Monday, June 12, 2006

Envy Me

Look...the actual live mitten samples from the Komi mitten book. In person. Right there on the table, all of them. Go ahead...just a little's all right...especially Persnickety Knitter who really should have come out for this, if only just to fondle and ogle. I spent two days in classes at Webs with Charlene Schurch, author of Sensational Knitted Socks, Knitting Marvelous Mittens, Hats On! and Knits for Girls and Dolls (did I get them all?). On Saturday we had Komi Mitten class, then Lace Techniques for Shawls and Scarves, and in the evening a seminar for the Expert Knitter folk on knitting history. This was excellent and I wish I had either 1.) taped it or 2.) taken notes, but I was sock obsessed (again) and neglectful as a result. On Sunday we had Sweater Knitting Skills...But I am getting ahead of myself (as usual). I shall regroup and make a stab at being organized.

As I turned onto Service Center Drive I saw a tent and a quantity of desks, cabinets etc. Whalen's Tent Sale. And me trying to make over my office on a shoestring. How incredibly timely! I bought a desk for $49.00. I could have shopped more if I had the correct vehicle and more time. The guys were great, and had it flat and in the Civic in about 8 minutes. This means that I saved significantly off of my Ikea desk. Mr. Wonderful may disagree, but I can have Alternative Math Skills when it counts, and trust me, this does not reduce the budget, it merely reallocates money for nicer side pieces, or more art, or some lighting. I bopped across the parking lot to Webs in a blaze of Cheap-Shopper glory. Any time I pay less than retail it's a good day. The less I pay, the better the day feels. Remember the shopping trip for clothes? Or the day of Ikea and the Penney's outlet? It gives me a bit of a rush to get good stuff really cheap. This would explain my stash...

The first of the day was the Komi mitten class. Charlene's knowledge of the Komi and their history was compelling. I love history generally so knitting history obviously hits a soft spot in my heart. Regional knitting culture is fascinating. The mittens from the book were passed around, and a lot of Oooing and Aaawwwing took place. They are beautiful. Simply amazing. Brilliant use of color and relatively simple patterning, just gorgeous. The gauge is wonderful for those of us who love to knit little. I'd bet I end up on or about a US1's for most of the patterns with my loose-woman knitting style. Beginning with our homework mini-cuff, we worked a corrugated rib for a bit to familiarize people with the technique. I love a corrugated rib. Next we moved into following a simple Komi chart to create a pattern over the surface of the mitten. I managed to get my little mitten done by the end of class. It is adorable, and will fit no one, which is as it should be. These classes find me with a huge pile of readable reference samples. Remember Maureen's classes? And the little samples from those? I really find them useful and satisfying. I don't need a whole garment or a useful object for learning on. I loved doing a zillion swatches for Stitches 2. This makes me a process knitter, I guess, although at times the project is the thing. Things that stand out: instructors knowledge of subject matter, carrying those stripes of color onto the thumb to create a continuous line around the entire mitten border, and the discovery that those amazingly flat, perfect samples were not pressed or steamed, but wetted, spun, and dried in a vase on a wooden spoon.

Lace class was next. I love lace, and although I rarely wear it I love to knit it. Our homework sample was an experience in gauge, and how gauge changes the look of a lace pattern as well as a look at different double decrease techniques. Every other knitter in the class (or thereabouts) ended up with two visibly different decreases on their swatch. Everyone but MelissaKnits, of course. The homework called for 1 double decrease performed as a Sl1, K2tog, psso. The second was Sl2 as if to knit, K1, P2sso. The results for knitters with the correct (I hate that word) stitch mount produces two very different appearing decreases. For me it produces nada. Welcome to the wide world of the self-taught combination knitter. By "following directions" (show of hands, many people have seen me follow directions for anything, ever, in my entire life?) instead of instinctively making it look like what I thought it should, I actually have a sample that teaches be honest it teaches me to continue not following directions! The discussion about types of yarns suitable for lace knitting convinced me to buy a cone of 16/2 natural linen at the budget busting price (NOT!) or $14.75 a cone for some 2200 yards to use for either (and I am so undecided) Flower Basket or Snowdrop shawl as a nice carry along summer project. Suitable colors for lace were also discussed. I did not mention my sin against the basics of lace in the form of the Lotus Blossom Shawl. I wish I'd gone with something simple, but I didn't, and to rip now would be silly. Or maybe not. I will decide later. In fact, the more I look at it, the more I dislike it, and so it sits neglected and alone in its bag. Hmmmm.....I feel a ripping moment coming. This class also inspired me to lust after more books. Added to list of things I must have: Shetland Lace Knitting from Charts by Hazel Carter and Heirloom Knitting by Sharon Miller.

