Friday, 12 June 2009

Out and about in Coventry and London

For those of you old enough to remember the earlier years of television, today's posting has the feel of the Outside Broadcast about it when I take my knitting kit out from the security of my living room, into the big wide world. This will partly account for the fact that I still haven't managed to finish anything.That and a minor fall from grace which we will speak of later....

Firstly,this weekend I attended the first UK Ravelry Day in Coventry. Despite the teeming rain I think a good time was had by all. I fear I came home with enough lace weight to lasso the moon twice. It was wonderful to see so many new indie dyers that I hadn't come across before as well as some more established names and I had to support them - it's the closest I'm going to come to being a patron of the arts.

Of course, the day wasn't all about retail therapy, there were loads of people that I've only known through their Ravelry names as well as new people to catch up with. I was especially pleased to meet Lou on the P/Hop stall and to hear that the Cranford Mitt pattern was proving popular. I understand that together with the other lovely patterns that have been donated that they raised £250 on the day through the collecting tins alone.

There were also courses and talks arranged. I chose to go to the 'main event', a talk by Meg Swansen,daughter of Elizabeth Zimmermann and member of US Knitting Royalty.

She was introduced by the Crown Prince of Knitting Royalty, Jared Flood (aka Brooklyntweed in case any non knitters are reading). How can you not respect a man in such a lovely yellow jumper?

Here is Meg herself looking extremely elegant in one of her mother's trademark patterns, the Ribwarmer. I may have to look at that pattern again.

I think Meg's presentation took some of us by surprise. Over here we have limited experience of what to expect from 'name knitters'. Those of us who met Stephanie Pearl McPhee at Ravelry might have been expecting an hours seamless stand up routine complete with jokes, science, history and knitting tips. This was not Meg's style at all. She read extracts about camping from her mother's books then opened up a question and answer session which was the main part of proceedings. There then followed a slightly uncomfortable and very British silence. Once people had cottoned on things went a lot more smoothly as she has a very conversational style and was received warmly. We also got to see original Baby Surprise Jackets and other examples of Elizabeth's knitting. At the risk of sounding heretical, I am impressed by the technical virtuosity but some of her colour choices - eek!

I'm afraid that once again I totally failed at taking any more photographs on the day. This is a bad habit of mine - partly I think it is because I am so caught up in the moment and chit chatting away that I forget. There is also an element of reserve where I feel I don't want to be waving my camera around lots of people who might think I am taking liberties and are worried that they might end up on a blog somewhere...

Now to my minor fall from grace as mentioned before. The only ball of commercial yarn that I bought was this Noro Silk Garden Sock as I've been dying to try it out for some time.

Now I have been diligently plodding away on my mountain of WIPs all week until Natalie mentioned that she had started a Baktus scarf, something that was proving very popular on Ravelry. In short, you take a skein of sock yarn, cast on 4 stitches and then one at the beginning of every 4th row until you have used half the ball then decrease every 4th row until you have made a very elegant little triangular scarf. Now this yarn would be absolutely perfect I thought. So before I knew what I was about I cast on and knit and knit and knit.

I'm not even half way yet...
In other news that I haven't shared with you for a while, I finally finished spinning the two singles for the Muddy Jeans yarn. I have had this on the bobbin for months as I wanted a nice fine even sock yarn. I have wasted quite a few metres just trying to get it right. I am now in the middle of plying which once again is taking me way longer than I imagined that it would take.
Here are the bad boys in all their glory.

Yesterday I had a day off work to attend a knitting course. Not just any knitting course but a class in knitting seamless sweaters with that man again, Jared Flood.
Here he is with his flip chart. Check out the yellow jumper again!

And here is the desk of a diligent student.

...who also loves yellow.
He is a very charming and inspiring teacher and I of course set off home wanting to cast on at least half a dozen jumpers immediately. I satisfied myself with a couple of inches on the sleeve of my yellow cardigan now I realise how fashion forward I clearly am in my colour choice.
And best of all, ladies - he let us all touch his Cobblestone the construction of which is way more complex and intelligent than I had first realised and showed us a technique for getting the kinks out of your SSKs - we now have the SYTK (Slip, Yank, Twist, Knit)
Whilst you practice that I will be off on the Isle of Wight for the Festival for the next few days. As it is World Wide Knit in Public Day on Saturday, look out for a group of us in St Thomas's Square in Newport from Midday onwards or if you are going to the festival look out for a knitter with a bright green sock!


Bells said...

Fabulous post! Two big name knitters right there to listen to. I love it. 'A very british silence' - I can so imagine it. doesn't Mr Tweed look like a nice young man?

Paula said...

Ravelry day sounds great. As does the Brooklyn tweed class.

Jenny said...

Inspiring to be amongst your knitting heros and to put faces to blog names. What a wonderful day you had and I think you were quite restrained in the circumstances.

Unyewshual said...

Sounds like you had a great time.
Lucky to have the opportunity to be in such wonderful knitting company. Envy, envy.

knit nurse said...

I suspect his Cobblestone gets admired wherever he goes.
ooer matron! (trust me to lower the tone...)

Rachel A said...

I knew I would be in good company when I bought anything yellow at SKIP North!

Have a lovely time on the Isle of Wight...looking forward to your tales on return.

Sally said...

I love the colours in your Baktus Jane! It's going to be gorgeous.

And I'm incredibly jealous that you've been in the presence of both Meg Swansen and Brooklyn Tweed! It sounds like you've had a wonderful time.

Ice Princess said...

A wonderful time it seems you had. I am so bummed I didn't get to go.
I love the color of the yellow tweed. Very cheery.

LynS said...

Baktus is really addictive - and wonderful to wear. It can be very neat and lady-like worn flat under jacket lapels, or most casually knotted at the side. It's a great project for Noro. And I'm so envious of your immersion in talks by knitting royalty...Australia seems so far away.

stash haus said...

Thanks for the post! How I wish I could have been there. Meg and Jared - what a day!