Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sock Summit - Portland

(Note: this is more an "around" sock summit post, not much as to what actually happened *at* the Summit.)

Confession: I have a soft spot in my heart for anyplace easily navigable by public transit and walking. And downtown Portland was just that. Anytime we got directions anywhere, people said "and these are short blocks," which was funny, but true.

Chris saw more of Portland than I did, he went to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Portland Zoo, the Japanese Gardens, the Saturday Market, and Chinatown and the Chinese gardens. He liked the market, but was most impressed by the Japanese Gardens and would recommend them to anyone who has an afternoon free in Portland.

As far as my sightseeing went, I went to Powell's. (Chris did too.) We hit Powell's Technical Books first, because it closed earlier and we had gotten a late start on the evening. I ran into some MathFest people there (I recognized them because they too were hanging out by the Combinatorics and Number Theory shelves - people were on the analysis aisle too, but yeah). Chris found a few things he needed, I found a small volume I wanted, and we went the next block to World of Books. And promptly separated and lost each other. I wandered the craft section, education, and literature and literary magazines. I still have no clue where Chris went. Thanks to text messages and good signage ("I'm in the blue room, where are you?") we found each other, checked out and went for food.

Food in Portland was mostly really good. We agreed that our one disappointing dinner was probably as much a function of mis-ordering as the food - the seafood variety plate always sounds good, but usually isn't awesome. We had an amazing meal at Henry's 12th Street Tavern after Powell's - maybe the best cheeseburger EVAR, and my Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar was excellent (99 beers on tap there - I tasted several and they were all good). I've been looking for that beer since I got back and I've been sorely disappointed. Conference fast food was had at Burgerville, which was also tasty. Our last dinner in town was at an all-you-can-eat seafood and sushi place, which was good, but kind of excessive. (Note: Chris ate only seafood until the day we left - after the sushi place, he was seafooded out.) Good local beer was everywhere too - Rogue, Ninkasi, and a couple others I don't remember.

Weather was lovely, we had a great time, we agreed that it's an awesome town and we liked it very much. (Chris also introduced me to, where Portland was green for our entire stay. Indy, since we got home, is in the grip of ragweed season and is orange and red - Claritin is my friend.)

Next up is the knitters and knitting, and that'll be it for my Sock Summit diaries. I have an FO to show, and maybe another coming down the pipe soon.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sock Summit - The Marketplace

My first impression of the Sock Summit Marketplace was at Starbucks on Thursday Morning, where Mandie and I stopped to get caffeine and kill a touch of time before Walgreens opened. We started paging through the show book and realized when we saw the map that yeah, that giant lobby where registration happened? That was dwarfed by the marketplace. We took a peek at lunchtime and there were booths and color as far as the eye could see.

That evening it opened for two hours of insanity. It was overwhelming, so many people, sooo much wool, so much color. I wandered, a bit lost, for a long while. I got my bearings and found Carolina Homespun, where I got my class pack for spinning, and then I tried to get a feel for what else I could do there. I ran into Allison from Simply Socks Yarn Co., who recognized my name as one of her customers! (and right now I'm eyeing the new colors of mini mochi and the fleece artist bfl and having issues saying no...) I kept wandering back into the Blue Moon Fiber Arts booth, where I eventually bought a few mill ends of Socks that Rock.

I kept going back over the weekend. Before class, between classes, after classes... There were so many hand dyers and there was so much beautiful wool...

I know I didn't see everything. I know I didn't get everything. I spent the Tuesday after we got back favoriting etsy sellers whose booths I saw and liked but didn't buy from (and some I did buy from).

This is what came home with me - mostly.


Top row: BFL top from Crown Mountain Farms, four mill ends, two mediumweight, two heavyweight, from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, in (I think) Obsidian, Muckity Muck, and Xmas Rock (which is becoming new fingerless gloves for me).
Bottom row:
Merino Fine in color "Mycroft" from Kitchen Sink Dyeworks, DK weight Merino in "Shock Rocker" from Stitchjones, Dream in Color Smooshy from The Loopy Ewe, sKnitches Velocity in "Birdhouse in Your Soul" from Simply Socks, and BFL sock yarn in "Fresh Fig" from Wool Candy. Not pictured is a gift skein from Lotus Yarns

Amazing time, so much yarn, and since I've gotten back I heard of things I never saw in there. Oh well. Next time, maybe?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sock Summit - the classes

I've been trying all week to figure out how to summarize the amazing time I had at Sock Summit. I started a blog post, trying to go chronologically and got halfway through Thursday before realizing I needed better organization. So today - the classes!