I need to go rip out that shawl. Uggh.

The evening seminar was excellent. It also inspired me to buy more books, which is never a good thing. Poor Mr. Wonderful. When we moved here we had so many that he swore an oath, and dragged me along with him against the purchase of new books in favor of reliance on the inter-library loan. Luckily I had my fingers crossed behind my back, so I'm exempt(phew. fast thinking there). I do wish I'd taken more notes. But there's this, and that leads to this which is compelling since I grew madder just to see if I could, and boy did I...and then there's this and this and this....oh, and this, which I really think I need soon just as evening reading. But I'm thinking that will be an inter-library loan...and..and..there were more but I did not take notes (curse the sock obsessed!).

On Sunday I returned for Sweater Knitting Skills, which was great fun and resulted in a one-armed cardigan to add to the swatch bin. Either that or whack an arm off of Samantha or Kirsten or Josefina or Bitty (all pre-Mattel buy-out). I wonder if Girl would notice...I mean, she's old now, right? We knitted for most of the morning, and had a lovely lunch brought in from Fire Cuisine - I really like their salads and am always amazed at the breadth of available foods; everything from gyros and grinders to wonderful salads, soups, and fried clam dinners. Just such an array and all good. How do they do it!? I was a little sad that my salad was not as spicy as previously. But I lived. After lunch we worked some more on preparing pieces for assembly and then learned all about mattress stitch. Anyone who's been in my drop-in knows I love mattress stitch. It's almost as cool as turning a heel for the first time (my ultimate favorite teaching moment!); the moment a knitter pulls on those ends and watches their seam virtually disappear. As Charlene said "cheap party tricks..." Cheap, but effective in more ways than one. The simple things that create the wonderful looks always amuse me beyond reason. Like the knit and purl cast on we learned. Or Maureen's teaching of the double pick-up. All the little things that come together to create stellar finishing or stellar work without a lot of fuss and nonsense. Just a bit of extra thought that in 50 or 100 years will be so intriguing to historians and sociologists and artists.
I came home to pork chops, sweet potatoes and a glass of Sequoia Grove 2001 Cabernet, a wine that I was told I would "get" but Mr. Wonderful would not. This was indeed true. He has the palate of...a beeeeer drinker. Eww! He drinks Southern Comfort on purpose! It smells like nail polish remover. Anyway - the wine is wonderful, yet another leathery, smokey red wine with some tannins and a lot of black cherry and oak flavor. I did succeed in showing Mr. Wonderful the smokey, spicy fragrance by getting him to sniff the empty glass. He sniffed and appeared midly impressed, and said "Huh. Hmm." The stuff has great deep color and mouth feel, very rich and warm. My love of scotch has totally been banished by a new adoration of wine. Not to say that an occasional shot of a really nice scotch, neat, will not impress me, just that for the time being wine has captivated me, even whites which I find amusing.

Look for some exciting event moments after June 25th. Girl's Grad Bash/Pig Roast is that day, and it should be nothing short of really interesting, possibly even cool. And please...pray for sun!


Persnickety Knitter said...

And envy you I do! That's quite the mitten pic. I'm bummed I couldn't go, but it was Niece#1's graduation party on Saturday. Too bad, cuz it sounds like a great learning experience.

What's this about drying mittens in a vase??

Oh, and that linen looks interesting -- but can you explain to me what the nbrs mean (10/2 vs 20/1) and what does "half bleach" mean?

Melissa said...

I have never been able to figure out the numbers. It's a weaver's game. Mr Wonderful says "Something to do with the weight and the ply." This rings a faint bell. The first number is something about weight and the second number is ply?? I need Art! Where is Art when I need him??

Hmmm...I can guess...natural = natural. Half bleach = bleached but without optical whiteners. Bleached = bleached and optically whitened. But I'll find someone to ask if I remember.

Must be the weekend for grad parties. Girl's friend had one Saturday also.

amy greeman said...

This is completely un-knitting-related, but REI Outlet has the Cannondale Domestique bike shorts for women (named by Bicycle magazine as best of the year) at a discount plus if you're an REI member, you get an additional 20% off. I just got a pair. Cycle hard,
Amy Greeman

Melissa said...

Gene will so thank you for sending me shopping, I cannot say how much. Great timing too - put his on this morning and the elastic in the leg did not even touch me, pooked out...looked...slightly bizarre...

HARD??? Hard?? It's supposed to be HARD?? (wwwhhhineee.)

Jennie said...

You're wrong: Southern Comfort tastes like cough syrup. That said, I'm more in Mr. Wonderful's camp than yours... I actually like Bud Light. :)