Sunday, February 24, 2008

Madrona 2008 Part 1 & Nihon Homework

Wow. Time flies!

Has it really been a week since Madrona was over?

Ruth and I went down to Tacoma the afternoon of February 13, 2008. When we arrived I saw many familiar faces. It is so nice to walk into a hotel and see many people I knew. We checked into our respective hotel rooms. Ruth had some knitting she wanted to get done.

I met for the first time Jen Black, from Connecticut. She is a member of a group that I am also a member of, Fiber Traditions. She needed a place to stay just for Wednesday night so she shared the room with me, Ellen Gowey and Michale Crooks. We met and decided to head over to the Museum of Glass. To get the museum we walked over the Chihuly Bridge of Glass.

Most of the exhibits were closed but it was nice to get to know Jen better. I felt like I have known her all my life.

That night Jen, Deb, Karla, Ellen, Ruth and I went to Paddy Coyne's for dinner. That was really delicious! I remember Sandy raving about this place and it is very good.

From this point on, the whole Madrona experience becomes somewhat of a blur!

I met so many wonderful people it is a bit mind boggling.

I didn't sleep well a number of nights before Thursday. I knew I was going to be emcee/moderator at the Thursday night, Charity night. I was very nervous about it.

Despite my mortal fear of Thursday night, I had class all day with Janel Laidman. The class was Spinning a Painted Skein. It was an excellent class! I learned so much and am looking forward to practicing what I learned(you all my spare time)!

This photo is of her holding up the fractal stripe sample which was highlighted in Spin-Off magazine.

After class I went straight to the room to continue to practice my speech for that evening. Melinda came into the room and we talked until it was time to go down to the room where the evening's event was going to happen. She was also going to speak a bit about Shetland. It was nice to have a speaking buddy to share my nerves with.

This is what I saw when I entered the room. I became even more nervous!

The people on the panel that night are fabulous people. I felt honored to be able to share the stage with these folks. The evening was Charity Night but it was also about Global Connections and how we can use the power of the internet to benefit the greater good of our communities.

I spoke about how many of the people on the panel became connected via the I met Melinda last year in line at Madrona. Via her blog, Purlwise, I was able to see a design by Ruth Sorensen. I couldn't get a hold of Kauni yarn at that time so I emailed her and Ruth sent me the yarn. Then another reader, Margaret, in Manhattan, saw the Kauni Cardigan and had to knit it. Then Stephanie(yes, that Stephanie) saw Margaret knitting it at a yarn store event and she had to knit it. We all know how the Kauni Cardigan spread through the internet like wildfire once Stephanie posted about it! I connected with Ruth and asked her if she would like to experience an American knitting conference, Madrona Fiber Arts, and she decided that she would like to make her first visit to the US. Then I got to thinking....she is a fabulous designer so maybe she could actually teach at Madrona. Then I hooked Ruth up with Suzanne Pedersen and that is how Ruth got here!

Ruth Sorensen talked a bit about how the internet has changed her life.

The highlighted charities for the night were Doctors without Borders presented by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.

The Mother's Day Project - Anne Landre. This woman is a dear. I felt a connection with her right away(she was good at calming my nerves, just by her peaceful face and kind smile). During her presentation the tears just flowed and I almost could not stop them. Seeing the names of soldiers that have died in the Iraq war, all embroidered on fabric, just hit me hard.

The Shetland Textile Working Museum in the Shetland Islands - Melinda Mullins and Mary Adams. Joyce James was also involved but she did not present that night. They have taken up the cause of the Museum to preserve the origins, history and traditions of Fair Isle Knitting for future generations after visiting the Shetland Islands.

Caring for Kids - Diane Formoso started this local group more than 15 years ago when, as a school bus driver, she saw so many children in need. It has blossomed to provide clothing and many essentials to young children in need.

After the Charity event, the folks that had their Kauni Cardigan on came up for a group photo. Here we are:

I have much more to write about but I have to get to my Nihon Homework so I will continue the Madrona post later.

Now a quick note about Nihon Homeowork....well...

I am a bit behind(what else is new?). Yesterday I had a setback. I had started the back of the round neck cardigan. All was going well.

Notice the seed stitch on the sides? I wanted to make things easier on myself with regard to sewing up the sides. I figured if I did seed stitch, it would be easy to match up the pattern for sewing.

