Monday, February 15, 2016

the winter post: crafting time!

Told you. Once a season. *cough*

Last week my parents tipped me off to the existence of the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat, which sounded really neat and was almost in striking distance. I looked at the website and discovered there was a mini-class on stranded colorwork, which I have little to no experience with, and after contacting the organizers managed to get registered last minute. So yesterday morning I packed up some needles and the necessary yarn for the classwork—
which of course my faithful assistant had to inspect—
and off I went. (Please note the colors in those images are terrible; one is an olive brown and the other is a peacock teal.)

Getting down to Tacoma from here on transit is a bit of an adventure, especially on a Sunday when nothing runs frequently, but I left the house at 6:30 and made it to my 9:00 class and that's what counts; there were two buses, a train, and a half-mile walk involved, but I had plenty to work on and did the walk in the company of another attendee who was pleasant and encouraging company.

And the class was great. It was taught by Mary Scott Huff, who as you can tell from her website is MAD SKILLED at knitted colorwork. The website does not tell you that she's engaging, high-energy, and a complete sweetheart, who will nerd out about different traditions of stranded knitting at any opportunity. We talked about some of the differences in technique and materials among Fair Isle, Nordic, and Salish knitting, and she covered the core principles that make it easy to learn the more advanced things about stranded colorwork, and you can't really tell from the swatch I produced in class—
but I learned so much and have so much more confidence in my ability to use these techniques now. ALSO, she's great about dismissing dogmatic approaches and explaining why things that get repeated as absolute necessities are in fact only important to specific situations. Fabulous confidence-builder.

Then I went over to the demonstration and marketplace area, where I got to try out a floor loom briefly, which was really neat; weaving cloth creates such a different material from knitting it. And it turns out you can get a really rather nice simple loom to start on for considerably less than I expected, so that's probably something I'm going to have to keep in mind for the future. It would be such a neat skill to acquire.

The other booth I really wanted to see in the demo area was on antique sock knitting machines; the person running the booth had brought one in and was working with it there, and was really open to questions and explanations while she cranked fabric out of the machine. ...It was SO COOL. I'm delighted by the ingenuity that went into inventing this little machine, and the beautiful products that come out of it. There is apparently a company in the midwest now that has started making them again, descendants of a previous maker who have revived (and revised) his designs, so you can take a look there to see what the machine looks like and how it works. That's clearly something that I would need to be a lot more serious about before it was worth the investment, given the four-digit cost... but maybe someday. We'll see. Gosh it was neat.

I only bought one skein from the (absolutely lovely) marketplace, and that was from Island Fibers, a producer up in the San Juans, so in my local fibershed:
I passed by this skein the first time after touching it admiringly, but then it bothered me to think that it might get bought by someone who wasn't me, so I went back to get it myself. It's a beast of a skein at 450 yards of worsted weight, which means it's enough to make a vest out of. Assuming I can ever get my act together enough to focus for that long, of course.

And that was my exciting Sunday! Another walk, bus, train, bus trip home and I flopped for the rest of the evening, basking in my accomplishments and yarn. Once I can get a project or two off the needles, I think it'll be time to try a stranded colorwork project for real.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post! It sounds like it was worth the trek. And full of stimulating new ideas.
    Perfect for the start of a new season!