The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels


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Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat-Part Three of Three – On the Street in Tacoma

The hotel and festival are smack dab in the middle of an interesting downtown area. I set out a couple times to explore and eat.  What a cool spot!  I can’t wait to return – even as an overnighter. Tacoma’s about an hour and 30 from home traffic depending-

Some sights within just a few block radius from the Murano Hotel where we stayed:

I live in a small town. Which I love and wouldn’t trade. Sometimes I need the re-charge that city exploration provides.

I found the lovliest glass buttons in this antique shop filed with curiosities-

Curiosities as such-

Retired store signs, displays, lighting, furniture-

A classic theater building-

On the last day I had just a couple hours to spare so I skipped full entrance to the Chihuly Museum. I wanted to save that for a time I could really take my time.

The walk around it, however, has many outdoor installations-

In the ceiling of the overpass bridge-

I fell hard for the copper on the old Union Station building, now a District Courthouse.

And then back to class…

I can’t wait to return to explore Tacoma some more!


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Peerie Flooers – Wee, wooly flowers!

Here’s a first.  I knit colorwork in fingering weight wool.  Gasp!  I know.  There are cobwebs in my bin of fingering weight yarn.

Peerie Flooers by Kate Davies has been in my Ravelry queue for some time.  The LYS Bazaar Girls has a fine selection of Elemental Affects Shetland wool.  Check out the 54 color chart on their website.  It is incredible!  Winter’s been cold. I think that motivated me to get this going for the yarn float warmth it would bring.

I had gauge issues because I just couldn’t bring myself to make a gauge swatch. The plan , heh, was to just CO and take it off the needles after a bit to check.  I have a small head so I CO a small using a #3 needle for the ribbing and a #4 for the body. The medium I started with was too large.

My row gauge was off.  The tall band should have been a clue.  But I liked the fabric on a #4 so I kept on.

I had to modify the crown decreases (omitting many rows) to avoid the hat being freakishly tall.

 

Kate shares a tutorial on reading decrease charts for colorwork patterns which I needed to understand how to read her chart. I’m still not clear on it.  Despite her thorough explanations I still relied on the written out instructions at the end of the post that lined up with the number of stitches in the chart.

I love it!  It’s so warm and very soft.  But I think I would choose the #3 needle next time I do colorwork with this yarn. The hat fits great in diameter but still is too tall and not slouchy enough for the top to flop over in a cute way. So I remedy that by folding the brim up a bit in the back.

Perhaps I’ll make the mittens?

 


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Madrona Fiber Arts Festival – Part One of Three – Inside the Murano

Back in early 2016 I added Madrona Fiber Arts Festival to my calendar  planning to stay the weekend and take classes.  Attending an educational event for knitting yearly is a goal of mine.   Last year I went to Knit Fit in Ballard.

Madrona is legendary. And for good reason. A newbie this year, I went full on and stayed at the Hotel Murano a couple of nights with a friend and registered for three classes including Eek Steeks! with Mary Scott Huff, Knitting Ergonomics with Carson Demers and Knitting for Speed and Proficiency with Stephanie Pear-McPhee.

Tacoma is famous for its Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. I didn’t make time to visit the museum (just the glory outside of it). The hotel was a fine substitute with each floor a display of glass and artists. It’s a spectacular place.

Large pieces hang  from the ceilings and small pieces are tucked into niches and cases and dangle from the ceiling as lighting.

On to the yarn-y experience:

Have you read Clara Parkes delightful book Knitlandia? I love the concept. It details fiber related events and festivals,  an oral history from a yarn-y gal’s perspective. It’s perfect for picking up off the bedside table to take in one or two stories at a time.

Of her maiden Madrona arrival she wrote, “Inside the lobby was now chock-a-block with knitters, sprawled on every suitable surface, clustered on couches and armchairs and coffee tables. They were checking into their rooms, they were at the bar, they were headed up the glass stairs and over to the elevators. Everyone was smiling, hugging, exclaiming and petting one another’s handknits. This Brigadoon manifestation of the Pacific Northwest fiber elite had officially begun.”

Amy and I pulled up to the curb upon arrival.  Valets helped us unload our multitude of bags onto a cart.  Stepping inside my breath escaped.  The gleaming space bounces light off every surface including the giant glass lighting.  The scene described by Clara above matched my view.  I was giddy with a shared sense of yarny camaraderie. And the photo I took of the lobby did not turn out. Gah!

An evening teachers’ gallery was a feast of inspiration and awe.

I was able to pet the works of and meet some designers such as Lucy Neatby:

Here’s  Janine Bajus‘s work. I was so glad to meet her, drool over her colorwork and sponge up the inspiration.

On to classes.