So while I was watching Season 2 of 24, I realized the sides were not going to look how I wanted them. The seed stitch was going to be so glaringly different than the rest of the sweater patterning. I sat. I thought. I watched Jack Bauer. He is so I decided...hmmmnnn..maybe I could be brave in my knitting.

I could fit half of the leafy pattern repeat on the sides in place of the seed stitch and NO I was not going to rip out the whole thing.

I decided to rip out just the section that needed re-doing. Luckily I had just enough stitches for 1/2 of the pattern repeat. I have done this kind of fixing before. As all things related to Nihon, it took much longer than I had anticipated.

Warning: The next photo is not for the those affected by gory photos....

Now I am knitting back up in the new and improved pattern.

Now it is all better...looks a lot better, don't you think?

I have to knit all day today. Time is running out.

Next week is a big one at work. Beginning tomorrow I will be building our production budget database, filling it up with all kinds of good budget data. I'll have a number of late nights(hopefully not too many). I just hope all goes smoothly.

Ruth also just has a few more days here. I wish the "big" week at work was not coinciding with Ruth leaving. Even though she is staying with me and the boys, I probably won't see much of her!

Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ruth Sorensen is Here!

I have a break from my busy time here at the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat. I thought I would take some time to tell you a bit about my time with Ruth Sorensen.

I picked Ruth up on Monday February 11 at the airport - we agreed to meet at baggage claim. She had to navigate through passport control and I did not anticipate it would take so long. I was getting worried. After all, what would I do if she was not on this plane? How would I find her? No need to worry. She finally got through Passport Control an hour and 15 minutes after her plane landed.

I agreed to wear my Kauni Cardigan so she could recognize me. We met and it was so lovely to finally meet her in person.

While Ruth was retrieving her bags I was standing around waiting when I get a tap on the shoulder. I turn around and this woman asks me if I am going to Madrona. I said "how did you know?". She pointed to my sweater. I asked her how she knew! She said "oh blogs and all that!". She too was going to Madrona. She had just returned from Vienna, was going home to Paulsbo and then she was heading off to Madrona! How cool is that!! Another connection made, to another knitter, just based on our love of knitting. How wonderful.

Ruth is an absolute dear, dear woman. She is easy going, funny and very nice. I am lucky to get to know her better! Even after being up for close to 24 hours she was completely charming!

Here is a photo of some of her lovely hand knit items, of her own design.

Some of her hats...

She made these adorable pins...

Greg took her sightseeing on Tuesday. I had to work so Greg played tour guide. He took her to the Ballard Locks and the Pike Place Market. Then the ladies of Village Yarn and Tea took us out to dinner.

From left to Right: Ellen, Ruth, Kari, Victoria, Deb

Wednesday we hung out a bit at home before heading down to Tacoma.

Here she is hanging out with Chase(he is a very good doggie ambassador).

This next photo is kind of funny. Here is Ruth taking a picture of this huge prawns we ate. She was amazed at how large they were. She joked that everything in America is big. So she had to take a photo of these HUGE prawns.

I have so much more to "talk about". Madrona has been a whirlwind of activity. I am going to take this morning to relax before I go help out with Ruth's hat class this afternoon. I will post again soon....

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Relapse Week(but Kauni is done!)

I must tell you something that cracked me up on my last post about losing my brain. Yarnsnob makes me laugh. In an e-mail she said something about being "crackers". I just love English terms and humor. Why? I don't know. I just love thinking "I'm crackers". Anyone else love English terms and humor? Or is that humour!?

Naomi here. Remember me? The recovering perfectionist?

Uh. yeah. Sometimes the best laid plans....go awry! Ok, I know. Personal growth does not happen over night. You get conscious of an *issue*. You realize you have some personal work to do. That is the first step. Then you forge ahead with your new intentions. At least that is how it works for me.

My current issue. Working on not having the need to have everything *perfect*.

I KNOW life is to be enjoyed and cherished. I do take time out of every day to ponder on the things I am grateful for. Yet I have this crazy need to have things perfect. When guests come dust bunnies should be seen by human eyes. There should be no dust on tables, window sills, on ledges of frames, etc. There should be clean towels in the bathroom. (My monthly knit buds know one time there were NO towels in the bathroom! I was mortified but they never came out of the bathroom saying..hey gnome, where are the towels?). Basically the house should be spotless. I'm trying to let this go and actually NOT purposefully clean before guests come over - I'm trying really hard to let this kind of thing go.

