Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I bought a pattern for Anne Hanson's Whitfield Jacket at The Sock Summit earlier this month. I, too, thought it was strange that I would buy a non-sock pattern at a meeting devoted to footwear. But I saw a women's version of this on a mannequin, and the helpful salesperson at Briar Rose Fiber's helped me find this. It was mentioned in one of my classes later, so apparently I'm hanging ten on the wave of men's knitting fashions.

I wasn't capable of making decisions at the Briar Rose booth to choose some of the gorgeous yarn they had. I couldn't figure out yardage, plus my brain, while not focused on sock patterns, was still focused on sock yarns. I just wasn't in the mood. When I got home, I swatched with some leftover Cascade Eco Wool, but wasn't happy with the results. Then, I remember that I still had some bucks left on a gift card from Knit Picks.

Yesterday, several hanks of Knit Picks Swish Bulky in Onyx Heather (there are at least two awesome drag queen names in that phrase -- see if you can find them) arrived on my doorstep. I like this stuff. Very soft and I got gauge on my first try. Well, actually just slightly under gauge, but just spreading the fabric out by hand worked. I checked gauge with a new iPhone app that Janelle hipped me to, KnitGauge. You just pick two points on your fabric, count the number of stitches between them, line up the "pins" on your screen with the points, and voilà!, it tells you your stitch (or row) gauge. Genius.

So, I started a heavy wool jacket yesterday -- a day that reached 102 degrees. I suppose I'm engaging in magical thinking, hoping that I can invoke cooler weather by knitting warm clothing.

It was 104 today...

Friday, August 14, 2009


Translated, or rather, transliterated, that's "Qurţuba," the Arabic name of the city in Spain founded by the Romans and today known as Córdoba. The city became known for the production of horse leather, and in English, the word "cordovan" refers to this leather and/or its rich burgundy/brownish color. Thus ends today's history and linguistics lesson.

I started these Cordovan Socks, made from Malabrigo Sock in the Cordovan colorway at the Sock Summit. I'd started some with this yarn before I left Texas a week or so before, but I'd picked a too-busy pattern for this dark yarn and it just wasn't reading. While taking The Max back and forth to the Summit, Janelle was working on a very cool pattern, and I just decided to copy her. She was knitting socks in a pattern called Charade by Sandra Park (a free Ravelry pattern). I'm not using the sock pattern, but I am using the stitch pattern. Otherwise, I'm basically using the same toe-up construction I used on the 14505 socks, upping my usual 72 stitches to 76 to make thing come out evenly. And I'm using Charlene Schurch's More Sensational Knitted Socks as a guide through the heel turn.

While knitting these, the late Ricardo Montalban's voice keeps going through my head, describing the "soft Corinthian leather" of his Chrysler Cordoba. Corinth, Cordoba -- hey, it's all Mediterranean. My college roommate had one of these babies. That lead sled was a smooth ride...

One of things we discussed in Stephen Houghton's Making Socks Manly class, was how the male foot is differently anatomically than the female foot. Some of the proportions around the ankles are different, meaning that just adding stitches or going up a needle size may not be enough. Heel flaps might need to be longer, insteps might need to be narrower and any shaping needs to take place further up the leg. I'm trying to be mindful of this as I kind of wing this pattern, but it's so easy to fall back on what I've done before.

I got some cool patterns at the Sock Summit. And one is not even a sock. More about them later.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summit Wrap-Up

Wow. I'm so tired and energized at the same time. I can't say that I recommend going to a very busy, class-packed sock-o-rama within days of climbing the highest mountain in the continental U.S., but I'm still glad I did both. My posts from the road were made with a cruddy phone camera and less than ideal internet connectivity conditions, so I thought I'd add this wrap-up to cover some of the highlights of what was a very memorable four days.

On my first day, I had a 6-hour class with Nancy Bush, chronicler of Estonian knitting and author of many knitting books, only one of which I have: Knitting Vintage Socks. This class was built around this book, so it was a mixture of history and techniques. We made a we sample sock using methods from Weldon's as she taught. And, in this picture, you can see some of the socks that were photographed for the book. Knitted celebrities!

That evening, we were treated to an early run at the marketplace -- acres and acres of yarn booths. It really was a bit much. I tried to be restrained (I posted earlier with my actual purchases), but it wasn't easy. It was wonderful to see Caro there selling bags like hotcakes. It was also cool to see fellow knitters in classes throughout the weekend pulling out their Splityarn bags.

Day two was a class on using handpainted yarn with Merike Saarniit. Her class was about how to use handpainted yarns and solid (or semi-solid) yarns to create beautiful color effects. It was challening and quick-paced, but we managed to knit several examples in the class and mine turned out great. I'll definitely be incorporating some of these techniques into my sock knitting. That afternoon we helped break the Guinness World Record for the number of people knitting in one place simultaneously. A local TV crew shot some footage, and my tummy, clad in a Knitting Nest t-shirt, appears at about 2 minutes in. The gentleman speaking while I knit was in some of my classes and Janelle and I had an opportunity to chat with him during the conference.

