Monday, October 22, 2007

UP socks

No, that's not -up- but UP, pronounced "Youpie" as in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I started these socks on our way back from the UP this summer. The colors of the yarn remind me of the sky and lakes and trees on that trip.

This weekend we spent driving to and from the farm so I got a little time to knit in the car. I got through the heel on the first sock. I have two balls, I may be able to get several pairs of socks out of the two balls, as the first sock is barely making a dent in the first ball.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Grand Rapids Fall Workshop

The two-day Grand Rapids workshop was fantastic, as always. The two demonstrators were Vicki Tylock and Charlotte Richards. I had attended a workshop with Vicki two years ago and really liked her. She has such a fun personality, and it really comes through in the seminars. Charlotte was "new to me" but I like her also, as well as learning a lot from her class.

Vicki demonstrated a lot of different techniques that seemed to me to be focused on getting the garment made and wearing it. She said "There are no machine knitting police!" and told us that we don't have to follow the rules unless we want to. She was basically self-taught and worked out a lot of techniques on her own. She doesn't like sewing up, so she uses the machine as much as she can to join garments.

She says "If someone can see the mistakes in your garment they are "Too d**m close!"" If you make a mistake, keep going, fix it later. She showed us so many things, I can only cover the highlights. She had a fantastic faux suede, Fun-Fur trimmed poncho - she demonstrated the edging technique she used. She also had a smaller poncho made entirely of Fun-fur : Well, the one she showed was Cha-Cha, but she recommended using Fun Fur as Cha-Cha seems to catch on the gate pegs. She uses a standard-bed machine for Fun Fur and it works! She also demonstrated a unique and clever way to insert a zipper into a band, or to make a double band.

She showed her g-carriage 4-panel skirt (with matching top) that was in Estilo, and was very flattering. I was also impressed with her easy woven jacket. I tried on her jacket and I think it fit! I wanted to take her finished jacket home with me, but I contented myself with buying the pattern.

She also demonstrated making gloves in the round on a standard single-bed machine. Sounds impossible, but she proved it could be done, and also "invented" a way to do fingerless gloves right in the middle of the seminar. Vicki is from New York and can be contacted through her web site at

Charlotte (for me, it was Day 2) was also a fantastic demonstrator. She concentrated on several techniques using the ribber or double bed. By contrast to the previous day, she did seem to focus a little more on the "proper" technique. But that is quite understandable, given that she is a judge for knitting competitions. Maybe she is the closest thing there is to "knitting police"!!!

I wondered if she was a professional teacher in another life, but maybe not; she mentioned that she was training to be a nurse when she met her husband of 46 (I think) years.

She handed out notebooks with several of her techniques documented. I don't think I've ever had a demonstrator be so generous with the seminar attendees before. She handed out folding rulers to people who answered questions correctly. I didn't realize that she was from Ohio until she mentioned it later in the day, she said her guild is around the Youngstown area.

Everyone there was fascinated with the "release stitch" technique she worked out over a period of two years, and demonstarted for us. It looks like a textured double-bed jaquard until you drop the top row of stitches and pull- and voila! Like magic the fabric turns into a lacy mesh. The pattern used is a thread lace pattern, it requires the mesh background in order for the design to "pop" out. I have never seen this technique demonstrated before. It results in a fabric that is significantly "wider" than plain stockinette, so could be a good way to get plus-sized garments off a standard-bed knitting machine without having to resort to multiple panels. This technique was one of many documented in the book she handed out to us. As it turned out, after two years of working out how to do this stitch independently, she demonstrated it at a seminar and it turned out someone else had already developed and documented the technique. Just to prove that there is nothing new under the sun...

She mentioned that she was not going to harp on "gauge" but that she would mention it once or twice. She showed us her swatches, all in the same yarn, all in the same tension, all the same number of stitches (her preference is to do 100 stitches by 100 rows for more accuracy). It probably took a whole cone of yarn to do all the swatches, but it very graphically demonstrated the properties of each of the stitch patterns- some are much wider than they are tall, others are taller. Some were done on double bed, some were stockinette, some were tuck, some skip, some were done with the garter carriage. I wish I had taken photos. Most of these techniques were also documented in the handout, as was the "broken toe cast on" which everybody talks about, but I wasn't sure how to accomplish (without a broken toe!)

Charlotte doesn't have email "I have a beautiful uncomplicated life, why would I mess that up by getting a computer?" but if you would like to contact her you could contact any of the officers of GRAMKC - Grand Rapids Area Machine Knitters club for her contact info.

Last but not least I would like to thank the ladies of the GRAMKC club for arranging another well-done seminar. The demonstrators were awesome and the lunch was great both days. Without this group of wonderful women, I would not be nearly so inspired to keep on knitting!
Great job, ladies!