Saturday, April 27, 2013

Knitting in Verse

Kate Davies recently posted this glorious poem to her blog & I enjoyed it so much that I felt it should be more widely shared.  May all knitted gifts be received with this level of appreciation & enjoyment.  (Hint: to better the chances, take up knitting for poets!)

Ode to my Socks
Mara Mori brought me
a pair of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft as rabbits.
I slipped my feet into them
as if they were two cases
knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin,
Violent socks,
my feet were two fish made of wool,
two long sharks
sea blue, shot through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons,
my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.
They were so handsome for the first time
my feet seemed to me unacceptable
like two decrepit firemen,
firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
of those glowing socks.
Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere as schoolboys
keep fireflies,
as learned men collect
sacred texts,
I resisted the mad impulse to put them
in a golden cage and each day give them
birdseed and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers in the jungle
who hand over the very rare green deer
to the spit and eat it with remorse,
I stretched out my feet and pulled on
the magnificent socks and then my shoes.
The moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter.
Pablo Neruda. Trans. by Robert Bly.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Vogue Knitting Live Seattle

There was so much going on at Vogue Knitting Live last weekend that it's hard to even know where to start!  I popped in on Saturday for a couple of hours & found that that was not even enough time to make a full round of the marketplace!  Of course that might have been because it was packed to the gills but also because taking everything in for the first time was overwhelming.  There were fashion shows, artists, knitting celebs, a yarn tasting station, free massages & of course, plenty of beautiful yarn to ogle.  Luckily I had bought the two-day pass because I would have been severely disappointed if I'd tried to pack everything into Saturday.

First of all, I must say that what made VKL worth attending was the activities: the lectures, panels, fashion shows, everything I mentioned above.  The full price was $15.00/day so to go just for the marketplace would have been a waste of money.  However since I got a discounted two-day pass, I feel like I got a screaming deal!  I spent all day Sunday listening to great panels, learning about local yarn producers, knitting donations for the WorldVision Knit for Kids program &, yes, indulging in a few impulse purchases.  But more about that later!

When I arrived on Saturday, the Koigu fashion show was in full swing.  I started taking photos then looked to my left & there were Andrea & Joe of KnitCrate!  We had a great time chatting about all the amazing fiber stuff happening in upstate NY.  They really made the most of their time in Seattle, the full run-down of their trip is here.

Next I visited the yarn-tasting station & tried out some really yummy yarns by Prism.  Knitting on a swatch that tons of others have knitted on is an interesting exercise because it really puts your gauge into perspective.  Looking at a swatch after I'd added a few rows made me realize that I am probably a tighter knitter than I'd realized.  Perhaps it's time to switch back to knitting Continental!

The Skacel fashion show was the last thing I saw on Saturday, moderated by Cirilia Rose.  Aside from her myriad accomplishments (Creative Director at Skacel, designer, soon-to-be-author), she impresses me with her boundless energy & the enjoyment she projects around everything she does.  In short, this chick always looks like she's having fun.  Now, as someone who is always busy, I'm sure that she gets tired & stressed.  But her public persona is impressively enthusiastic.  That's something that I aim to project in my job as well.

I spent all of Sunday at VKL & heard some terrific presentations & panels.  The first presentation was by Kerry Graber of Jorstad Creek.  She is dedicated to sourcing fiber from local sheep, raised on environmentally friendly farms.  She also uses environmentally friendly dye processes.  Hearing all of this (plus seeing some of the beautiful yarn, fiber & garment samples that were passed around) was inspirational enough to send me straight to her booth to pick up 3 oz of undyed Gotland wool roving.  It's got some vegetable matter in it (& a cat butt behind it in this picture) but that's to be expected with minimal processing.  The VM I mean, not necessarily the cat butt.

I also attended two panels about launching a knitting business, both of which served to reinforce the fact that I have no desire to monetize my knitting.  Much of what was said struck a very similar chord to the experiences I've had building my career as a freelancer.  I'm kind of like a business in & of myself, as I need to determine my audience then reach out to them & build demand for my services via marketing, networking, relationship-building & proving myself.  The same skills are needed when establishing & building a knitting business, whether as a designer, yarn producer, yarn store owner, teacher, or some combination thereof.  So, naturally, the hours are similar as well.  