Knitters attempt to break Guinness World Record

Day three involved two classes taught by Stephen Houghton of the Yknit podcast. One was about making hems for socks -- the sock's "third edge." I LOVED the Channel Islands cast on that he taught. It took me a while to get it, but it does create a nice crenelated edge -- kind of the effect of 1x1 ribbing just, well, stopping. His second class was about making socks for men -- choosing yarns, colors and patterns that work, as well altering lacy patterns to be more studly.
I'm not always comfortable monkeying with patterns, but he did give me a lot to think about -- and maybe a little confidence that I might be able to do it. I also go to meet his personality-filled pooch, Janie Sparkles. I think she was the knitting celebrity I most enjoyed meeting the whole week!

On the last day, I took Carson Demers class on knitting ergonomics. He is a physical therapist as well as a knitter, so he had some great insight into the strange positions that knitters put themselves in to pursue their craft. (I just had to remind myself to sit up a bit straighter!) He was an excellent teacher -- anyone who sits and does anything for any length of time should take his class. Later, in the marketplace, Janelle and I posed for a picture as superheroes at a booth for a knitting comic called HandKnit Heroes. We called our epic battle The 2 Circs vs. Magic Loop Smackdown!

The afternoon featured a panel of knitting luminaries. It was amazing to hear these women, who have been so influential in the world of modern knitting, speak. I mean, I was sitting in the room with Barbara Walker, inventor of SSK, the left-leaning decease I use the most. How awesome is that? At the end, on what would have been Elizabeth Zimmerman's 99th birthday, we sang her happy birthday and all ate cake.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sock Summit, Day Four

The first ever Sock Summit is over. I'm exhausted.

This morning, I attended an excellent workshop on knitting ergonomics with physical therapist Carson Demers. VERY informative with lots to think about. He was quite enabling about buying more yarn and more anatomically friendly furniture. More yarn and new furniture? Total win-win!

Knitting comfort is all about finding a balance between efficiency, performance and safety, all of which I'm going to be more mindful after this great class.

Around noon, I saw this cool sock knitting machine demoed (see photo above). I'm still fascinated by them, but I no longer want one -- too fiddly.

This afternoon we attended a Luminary Panel featuring such personages as Lucy Neatby, Cat Bordhi, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, Meg Swansen, Barbara Walker, Judith MacKenzie-McCuin, and Nancy Bush, among others. We all sang Happy Birthday and had cake on what would have been Elizabeth Zimmerman's 99th birthday.

So it's back to Austin tomorrow. Maybe I'll post more details then. Right now, I'm very, very weary.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Sock Summit, Day Three

Today I took two classes from Stephen Houghton (hizknits) of Yknit. In Hip Hems for Him & Her, we learned about cool cast-ons and hems to make "the third side" of socks look sharp. And in Making Socks Manly, we discussed all aspects of knitting socks for the men in our lives, from color to style to masculinizing lacey motifs into something guys might wear. He was a knowledgable, humorous, and patient teacher -- take a class from him if you get a chance.

But the highlight of my day was meeting none other than the internationally famous ce-web-rity, Miss Janie Sparkles.

Indeed, she does!

Sock Summit, Day Two

On Friday, I took a class with Merike Saarniit on using solids mixed with handpaints in socks -- a very intense 3 hours, to say the least!

Then, Janelle and I participated in the Guiness World Record for the number of people knitting simultaneously. Word on the street was that there were just under 1000, but it seemed like more. Here is a picture of a few of our fellow knitters.

I hear I might be in a video about this somewhere, but I can't view Flash videos on my phone. :-(

Friday, August 07, 2009

Sock Summit, Day One

Yesterday's class with Nancy Bush was awesome, of course. In addition, we went to a quite emotional (and giddy) opening ceremony in the evening. But, before that, we spent a little time in the Summit's marketplace. What fun! I stopped by Caro's booth to get this cool bag (I clearly need more) and got the following sock yarn (left to right):

Lisa Souza sock yarn in the colorway Black Coffee

Wool Candy BFL in colorway Caramel
Toots LeBlanc Jacob/Alpaca/Mohair

All lovely colors, or, as my knitting friends might say, non-colors.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Knitting on the Road

This is me in front of Twisted in Portland on the eve of The Sock Summit. An awesome shop.

Tons of sock knitters around -- kind of frightening, actually. Tomorrow is my class with Nancy Bush!

I'm just doing fast and dirty phone blogging -- more details when I get home. But in the meantime, check out my kniiting and traveling companion Janelle's far more detailed and insightful posts:

Tourists Boost Local Economy
Cupcakes & Crobots, Cha, Cha, Cha!
Portland, Day 3