Did I Learn Anything?

Day 2 at Stitches West

I was in training for weeks to be ready to get up for my Stitches class. Why they start classes at 8:30 am is beyond me. But when the day arrived I was so excited I woke up voluntarily in time.

Most important lesson was learned yesterday, at home. Just because I learned how to do something does not mean I should. What was I thinking? With renewed enthusiasm after my Stitches Saami Mitten making class with Beth Brown-Reinsel, I tackled Liana’s Deathflake Mitten.

I started by unraveling what I had because I had learned about yarn dominance. Who would have ever guessed there is yarn dominance. Stranded knitting is knitting with two or more colors where you carry the yarn along in the back of your work. As you go back and forth between the colors one has to make a decision: place the yarn you are about to knit above or below the yarn you just knit with. Confused yet?

Guess which is the dominant yarn? The one that gets placed above the one you just knitted with? Guess again. Right, it is the yarn you carry from below. Since the yarn that goes above has a shorter distance to travel, it creates a smaller stitch. The other yarn from below creates a slightly bigger stitch, therefore becomes more dominant and visible in the pattern.

In the pattern of the Deathflake mitten I believe I’ll make the white the dominant yarn.

We also learned the braided cast on. With enthusiasm I incorporated that trick into my mitten. Since the mitten only asks for white and black yarn I picked another color, red, and knit away. Except, I don’t like it. In my usual fashion instead of immediately frogging, I’m knitting on. I’m not sure what I’m waiting for. That I’ll get used to it? That it’ll start looking better? Right now the balance is out of whack. It hurts more to frog than looking at that braid. Until that balance changes I’ll keep on knitting.

Another trick I learned is a herringbone braid. Yes, I will also incorporate this into the mitten. Perhaps adding insult to injury will make it all right and balance out.

When learning to work with 3 stranded colors in a row, one really starts to appreciate 2 stranded knitting. The latter I found very difficult until the 3 stranded.

Mittens are mostly knit in the round. What helps in stranded knitting is turning the work inside out and knitting on the inside. That gives a better tension to the strand that is carried around the corner from one needle to the other.

Really, this was a most amazing and outstanding class. I never did get a mitten done, but I do have a picture to show you. This is a class picture of all the started mittens.

Saami MItten Class at Stitches
Saami Mitten Class at Stitches

I’ll document here the rest of my purchases at Stitches. Starting where I left off yesterday, the rest of the Plucky Knitter loot.

Plucky Knitter - One Hit Wonder
Plucky Knitter – One Hit Wonder
Plucky Feet - Table Setting
Plucky Feet – Table Setting

Every knitter should have a ball of Kauni once in their life. This was my time and not surprisingly I picked the rainbow color. Not sure what to make with it yet. Though I’m a firm believer that if I buy it, the idea will come.

Kauni - Rainbow
Kauni – Rainbow

How beautiful this yarn knits up and I have photos to prove it.

At the Kauni booth at Stitches
At the Mannings booth at Stitches


Another example of knitting with Kauni at the Mannings booth
Another example of knitting with Kauni at the Mannings booth

As I am a knitting Mama, I could not neglect my knitting daughter. I sure wish the knitting bug would bite her like it did me. Then we could be a mother-daughter team at Stitches. To be an enabler I selected two skeins of heavy weight yarn. Unless otherwise instructed, this is what my daughter knits with right now.

Malabrigo - Rios for Liana
Malabrigo – Rios for Liana

What is left to show you is the fiber. A spinner needs to increase her fiber stash, don’t you think?

I had a very nice chat at Greenwood Fiberworks. What attracted me at first was the prominently placed fiber with bling. It was downhill for my credit card and me from there.

Greenwood Fiberworks - Merino with Stellina
Greenwood Fiberworks – Merino with Stellina
Greenwood Fiberworks - BFL with Tussah Silk
Greenwood Fiberworks – BFL with Tussah Silk


Greenwood Fiberworks - Merino Batt
Greenwood Fiberworks – Merino Batt

I also picked up a couple of grab bags from Abstract Fibers.

Abstract Fibers Grab Bag
Abstract Fibers Grab Bag

Enough photos for today. Yes, there are more. NO! No more loot. Isn’t this enough? Just photos of yarn not bought and left behind for other.

Have  knitting day!

Houston, We Have Yarn!

Day 1 Part 1 (picture heavy, so will divide the post into two)

If you want the short version of my trip to Stitches West 2014, I present you with the photo below, and it’s all the story you need. My purchases, my class project. Admire and move on with your day. But, you want detail? Sure, we can do detail.

Stitches West Loot
Stitches West Loot

How does one start describing Stitches West to one not in the know? A yarn palooza? Outside Lands for knitters? Cosmic exultations in the 6th dimension to the 9th degree?One shouldn’t try. It’s an experience that should be mandatory for every knitter. I will tell you over and over: you had to be there.

