Tag Archives: anna zilboorg

Anna Zilboorg’s Splendid Apparel

just landed in my mailbox!

splendid apparel

Looking forward to savoring this one. It will be like a trip back to History Unwound! Click the link if you missed my review of that wonderful event.

Gotta run. Off to Seattle for some fun with the Piano Babes. I’ll check out the book when I get back…

History Unwound, the first

Earlier this month, I spent a weekend across the continent in Colonial Williamsburg, VA, for the very first History Unwound retreat. History and textiles? Definitely up my alley! It was an amazing weekend from start to finish. (Super long post, but worth it.)

It began with check in, and an incredible goodie bag.

history unwound goodie bag

I had an hour to make a quick zip through Colonial Williamsburg, so I went to see the textiles in the museum. They were having a special hour where you could look in the drawers at the textiles not usually on display. The sampler collection was in this room.

colonial sampler

I asked if they had any knitting, but alas, no. Lots of samplers and quilts. But lo and behold, look what I found in one of the drawers? Probably the only knitting in the museum! (The lights are kept very low in this room; sorry for the dark pictures.)

needlework sampler book

This is in a needlework sampler book from Ireland. Let’s look a little closer:

knitted lace edgingsSome knitted lace edgings, and a tiny baby bootie made for a china doll.

needlework sampler bookA tiny hat sample, and some double knitting and elastic knitting (ribbing). Cool!

Then it was time to head back for the opening dinner and lecture with Franklin Habit. His lecture was titled “B is for Purl: A Brief History of the Knitting Pattern.” Really interesting. Apparently knitting patterns as we know them didn’t really exist before the 1800’s. The talk was so engaging, I swapped my Saturday afternoon class. More on that later.

On Saturday my day started with brunch with Anna Zilboorg. I think more people had signed up than actually came, so it ended up like this.

breakfast with Anna Zilboorg

Sweet deal! She talked about the history of Women’s Work, and making the necessary beautiful.

My morning class was with Franklin Habit: History, Methods and Styles of Lace Knitting. He gave us a knitting tour of Russia, the Shetland Islands, and Estonia, and had many gorgeous samples, including this Estonian beauty.

Estonian Lace Shawl

We knit samplers while we listened. My first nupps! Not scary at all.

my first nupps

Rohn Strong talked about the role of knitting in the Civil War during a brown bag lunch. Good history, good knitting!

I was supposed to learn Double Knitting with Annie Modesitt in the afternoon, but I was so intrigued by Franklin’s presentation the night before, I asked if I could transfer to his Working with Antique and Vintage Knitting Patterns class. Yes! And it was great. Part lecture, part hands on, all perfect. There were only 7 students in class, and we worked in teams to try to figure out how several objects were made. This was my team’s puzzle:

pence jug

pence jug bottom

I won’t tell you where it starts and ends, in case you take this class yourself. But if you want to make this treasure from 1843, you can find instructions here. Franklin writes a column, Stitches in Time, for Knitty.com, and all the samples he brought have been in Knitty. I went back and read them all. He’s good!

The other class project was a mystery knit. We translated the instructions from 1870’s format to modern day, and knit. It turned out to be something recognizable, thankfully. No picture, so you can take this class and be surprised. I have an idea to make something with this little thing; we’ll see if it happens.

After class there was a lecture on Balkan socks by Donna Druchunas. (The fun never stops! So much activity. So much to learn!)

Balkan socks Donna Druchunas

She had a lot of samples, which we passed around the room. Look at the toe on this one!

toe detail balkan sock

Then it was time for the pizza and pajama party. I was too tired to go back to my room for pj’s, so I just winged it. That’s a lot of activity (six events) in one day after flying a red-eye the day before. And there was more to come on Sunday.

I started Sunday morning in a class with Anna Zilboorg, Embroidery Enhanced Sweaters. So much beauty in this pile. These are in her upcoming book, Splendid Apparel. We’ll be receiving copies of the book as a treat from History Unwound. Looking forward to it!

Anna Zilboorg sweaters

Embroidery can make already beautiful textures really sing.

Anna Zilboorg embroidered sweater

Anna Zilboorg embroidered sweater

Here’s my sampler:

knit embroidery sampler

I’m looking forward to embellishing some knits, but don’t know that I will be able to put it into design work. It would be a lot to explain…we’ll see.

After class was a brunch where Anna talked about Socks Throughout History. And in the afternoon I attended Franklin’s lecture, Impractical Oddities and Curiosities of Weldon’s Practical Needlework. Franklin is a wonderful lecturer and teacher, the best I’ve encountered. And I’ve taken a LOT of classes. Go see him if you ever have the opportunity. I took his photography class at Sock Summit II, and was very impressed. I took a class with Anna Zilboorg at a Stitches event in the 1990’s, and she changed my color knitting life. For these two teachers alone, I took this cross country jaunt. Everything else was a bonus.

But wait! It wasn’t over yet. Donna Druchunas gave the final closing lecture. She shared her collection of Lithuanian mittens. These are just a few.

Lithuanian Mittens

What a weekend! On top of that, I met friends old and new in person.

vtknitboy chris and pdxknitteratiChris

fibretown emilyEmily

Donna Druchunas and nekomichDonna and Mich


franklin habit pdxknitteratiFranklin

anna zilboorg pdxknitteratiAnna

And I won a boatload of door prizes, too.