So with regard to knitting this week...I did not fare so well in the letting go department. I had started the Serendipity socks for the first 2008 installment of the BMFA Rockin' Sock Club. I did the short row heels with the W&T method as specified in the pattern. I thought, I do not like the way the W&T looks but I continued on. I wanted to let it go. It wasn't perfect or up to my eagle eye standards but I just coached myself. Just keep going. It WILL be ok.

I kept thinking about it. I thought about it some more. What did I do? Can you say relapse?

I frogged it. I have always wanted to do Priscilla Gibson-Roberts short row heel version. I have the book Simple Socks Plain and Fancy but I could never quite understand the instructions. Luckily my friend Melinda has a very nice tutorial on this method on her website. I followed her photos along with the book and I was successful at this method. In fact for me, it is much easier to read the stitches and see what I am doing with this method than with the W&T method.

Doesn't this technique look good? I like it.

How else did I relapse in my non perfectionist knitting? Well....

I finished the Kauni Cardigan. YAY! Here she is blocking on the wooly board.

I have a lot to say about this project. I apologize for being verbose but I have a lot to say about this fun project.

This photo shows how I used my clover blocking pins(which I LOVE!) to straighten the bottom cast-on edge which was still curling during blocking. I just stuck these pins along the edge to keep it straight and it worked very nicely. No more curling.

I picked up for the neckline. I love the Nihon Vogue technique for picking up. I used to hate picking up for a neckline before Nihon Vogue....trying to count and figure out how many stitches to pick up 2 for every 3 stitches, blah blah blah. Now it is easy and straight forward for a round-neck. You should try it. You might never struggle with neckline picking up again(sounds a bit like an infomercial doesn't it? Can you hear Billy Banks of Oxyclean saying "You will never struggle with picking up neckline stitches again. Just use Nihon Vogue!").

When you pick up, just pick up one stitch for every stitch. No more figuring out 2 for every 3. Count how many stitches you now have on the needles. You do want to at least get close that you have the same number of stitches from shoulder seam to center front on right front and left front.

So you count the total number of picked up stitches. On the next row(pattern row) decrease 10%. That is it. I have done it on all my vest and crewneck projects and now on the Kauni Cardigan. Works like a dream(I must have commercials on the brain - like the sleep aid Lunesta commercial..Lunesta, works like a dream. Yarnsnob, maybe I truly am crackers!).

Here is the perfectionist relapse part. I did the neckline 3 times. The first frogging I did was because of the color combination choice I used to do the ribbing. First I did deep purple against the lime green. I got almost completely done and the color difference was just too stark compared to the rest of the sweater. Then I tried the color it is now. I like it but....when I was done and tried it on, I saw an area where the pattern did not look exactly the same on the left front neckline decrease and the right front neckline can easily see because of the pattern of the squares. So I took it out again and what you see in the photo is the "third time is the charm".

Now for the cast-off edges. I did the invisible cast-off for the sleeves which is a method I learned in the Nihon Vogue class. Why did I do this? I want these edges to have some give/stretch to them. So I used this handy dandy bind-off. You bind off similar to kitchener(using a tapestry neeedle or bodkin). Some folks have asked if I can tell you how to do this. I'm not sure I can. I will have to ask Jean.

I did the regular knit cast-off for the neckline and the button bands because I want these edges to remain firm and NOT stretch.

The buttonhole technique I used was Kevin Ames version of EZ's One-Row Buttonhole. His technique is detailed out in Sweaters from Camp. I'm not in love with the results of this technique. So I guess I am letting go *just a tad* because I left them as is. I'm thinking I should have taken Jean's Buttonhole class at Madrona! The buttonholes are just *ok* to me.

I'd love to hear anyone that has a good buttonhole technique for two color fair isle. I looked in all my books and most techniques are pretty standard.

Here is the finished sweater with all the buttons. I used buttons I picked up at Beppa Buttons...the place that opens only 2x a year. I love this sale but after the first time I went I have not been back because I spent a lot of $$ on buttons. I like the idea of not using all the same button(all vintage). No two buttons are the same..the only button I am not sure about is the button at the top. I liked it because the outline was like the outline the squares in the pattern, except it is a circle.

I can't wait to wear this! It is just so cheeful and fun!