Tag Archives: Madrona

Madrona 2017 bliss

Another Madrona Fiber Arts Festival has come and gone. As usual, it was wonderful. This is a picture heavy post, and the pictures are only barely edited, but I want to get this out before I jump into the Rose City Yarn Crawl, which starts on Thursday! I’ll be at For Yarn’s Sake all day Thursday sharing a trunk show with indie dyer Lorajean Kelley of Knitted Wit and designers Debbi Stone and Shannon Squire. Come say hi!

I took two classes at Madrona this year, and they were oddly related. The first was double knitting with Lucy Neatby. Double knitting involves working a double sided fabric that can look different on each side. The result is a squishy thick warm fabric.

double knitting sample

We worked this sample in the round. On the left you can see the front and back sides of the outside of my circular knitting. On the right is the inside, which in this case is a mirror image of the outside that’s shown on the left. But it doesn’t have to be, as you can see from the lower edge. We started with some ribbing, then moved into double knitting with one color (the white) on the inside and outside, and then moved to two colors. A logical progression.

Here’s an example of one of Lucy’s pieces; the inside and the outside aren’t exact mirror images. Her color choices are exquisite, too.

Lucy Neatby piece side A

Lucy Neatby piece side B

One side thing that was interesting was exploring how conventional purl stitches take more yarn than knit stitches, because the yarn travels diagonally across the needle instead of parallel to it. (Pythagorean theorem, hypotenuse!) This could cause your inside and outside fabrics to grow at different rates. In this case, using the Eastern combined knitting style would give a more even fabric and no “rowing out” on the purl rows. That makes sense.

But you could also purposely make the inside and outside fabrics grow at different rates; you can do more rows on one or the other and come up with some interesting corrugation. I’m looking forward to exploring that more, later. Thanks to Lucy for a really fun and thought provoking class!

Lucy Neatby

The second class I took was brioche knitting with JC Briar. I’vve been meaning to try brioche for over a year, and signing up for a class meant that I was really going to do it!

Brioche knitting

Brioche is also two sided knitting, and really squishy. This is the front and back of my class piece. We started out with single color brioche, and then moved on to two color brioche. I had tried single color brioche earlier this year, so that part was easy.

Adding a second color meant thinking a lot harder! When worked flat, it means working each row twice, first with one color, and then the other. You always start with color A when both yarns are at the same end. If they’re not at the same end, you need to catch up color B to color A. I found that it was easier for me to read my knitting than to read the written instructions. I hope that doesn’t come back to bite me later!

The addition of increases and decreases (which must be done two at a time) makes gorgeously striking patterns in brioche. You can see from my class sample that I barely started them, but they’re working. They really cause the width to suck in!

JC’s handout shows what standard charting looks like; it’s not well suited for brioche. She also charted the classwork with her non-grid Stitch Maps system, which made it clear which stitches flowed into which stitches. It’s not really set up for brioche yet, but it was very helpful for class. Registration to use Stitch Maps is free, and a basic subscription is only $15/year, so I’m going to go ahead and sign up. I do love charts, and this could be a very helpful next step.

JC Briar brioche scarf

This scarf pattern is in our handout, and I’ll be working at least part of it to try to perfect my 2 color brioche technique. I enjoyed this class, and just wish it had been an hour longer! Or all day…

Elongated stitches

Novelty stitch class

I also taught three classes at Madrona. My students were all great; they came well prepared and eager to learn. Rock stars! I taught a class on one of my favorite knitting techniques, knitting with elongated novelty stitches. We knit up this little sampler in class, using double and triple wrapped stitches and manipulating them into interesting patterns. These little gems can really dress up your stockinette!

Tridacna class

I taught a mini-class on the novelty stitch in my Tridacna Cowl.

Katey's Tridacna

Katey showed me her completed edging the next day. Nice work!

Blocking class

And I taught my blocking mini-class again. I love this class because it gets hands on, and really makes a case for blocking! (Photo by Gail Wasberg)

But Madrona isn’t just classes. There’s hang out time with other knitters/crocheters/spinners all over the hotel, and there are free demonstrations and workshops in the rotunda. The teacher talent show for charity helped raise over $12,000. And the market…

market finds

I came home with two treasures. The first is a little dish from Charan Sachar of Creative with Clay. He makes beautiful things, and I couldn’t resist. His vases and mugs are also whimsically lovely, like little cardigans complete with buttons.

