22 November 2010

Planning for 2011

It's that time of the year. No, I'm not referring to Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, the great triumvirate of cool-weather dark-day holidays. No, it's time to start signing up for all the great knitting offerings in 2011.

Registration has just opened this morning for STITCHES South 2011. Because of where Easter falls on the calendar, STITCHES South will be a week early on 14 through 17 April. Good for us, as the spring flowering trees should be in even better blossom than the previous two years. XRX will be setting up the party at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel & Cobb Galleria Centre, just off I-285 and I-75 on the north side of Atlanta. (Clicking the link at upper left will take you to the STITCHES main portal page. Clicking the link at the top of the sidebar will take you to the description of my class.)

Once again, it is my privilege to teach at STITCHES South. I'll be teaching "More Than One Way to Skin a Sweater." This is an overview of sweater construction, where we'll look at ten actual finished sweaters. Some have easy architectures, some are more complex. We'll discuss the pros and cons of each construction method. We'll also discuss some of the real-world problems I had to solve along the way. Here's a quote from one of the student evaluations last year, "Inspiring -- I'm going to go home and fix several UFOs. I learned practical applications for things I'd always heard about. Helped me not be afraid of "Out There" patterns!"

By the way, if you are trying to make decisions about classes using only the .pdf of the the brochure, the classes in the brochure are grouped by type, but in the online registration pages they are listed in order of appearance. Looking online can sometimes be easier if you are trying to see what your options might be for a certain day and time.

After much internal deliberation, I've registered for:
Thursday: Sharon Costello "Embed and Embellish: Felt, Stone, and Bead Jewelry"
Friday morning: Merike Saarniit "Fiendishly Difficult Stitches"
Saturday morning: Merike Saarniit "Spinning for Knitting"
Sunday all day: Gayle Roehm "Even More Challenging Stitches From Japanese Designs"

Sharon's class looks very interesting and unusual. Plus, Karin Skacel is supposed to reschedule with Atlanta Knitting Guild at some point. So it will be nice to up my felting skills between the two. And I do have some loose fiber lying around that I might not want to spin.

I couldn't take "Spinning for Knitting" last year because it was opposite my class. This year it is offered twice. Glee! And I noticed that "Exotic Estonian 'Patent' Stitches" (which I took in 2009) is offered on Friday afternoon rather than Sunday morning, so you won't be trying to learn it with a tired mind. Scenter took "Fiendishly Difficult Stitches" back in 2009, so I know from his review that it has some very interesting manipulations.

I'll end my weekend with Gayle Roehm. I took the first part of challenging stitches in 2009, so I'm very happy to see this nice long follow-up for Sunday. Between Gayle and Merike, I'm sure I leave with too many clever ideas about how to do strange things.

I have to admit I was keenly tempted to take Jean Frost's class "Lining a la Chanel." The homework is to knit a jacket but don't put it together so that in class you can put in a couture lining. While I like to think I can knock out a jacket between now and April, the reality is that I have a whole lot of other knitting that I ought to be doing. Still, I think it is a great class offering, as it is information that can't be found elsewhere. And if you already have a jacket in your UFO pile because it is waiting to be assembled, well then your procrastination has paid off!

Other good choice that I'm not taking:
Saturday morning: Sarah Peasley "Cut and Paste." This is the class to take if you are afraid of Kitchener grafting. Sarah not only shows you how to graft a variety of stitch patterns, she shows you how to do full-up replacement surgery on a sweater. I've done this sort of thing to sweater sleeves (both removing too much fabric and inserting more), and I can tell you this is a wonderful thing to be able to do. Being able to cut and graft gives you the freedom to make changes -- both aesthetic and functional -- to an otherwise finished garment. A lot of the really out there stunt knitting I do involves grafting. I highly recommend adding knitting grafting surgeon skills to your repertoire.

Saturday all day: Laura Bryant "Intentional Patterning with Hand-Dyed Yarns" I can't take this one because it is opposite mine. (Drat!) I have heard from other people that this is a very good class. Laura will show you techniques to make the most of those hand-dyed yarns that seduced their way into your stash. Maybe I'll get to take this one next year.

Saturday afternoon: Rebecca Ewing "In Loving Color" I've heard Rebecca speak at Atlanta Knitting Guild and I've taken her workshop offered through Southeastern Fiber Arts Alliance. If you feel uncertain about choosing colors, Rebecca can help you find the confidence to combine colors that will look fabulous.

