A day full of knitting

I started this blog in early September 2005 (happy birthday, Blog!), originally intending it to be a place where I could keep track of my knitting by posting pictures and specs of various projects. Its scope quickly grew to encompass pretty much anything that interested me, but knitting still makes an appearance.

I haven’t written about knitting for a while, but I have been working on (and even finishing!) some interesting projects. I’ll write about those projects another time, but for now I want to write about an all-day knitting event I attended over the weekend.

Last year I attended Knitters’ Day Out (KDO) for the first time and had a wonderful experience, which I blogged about three months late. (D’oh!) I was able to go again this year and once again had a terrific time. All together, seven people from my local knitting group went; two went up the night before (they were teaching a class and had a free hotel room), and the five of us rode up together early in the morning.

Again, I took two classes.* My morning class was “Entrelac Basics” with Gwen Bortner. She is a professional knitting instructor–and boy, it really shows. She was very clear and very thorough, and she had the best knitting instruction handouts I’ve ever seen. I finally learned how to do entrelac, which isn’t as terrifying at it seems when you understand how it works.

And, even better, I learned how to knit backwards. OH MY DOG that is so cool. I can’t even begin to describe the coolness of it. Learning this technique alone was worth the price of admission. Basically, you do the purl part of stockinette from the back, so you never have to turn your work. This is handy for something like entrelac, where instructions might have something like “Row 1: K1. Row 2: P1.” All that flip-flopping your knitting back and forth can get annoying, but when you learn how to knit backwards, it’s all a distant memory.

(How is it that I never heard of backwards knitting before? It is so practical! And easy! Is there some Great Conspiracy to keep this hidden from the knitting community at large? Hmmmm!)

My afternoon class was “Double Knitting,” which was taught by one of the KDO organizers. (Each year at KDO they have three “celebrity” instructors, and you can take one class with one of them.) She was very nice, but the difference between her class and Bortner’s was pretty striking. When you teach knitting for a living and not just for fun, a certain level of professionalism and thoroughness isn’t optional. It also didn’t help that the afternoon class was full of people who just didn’t listen. I swear, in the ten minutes after the instructor told us to cast on twenty stitches (instructions that were replicated on the handouts she’d given us), at least half a dozen people asked how many stitches we were supposed to cast on. Argh!

Double knitting is pretty cool, too–and, like entrelac, not complicated at all once you understand how it works. It does move along pretty slowly, though, since you’re basically doing K1P1 across the length of each row–and across twice as many stitches as the row’s final length–so I’m not sure how often I’ll use this technique.

During breaks I visited the yarn market, which had maybe twenty or so vendors. Many of them sold yarn and notions that are available anywhere, but there were also quite a few purveyors of locally grown/spun/dyed yarn and fleece, and those were my favorite places to visit. When I stopped by the Bearlin Acres Farm booth, Linda, the owner, recognized me. “You’re the one who knit those mittens three times!” she exclaimed. She had enjoyed seeing the blog post and photos of those mittens–and was pleased to know that Sylvia loves them and wore them all winter long.

Linda had four skeins of yarn that she’d spun from Stansborough Grey fleece, and though the geek in me really really wanted to get these, I couldn’t justify the expense. These fingering-weight skeins were $30 each, but since I’d probably need two skeins to knit the socks I had in mind (which, for this yarn, would definitely be the Rivendell pattern), $60 for a pair of socks was just too much for my budget. (I should point out that rest of Linda’s yarn was very affordably priced; the price of this stuff reflects the cost of getting fleece all the way from New Zealand.)

I actually managed to avoid buying anything–well, anything for myself, that is. Toward the end of the day, I picked up something for Sylvia: twenty-five little felt balls in a variety of colors (with a bit more purple than anything else). She loves them! We are going to get some elastic thread and string them together into a necklace for her.
*When I told Sylvia what I was going to be doing that day, she said, “So it’s like you’re going to knitting school!”

7 Responses to “A day full of knitting”

  1. Chrison 28 Sep 2009 at 10:40 am

    Sounds like it was fun!

  2. Jen Andersonon 29 Sep 2009 at 10:59 am

    I’m jealous! I wanna go to knitting school. Though I hate people who don’t listen so much that I’d probably be very distracted by it.

    I’ve heard of backwards knitting, but I’ve never tried it. When I get around to trying entrelac, I’ll be sure to learn backwards knitting first.

  3. Marshaon 29 Sep 2009 at 3:47 pm

    @Chris: It was indeed a lot of fun! I like that this event isn’t crazy-big–no need to use my elbows as I make my way through the yarn market. :)
    @Jen: Why don’t you sign up for KDO next fall? It’s not all that far from New York! :) And you should definitely try to learn backwards knitting–don’t wait for entrelac as an excuse! Just think about all those stockinette scarves you could crank out at lightning speed!

  4. knittymamaon 30 Sep 2009 at 12:08 pm

    You know, I’ve been meaning to get to entrelac but keep putting it off. I think it’s time!

  5. jdon 30 Sep 2009 at 7:49 pm

    You’re much more devoted to developing your knitting skills than I am: am knitting Swallowtail #3 (!) after a long affair with garter stitch!

    Maybe you’ll cast on for a Lady Eleanor stole now! (Remember that one from way back when?! I still have all the yarn! — Jeez!)

    Have fun and keep busy, friend. Can’t wait to see S’s new necklace!

  6. Deborahon 02 Oct 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Oh this sounded like it was a wonderful event! So now you can teach me how to do entrelac? Backwards knitting? That has got to be one of the coolest things I’ve heard of. Hmmmm, must google to see what comes up!

  7. Marshaon 07 Oct 2009 at 11:27 am

    @Knittymama: Don’t delay! Entrelac is EASY–and SO COOL. You will love it!
    @jd: I do remember when you bought that yarn! (Your post on it actually inspired me to so some eBay searching for my own bag of Noro! Heh.) When are you going to start it?
    @Deborah: I can definitely teach you how to do entrelac. Maybe the next time you come to Philly to run a race? :)