The second treasure is a skein of red yarn from Abstract Fiber. I compared this red across four yarn bases, and the gray undertone of the yak base made this Lotus fingering (20/60/20 Yak/SW Merino/Silk) an even more perfect match for my red boots. I’m knitting another Zephyr because my sister really wants one!

Red Zephyr and boots

Spinning lesson

Carla McCoy from Pocket Wheels is a great spinning teacher. This is post-banquet; Anne Berk (Annetarsia) is getting her first treadling lesson. I’ve only spun on a drop spindle; I figured Anne could try this out. But the next day I tried it in the Pocket Wheel booth, and suddenly I was making yarn. So cool! And the little wheel fits in a tote bag.

Untangling

Madrona is a place where complete strangers help untangle each other’s yarn. This did get resolved, in about 20 minutes. Miraculous. The yarn was actually left over from these slippers, designed by Mary Scott Huff and worn by the happy knitter.

Mary Scott Huff slippers

I found that Sally Melville has a love for boots too. Check these out:

Boots on the ground at Madrona

I’m going to close this post with more pictures to tide you over until next year. See you at Madrona?

Franklin Habit is ninja photo bomberFranklin Habit as photo bomber. Kilroy?

Canon Hand DyesCanon Hand Dyes booth

Galina KhmelevaWhen Galina comes over to help you choose your tahkli spindle. “This one dances too much!” With Pamela Grossman and Dusty the wonder pup.

Weaving shuttlesWeaving shuttles by Joel Grinstead

Turkish spindleAnd Turkish spindles, too

Creative with ClayCreative with Clay

young scotsmanYoung Scotsman with hand knit kilt hose

Madrona Rainier sunriseRainier at sunrise

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January: Resolutions or Goals? Classes!

I’m not one to make new year’s resolutions, because I know I won’t keep them. Why set myself up for failure? But I do like to set knitting goals for the year. This year, I plan to learn brioche knitting. I bought a book last year, and never even opened it. So I signed up for a class with JC Briar at Madrona next month. Gonna get it done!

But along came a Knitstrip project from Mason Dixon Knitting, a quick little one color brioche scarf, knit flat.

Brioche Scarf

That was easy! I loved the squishy Malabrigo Rasta so much, I decided I needed a cowl. In the round. Wait for class?

Brioche in the round

Nah. It was slightly more confusing with the purl stitch, but I worked it out. But I didn’t like the dimensions of this particular one skein cowl. It was too chunky at the back of my neck as a small circumference cowl, so I’m knitting an earband or hat (we’ll see!) directly off it from the bind off. Biscuit is helping.

I’m looking forward to learning to work with colors, increases, and decreases in brioche knitting at Madrona. And I’m looking forward to *teaching* at Madrona, too! I’m teaching Elongated Novelty Stitches on Saturday, February 18.

Elongated Stitches class

I love how these add pizazz to a simple stockinette project. I’m also teaching a blocking mini-class on Thursday morning, and a mini-class with just a couple novelty stitches (Tridacna Cowl) on Saturday morning. The whole Madrona schedule is here.

The other knitting that I’ve been doing a lot, from the teaching end, is stranded colorwork. In the past couple weeks, I’ve taught Braided Wristlets (stranded colorwork and Latvian braids)

Braided Wristlets Class

Bucket List Coffee Accessories (stranded colorwork and crocheted steeks)

Bucket List steeks

And Kerfuffle Cowl (stranded colorwork).

Leann's kerfuffle

Leann was so happy about class, she stayed up late that night and finished her cowl. She did a great job. (Thanks for sharing your picture with me, Leann!)

Stranded colorwork is nice and warm, because it has two layers of yarn on every row. Just right for the snowy weeks we’ve had. Ready to thaw out now!

Icicles

Do you have knitting goals for this year? What do you want to learn?

Madrona 2016: Class reviews

A little more Madrona. If you missed the Fun and Games edition, you can see it here. (Market, extras, a song.)