Of course, I'll be doing some of the other fun things as well, such as shopping the market (but only for things I can't get locally), enjoying the fashion shows, attending the banquets, and partying at the pajama party. And I'll be sitting around knitting and admiring everyone else's work.

12 November 2010

Good Deals

North Georgia Knitting Guild has been hosting an annual auction as a way to raise funds. This year's auction was held during the October meeting. This is one of the advantages to being in a smaller guild. Atlanta Knitting Guild has too many members for something of this scale, although AKG is planning a yarn swap at the December meeting. I was being pretty tight with money this time, partly because I was in the midst of closing an old checking account and opening a new one. I didn't have the new checks yet, I didn't want to write any more checks on an account I was about to close, and my money was split between the two, so that kept me well-behaved. I spent between $20 and $30 for what you see in the photograph.

The three small booklets were all one lot. I find it interesting to browse even simple pamphlets. Sometimes you find something just a little interesting and out of the way. And you never know what will be lurking inside a stitch dictionary. I was pleased to find an old issue of In Knitters. I hope someday when the Southeastern Fiber Arts Alliance has a permanent building that AKG will have a permanent library space where we can have all the back issues of the best magazines -- In Knitters, Knitters, Interweave Knits, Vogue Knitting, Cast On and the like. The Leisure Arts brochure is "Sculptured Squares" -- blanket blocks that have a very three-dimensional pattern. I am intrigued.

There was plenty of yarn at the auction. I've put myself on a yarn diet because I have plenty of yarn. The evidence is even in the public domain on Ravelry. And yet, there's always another pretty skein or two. On the left is a skein of Artyarns Supermerino that looks like it is meant to be a raspberry beret. On the right is a skein of Yarn Place Vivace, 100% bamboo in a colorway that looks to me like an excuse to party. Packaged with it were the four long toggle buttons. Gro actually out bid me for it, but it came up fairly early in the auction. She was able to win some other items later, so she kindly let me purchase the skein from her for the amount bid. Thank you, Gro!

The last item is the reading glasses with case. These are 1.5 magnification. My regular optometrist-issued reading glass are .75. I bought these more because nobody was bidding on them and because they have little lights on the side! I suspect they will someday be a perfect accessory in a costume. They have a wonderfully nerdy quality!

A reminder to those of you in guilds elsewhere -- it really is true that one knitter's cast offs can be another knitter's new treasures.

05 November 2010

When Less is More

The Whole Nine Yarns has a sock guild. This is a sock club that meets once a month for social time and for education. Each month is a different, exclusive sock pattern and hand-dyed sock yarn to go with that pattern. It is a very cool idea and has proven to be a good way for sock knitters to try different techniques. Some socks are knit toe up, some top down, some lace, some texture, some cables. For January, JennaB the Yarn Pimp designed a sock with beautiful cabled Saxon Braid cuffs knit sideways. I'll get to that in a couple paragraphs. First, I want to draw your attention to the yarn.Yup, that's it. It really doesn't look like all that much, does it? It is mostly still the same undyed white. There is a little bit of pale grey at each end, and some pale rusty orange in the middle. When it first showed up in the shop, I noticed it for how quiet it is compared to some of the complicated sock guild yarns.

This is a yarn you have to knit up to understand. JennaB wanted it simple because she wanted the cables to show. A complex yarn would have hid the patterning rather than showing off the knitting skill. But the little bits of subtle color make this yarn look like white marble when worked in stockinette! So when you see a "simple" yarn in your local shop -- or if you dye your own yarn -- remember that sometimes less really is more. And when paired with the proper design and project, less can be fabulous!And speaking of fabulous --
I'm hoping to debut this new technique at the shop sometime in January. I've shown it around to a few savvy knitters, and none of them could recall seeing it in print. My guess is that it probably is in print somewhere, but that it is very obscure. This is a solution I worked out for myself. Already knowing double knitting will be a prerequisite. On this blog I usually tell what I did, but I'm going to keep this one to myself for a little while longer. I will give you a hint -- no purling was involved. The objects are sock cuffs, as I wanted to be able to turn the cuffs up or down. I'll be teaching toe up socks later this month, so I plan to work two socks at the same time until I'm nearly out of yarn. Then I'll graft the last row to the i-cord edging on the cuffs. This technique would be wonderful for band trims on a coat, hood, or blanket.