Knitting Vintage Socks with Nancy Bush
This was my only all-day class, and it was pretty amazing. Nancy Bush had extensive handouts about how Things Were Done (if you wanted a left-leaning decrease you didn't ssk, for instance - Barbara Walker confirmed later in the weekend that she did, as far as she knew, invent that particular decrease), and showed us nifty things throughout the Weldon's Practical Needlework books from which she sourced her Vintage Socks book. We made a funny little practice sock that had all the interesting things that exist in a sock - cuff, heel, toe, and none of the sloggy parts between them. It doesn't look much like a sock, but it's a great little yarn bra. This is where it was at lunch time - through the teeny heel flap.


I met some fun people in my class. There were a few things we were taught that I hadn't seen before, and some that I had. The nostepinne demonstration was kind of funny to me, in that Nancy Bush says what I say about yarn winding being a part of the process of knitting something new. The lasting impression I had was of Nancy's passion for and deep study of her subjects - she talked about stumbling upon and falling in love with Estonian knitting in a beautiful way.


This was the board at the end of class. Illustrations of left and right leaning decreases, knitting on four and five needles, and which way stitches should go. On the table there are socks from several of her books. Lots to see, lots to think about, and lots of fun.

Arch-Shaped Stockings with Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen
There are no pictures from this class. I didn't take many notes in this class. The class handout was one page, the actual class was large and fairly quiet, but oh, wow. This class blew my mind. Meg and Amy were a great combination, playing off each other beautifully, skipping from topic to topic with ease. The actual sock subject the class was ostensibly "about" was skimmed over, but the nitty gritty intricacies of the techniques one could apply to it (including some increases I'd never seen before, and a mention of intarsia-in-the-round) blew my mind. My notes include a quote from Meg: "The only thing that really matters in knitting is consistency." She had this amazing attitude of freedom and pleasure in her knitting - with the really cool stuff you could tell she was impressed by the cleverness inherent in it. Now I desperately want to go to Knitting Camp in Wisconsin - a long weekend with those two would be amazing.

Finding True Sock Yarn Happiness with Clara Parkes
This class began with Clara handing out tape, which was a little mystifying, but as soon as she started handing out fiber samples, it made much more sense. This class was Oh So My (totally geeky) Style. Clara is the founder of Knitter's Review and so she actually tests yarn for a living. She gave us some great terminology (all this week that I've been home I've been remembering things like "prickle factor" and "intimate blend") and a fantastic overview of fibers and yarns and the pros and cons of all different types.

Sock Yarn Happiness

As we were wrapping up, we discussed the ways to deal with different downfalls - a non-stretchy yarn could be overcome by using a forgiving stitch, and vice versa. One of the most memorable demonstrations was a pair of socks - one in a merino-tencel blend, one in 100% merino, knit exactly the same in a chevron pattern- in which the tencel one barely stretched at all, but the other was able to be noticeably stretched. She also gave us some tips on where to shop in the Marketplace, which was fun...

Paint Your Toes! Stranded Colorwork with Janel Laidman
The fun thing about this class was getting to see how Janel designs. She had her "enchanted box" of socks from her new book The Enchanted Sole and handed them around. The class was for beginning stranded colorwork, which was fine, I worked my teensy black-and-pink sock through part of the heel flap in our three hours. Decreases and structure in colorwork were addressed, and we were given resources to design our own full-sized colorwork stockings - plus a pattern from the upcoming book (Tree of Life - ravelry link).

Spindle Spinning Basics with Abby Franquemont and Denny McMillan
What a great time this class was!
One or the other of the teachers was spinning the whole time. We got Abby's funny (and very true) manifesto of "why society would not exist without spinning." There were a million jokes about kinky singles and slippery shafts. Denny says that we'll be comfortable in 15 trolley rides. I was kind of ok already - I have been more comfortable since I switched my homemade wheel spindle to a bottom-whorl after stalking Abby in Franklin. My spindle from the class kit says "right round" on it, which amuses me to no end.


My classes were amazing, but for all that happened in them, more happened outside them. Stay tuned, folks, more to come as I can process it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sock Summit


That's Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Meg Swansen, Barbara Walker and Tina Newton. I was in the right place at the right time for my knitting fangirl self to get this picture, and really, this whole experience seems to have been exactly that sort of experience - right place, right time, and I feel so very very blessed to have been a part of all this. I have made new friends, learned new techniques, and wow. I just can't believe the amazing experience I had. More pictures later, Chris and I are going for one last Burgerville run before catching our flight back.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I am leaving for Sock Summit tomorrow. I've been off school a few days, so there has been much knitting and other preparation. Including the purchase of a new camera - Chris will be sightseeing on his own for much of the weekend and will want his, so I need my own for documentation of my yarny pursuits.


I think it'll do, don't you? The sock is a plain stockinette one, of the Sheepy Time BFL I spun back in april. I do hope there's enough yarn for that. But it'll do for plain knitting for travel and walking and for when my brain is too full to do anything else.

I need to get back to laundry and packing and all that jazz. No promises to blog during the Summit, but I'll have a summary once I get back, no doubt.