I took two classes this year: Latvian Fingerless Mitts with Beth Brown-Reinsel, and A Sense of Proportion with Franklin Habit.

latvian mitts

The mitts class was a full day affair, and packed with related technique and information. Sure, we were making a mitt, but at the same time we had a review of Latvian tradition, yarn dominance in stranded knitting, how to manage 2, 3, or 4 colors, half braids and herringbone braids, and the afterthought thumb. I had a passing acquaintance with all of these techniques, except for braids, which I loved. Kudos to Beth for excellent instruction and a very comprehensive handout.

latvian mitt

Here’s my class piece. Excuse the errors; this was more of a technique learning piece and color combo audition. Someday I’ll actually knit the mitts…

Franklin’s class was, as always, enlightening. He is always well prepared, and a great presenter. This class started with body proportions (think of da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, or Vitruvian Sheep per Franklin’s illustration), and then related them to proportions in three common knits: Hats, mittens, and socks. Example: Hats are generally worked until they are as tall as your hand (wrist to fingertip) before crown shaping begins. Second example: Your palm is a square, and the thumb hole on a mitt is halfway up the palm. I knew the first example, but not the second. I’ll be using that soon…

franklin speed swatch front

We talked about speed swatching in the round. Your gauge knitting flat isn’t always the same as your gauge knitting in the round. I knew this when I swatched for my BangOutASweater Stopover, so I swatched magic loop because I wanted to try two different color combos, front and back. But if you don’t need that much knitted real estate, you can speed swatch for gauge, color combinations, or new techniques. Basically, you work only the front half, and just carry the yarn across the back. (Make sure you leave enough slack so you can block the piece flat, or you’ll have to cut the yarn, which means you can’t re-use it.)

franklin speed swatch back

Clever, yes? I’ve used this technique before, but then Franklin added the step beyond: He mentioned using it to swatch just a wedge of a hat, to figure out vertical motif placement. I tend to think of swatching for stitch gauge, but it totally makes sense to use it to also make use of the row gauge. If you’re trying to center something vertically, you can know without knitting the whole hat first. Time saver!

So now I’m home, and taking my braids to the next level. What happens if you carry the yarn over the previous one? Under the previous one? Use the same color or opposite color for the braid? Follow the braid row with the same colors? Opposite colors? Only one way to find out…

braid speed swatch

Of course, I’m speed swatching my way through all the options.

braid speed swatch back

Thank you Beth and Franklin, for two great classes. I highly recommend them.

It was a joy and a thrill to take classes AND teach a class at Madrona this year. I hope I can do both again next year.

glass dress at murano

chihuly bridge of glass

A little more ambiance from the weekend…

Madrona, fun and games edition

Madrona was, as always, a magical experience. This was my first time teaching there. My blocking class was full, and my students came ready to learn about swatching, washing, and blocking all the knits. It was fun!

I took two classes, but I’ll write about them in a later post because I’m using new knowledge from both classes on a little project, and I want to put all of it together for you. Curious? Watch this space! This post is about everything else. To tide you over, here’s a link to the class I took with Evelyn Clark last year.

Last Wednesday I was packing for Madrona, and I caught myself thinking, “Don’t buy any more fingering weight yarn.” (The bin is full.) And then I heard myself say out loud, “Unless it’s gradient!”

Sincere Sheep

So apparently I had to buy some gradient yarn. This is from Sincere Sheep. I bought just the gradient on Thursday, and the next day went back for a coordinating solid. And two days later I found myself buying beads from Bead Biz to go with them! This will be a fun design project.

Janine Bajus FeralKnitter

Janine Bajus was our speaker on Friday night. Very inspiring. As she wrapped up her talk, I was compelled to write down these 3 ideas, plus the big question.

You get to do what YOU want.
There is no one right way to do it.
You won’t know if it will work until you swatch.

What is holding you back?

I chatted with her on Saturday about her strikingly beautiful shawl, which actually isn’t finished yet. She wore it on Friday, the steek cut but not edged. Holding just fine! Now that I think about it, it would be cool to leave it that way, as a representation of the journey.

