Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lord Love a Duck

So, I said "yes."

I'm knitting a striped, Steve-Blues-Clues green stocking for a darling boy. No problem there. But, it is to be felted. Right now, the circumference of the top measures two feet. Abby had ordered 4 balls of Ultra Alpaca for the thing (nice stuff), and I thought there would be plenty left over.

After knitting a couple days on it and getting to the 12" mark, it looked like a sweater for a 4 or 5 year old. I knew at this point, I would start the decrease. Did I bother to read beyond that? No. I assumed it would be wider than longer and shrink accordingly.

It's been a while since I've felted. I've done a pair of slippers and laughed at how floppy and big they were. I've felted a hat and laughed as I had Chris take my picture with the unfelted bucket of knit on my head.

I'm not laughing now. At 12", I picked up the directions and read: decrease 2 stitches every 14 rows until the piece measures 26". Then I get to do the foot.

Sigh. I'm just like Steve. I never see the clue first.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Where's Waldo?

Yesterday, I also got to block my eldest squirt's Gryffindor scarf.

Lastly, I'm working on a Christmas stocking for Valor. It will be felted, so the blasted thing is massive. After it shrinks, the fabric will be much more stable than normal knitting, however. So, it will be able to support all those oranges in the toe.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Back to the ramblings already in progress...

The Saturday at the Nordic Knit conference (16 October 2010) dawned early for me. Woke at 3am again, but managed to overcome and get a bit more sleep in. Ah! Made all the difference in the world.

The commute was easy. Traffic was light. Erin and I stopped at a lovely bread shop on the way. Just as I was walking to the community center in which the class was held, I passed a very nice Paula who was rushing to class at the last minute because she hadn't brought her supplies and had to buy them. Oops. So I had to go inside to the vendors and I HAD to buy yarn AND A CROCHET HOOK. Can't believe I spent money on that, but thank you, Acorn Street Shop, for being there for me in my time of need.

I boogied back to the center and set up my business, ready to listen and learn.

Unfortunately today we were in a cold, unlit basement. And I dressed for an overheated room. I wore a long sleeve shirt and a beautiful Estonian shawl my dear cousin James brought back from the motherland LAST WEEK. Sigh. Nancy Bush was to give her keynote address that night, and it seemed ideal. But not for an unheated room in 50 degree weather. By the end of the day, I was wearing the shawl over my head and ensconced in a garage sale-d sweatshirt acquired during lunch.

Carol had a lovely presentation of Finnish "fur tape:" three ways to make it and pictures of application. We proceeded to make it. Then on to knit in loops. Three ways, too, I think. Such fun! I've never seen these things before, let alone made them or applied them. Finally, she had two new stitch techniques to share: wrapped purl and a gathered stitch. Wristwarmers were on display that utilized all these techniques, and the Knitter's Conference booklet for this year used some of them, I think. I cannot find it on the website, but that link will get you contact info. The last booklet, printed in 2007, took a couple years to sell out, I believe.

At lunch time, a wonderful lady named Paula took me to Archie McPhee's. Wow. An institution, I believe. I bought a rubber chicken, a rubber crow, a Jane Austen action figure (complete with quill!), lavender flavored mints. Hmmm... and several other stocking stuffers for the kids. We also hit a bead shop, as I had a beaded wristlet idea hit me over the head. Fun shop named Fusion Beads.

We bopped back to class in just enough time (for me to stop by a garage sale, buy two pairs of shoes and a sweatshirt). The after lunch fun was several other loop stitches and two stitch patterns: wrapped purl and a gathered stitch. Then Carol did a nice slideshow of her trip to Finland. I took notes, helped out by Scandanavian amphibians.

After class, I took advantage of the two hour break before the banquet to tour a major part of the museum. The wooden carvings were inspirational.

The Lappland items were wonderful. Reindeer fur, bright colors and curved toes. What more do you want?

There were also several textile things there. Here is an antique and an ancient spindle:

Here is a carding bench:

There was nalbinding. (Apologies! I do not know how to access alternative alphabets on this thing. There should be a small "o" above the a.)

