knitting, reclining on a bench in Golden Gate Park:

Scarf_2007Feb23_MohairCatsPaws

Pattern: own
Stitch Pattern: Cat’s Paws as charted in “Gossamer Webs” by Galina Khmeleva & Carol R. Noble
Yarn: Artful Yarns Portrait, 70% mohair, 25% viscose, 5% polyester
Needles: 10 1/2
Size: 6″ x 54″

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