Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dusting things off

It's taken on an abandoned, desolate look around here, so please excuse me while I sweep up the tumbleweeds. Life has been a perfect storm of real life work obligations, podcast technology puzzles, pattern designing, retreat planning, and knitting challenges. I was distracted from my resolution of writing here.  All of that to say: I am sorry for my absence and I hope to rectify the situation now.

So let's get to the knitting!

In conjunction with the Winter Games, I set out to knit the shawl: Viajante between Feb 7th and Feb 23rd.
This shawl pattern is by the amazing Martina Behm, who has a knack for simple yet interesting designs.
Viajante is the Portuguese word for traveler, which is fitting for this HUGE poncho style funnel that sits on your shoulders and has an asymmetrical long side that travels down one arm.  It is so versatile, you will take it with you and wear it everywhere.

This shawl was written to use up a whole skein of Wollmeise Lace-garn, 1700 yards, 300 grams. I have an embarrassing amount of this yarn in my stash, caused by the discovery of Ravelry de-stashes and an obsession with large skeins of yarn.  PERFECT! I had the yarn in stash!

My previous Summer Games challenge, the Evenstar Shawl, was a great learning experience with lots of lace and beading, but it was not well suited for watching the games while knitting it.  So this seemed the perfect match for ease as the pattern boasts: No purling!  So I set out to knit 25 grams a day, for 12 days.

As most challenges go, the cast-on and initial set-up was exciting, and I felt like I was sailing along.  But that was until I weighed the ball!  After 2 days I had only knit a little over my daily goal.  DOH!  My perception of the size of the challenge was skewed. This wasn't quite as easy as I thought it was going to be.

So I stepped it up, and played catch up for a few days.  But once Day 6 rolled around, I hit the proverbial wall. I was tired of knitting this shawl.  When I put it on a longer cable and tried it on, the shawl swallowed me and was larger than any shawl I had ever knit or worn.

But I pressed on.  And I am glad that I did, because a few days later I was ready to bind off, and I had this beauty:

That is a 4 foot measuring stick, and I am 5ft 7 inches tall

This picture best represents the colors in the shawl

I highly recommend this shawl for new and experienced knitters.  It is simple with just a few decreases and increases, and the mesh.  Yet the results are stunning!  The fabric created is light and thin, wearable in many seasons, and styled in a multitude of ways.

My knitting experience was intense and condensed, which was perfect for me, as I don't know that I would have persevered if I didn't have a short-term and immediate goal in mind.   If you are looking for a long term project, I could see working a few rows a day into the foreseeable future culminating into a shawl you will wear often.

What have you been knitting lately?  Did you knit anything while watching the Winter Games?

Monday, February 3, 2014

re-TREAT Yourself

I recently attended a much needed get away at the Sun Valley Fibers January Thaw 2014.

This event was put together by the fantastic Sun Valley Fibers.  Jeanette, George, and their 2 lovely daughters, are not only a great team of fiber artists, but they are also wonderful people.  So when I heard that they were putting on a retreat in January, I jumped at the chance.

And am I ever glad that I did!

Not only do retreats give you an opportunity to reconnect with old friends, but they also allow you to meet new friends.  You hear about new yarns, new patterns, and you relax, and you smile, and you laugh.  My cheeks and abdominal muscles literally hurt after all the smiling and laughing I did.  I am quite certain that I have some well-deserved new laugh lines.

A few of the many wonderful knitters that shared the weekend with me

But fellowship isn't the only thing that knitting retreats have to offer.  You can also learn new knitting techniques.

I took a color work class with the amazing Susan B Anderson.  Susan is a fantastic instructor: enthusiastic, knowledgeable, the class was well-structured, and the class content was well-thought out.  Every new concept and technique was demonstrated in small group sessions, and was accompanied by Susan's reassuring smile.

Susan gave me a new found appreciation for all things color work and made it approachable and doable. Now I want to knit ALL the color work!  Look for color work mittens, and yoked pullovers from me this year.

A small group session

Color work success and a fan girl moment with (left to right) Me, Susan, and Cori

The retreat also had a very tempting marketplace.  Sun Valley Fibers was there in full force with their wide range of soft and sumptuous bases and stunning colorways.  I had given myself permission to purchase yarn at the marketplace, as my resolution includes purchases at knitting events. But I decided that I needed to use up a few more of my Sun Valley Fibers sweater quantities first.

Instead, I opted for an adorable Easter themed project bag from Kitchen Counter Crafter which features her snappy enclosure, handles, and snaps.  Check out her shop of unique bag designs and fun prints!

While I resisted the temptation to buy yarn at the marketplace, I did come home with a bag full of swag, including YARN! Sun Valley Fibers MCN dyed up in the Winter Wonderland colorway and a matching hat and mitts pattern Winter Wonderland by Susan B Anderson.

The January Thaw was a fantastic event that I highly recommend and hope to attend again.  I came home refreshed, relaxed, and with a new excitement about knitting.  Thanks for all the hard work and for such an amazing time Sun Valley Fibers!

I also highly recommend knitting retreats in general. You should sign up for one!  There are tons of options out there, ranging in cost and structure.  I am quite certain that EVERYONE, including YOU, deserves time to relax with knitting friends, learn, and shop.

Do you have an upcoming knitting event you are attending?