Carol Milne

I met glass artist Carol Milne. She’s well known for her knitted glass sculptures. Her current project is a glass entrelac dress. Glass entrelac? Yes. She knits the squares with wax cord, and makes a clay molds which are used to make the glass pieces.

knit wax for glass carol milne

pamela

New buddy Pamela Grossman tried on the beginnings of the dress. Pretty cool! You can sponsor a glass entrelac square, and when the June exhibit is over, Carol will send it to you. I want one! Check out her Facebook page for details. (It’s not up on her website yet.)

GS Mini

What else? I had a fabulous hotel room with a great view. And a fainting couch! I brought Minerva, my GS Mini, as a diversion. Last week when my #BangOutASweater gauge swatch lied to me, I started writing lyrics in my head. It’s to the tune of Blowing in the Wind. I’m sharing them with you here. If you use them anywhere, please credit them to me. And yes, I used the singular “they.”

Knitter’s Lament
Michele Lee Bernstein, PDXKnitterati

How many times must a knitter cast on
Before the swatch doesn’t lie?
How many swatches must one knitter frog
Before they break down and cry?
How many swear words will one knitter say
While knitting the umpteenth try?

The answer my friend, it’s all about the gauge
The answer is all about the gauge

How many binges must one knitter watch
On Netflix, to finish a sleeve?
Second sleeve, second sock, second mitt, second cuff
Our boredom must be relieved
How many times do we itch to cast on
Before our ends have been weaved?

The question my friend: What’s next in the queue?
What project is next in the queue?

How many times have you given a gift
And were told, “But wool makes me itch”?
How many gifts have been tossed in the wash
To felt, and shrink each precious stitch
Yes, but how many times have you given a gift
And seen the lives you enrich?

The answer my friend: It’s for the love of yarn
We do it for the love of yarn.

How many ways can a knitter make socks?
Up from the toe… Or down from the cuff?
How many ways can we learn to cast on
Before we know all the stuff
How many classes will we knitters take
Before we call it enough?

The answer my friend: It’s time to confess
At Madrona, we are obsessed.

As you can see, I had a fun time at Madrona! I’m knitting away on the little project I want to show you, using Latvian braids (from Beth Brown-Reinsel’s class) and speed swatching and proportions (from Franklin Habit’s class). Stay tuned for a class review! Here are a couple peeks out my window while you’re waiting…

Friday sunrise

Rainier peeking Friday

Madrona class review

I took a short trip to Tacoma to visit the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival. I could only stay for one night, so I packed in all the fun!

I had two classes. My favorite was Designing with Lace Decreases with Evelyn Clark. The very first lace shawl I ever knit was her Shetland Triangle, so I was very pleased to be in this class. Where do the decreases belong, in relation to the yarn overs? Which decrease should you use? Well, it depends on what effect you want.

lace sampler

So much information packed into this little swatch. Notice that it does not mirror from left to right; we had lots of effects to sample! Do you want your decreases to outline your YO? Or a softer edge? Do you want your fabric to bias? (Separate your YO from your decrease.) If that biasing bothers you, consider a project in the round, which will balance out the biasing (as opposed to straight edges that won’t stay straight).

Evelyn had lots of samples to look at, and to explain. One thing she mentioned: Scallops are always stronger at the cast on edge than at the bind off edge. I’d noticed this when I designed my Rockaway Hat/Cowl, and it didn’t matter so much in that instance, but it was nice to know it wasn’t just me. (I could have swatched, but I just knit it up and said, “Oh, hey.”) But if you want to reinforce the scalloping at the bind off edge, you might try adding beads for weight there. Or forego scallops completely, and end with something else. Also, scallops are going to be offset by half a repeat (they won’t look the same at each end of your knitting) because the peak and trough of each wave is offset.

We were given the option of charting out a picture, just for fun. We talked about flipping lace motifs to knit them upside down (for top down knitting). I tried it with my leaf motif that I used in Garland. I showed it to her at the end of class, and she said that some motifs won’t work upside down, and she thought that my leaf might be one. I tried to knit it that night, but I fell asleep, so didn’t finish the flipped one.

leaf lace

But in my email the next morning, I found one from Evelyn, saying that she had thought about it, and knit it, and it really didn’t work. She sent me a picture, and it looks like an arrow! You can’t see the decrease lines at all (bottom of swatch, top chart).

inverted leaf evelyn clark

That, my friends, is a fabulous teacher. I had to figure out if there’s another way to make it work. It is completely different; I just wanted to know if I could. And that’s the mark of a great class, for it to be so thought provoking that you just have to figure it out.

inverted leaf lace knit

I had to use m1 increases and double decreases to get the lines to show up.

leaf lace flipped

It’s not pretty, but I just had to see if it could be done! Evelyn called this playing with lace “nerd knitting” and I am completely nerding out here. But it was fun.

