Saturday, September 8, 2012

Skacel's 25th Anniversary Party

Seattle is a pretty fun place to be a knitter.  We've got annual events like Stitch 'n Pitch & the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival.  We've got about a million great yarn shops & knitting groups.  And we have distributors like Cascade & Skacel right in our backyard.  Until recently, these two members of our knitting community were almost completely invisible to me.  However, Skacel recently threw a party to celebrate their 25th anniversary & I discovered a new wealth of knitting awesomeness hidden away in an unassuming office park.

Most of the day was spent participating in activities like yarn bombing, games & posting photos to Facebook, all of which earned points that could be redeemed for knitting-related prizes.  Oh yes, there were prizes!  In fact, I walked away with a few good ones: 3 skeins of yarn & a Skacel-branded beer stein!  There were also piles of delicious free food & beer, all with a German theme to celebrate the founders' German heritage.

Nothing but yarn as far as the eye can see.

We also got to take a tour of the factory, which was by far my favorite activity.  We saw enviable amounts of yarn & learned that Skacel is the sole North American distributor of Addi Turbo needles!  I also wound up meeting the proprietor of the recently-closed Yarn Stash, a yarn shop which was across the street from my dentist's office.  I had recently stopped in during their liquidation sale & scored some killer deals on yarn & magazines (all magazines for $1, including an issue of knit.wear from 2011 which retails for $15!!!) so it was nice to thank her for having a great shop & wish her well in retirement.  Though going to the dentist will be slightly less rewarding from now on.  :)

The tour ended in the samples room, where we saw tons of garments knitted in the yarns we'd just seen on the shelves. I love seeing how a yarn knits up & which projects the experts pair it with.  But we were not confined to just looking.  In fact we were encouraged to take the garments off the shelves & try them on.

This was a great opportunity to hang out with other knitters & learn more about a major player in our local knitting scene.  If only more bland industrial zones secretly held warehouses full of yarn!

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Out-Of-Date Update

For this post, we will travel back in time to the long-ago month of June 2012.  E3 was nearly over, no new jobs were on the horizon & Brenda Dayne was just about to wrap up Cast-On Tour 2012.  As my last day on the E3 job came to a close, there was just one stop left on her tour & it happened to be in Corvalis, OR.  So on a whim (& with no idea where Corvallis was, other than in Oregon!) I signed up for a spot in Brenda's class & began planning a road trip!  After all, Portland is in Oregon & that's only 2-3 hours from Seattle, so how far could Corvallis be?  Let's not talk about the fact that Portland is located at the northernmost tip of Oregon & there is a whole huge state below it.  

Well it turned out that Corvallis is 4.5 hours from Seattle but by the time I realized that, I had already paid my class fee & I was mentally committed.  So this turned out to be quite a road trip indeed!  

The table on the right is where the class was held.
 The class was held at  Stash, which is an  adorable yarn shop,  located in equally  adorable downtown  Corvallis & staffed by  even more adorable  women.  It's a perfect  small-town  LYS & I wish I could  visit more often.

Once I arrived, I realized I was not the only person from Seattle who had made the trip!  A group email had gone out before the class with everyone's email addresses in the To line so I had thought about responding to everyone to ask if any other Seattlites were going down & if they wanted to carpool.  But after a moment of contemplation, I figured I was surely the only one crazy enough to make that trip so I abandoned my email.  And while I apparently was not the only Brenda-crazed Seattlite, I was the only one crazy enough to make the trip there & back in one day.  My fellow road-tripper, on the other hand, did it right by checking into a bed & breakfast after the class to practice her new knitting skills & save the return trip for the following day.

Thumb tack for size comparison.
Speaking of new knitting skills, the subject of the class was Sherman toes & heels.  This is a brilliant & fast method of making toes & heels that requires very little math (& easy math at that!).  We spent pretty much the entire class knitting so by the time we left we had the makings of the world's tiniest sock.

When I left, I also had the makings of carpal tunnel but I didn't learn that for another couple of weeks.  This has had the unfortunate consequence of capping my knitting time at 15-20 minutes in order to keep the discomfort at bay.  Knitting on small needles also bothers me more than large needles so not only have I not practiced this technique since learning it but I've made very little progress on my Mermaid Lagoon socks.  Between this & the impending onset of autumn, I think it's time to cast on for a chunky cowl or set of slippers or mittens.

Speaking of cowls, the Gray's Ferry Cowl is nearly finished.  I realized that I made a totally rookie mistake by not carrying the yarn along the inside during the color changes but it's too late to fix that now.  There will be much weaving in of ends but so it goes.  

And while knitting almost instantly irritates my carpal tunnel, I have a higher tolerance for spinning so I've been using my wheel a lot more lately.  I spun up the lavender roving that I got in NY as about 60 yards of thick-&-thin singles & that is drying right now.  It's my first time doing a thick-&-thin singles so I know it is overspun & the yarn will probably bias.  I probably should have run it through the wheel in reverse before winding it off the bobbin. 

I've also been working on some fiber that a friend destashed to me for my birthday last year.  She couldn't remember what type of fiber it was when she gave it to me but after spinning with it for an hour or so, I realized it had all the characteristics of alpaca.  I'm maybe a quarter of the way through it & while the photos below don't do the color scheme justice, I'm really excited to finish it.  It's looking like it will be DK or light worsted weight after plying.


That pretty much brings you up to date.  I've got one more fiber adventure to share with you but I'll save that for next time!