Today was the Madison Knitters' Guild knit-in, and what a grand day it was! To tell the truth, being around other knitters brings out all the shyness in me, which is one reason I've never joined the Guild or any other formal group. But I simply could not pass up the chance to meet Meg Swansen and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, plus my good friend C and I signed up for the same sessions, so I wasn't all alone.
Here are some highlights from my day:
1. Biking! Nice weather and limited parking inspired me to ride my bike instead of trying to catch a lift with someone. I haven't ridden it since our last warm spell in November, so I had to put air in the tires and search the basement for a proper lock. And I swear to you the 3.5 miles between my house and the retreat center is ALL UPHILL. When I got there I had jelly legs and a sore bum, but the exercise felt gooooood.
2. The Meg Swansen/Joyce Williams not-a-class. It was basically a Q&A session with lots and lots of knitted samples to look at and ooh and aah over. Swansen and Williams just co-wrote a book called Armenian Knitting using this incredible technique of creating large pictures without intarsia. I'm not sure if I would ever make a garment that way, but it was one of those times where just when you think you've seen it all, you realize you really, really haven't. They demonstrated some techniques, talked about design elements in their own sweaters, answered lots of questions, and were completely delightful. Meg Swansen was pretty tickled to hear that my 3yo son likes to watch knitting videos with me (I've been checking out her and EZ's instructional DVDs from the public library.)
3. You want to know Meg Swansen's dirty little secret? SHE DOESN'T SWATCH. Or at least, hardly ever. She's "just lucky" she says. Joyce Williams confessed the same. How liberating!
4. Udder cream. I won it as a door prize! Can you believe it? I really need this stuff because my hands are so dry and chapped they're starting to crack.
5. The vendors. Oh, the eye candy! There were booths after booths of beautifully hand-dyed hanks of sock yarn and lace yarn and roving and small-farm alpaca and handmade buttons...I understand that when people go to fiber festivals and such, they often make rules for themselves like "only sock yarn" or "no more than X number of skeins." I discovered quickly that the easiest way to make sure you don't overbuy is to ride your bicycle to said event. That way, you can't take home anything that won't fit in your bag. I figured there was no point in even entertaining the thought of buying commercial yarn I can get anywhere in Madison already, but there were exactly two skeins I couldn't resist:
This cheerful yellow sock yarn was under 20 bucks and I couldn't NOT bring it home. I don't have pattern in mind for it, but there are 450 yards, so I should have a lot of options.
This is probably the softest alpaca I've ever laid fingers on. I had a really hard time deciding which color to buy, since there were about 8 different natural colors ranging from black and charcoal to dark, medium and light brown to oatmeal and cream, all of them heathery and gorgeous. I thought about buying two skeins for color work, but decided that 600 yards in a single skein (!!) would be plenty for a hat and mittens with some sort of texture pattern like cables. No gauge is listed on the label, but I'm guessing it's sportweight. I think I'll make this a design project for myself; it'll be fun.
6. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. She was funny and engaging and interesting and inspiring as always. She told one hilarious story after another. She talked about how knitting is good for the mind (much as she did last year, but I liked hearing it again). She reminded us that what we do as knitters is important, significant. She signed my book: "To Susan: obsession is normal." I'm sure that's what she wrote in everyone's book, but it was like a personal validation.
I biked home to my family, who hadn't fallen to pieces in the six or so hours they'd been without me. Stu had even done the dishes! You know, I could have spent today making some money; the high school solo and ensemble competition is today and I got a lot of calls and emails asking me to accompany. And you know what? I'm glad I said no and went to the knit-in instead.
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