There were Selbu mittens:

There was a beautifully embroidered mitten set. The pair next to these had a fabulous yarn ruff:

There was a lace making pillow:

And finally, some folk costumes. Check out the sleeves on this one:

The banquet will have to wait until tomorrow! No time left to transfer all these pictures. But just a quite notation: in real time, today I knit a Where's Waldo hat for my little guy. For Halloween, the youngest is Waldo, the middle is Wenda and the eldest is Wizard Whitebeard. Now just to make a wizard hat!

Cheers, all!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday at the Conference

So, Friday dawned bright and early. I had plenty of time to get ready/get my stuff together, and Erin and I made it in plenty of time. In fact, I think we were the first eager beavers. Then I started my annoying Laura thing, and immediately asked for a conference poster I saw. Sorry, Erin! But, tomorrow I plan to get a frame for it. :)

We plopped our stuff in the sunny, sunny, high-ceiled classroom, then coasted around and checked out the layout of the museum.

Charlotte, who had originally been a museum coordinator of the conference, had accepted a different job closer to home a few months ago. Stina had stepped into her shoes, and Alex Butler, and others, had been a big help. I was reminded of the Bohus Exhibit a bit -- thinking of non-knitters trying to make everything accommodating for a huge hoard of fiber enthusiasts. I'm sure glad that, for the most part, we are eager to please and be pleased!

The museum had lots of coffee and tea available, bottled tea and water, and nice trays of sweet breads and cookies. Nametags, booklets and schedules were given out at registration, and the nice yarn booth people passed us in final preparations for the conference. Yum!

Then, off we went to the first class: Moensterstrick, Teknik og Design with Ruth Soerensen

She is a genius! And she is the reason I went to the conference.

Somehow, I happened to be on her website, specifically the winter sweater thing. Wow. Then, I read she was going to be teaching in the States. In the class, she had a large suitcase full of beautiful, beautiful Kauni and Evilla colorwork items she has dreamed up, most in the past 4 to 8 years, and that with an elbow injury taking months out this year's knitting.

Ruth spoke about her inspirations, her patterns and yarns.

We wound yarn, we sketched and we cast on.

Then we got her to chat. Danish history, Jutland hosekrammer, edicts in 1906 which said all people must... throw, was it? Her kids, musk ox, the farm. Her elbow, some future plans. It was fun. All the while the room got hotter and hotter, and I got tired-er and tired-er. I cast on. I ripped out. I cast on. I ripped out. I cast on.

I think that's the right number of times.

We had lunch and met a few other people. Then we headed back into the heat hole. Thankfully, one of the museum staff showed us how to open the 16-foot tall windows, and we plunged into knitting again.

Toward the end I tried on some of the wooly goodness.

Somehow, in the last 5 minutes, I said I'd never cut a steek.

Well, now I have. Ruth forced me to, but I made her hold my hand.

That night, there was a cocktail hour in the museum lobby. Ulla Karin Hellsten spoke on her mill Ostergotlands Ullspinneri in Sweden. She showed slides and told the history of how her family purchased an older mill in the early 70s, and now continue to make yarn and products from the yarn. Check out the adorable sheep baby blanket.

She had some of her yummy, heavenly, soft, wooly yarn available for sale. It is totally worth the search and rescue it would take to get your hands on it. Go. Do it. Now.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The True Nordic, Strong and Free

i had a lovely time at the Nordic Knitting Conference at the Nordic Museum Seattle October 2010. It was inspiring and magical. A true, short sabbatical from the daily grind of child-raising, and a real treat. I am very thankful to my loving husband for encouraging and supporting me in my love of yarn!

I had wanted to blog about it a couple days earlier. One major distraction, besides three small children on a week Fall's break, was this:

Needless to say, I have been crazy spinning ever since. Went through a big cone of a pencil roving dual-tone alpaca, and I did the second ply to the mystery wool-tencel blend I started last week, plied, and washed it, and it is hanging to dry. Tomorrow to an "all day quilt, " I am hauling the wheel and some coriedale to spin a thin 2-ply with which I plan to knit some mitts in the Finnish tradition. But I digress.