The consumer side of this event is huge. How huge? You had to be there. When it comes to clothing, give me a package of black t-shirts, a pair of black sweats or blue jeans, and I have my wardrobe for the year. But I make up for that in yarn. Forget black, bring on the cOlorS.

The yarn fumes surrounded me and I started walking floating through the marketplace. My credit cards just floated right along to their machines and swiped themselves, I hardly noticed (until the receipts started showing up in my email at night). In exchange, these wonderful fiber people gave me the most gorgeous yarns. You had to be there.

Shopping was at least half of my experience and the introduction to Stitches. Thursday afternoon/evening, from 5 pm to 8 pm, there was the market preview. I stood with hundreds waiting for the doors to open. I’ve never taken part in a national shopping holiday where folks gets crushed and trampled on, so this is as close as I imagine ever getting to such an experience. People, almost only women, hooting and hollering and being happy. A celebratory and anticipatory atmosphere. You had to be there.

There were some, and you know who you are, who immediately made a beeline to the Plucky booth. To see that, you had to be there. Whoosh, they were gone. I took my chances and strolled the road less traveled, counting on friends to leave me some Plucky yarn.

I had a method: up and down the aisles like I do at grocery stores. I do grocery stores without a shopping list. I learned. With a shopping list, I run from one side of the store to the other, zigzagging along because there is no plan on the list. Eggs, at the left of the store, broccoli, way back to the right, lettuce, same place, cheese, somewhere in the back, and on and on. So I did my walking without a list. Up and down.

Well, that lasted all of two booths or 10 seconds when I spotted something in another aisle and then another and another and so on. Because, unlike in a grocery store, you can actually see what’s in the other aisles. I finally reached some of my favorite yarn and fiber people: Dragonfly Fibers.

This is where I made my first purchase and received my first gift: a project bag! I love everything about their yarns. Including all their luscious colors. One problem: I kept on picking the same colorways in the different weight yarns. I did force myself to pick different colors — not too different; I do have favorites.

Yarns at Dragonfly Fibers Booth At Stitches West 2014
Yarns at Dragonfly Fibers Booth At Stitches West 2014
Dragonfly Fibers Booth at Stitches West 2014
Dragonfly Fibers Booth at Stitches West 2014
Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock - Bad Moon Rising
Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock – Bad Moon Rising
Traveller - Spooky
Dragonfly Fibers Traveller – Spooky
Dragon Sock - Van Gogh's Sunflowers
Dragonfly Fibers Dragon Sock – Van Gogh’s Sunflowers
Damsel - African Daisy
Dragonfly Fibers Damsel – African Daisy

I will never tire of sock yarn. But I do recognize a need to branch out as you can see in the above yarns. Some of them are downright fat yarns. That has a lot to do with a recent pattern discovery: Zuzu’s Petals. You come back here and you’ll find out what I’m talking about.

I meandered on. The next booth stopping me dead in my tracks, and not for the last time that and the following day, was Miss Babs. No lasso needed, I just threw myself into their booth. And I was not the only one; part of the Nevada City gang had already arrived.

MIss Babs Booth - With Eva
MIss Babs Booth – With Eva

Here, the same problem: most yarn I picked up was the same colorway. I’m attracted to any color with the word zombie in it. Doesn’t matter what colors you actually see, but if it has the word zombie, it must be yarn my kids would like, right?! I’m counting on it, anyway.

Zombie Prom – Yummy 2 ply

Then I get weak when I see the color Berlin.

Yowza - Berlin
Yowza – Berlin

Color: Biker Chick? Why not!

Biker Chick - Northumbria
Biker Chick – Northumbria

And throw some of that masquerade color in; it’s almost Mardi Gras.

Masquerade - Yummy 2 ply
Masquerade – Yummy 2 ply

And oh, how soft can yarn get? For some reason, and with powers I’m not familiar with, a skein took hold of me and would not let go. I tried, believe me. Color was a minor consideration here. Can you say cashmere with silk? I might not knit this up but just wear it around my neck as a skein. Or use it for a pet?! The color, you ask? Celebration, and celebrate I will with it. I have a feeling that many of us succumbed to that particular yarn and am wondering how many will show up with it on knit night.

Miss Babs Sojourn - Celebration (cashmere and silk)
Miss Babs Sojourn – Celebration (cashmere and silk)

Making sure I would have a few colors to choose from, I headed to Plucky. And found the three colors I was looking for and two more. What can I say: this is Stitches. You had to be there.

Primo Fingering from Plucky Knitter in the colors: Lonesome Highway - Tip Toe - Whatta Punk
Plucky Knitter Primo Finger

Lonesome Highway has to be one of my favorites. I love how it affects other colors, and it is so many colors itself: gray (and that’s gray with an a and not an e), purple, blue, black shadows. Whatta Punk, hmm, OK, let’s admit it, I’m also a sucker for any yarn that has the word punk in it. The neon green, you had to be there.

This almost completes my first shopping day. Not bad for 3 hours work, eh? The pictures are getting too many and loading this post probably takes you forever. Let me finish here and give you some more photos and stories in another post.