Saturday, August 6, 2011

Actual Knitting Content!

You've been waiting awhile, yes? Once I actually arrived in Portland, I got on the MAX and headed straight for my hotel for a shower. Except it took longer than I planned because I went the wrong direction and ended up at Pioneer Square. But, once I got my bearings, I got going in the right direction and checked in.

The first thing on my agenda was to get to the Oregon Convention Center to check out the Marketplace. I took a lap to check out all the booths before I made any rash decisions. There was so much awesome stuff! Signature Needle Arts was there, and their needles are really awesome. The only thing that kept me from buying any is that I really prefer a long circular to dpns when I knit socks. As soon as they come out with a US1 needle, I'm all over it. There were at least two booths full of knitting books, one of which had the most excellent Japanese stitch dictionary: 1000 patterns for $119. (Honey, if you're paying attention, you should consider this a hint.) There were also vendors of glass, wood, and carbon-fiber knitting needles; spinning equipment and roving; buttons, stitch markers and yarn bowls. And a metric ton of yarn: hand-painted, hand-dyed, hand-spun and lots of commercial yarns and especially yarn from indie dyers. I bought plenty of stuff, but I think I'll save that for another post.

After I finished in the Marketplace, I went up the escalator to attend the opening night reception, at which Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (AKA the Yarn Harlot - you might have heard of her) and Tina Newton (both of whom were collectively known as ST-1) were speaking.I have no idea how many people were there, but since I was in line buying myself two glasses of wine (it was a long line, I wasn't going to do it twice), I ended up at a table near the back with some nice people I met in the wine line. ST-1 had plenty to say about how the folks in charge of the Convention Center didn't quite understand what they were in for, how much fun the conference was going to be and how rewarding (and exhausting) it was to finally be under way.

The next morning I was scheduled for Anne Hanson's "Holes in our Socks" class, which was billed as an intermediate-level class. I think it was intermediate for sock knitters, but beginning for lace knitters. I have to admit, I probably should have chosen an advanced class, as many of the people in class were new to lace knitting and some had real problems with reading lace charts. What I found most interesting about the class was seeing all Anne's samples. She had many where she knit up the same swatch in multiple yarns, all of which behaved differently due to the fiber content of the yarn, its thickness, or how it was spun. It really impressed on me the importance of swatching and yarn substitution.

On Saturday morning, I had Lorilee Beltman's "Seismic Socks" class, which was about vertical intarsia in the round. It's a really neat concept and definitely a challenging technique. Lorilee had so many samples of finished objects that I was really excited to learn how to do this. I've had at least two of her patterns in my queue for awhile, but I'm so glad I took the class before I tried to knit the socks. They'll definitely be the better for it. I also have to say how much fun Lorilee is: when we were taking our picture together, we used some samples as sock puppets. We knitters are wild! Wild, I tell you!

On the last day of Sock Summit, I had Anne Berk's "Intarsia with a Twist" class, which was about working intarsia in the round. Seriously. It works. I can't wait to play around some more with this technique. I think that once I get a fairly basic sock down, I'd like to see if I can make cables work with the color changes. At Stitch 'n' Bitch last night, everyone's eyes were glazing over as I tried to describe the process, but I'm sure it's because I made it sound more complicated than it is. That happens to me sometimes. Anyway, Anne Berk is probably one of the most energetic people I've been around and her enthusiasm is contagious. I'm so glad I took the class.

It seems like I should have more to say about my non-class experiences at Sock Summit, but there was so much going on, it could take more text than you're likely willing to read to describe it all. There was a fastest knitter contest, whose winner knit something like 57 stitches per minute. There was also the Fleece to Foot Challenge, in which teams of 5 people had to spin the wool of some freshly-shorn sheep, spin it into yarn, then knit it into a sock. And most famously, there was the flash mob of some 600 or so attendees, who performed yarn-themed choreography to "I've Had the Time of My Life." It's on YouTube. I'm embarrassed to admit that I forgot when it was supposed to start, and I was on my way to the Japanese Garden as it happened. Had I been there, I probably wouldn't have danced, but I would have cheered those who did. It was cute.

I think that's all I have for this time. Next time, I think I'll show off all the goodies I brought home from Sock Summit. Until then, Friends.

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