Lion Yarn Book
Lion Brand Collection Silk Mohair, very similar to Kidsilk Haze. Yum. And this reprint of the 1916 Lion Yarn Book. Now I have vintage patterns to decipher, too. And I know how.

door prizeMore yarn, and doily patterns.

Ken McNeill art

Ken McNeill art

Original artwork from Ken McNeill. He was at the market, and was both talented and charming. Oh, I didn’t mention there was a market? Carefully curated, and full of temptation. I held myself to this pretty single ply fingering yarn from Knit Wits. It’s Periwinkle Sheep, color Stones Dancing in the Fog.

stones dancing in the fog

Also from Knit Wits, screw on buttons from Jul Designs. I’m thinking of using them for shawl pins, but I don’t know yet.

Jul button

A lot of activity packed into one weekend! History Unwound was developed by Kimberly and Christopher Villareal. It was delightful, if not restful. I loved every moment, and would do it again. Have I made you want to go on retreat? Or did I just make you tired? I’m guessing a little of both!

Color work, two ways

I’m teaching two classes at Stash in Corvallis on Saturday. One is an introduction to stranded color knitting, and the other is slip stitch cowl design. Both techniques let you play with color, but in very different ways.


Stranded color knitting involves carrying two (or more) colors across the row/round with you. We’ll talk about how to manage your yarns without a tangled mess, among other things. How do *you* manage your yarns? One in each hand? Drop and pick up the working yarn as you go? Two on the left? Two on the right? It’s a little different for everyone, so I’m curious what works for you.

I’m a thrower; I carry my yarn in my right hand. I took a colorwork class with Anna Zilboorg at Stitches way back in the 90’s. In preparation, I taught myself to knit continental style (hold yarn in left hand, pick with right needle) so I could carry one color in each hand. I was pretty pleased with myself, although it was a bit awkward. When I got to class, Anna showed me how to carry both colors in my right hand, which was a lot easier for me. That’s what I do now. Here’s a video tutorial, if you’re interested.

pdxknitterati knitting

Slip stitch knitting means you get to play with color, but you only work with one color per row/round. This can be a little more relaxing for the novice color knitter, and it’s very pretty. We’ll be swatching some of these patterns, and then designing our own slip stitch cowls. Here’s the one I’m knitting now:

pdxknitterati slip stitch cowl

Have you tried both kinds of color work? Do you have a preference? And please do tell me how you like to manage your yarns for stranded colorwork.

I think there’s still some room in class on Saturday, if you want to come play hands on!

A very fine Saturday at Sock Summit

Saturday was my favorite day at Sock Summit. It began with a delivery of more Zen Rain and Pacific shawl patterns to the Knitted Wit booth. Running out of patterns and needing more is a very good thing.

I then headed to Anna Zilboorg’s lecture on The Deeper Meaning of Sock Knitting. I could listen to Anna talk about anything; she’s warm and witty and wise. Some of her remarks: Sock knitting is intensely personal; once you know how to make a sock, you can put your favorite stitch pattern on it. Knitting is cooperative rather than competitive, and cooperation creates love, not envy. It is not hierarchical; anyone can knit a sock. We make necessary things beautiful. Knitting can be a spiritual exercise; we do it because we are searching for happiness, and knitting makes us happy.


After the lecture, I showed her the Turkish socks that I made in 1997. I had taken a color knitting class with her at Stitches that year, and she taught me to carry two colors in my right hand. (Video tutorial here, if you want to know how to do it, too.) These are the socks I was working on then. They’re thick and warm, perfect slipper or bed socks. As she did 14 years ago, she commented on the pattern and background colors (she sees pink as the pattern; I see it as the background). She also signed my copy of her book, Fancy Feet. I was thrilled!


I gave her my new Lantern Moon sheep tape measure (Lady Baa-Baa’s replacement). She seemed pretty pleased with it, having talked about “the sheep people” during her lecture. (That would be the knitters.) And Tina brought her striped sock cookies!


Meeting Anna again just made my day. But there was more fun ahead. I went to the marketplace to stand in line. Rachel was first!


What were we waiting for? A free preview copy of Larissa Brown’s new book, My Grandmother’s Knitting. I had seen a preview copy of this at the pre-summit luncheon, and really wanted a copy NOW so I could spend more time with it. It is gorgeous. I’ll tell you more about it in another post after I get a chance to sit down with it.


Could my day get any better? Amazingly enough, yes! I had a PDXKnitterati meet-up in the Knitted Wit booth at noon. It was great to meet lots of people that I previously only knew online, including Stacy. Her international cat hats caught my attention several years ago, and I’ve been following her knit and food blog ever since.


Pat from the UK brought both her Zen Rain and Pacific shawls!


We had a Zen Rain photo op.

zenrain photo op

These are some of the people who participated in the Zen Rain KAL, or test knit. I loved seeing all the versions of Zen Rain. Thank you, Lorajean, for hosting the meet-up!

I went home during the afternoon for a nap and skipped the flash mob. Too tired to even stay to watch it! But here it is, in case you need to know.

I gathered enough energy to help Glenna celebrate her birthday that evening! She finished her Peacock Feathers Shawl the day before and blocked it on the hotel bed.


I also met Meg, who was knitting her wedding veil at the last Sock Summit, and had some of the teachers knit on it then, too. She brought it along to this Sock Summit.


So why was this my favorite day? I think because of all the personal interaction. I’ve been enjoying my classes, but meeting up with people I’ve known from blogs and previous real life meetings is the icing on the cake!

If you came to Sock Summit, what was your favorite thing that made it special for you?