Like a Phoenix

Last year it was feeling like a chore to make sure I posted at least once a month, and I decided that I was only going to post when I felt inspired. I forgot, however, that inspiration only comes to me once I’ve already been sitting at my desk for a while working on something. (I’m using the term “desk” loosely, by the way. My laptop is on a TV tray and I’ve got piles of knitting and books on the dining room table.) So I’m giving up on waiting for inspiration.

A few things that happened since I last posted: I got my pointe shoes last summer and now dance (if you can call it that) on my toes, my husband and I went on our honeymoon to Disney World in September 2012, we visited family in Edmonton this August and saw our new niece the day she was born, I finished the Basics, Basics, Basics correspondence course offered through The Knitting Guild Association, and last weekend I attended KnitEast 2013. Since that is rather a lot to cover, for now, I’ll just write about KnitEast, which is relatively fresh in my mind.

The weather was gorgeous and warm (honestly, the sun streaming into the classrooms made it feel a bit too warm during classes, but I’d much rather that than too cold), and although I barely even noticed the rain during KnitEast 2011, I was still glad we had such a stunning Indian summer weekend this time around. Sure, I’d already seen how lovely St. Andrews can be at this time of year, but I’m happy that people who might have come from far away for the weekend got the chance to, as well.

I learned a lot in the classes I took, and found them interesting. In the Build a Toy Workshop with Susan B. Anderson, where you could pick from various heads, bodies, limbs, ears, tails, and whatnot to knit your own customized toy, I was of course working on a kitten. It’s hard to tell in this photo (or even in real life), but the thing I’m holding is a cat body-in-progress.

me, Susan B. Anderson, and knitted kitties

I hadn’t knit any of Susan’s toy patterns before, just a hat from Itty-bitty Hats, but she’s very personable and a good teacher, the techniques she showed us for sewing toy parts together made the finishing seem less daunting, and her patterns are adorable. Although I’m still not finished knitting my kitten, I nevertheless want to knit ALL the animals! I definitely plan to take her Craftsy classes.

This is the Barn Cat from Spud & Chloë at the Farm, which is not the exact same pattern as the cat I am knitting, but he’s similar.

barn cat from Spud & Chloe at the Farm

You can see me in two class photos in Susan’s blog entry KnitEast Rewind, by the way. One of them caught me in mid-laugh, and it may well be the worst picture of me on the Internet.

On Sunday afternoon I took the Knitting for Speed and Efficiency class from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned many times, I’m a slow knitter. For the past few months I’ve been even slower, since I started holding my yarn a different way in order to improve my tension. Although it has noticeably improved my tension already, I’m still not very used to it yet, so I’m even slower lately. I’d been worrying that I’d have to give up the new method of holding my yarn because I’d never be able to speed back up, but I’m less worried about that now. From the beginning of class to the end of class, my knitting speed improved from 21 stitches per minute to 24 stitches per minute (still slow, I know), even though by the end of class I was really hungry and my hands were shaking so much because of it that I’d expected to have gotten slower!

I’m always up for reading nerdy stuff about knitting history, so I already knew a lot of the things Stephanie told us about the history of knitting for money (people who got paid to knit needed to knit as fast as possible, so it makes sense to try to emulate their knitting styles), but that doesn’t mean I’d previously been any good at applying any of that info to my own knitting. Also, any topic is more entertaining when explained by Stephanie than it would be when explained by darn near anybody else in the world.

She also taught us the basics of lever knitting, and I know it’d take a lot more practice for me to be even remotely comfortable with it. Since I’m a picker, not a thrower, I can’t imagine ever using a style in which I hold the yarn in my right hand as my main style of knitting, but I should do some lever knitting practice, and also some more practice throwing as well. (I can throw, but the longer I go without practicing it, the rustier I get, obviously.)

me and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Clearly, the woman also has good taste, because she is planning a project in String Theory Caper Sock in the Melon and Winterberry colourways. I fell madly in love with String Theory at the KnitEast marketplace (and spent so much time hovering around their booth that the lady working there may have thought I was creepy) and Melon was one of the colours I particularly loved. I bought some Merino DK in Melon and Nectar because I think they also go together beautifully, but I have no idea as of yet what I’ll do with them.

