Tuesday, May 31, 2011

MSKR Trip part 2 - A Westknits Workshop

I'm so excited to share with you what happened next, dear readers!  Teaching a workshop at Trumpet Hill!

But first, I thank you for the love and concern.  I hope I didn't sound like I was whining when I mentioned the adventures I had on my trip up to Trumpet Hill.  I was actually in good spirits; after all, when others become frustrated, I can knit!  I figured our little mishaps made the trip memorable and just a bit exciting.  And I would do it all over again to have the transportation work out the way it did, feeling like I got first class seating for free.  So I arrived in Albany quite happy and refreshed.

When I got to Trumpet Hill to teach a workshop on Stephen West's Daybreak shawl, the shop's furniture was moved, pizza was served, and last minute details were addressed.  Last minute details like learning how to properly use a sweater stone.  (Or letting an angel demonstrate it on my shawl... but that's probably one of those TMI moments, right?)


I got to the shop seriously expecting we'd have a nice little party of five, including the staff helping run the workshop.  When I saw chairs being set up, I started to get a different impression, and I think I swallowed my tongue.

Setup at Trumpet Hill

Igor came along for the ride, and he reminded me not to take myself too seriously.


The staff at Trumpet Hill was amazing.  Not only did they remove pills from my knits, recruit an incredible class full of about thirty eager knitters, and fill in when people needed a little extra attention; they also comforted me while I tried to deal with my jitters, put up with my nervous energy, and encouraged me so that all I had to do was shine.

Trumpet Hill Rock Stars Celeste and Robena

I couldn't ask for a better experience.


It was a great group, I loved the subject, and whenever things got a little slow, I could pull out another sample from my 'trunk show' of Westknits designs.

Westknits for your head...
Westknits head gear

It really feels hilarious and very special to see a trunk show of things I have knit with my own hands.  I felt very self-conscious about the ways I digressed from the patterns, but people assured me that at least it shows more of the variety that can be achieved using Stephen's designs.  

Akimbo and Pogona

I feel both humbled and thrilled to have had this experience.

Westknits Book Two

Sunday, May 29, 2011

MSKR Trip part 1 - The Journey Up

Last weekend I was away in the far reaches of New York state, knitting happily with my shoes off.  But I have yet to tell you about it.  The idea of condensing such a lot of feelings and thoughts into a blog post is overwhelming, not to mention time consuming.  So I'll try to do a bit at a time; hopefully that will make it manageable.

It all starts here

My journey up to the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat was kinda fun; I took four buses each way, and while no bad accidents occured, we did get into a small accident (I believe it was not our driver's fault) just as we entered Manhattan.  The result was that we ended up walking the few remaining blocks to Penn Station, rather than wait for police to come to the scene.  It turned out that I needn't have hurried; my connecting bus trip was over an hour late.  I was very happy to be a knitter.

Who cares if the bus is an hour late in NYC?  I have knitting!
Waiting in the bus queue in NYC

The trip from NYC to Albany was well worth the wait.  Not many people rode that particular trip, so I ended up picking a set of four seats arranged around a desk, all to myself.  With the free wi-fi on the bus, I was able to get some mad work done in preparing for my class.  And all that for one dollar!  Woot!

My pre-class workstation...Perfect  timing!
Welcome to my "Office"

The shawl I'm working on is Stephen West's Transatlantic; I thought it only fair to cast on while I traveled, and use it as a traveling project.  Even the yarn choices ended up having significance, as one of them comes from Trumpet Hill yarns and the other comes from Hedgehog Fibres in Ireland (and I only know about her work because of Stephen West).  I'll have to show how it turns out soon.

Suffice it to say that I arrived in good form in Albany, where I was greeted by dear faces and whisked off to Trumpet Hill Fine Yarns and Accents, where I'd be teaching that night's workshop.  But that's another story...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May Ketch-up

I'm a naughty blogger.  There, I've said it.  Moving on.

And, oh, is there so much to share!

Mom's sweater, complete.

Ma's Vest

Ma's Vest

She likes it, I'm happy with the final result, and I'm grateful to all the help I got along the way.  People have paid some very nice compliments along the way by telling me I have a wonderful color sense or am a brilliant knitter, and I would be remiss if I did not pass on the praise where it is due.  While some people prefer to knit in isolation, I tend to enjoy making my knitting a collaboration.  As a result, the final product is usually the fruit of many people's opinions in color, design, and any other decisions that have to be made.  True, I usually execute the final product, but I do not knit in a vacuum.  I even take polls on which yarn to pick when I'm with the elderly ladies.  So I thank you all--and that's you, too, kind blog readers.  I love the friendly and helpful emails and comments you send, and I appreciate the feedback.

So, mom's sweater behind me, I sallied forth to Maryland for the Sheep and Wool Festival.  From the time I began my rampage at about 10:30 in the morning to the time when I had run out of funds around midafternoon, I spent my time in a fog.  I remember little of it, and I have little photographic proof.  I really expected to be more sociable than I was; instead, I found myself overwhelmed by colors.


Early on, I almost literally stumbled upon the Sanguine Gryphon booth, and plunged myself into its claustrophobic space.  After standing in the same place for a while because I had nowhere to move, I maneuvered my way to a skein of yarn and found my way back out to the checkout line, which followed a labyrinthine path reminiscent of the beautiful socks on display there.  Maybe my mind was numbed by the wait (it really was a bonding experience with other knitters); I found myself mesmerized not only by the gorgeous samples on the wall, but also by the lovely skeins in the hands of the redheads in the line.  Even more, though, I was mesmerized by the people working the booth, dressed in period kilts and dresses.  Sigh.  Do you feel overwhelmed yet?  I did.  I managed to snag extra yarn as I got closer to the register, check out, and find my way to the light of day.

The day could have been very stressing just in its sheer sensory overload, had I not had some knitting to help me when I became most agitated.  I had a couple other things to distract me as well and reconnect me with the world: I gave strangers treats I had baked the night before, and Igor enjoyed the attention he was receiving.

@ Maryland Sheep and Wool

I also enjoyed seeing some of the work of the artisans around the grounds, especially that of Susan Levi-Goerlich.  Check out her blog; she also has a website that shows just a sampling of her pieces.  I found her 'paintings' to be well worth stopping to enjoy, and her booth was a welcome break from the pace I kept through the morning.  Even if I could have snapped photos of my favorites, it would not have done justice to the depth created by the media she used.

I also managed to snap some photos of the entries to the handiwork and fiber art display; here are a few favorites of mine.  I tried to capture some of the details that made them so interesting.







Igor topped off his special day with a trip to the very place his green yarn was obtained last year.


He's happy to be home, as am I.

Besides my other two socks, I'm working my way down the foot of the mate to this handsome sock:



I'm knitting these Newland socks up in Socks That Rock Mediumweight.  The colorway is Mossley Manly, and I just received the same colorway in yarn for one of my sweater vests (because I love it!).  More to come on that later.

I have to get myself ready for my next big adventure in a mere week-- the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat!  Woot!  This will be my first knitting retreat, and I'm excited to find out what it's like to be with the guys and yarn and not much else.  Meanwhile, I've gotta figure out what projects to bring for those extensive bus rides...