A week ago, Thursday, found me toodling off in the car ALONE to the airport. My, I was thinking hard! And singing. I created new words to Air Supply's Two Less Lonely People in the World, and it is now all about yarn. I was so engrossed in it, I drove right by the *new* highway exit to the new Indianapolis airport, and got 20 minutes tacked on to the commuter time. Sigh.

The flights went well. Snoopy was in Minneapolis and celebrated my lovely trip in style. Estonian style.

I found my friend and went off to the lovely home in which we stayed. We unpacked and got things set for the next day...

Then, I woke up at 3:15am, bright and early. No getting back to sleep for me!
More tomorrow...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cue Music

Often when I write a journal entry, the blog or take a trip, I find a certain song running through my mind. When I went to Minneapolis for the Bohus Exhibition and workshops, it was Larry Norman's Fly, Fly, Fly. Today, it is the Pointer Sisters' I'm So Excited. I, of course, slightly skew it...

I'm So Excited! And I just can't hide it!
I'm about to attend the Nordic Museum Seattle's Knitting Conference and take lots of cool courses from stellar knitters and learn a lot, and I just can't hide it!

It might take a little work. In the meantime, I have the treasure hunt to firm up, more yarn to pack and errands to run. Who has time to cue the music?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


"The top is coming, and I can see myself going over it.
It's a combed top."
- me

Running Amok in the Nordic Museum

I'm so excited about attending the Seattle Nordic Museum's third Knitting Conference happening this weekend. I'm starting to not sleep well, and my hope is that, by the time it rolls around, I'll be so exhausted I'll sleep like a baby. Like a weaned baby that sleep through the night, that is.

Yesterday I was struck by, what I hope is, a flash of inspiration: a Treasure Hunt! Involve the attendees to discover more about the museum and its holdings, the attendees and teachers, and, most of all, have a blast! I have contacted Ellen from Twinset and Karin, one of the wonderful volunteer editors in Ravelry and Nordic Museum volunteer extraordinaire and asked for their input. There will be crazy questions and prizes for the respondee with the highest points, the person with the second highest points, and a random draw from all participants.

All pictures must be taken from October 15.
Any treasure hunter kicked out of the conference will have their scores dismissed!

Here are some questions so far:

Signature of attendee from furthest away, and where they live
Signature of attendee who lives closest to the museum (by road, not as the crow flies), with their crossroads
Signature and age of oldest attendee
Signature and age of youngest attendee
Picture of someone spinning, and story of the fiber
Picture of anyone standing on their head (+20 pts. if presenter)
Picture of curator
Eat smoked salmon, fish of some kind, or drink absolut vodka during the conference
Picture of the flag of the Nordic country with which you feel most akin -- (+5pts. if you are included in the picture)
Talk someone out of a swatch (+20 pts. if presenter)
Signature of Charlotte -- museum worker and conference organizer. (+5 pts if she shows you pictures of her kids)
* KARIN, what other museum worker could be added here? *
What is (choose your presenter's??) favorite cast-on?
Have a serious conversation with someone about Lutefisk.
Measure the gauge of an "X" on a Norweigan sweater -- while the owner is wearing it. (thank you, Ellen!)
Find out the difference in pronunciation between the two a's in tvaandsstickning:
Get a picture of yourself with your favorite sweater at the conference
Get a picture of yourself with your favorite shawl at the conference
How did Ruth Soerensen make the snowflakes on her winter sweater?
Danish yarn
(Estonian yarn? -- how far does one stretch "Nordic?")
Faroese yarn
Finnish yarn
Iceland yarn
Norweigan yarn
Swedish yarn
Have Evelyn Clark teach you a word in Icelandic
What Bohus sweater(s) has Janet of Acorn Street Shop knit?
Get a new-to-you Sven and Ole joke:
Get someone to sing and entire national anthem to you from a Nordic country (*not da-da-da) (+20pts if presenter)
Have anyone sing an ABBA song

Any tips? Additional questions? Lobbying for one to be booted? What are thoughts on point weighing? Any of the presenters you know of have no sense of humor?