I took a mini class on ergonomics of knitting from Carson Demers where I learned much about the way my hands and fingers move and how my body will sustain knitting in a pain-free way if I am attentive to keeping neutral positions. Mind you,sitting on my couch with a cat in my lap doesn’t promote that. I have some learning and adjustments to make.  He will soon release a book.

EEK Steeks by Mary Scott Huff  was next. She was an outstanding instructor, her goofy brand of humor laced throughout. My sides hurt from laughing. Here she is doing an interpretive dance of wool fiber being blocked.

Her work is stunning and the finishing…my god the finishing…the woman’s a goddess of finishing…


Steeking is a process where you knit colorwork in the round, adding a column of stitches that will be reinforced then cut along to open the tube to flat. It can be used on armholes, cardigan fronts, and partial front openings. I bet there’s more applications.

She also taught us how to cast on two sleeves at a time, both steeked in order to knit two at a time which is absolutely genius!  No color “jogs” will occur at the start point and if you use a self striping yarn for your colorwork it will line up across the sleeves beautifully.

Check out the bias tape she used to cover the steek of this sleeve:

I’d never steeked before. But I’ve knitted many colorwork items in the round (hats, mittens, bands on yokes).

It was time to move forward-

Here’s the crochet method, my favorite of the class as it seemed less fiddly. Using a hook you crochet up along the cutting line locking certain legs of stitches together which prevents them from dropping once cut.  Colorwork is traditionally (and best) done with wooly-wool so the barb-like fibers hook together.

Snip snip!  Seems scary to cut knitting, right?  Not anymore for me.

A handsewn method means using thread and needle to puncture the legs of certain stitches together. It felt fiddly. And, I’ll admit, anything involving a needle and thread makes me impatient.

 

Snip! It works!

We also used her sewing machine and I liked that method as well. That one seems a little scarier, though, as it can distort the fabric. A walking foot can help.  I’d practice on sacrificial swatches a lot before going that route.

The final class shall be a post of its own-coming right up!

 


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Madrona Part Two of Three – Stephanie Pearl McPhee – Lightning Fast Knitting – And restrained (somewhat) stash acquisition.

The last class I took at Madrona was from Stephanie Pearl McPhee, AKA the Yarn Harlot, a woman whose blog I’ve been following since 2007.

What a treat to finally take a course from her.  Via historical photos detailing a timeline of knitting, she explained how knitting sustained families and how British families accomplished knitting 2 pairs of socks per week per person back when.  It was all about efficiency.  In time, knitting became more restrained, more lady-like and  the mechanics that promoted efficiency were frowned upon.  Hand and body positioning changed to meet society’s requirements.

Show us the palm of your hands while knitting?  For shame! Walk while knitting?  Gasp! That’s for peasants…

Thus, the norms of knitting changed which slowed pace and efficiency.

Stephanie then taught us tidbits about hand positioning, arm motion, knitting belts, walking while knitting, how to carry it on your person, yarn organization, choosing continental vs English method (picking vs throwing) depending on the project (in the round? colorwork?  flat?) and being willing to use both. She discussed varying your projects’ yarn weight to cut back on fatigue and injury (eg: socks and worsted weight item and something bulky) which was also a concept Carson touted in his ergonomics course.

Then,  she put on her knitting belt and walked around the room knitting, and all fell silent. The speed and efficiency of her knitting was astounding. This is called Lever Knitting. 

In this video she is using DPNS on a sock. I grabbed this video off YouTube and it shows the technique well and the gal provides interpretation of it. Very interesting:

I tried the technique with a pair of long straight needles  (had to scrounge to find a pair, haven’t deviated from circulars in ages), one tucked into my right armpit.

It felt super-awkward but really neat-

Here’s Hazel Tindall, the worlds fastest knitter, using the lever technique and her knitting belt:

This is a technique I’d like to delve into and try more.

On to the Stash Acquisition part.

The vendors market was glorious! One could find yarn, fiber, notions, handmade needles, all sorts of things. I focused my shopping on unusual and locally or small-batch produced yarn.  So many choices.

The grey wooly yarn is from Island Fibers on Lopez Island up here in the San Juan Islands. It’s soft but rustic. 1600 yards will easily yield a lovely cardigan. I bought it with Naima or Aileas in mind. To the right, Local Colors Rambouillet Fingering weight, all plant dyed, will combine for a lovely shawl.

I’ve yet to knit with cormo, a lofty, plump and deliciously squishy wool. The greenish blue yarn on the left is from Sincere Sheep and begs to be something very cabled, probably a hat. In the middle, the joyfully colored skein is a DK weight yarn by Fancy Image Yarn. Myra Garcia has an eye for color and I was so glad to meet her. This lovely is destined to become a little cardi for my niece Lily, the colors every bit as bubbly as she is.  The luscious froth of moody blues on the right is sport weight alpaca/merino by Black Wolf Ranch out of Montana.  It’s marinating.

Dat’s it!  I used restraint.  I’d love to go next year.