Tuesday, April 25, 2006

TKGA review

Since most of us were still in post-Stitches yarn comas, I don't know that many people who attended TKGA (it was in July last year, when we were ready for more; this year it just came too early.) This led to smaller classes (nice for students, bad news for teachers being paid by the student), and a very relaxed, uncrowded marketplace. I did see some friends (Jocelyn, Ada, and Patt from Meet-up, plus Spinnity, Jen, and Bogie), but most of them were just at the market. My classes were primarily populated by guild members from Arizona and Oregon.

My first class was Saturday afternoon: "Celtic Cables" with Melissa Leapman. I have avoided Melissa since Stitches 2005, when she seemed much too self-promoting for my tastes. Still, I have several friends who like her a lot, and the information she gives is excellent, so I decided to give her a second chance.

I went in steeling myself to not get annoyed at the inevitable book sales, and I succeeded -- it was a full class of about 30 people, and she did the full spiel. I *was* interested to hear about her new cable books, because, after all, that's what we were there to learn. She showed some samples from the books, then got down to the meat of the class -- making those cables!

Melissa always assigns a lot of homework, which I don't mind because it means you'll really get to do some serious knitting in class. This class was no exception. One problem: too many beginners. The whole row behind me literally seemed to have started knitting last week, so Melissa had to cover a lot of basics. This was frustrating for the rest of us, who moved quickly through the exercises and were ready for more. Sadly, we never got to the design portion of the class, or to knitting the final, most difficult, swatch. Not Melissa's fault -- she was well-organized as always. I blame TKGA. Can't there be some sort of prerequisite for so-called intermediate classes -- like you have to know how to read a chart, do basic increases and decreases, etc.? I had never done cables before, but I had enough skills to pick up that part quickly based on charts and instructions.

At any rate, I love Celtic cables, and the DH saw my samples and immediately ordered a sweater in charcoal grey with a celtic motif. That's a successful class, if it can get the DH to want to wear a sweater.

Second class: Sunday morning, "Going in Circles" with Edie Eckman. Edie taught me to crochet at Stitches 2005, so I figured I'd be comfortable in a crochet class with her, especially one labeled as "beginning." It was a tiny class, about 5 people, mostly crocheters, a couple of people who do both. I was probably the second least-experienced crocheter, but with a small class I tackled what I could and ended up with some nice motifs, including a square and a triangle. It was nice to have so much individual attention.

We also stole peeks at Edie's amazing collection of Japanese crochet books. This class inspired me to go down to the market and get Edie's "Crochet Answer Book," a handy little guide for those of us who crochet rarely and need to understand the basics.

Third class: Back to Melissa for "Perfect Pleats." With my interest in design, this was the class I was most excited about. As it was Sunday afternoon, a lot of people had left, and there were only 6 of us in this class, mostly very experienced. We got through the whole lesson and had time to chat. Melissa taught us a number of different and interesting ways to make gathers and pleats and flares, in order to add couture shaping to garments. I love this stuff. Even better, because most of us had taken classes from her before, Melissa kept the sales pitch to a super-minimum, and we focused on the knitting. There was a problem with the way TKGA had posted the homework on-line, and although I had seen it after they'd corrected it, a couple of people had done the wrong thing, and one woman hadn't done it at all. She was quite behind and a little difficult, since she didn't know some basics and was a slow knitter. In a small class, this didn't affect us nearly as much as it had in the large class -- Melissa could see that she was in the minority, and moved on with the rest of us. I know that small classes are a bummer for teachers, but this one was a blast. One of my favorite classes ever! Definitely take it next time she offers it.

I guess my biggest accomplishment for TKGA was learning to like a teacher I hadn't cared for before. I can also do cables now, and read cable charts.

On the shopping front, I focused on the sock yarns -- a couple of men's colors from Village Spinning and Weaving, some Lorna's Laces (on sale, couldn't resist), and a little Koigu project. Not much at all compared to Stitches -- came in well under $100.

Knitting progress: Still on the fab DH sock! Also the birthday project.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The socks at last!

I'm too tired to write much, so I'll relate tales of our Easter weekend in LA at another time. This post is all about photos I should have posted a long time ago. First of all, here they are, the Olympic socks!

Here's also a photo Alimum has been asking for, of me in a scarf she knit for me long before I knew how much work she had put into it. It's a great lace mohair scarf, very beautiful:

Here's CNITU2 in his favorite hat, the one with the letter "L" that I knitted for him in January:

Ooo, de shnuggems! He makes me talk all silly!

Finally, here's me starting the DH's socks on the way to LA. I loooove this Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn. It's glorious. And the DH has decided it's not too girly, so there's some hope he'll wear the socks even though they aren't black.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Early April FO's

The Oat Couture windowpane baby blanket in Zara is now in the window of Nine Rubies! I finished it up last Tuesday and took it to Social Knitting. Saloni and Sudha were quite pleased with it. I rewarded myself by buying a skein of Tilli Thomas beaded silk. DE-CA-DENT! Here's the blanket on the sofa before I said good-bye to it:

Lest I submit to post-partum depression, on Friday I finished the Hourglass sweater from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. I looooove this sweater. It fits just right, it's amazingly soft and warm, and the color is perfect. Yes, it's the same color as my sofa. I like green, okay?

I steam-blocked it Saturday morning and put it on while it was still wet for a mini-yarn crawl and pedicures with Spinnity. We went to the two yarn stores in downtown Los Altos, Uncommon Threads and Full Thread Ahead. At the first, I got a copy of "One Skein," from Interweave Press. I got it just for the knitted cupcakes. It's pretty cute, though, some nice baby things and other little projects.

At the second, I got some Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn, "Sensational Knitted Socks," an adorable new purse from Lantern Moon (it's sort of a knitting bag, but I think I'll mostly use it as a purse!), and a little bottle of Eucalan. I'm going to make socks for the DH. I really like the sock knitting book; Spinnity and the Knitist both recommend it and it seems really easy to use. I can't wait to start the next pair of socks!

Now I'm in the midst of a top-secret birthday project... I'll show photos in the fullness of time.