String Theory Merino DK in Nectar and Melon

Speaking of things I met at KnitEast and fell in love with… Highland Handmades. I loved their colour names almost as much as I loved the colours themselves! I think my favourite name was This Is Just to Say, obviously the moniker of a plummy colourway. I wound up with Corriedale cross top in Bo Peep… although I loved the superwash merino/tencel in the In Like a Lion colour even more, the Corriedale was cheaper.

Highland Handmades pitch pine top in Bo Peep

Everything else I bought had a light blue theme. Fleece Artist limited release Emily, Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK in Bloomsbury, and Madelinetosh Tosh Lace in Robin’s Egg. I also bought some pale mint green Berroco Vintage, but I wound it into centre-pull balls right away because I was going to use it during the Build a Toy Workshop on Saturday afternoon.

blue Fleece Artist and Madelinetosh from KnitEast 2013

Oh, and these are freebies that I got in my bag at registration. Something without a label that I suspect is a Blue Faced Leicester sliver from Fleece Artist, and Estelle Sakura Cotton.

roving and Sakura Cotton

Speaking of freebies, I also won an AWESOME door prize at the fashion show… a set of Addi Clicks interchangeable needles!

Addi Clicks

Plenty of other people won pretty sweet prizes, too — two pairs of limited edition addi-Art Diamond circulars with Swarovski crystals, a Namaste Harlow bag in canary yellow, kits with enough yarn to make long sweater-coats — but this is the thing I absolutely wanted the most, so I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have won it! I am beyond thrilled and will get so much use out of these needles!

The Huntsman Marine Science Centre was a very cool place to have the reception and fashion show, because we could play with the creatures in the touch pools at the Fundy Discovery Aquarium. My favourites were the skates (I was too afraid to touch a crab, because claws). I had a hard time trying to convince one to swim close enough to let me pet it, though. “Come let me love you!” I said to it, and it reacted to this the way anyone else would, by which I mean it swam off in the opposite direction. Once I did manage to pet one, though, I agreed with the girl who said it felt like a very soft gummy bear with spikes on it. The photos I tried to take at the touch pools did not turn out well, but both Susan B. Anderson and the Yarn Harlot have some photos of the sea creatures on their blogs.

The only unfortunate thing about the weekend was that I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to spend hanging out with other knitters when not in class, because my husband came to St. Andrews with me and the two of us wanted to spend some time together that weekend. We had a lovely dinner at the Europa Inn, where we were staying. I tried spätzle for the first time with my chicken cordon bleu and had a wonderful dessert involving pineapple, ice cream, and almonds. I wouldn’t have wanted less time with my husband, either, so clearly the only solution would have been for the weekend to be longer. Weekends should be longer in general, shouldn’t they? At first I regretted not being at the pre-fashion show reception as soon as it began, because then I would have had more time to check out the touch pools as well as to talk to people, but then I realized that if I hadn’t arrived at the exact time I did, I would’ve gotten a different ticket number at the door, and someone else would have gotten the number that was drawn to win the Addi Clicks. So I made my peace with that pretty easily!

I ran into Nin when I was just about to leave KnitEast and go back home to the real world. She may have mentioned that I should start blogging again, and I may have agreed with her, and so this mega-long post may be at least partially her fault.

Regarding the blog’s current look, no, it’s not going to be like this forever. I’ve been meaning to redesign the layout for ages but never got around to it. The most important thing I wanted to change, though, was making the main content area wider so that I could post images that are 500 pixels wide instead of being limited to 400 pixels. Today I just switched to a free WordPress theme that was orange-ish, since I’d like to design an orange layout when I do get around to a redesign, and this theme has plenty of room for wider images. The sidebar content completely disappeared from view because I hadn’t bothered separating design and content in my code, so changing the design currently affects the content. (I didn’t lose the stuff from the sidebar; you just can’t see it.) As long as you’ve got the ability to view the most recent posts and scroll through to the older ones, I don’t think it’s an emergency that you can’t see any of my other links right now. When I get a chance to design a new theme, I will. It’ll happen when it happens. I don’t know when, but I can at least promise you that it won’t take a year and a half!

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One Response to Like a Phoenix

  1. Kitten says:

    Pat tried to leave a comment on this entry but she said it wouldn’t work because my reCAPTCHA letters weren’t showing up, so obviously she couldn’t enter them into the form. I’ve disabled reCAPTCHA for a while, until I get some time to fix the site layout, and I’m testing to see if comments will work now.

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