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!