I'll sign off, hoping to sleep...

Monday, October 11, 2010


To my friends in the True North, Strong and Free

Happy turkey day!

And to all in the States: Happy Columbus!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

God's Grandeur
by Gerard Manley Hopkins*

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs --
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

*our subtitle: We went for a walk.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Quote of the day

From Knitpicks podcast episode 149. Allison and Kerin on Fiber Festivals.

"It's like you're immersed in your own flavor of nerd."
"Yes, exactly. And it's kind of flavored like -- lanolin."

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Rumples**tskin, or a Tale of the Curse Reversed

I bought my first spindle at the Purple Purl in Toronto, June 14, 2008. It was World Wide Knit in Public day, I was at a "yarn tasting" event with my then-five-year-old daughter, and I had previously decided this was where I would take the plunge. Amy Singer, of Knitty fame, was running the tasting, and she very gladly pranced about spinning silk trying to show me how it worked. I bought it, hook, line and top whorl.

Fast forward four months. I was driving across Pennsylvania on highway 80 on the way to NYC. I was near the Poconos. SOAR, Spin-Off Autumn Retreat, just happened to be 5 miles away at a resort in the mountains. Then I got the Interweave Knits email: "Workshops and classes are full; but if you are in the area, you can attend the SOAR Market. "

Me and two kids parked. I grabbed my barely used spindle and made a sign. CAN'T SPIN. PLEASE HELP.

Nancy of Nancy's Knit Knacks pulled me aside. Another couple of very kind ladies let my youngest treadle their wheels, and then helped both of them felt balls. Fiber people -- I love you!

I bought lunch and trotted around from salad bar to salad bar trying to satisfy the ever-changing hunger of a 3 and 5 year old, then I went outside to a small playset and let the kids play. I sat on top of a picnic table and spun silk. It was beautiful and smooth. The whorl gently turned. The fiber did what it was supposed to. The October air was a touch crisp, but the sun was bright and mellow.

It was a set up.

I left and went to New Yorl I felt fairly confident I was on the right path, and continued to have fun with little fiber samples that the kind Amy Clarke Moore gave me. My daughter spun in Grand Central Station as we waited for a friend. All was positive and happy.

Then I went home. I dug down into the happy fiber bag and came up with some beautiful brown and forest green merino roving from Frabjuous Fibers and got it started drafting and attached to the, you know, sticky thing. By all intents and purposes, it should have been the start of a beautiful relationship, but instead all hell broke loose.

I spun that puppy to its completion, ending only a month ago after I broke my fourth reconnecting joint on a borrowed spinning wheel's footman, but I could tell even a year ago -- I was spinning, well, crap. Rumpelstilskin, the antagonist in the fairy tale of same name, had a wonderful gift. He could spin straw into gold, and in doing so, although he was a horrible ogre, saved a beautiful girl's life and promoted her to royalty. I, on the other hand, took perfectly beautiful merino and turned it into feces.

Today I am spinning with the most disgusting fiber. Were it plastic, it would be an old, marbled, school lunch tray. Were it a bowling ball, it would have gnarly, disgusting swirls. I think it was someone's carding experiment. A teacher must have said, "Listen! Everyone take a few different colors of dyed roving and card them together evenly!" The carder wasn't listening. It is a bad example of Canada's Ethnic Mosaic: pockets of people retaining ethnic diversity living harmoniously with other cultures side by side. Well, these colored roving bits are living side by side, but it is not a peaceful coexistence. The green wants to take over the group, the blue has a different consistency and demands being spun before the others (that is, it quickly slips into the draft before the other colors are taken up). Red is just hanging out. The black is natty and won't easily draft. The yellow roving hates the world and is full of a bitterness it is trying desperately to pass on to living creatures. All together? It should be a brown mass of, well, crap.

What is happening though?

I'm not sure about the color, but, my! I'm enjoying the gold!