Patty Lyons of Lion Brand Yarn, a former Broadway stage manager (a job strikingly similar to what I do in film & video) summed it up best when she quoted a former colleague who once asked her, "Remember when we used to like theatre?"  As someone who built a career out of a former passion, I can relate to that question & have no desire to feel that way about knitting.  So I'll continue to spend money on yarn rather than trying to earn money from it.

At the end of the day, I came across the Stash booth, the store in Corvallis, OR that I visited last summer when Brenda Dayne taught there.  They had some really cute handmade ceramic buttons that I couldn't resist.

I also picked up (from another booth) Drafting, The Long & Short of It by Abby Franquemont on DVD.  I have her incredible book Respect the Spindle (required reading by the woman who taught me to spin) so I have no doubt that this DVD will teach me tons about drafting & spinning on my wheel.  I'm definitely ready to step up my spinning a bit & this is exactly what I was looking for to start doing so.

Now it's time to switch my focus to the next adventure: Dan & I are about to head to Jamaica for the wedding of one of my best friends.  After a grey Seattle winter (& in the middle of a grey Seattle spring), some sun, sand & knitting on the beach are just what the doctor ordered!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Structure & Craft

Now that I'm able to knit & spin again, I've been feeling motivated by a crafting calendar of sorts.  It's nothing too strict, I've just been working on my various WIP's in a certain order.

Day 1: Buttony Sweater. I divided for the sleeves today & the rounds are going much faster with them off the needles.  I'm a little concerned that the sleeves are too big but since this is my first sweater in this style & I still have to seam the sleeves closed, I'm just going to let it slide for now & see how things turn out.

Day 2: Mermaid's Lagoon Socks.  I'm progressing along the leg portion of sock #2.  Nothing of note to report here.

Day 3: Impossible Dreams spinning.  I'm officially halfway through the fiber!  And my second bobbin is almost full so since I only have three bobbins, some plying is in my future.  Can't wait to see how a plied skein looks!  I'm thinking this will yield a significant amount of yarn in a DK or light worsted weight but I can't even imagine what I will knit with it!

Day 4: Sunset spinning.  I've returned to this & am on the home stretch.  There is LOTS of plying to be done once this is spun up so I might start it before all the singles are spun if I need a break.

I don't expect to keep to this forever but for now, it's working really well.  It allows me to see progress on everything I'm working on & feel like things are moving along, perhaps more quickly than they actually are.

And while I'm nowhere near done with any of these projects, I just bought the yarn for my next project, Kate Davies' Owls sweater.  I've loved this sweater forever & have had a gift certificate to KnitPicks for the past year & a half that I didn't know what to do with.  So I finally put two & two together & realized that I could pretty much buy the yarn outright with this gift certificate.  I chose Wool of the Andes Bulky in the Jam colorway (pictured at right) & am really looking forward to casting on for such a bright sweater!  I'm also planning some Xmas knitting this year & expect to start that soon too.  No idea what anyone's getting yet so if any family or friends have requests, now is the time to submit them!

Tomorrow is the first full day of Vogue Knitting Live Seattle & I plan to spend most of the weekend there.  There were plenty of half price discount codes floating around leading up to the event so I made use of one & bought the Saturday/Sunday marketplace pass.  My goals are modest: say hi to the lovely folks from Churchmouse Yarns & Teas, seek out & intro myself to the kick-ass couple behind KnitCrate (Hudson Valley residents traveling all the way to Seattle for this event) & take tons of pix for this here blog.  I don't need to buy any yarn or fiber, attending this event is more about the experience than anything else.  Plus I just saw many of these vendors at Madrona.  

Speaking of Madrona, I found myself sitting next to an incredibly prolific spinner whilst knitting with Brenda Dayne & when someone remarked on her rapid & extremely professional progress, she began handing out fliers for her yarn business.  I must admit I only just went to her Etsy shop today but I was blown away.  The yarn & fiber at Edgewood Garden Studio is absolutely glorious.  The colors are so rich that I want to knit with all of them!  I'd like to start buying yarn from more indie dyers/spinners & this one is right at the top of my list.  She won't be vending but when the time comes that I actually need yarn again, I will keep her in mind.  Until then, there's plenty in my stash to keep me very, very busy!