This post is way longer than I anticipated…more in the next one.

Madrona!

Sorry for the radio silence; I’ve been on the road! I found a dragon…guess where? More on that next post.

dragon

I had my 15 seconds of fame on the Oregonian News Network as the featured blogger this week. Check out the other featured bloggers; we’re the first five and I’m in good company. I especially love GoodStuffNW who blogs about food and other wonderful things.

I ran up to Madrona yesterday; it was my first time. It’s going on all weekend, so go if you get a chance. I couldn’t do classes, but I checked out the market and hung out in the rotunda for a bit. Here’s what I saw.

HazelKnits yarn at Fiber Gallery. I don’t stash, but the colors were so rich, I couldn’t resist. I had a hard time deciding which to take. Both of these are my colors.

hazel2

Guess which one I bought?

hazel3

All three! Splish Splash, Hoppy Blonde, Jam Session. All in Artisan Sock. They won’t be socks, but look for a shawl, perhaps, in one or a combo of colors…eventually. While in line to check out, I chatted with Nicole. Her scarf had the same colors as the one I was wearing (my fingering weight Infinity scarf). She held my yarn so I could take her picture. She’ll be making an Infinity of her own!

nicole

Cathy and I also delivered a skein of Scrumptious From Lantern Moon to Fiber Gallery; they’re carrying Ysolda’s special selection of colors.

scrumptious

I saw one other yarn that really wanted to come home with me. It’s from Blue Cocoon Yarn. I think it’s called Cocoon, and it has big bulky slubs plied in. They’re really squishy. I can’t imagine knitting anything with it, but I can definitely imagine draping it around my neck as art. Really pretty. But I’d already bought non-project specific yarn, so it stayed right where it was. Gorgeous, though.

cocoon

I loved the glass knitting needles from Michael and Sheila Ernst; I tried these at Sock Summit last summer, and they’re really smooth and surprisingly sturdy. These are their “don’t drop spindles.” They’re beautiful, but take heed of the name; they’re not nearly as sturdy as the needles!

dont drop

I met the very charming Laura Lundy of Slipped Stitch Studios. She has great bags and pattern keepers. I won a pattern keeper recently, so it was fun to meet Laura in person.

SSS

Oh! June Hemmons Hiatt’s Principles of Knitting is out, and I saw it in person. It’s huge. I may have to get a copy.

POK

And I saw a very striking woman with fiber in her hair; it was gorgeous.

hair

In the rotunda at lunch, I saw Brian Kohler using this walking wheel. Very cool. I was trying to wrap my head around how it related to my drop spindles, and he explained it very patiently. I’m still not sure I get it, but it was fascinating.

walking wheel

We met Josie, who was helping in Catherine Lowe‘s booth. She was wearing the most gorgeous sweater, her own version of the cover sweater from Alice Starmore’s Aran Knitting.

josie

There are no sewn seams on this masterpiece sweater; all seams are done with three needle bind off. On the side seams, she picked up stitches along the edges of each piece, and then used three needle bind off to make a decorative seam on the outside of the garment (wrong sides together). I went back to find her in the marketplace, to ask, “May I take a picture of your seams?” Only at a knitting conference, and of course she said yes.

seam

We also met Erika, who was knitting a sweater with her own handspun. I don’t have a picture of her, sorry. But she had just come from a class with Lucy Neatby, where she learned many cool tips and tricks, including Lucy’s Modified Conventional Bindoff. Check out the link; it’s ingenious and looser than the conventional bindoff. Thanks, Erika!

Whew! That’s just yesterday. I’ll have to go back in time to tell you about last weekend’s adventures. What do you have planned for this weekend? Madrona is calling you!