Friday, August 29, 2008

Cat Bordhi was in town!!!

Well, I knew that Cat was coming to town (Lorilee, or "L2" as I like the call her, kept talking about it and trying to get people to attend Cat's "Sockitecture" workshops). I never really did plan on attending the workshops since the dates and time conflicted with my work schedule. On top of that, I didn't think I really need to attend since I've already knitted several pairs of socks from Cat Bordhi's book New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One with success. I'd figured I'll just come in on book-signing night so that Cat could sign my copy of the sock book and the novel Treasure Forest.

Things didn't quite go according to plan (story of my life). Sometime Monday night L2 (the owner of my LYS ~ City Knitting of Grand Rapids) and Cat were having a chat, and for some bizarre reason I came up as the topic of conversation. I am not exactly sure what L2 told Cat (something about my fondness for geometric forms or something), but the end result was that Cat wanted me to attend her last workshop scheduled for Wednesday. So, they both typed up an "urgent" E-mail to me with the gist of "come to the workshop or else!" I didn't open that E-mail until Tuesday morning, in which I threw in the towel and said, "that yes, of course I'll come!" That day I snuck in a 'personal day' request through Human Resources and got my Wednesday off.

I have to say that I would have regretted it if I hadn't attend that workshop on Wednesday. It was a really interesting topic of just casting on and proceeding to design ones own sock by combining patterns from her book. Cat went over the basic architecture of any sock, the proper way to do short rows for the heel turn, the really easy math to figure out your instep increases, number of wraps, number of stitches to add to the wings, etc. Needless to say, the lightbulbs where going off on top of my head! The one important thing that Cat has taught me is the confidence to toss the book and go with my inspirations. That was pretty much what I did, and I knitted up a sock that fit my ideal.

First I knitted a whirlpool toe, and then the foot with reinforced soles over the balls of the foot ~ my socks tend to wear out too quickly in that area. My instep increases was over the top of the foot using the same increases as for the standard toe. This seem to give the sock a streamlined look. I reinforced the sole again at about 10 rows before I got to the heel turn since I wanted a larger area of sturdy fabric to cup my heels. The cuff is pretty basic: stockinette ending with 2X2 ribbings.

I am so pleased with what I've knitted, how well it fits, and how surprised I was when I realized that I knitted that darn stucker without referring to a book!!!!! I am naming this sock the "trailblazer", and I hope Cat would be pleased with how much she contributed to my growing confidence in knitting from my own inner creativity. Hey Cat ~ you rock! And L2, thanks for convincing Cat to come to City Knitting!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

An Curragh

I think one of my favorite catalogs is from An Curragh. This organization allows artisans from the Northwest of Ireland to sell their wares to national and international clients. Their catalogs are a nice read, and there are two good sessions from Christmas 2006 that I want to include here. They are both related to knitting and knitwears:

"Inspired by necessity, the function of an Aran sweater was to protect from the force of the ocean. But, being a race of yarn spinners, in word and cloth, we have made it so much more. Written with needles, spun out on a thread, every sweater maps a story ~ of tightly nestled fields, bounded by the cables of the fishing trade, or the honeycomb of the worker bee hanging over a web of nets drying on stonewalls." p.50

"We say our knitting tradition started with stockings. Clever us, matching a fabric that retained its warmth when wet to the foot that spent its life ankle-deep in bogs! Then we found that the natural oil on the wool (lanolin) is waterproof, that wool draws vapor away from the body, that it readily absorbs colour and that it can be stitched into designs that capture air for insulation. But the hand-knit is more than practical. It's an art form that starts with the carding of fleece and finishes when the last stitch is cast off." p.116

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Michigan Fiber Festival 2008

Yesterday morning, my friend Raven and I piled into the car, drove out of town to pick up my Mum, and then the three of us headed out to Allegan for the Michigan Fiber Festival. Needless to say, we all had a blast!

Mum saw a shawl she wanted. Unfortunately the shawl wasn't for sale, but the yarns and pattern were. So, she snapped those up and commissioned me to knit it together for her. Thankfully she chose an easy pattern that uses US size 13 needles, which would knit up in no time. I have to admit she picked a really nice color, a light turquoise that will contrast nicely to her firey red hair and pale complexion.

I bumped into a few people I haven't seen in ages, one of them being Connie Young and her husband, Bill Whelan. Haven't seen these people in ages, and they seem to be doing well.

And while at the festival, I got commissioned to do a lace shawl for Rita of Yarn Hollow. She wants such a shawl using her yarns for display at her booth, and apparently word got 'round that I do good lace quickly! Mmmmm, looks like I got a good business going here without even trying!

After I got home, I had to do some serious thinking as far as all my projects go. I think Mum's shawl is a priority since it will knit quickly and easily gotten' out of the way. My current lace project will have to be hibernated. I will do the Yarn Hollow commission once I get the yarns from them and the pattern approved. I have started a club for people who want to knit Aran-style afghans ~ I will continue with that as this will be my personal project for the winter months. It almost seems that it is time to put away writing that novel on fine needles with wispy thread, and start mapping out fireside tales using chunkier and warmer yarns. This does sound like a do-able plan, but as they say.......