Monday, February 16, 2009

Madrona: Most of My Photos are of Swatches

Madrona (numbered)

Madrona was a lot of fun this year (as expected), but I don't have a lot of photos this time. I had two full days of classes, plus events in the evening, and then I just came back for a few hours on Sunday, so I didn't have a lot of time to think about photos, or to take them. But I'll run the mostly-swatch photos in chronological order (rather than numeric order).

Photo #5, The Hotel: This is the first year that I've stayed at the Murano Hotel during the retreat, and this is my room. I had full day classes on Friday and Saturday, and even though I live close enough to drive back and forth I decided that I'd stay over the one night. The room was very comfortable, the staff was great, and they only charged me for one day of parking even after I told them that I would be parking for the whole second day. I wasn't really sure what to expect (last year, they were still renovating much of the hotel and it was a mess), but I will definitely try to stay there again next year. I wish that I lived in a room that looked like that.

Photos #2, 8 & 9, Lucy Neatby's Even Cooler Socks: My Friday class was "Even Cooler Socks" with Lucy Neatby. We started with a tubular cast-on that was much more intuitive than the methods I've used before, and also involved my first ever successful crochet chain provisional cast on. I love tubular edges, but they're usually so fiddley that I skip them--this method felt much more straightforward. You can see the edge on photo #9, which also features a striped quilted pattern that can be used for a strong heel flap, and a twined chain bind off, which is just cool looking. We knit a short-row garter stitch heel that does not involve picking up wraps or excessive counting, and we knit a sideways garter cuff and used a "no kitchener instructions" method of grafting together the ends.

I really enjoyed this class, especially seeing the techniques up on the big screen. Lucy's DVDs illustrate many of the techniques we used, so she projected videos of the tricky parts and talked us through them. This was very useful--the class was reasonably large, and having an easily visible visual aid made a big difference. Many of the techniques we used are part of Lucy's Fiesta Socks (Rav Link) pattern, so I've started a pair of those.

Photo #7, Cat Bordhi's Friday Evening Talk: The talk featured a skit illustrating how yarn may have been made and knit in pre-historic times. This is the Yarn Harlot as a cavewoman inventing finger knitting. This talk was 100% pure knitting entertainment gold, and not just the skit--Cat's a very inspiring speaker with a LOT to say.

Photo #4, Yarn: I don't even want to discuss how much yarn I bought this year, I came home with a lot more than I intended. For instance, I've got a sweater's worth of yarn on the way from Black Water Abbey. I'm excited about the yarn, but I had planned to check out their booth but NOT to buy sweater yarn until I've finished one of the sweaters I have in hibernation. But I won a door prize (yippee!) gift certificate for their booth, and it covered about a quarter of the cost, so it made sense to order it now. I ended up with some great yarn (the yarn above is from Blue Moon Fiber Arts), but there were a few things I brought home that I probably didn't need (like more needles). I am hereby implementing a yarn moratorium until at least April 1, with a couple of exceptions for yarn that I've been planning to buy that is only available in March, or that will be purchased with a Christmas gift card. And really, I might rethink that March yarn altogether.

Photos #1, 3, and 6, Jean Wong's Fine Finishing Techniques: More tubular finishing, but this time it was cast offs. Jean showed us how to use a tubular cast off for 1x1 rib and 2x2 rib in any number of different configurations--when you're knitting flat, when you're knitting in the round, when you're knitting a piece that will be seamed, etc. It was very detailed work, and a little brain scrambling, but it's really something that I think is worth doing (except on Swatch #5, which nearly sent me over the edge). Jean brought several sample sweaters, and the tubular finishes look just lovely. We also covered Japanese short rows (very neat looking, and no wraps), joining a shoulder seam, and weaving in ends in the middle of a row with no gap (very handy). Most of these techniques are related to sweater knitting, which I really don't do much of, but it's easy to see how these can be applied to smaller projects.

Event Without Photo #1, Elsebeth Lavold's talk at the Banquet: Elsebeth's talk was very interesting, she discussed how she became a knitting designer, her work with Viking Knits, and her plans to research the use of knotwork motifs in other (non-Nordic) cultures. The food was better than expected--the choices are always salmon or vegetarian meals, and this has kept me from attending the banquet until this year. I'm a picky eater, I chose what was for me the lesser of two evils (the vegetarian meal), and reminded myself that I could always pick up a sandwich on the way home. I was expecting over-cooked pasta, or slimey tofu, but instead the meal was a mushroom risotto that was genuinely tasty, and not too mushroomy. The meal was somewhat beside the point, of course, but I would have been embarassed to just pick at my food at a table full of strangers.

Event Without Photo #2, Fair Isle Class Reunion: On Sunday, Janine Bajus arranged a get-together of students who had taken her color class at Madrona or her three day class last summer. Although nobody showed up with a completed sweater (which would have made me cry), it's got me thinking about next steps for my long-forsaken swatches. I think I need to get organized again, and try to make some progress on these. Maybe next year, I'll have a hat to bring for show and tell. Or maybe at least another swatch!

It's really nice that today is President's Day, and I've been able to lounge around a bit today instead of getting right back to the office. I do have a few things that I need to take care of today (unpacking, catch up on e-mails, make sure I'm prepared for my week or at least tomorrow), and it's going to be hard to get back to the non-knitting regular world. But I've got a lot of inspiration (and new yarn) to fall back on!


emicat said...

Aha - so you did get some yarn at Black Water Abbey.. like I did ;)
So what color yarn did you get???

Looks like you had fun too and your classes look pretty informative. Maybe next year I'll try to do an overnighter If I take a class or two so that I can actually meet more knitters. I get too shy sometimes.

Therese said...

Jean's class was just AMAZING! And... I think that I am going to try using one of the techniques right away! Remember that fingering weight baby sweater from ___? The one with the button band that I bound off too tightly then banished to the WIP graveyard? I think that it is time to dig it out and try one of Jean's tubular bind offs for real!