Monday, March 28, 2011

Knitting Retreat Recap

What a wonderful weekend! I am just overwhelmed by how much I enjoyed the knitting retreat. It was my first time taking classes and first time attending a retreat. I'm still blown away today by how much fun I had.

This was the first ever knitting retreat done by the Yarn Cupboard, a local yarn shop in Jamesville that I still haven't visited (oh that will definitely change soon). It started on Friday night and at check in we were give a nice goodie bag with 3 yarns I had never heard of. I plan to research them more this afternoon. Then it was dinner and a talk by Sandi Wiseheart from Knitting Daily. I was a little late to it but what I did catch was educational, inspiring and entertaining all at the same time. Sandi is a great advocate for helping people understand what patterns will look nice on you no matter what your body shape is and how to adjust existing patterns (hello bust darts). Also on Friday was our preview for the vendors. Jill Draper's section was my first stop since I've bought from her before and love the quality of fibers and colors she offers. I bought two hanks of sock yarn (Cherry Pie & Iowa City colors) for one of my classes.

Next up was Holiday Yarns, which for some strange reason I didn't know they were an actual shop. I thought they were a place for workshops only - boy I was wrong! I was very good about staying away from her lace weights but her sock yarns have amazing choices for colors. I ended up buying one of her Yarn Fairies in a color that reminds me of Orange Sherbet. I was later told that her Yarn Faires are either the "oops" skeins or skeins used to finish up a pot of mixed colors. I originally bought it to make socks for someone else but by the end of the weekend I was smitten and it will be mine, all mine!

Saturday morning we had a lazy continental breakfast and then I headed over to my first class of "Reknittable Heels and Toes" taught by Jill Draper. Since the heels are where my socks tend to wear out first I thought this would be a great technique to learn. It was challenging because I used too light weight of a yarn to move quickly but I did eventually finish the heel. The most challenging aspect of this class was paying attention to making both sides even with the yarn overs. I'm really looking forward to using this heel technique in the next pair of socks that I make for the men in my family who tend to have rough heels and wear out that spot quickly.

Lunch was relaxing and delicious - I'm a picky eater so I was pleasantly surprised that I liked everything. Saturday afternoon we dived into "Fair Isle Toe Up Socks" taught by Shannon Chaffee Adams. I have already done fair isle projects before so I really wanted to focus on the toe up part of the class. The cast on was tricky and fidgety but once I got the first row completed it was easy. Shannon had a few tricks for knitting your ends in so you don't have to weave them in later and I really want to keep practicing that one. I can't stand seaming ends in. When we got to the fair isle part and adding in the second color she showed me how to knit with both hands, meaning one hand in each color. It was slow but I can see how with a little practice it will be faster eventually. It felt natural and fluid in my hands - just one more bonus for taking this class.

Dinner was great again and then we had a talk from the lady who started Great Adirondack Yarns. I loved her enthusiasm for embracing creativity and for recognizing that nothing is a wasted project. Later we heard from a yarn rep who gave us insight on upcoming trends in the knitting & yarn industry. It's nice to hear about the trends but I knit so slow that I'll probably stick with the staples of knitting for now. Several people & companies donated items for the door prizes and I ended up winning a skein of handspun yarn made by Beth. I was so touched. I know how much hard work goes into that and I can't wait to find the perfect cowl pattern to knit up with the yarn she made.

Sunday morning after breakfast I took a second class from Jill Draper called "Double Time Cowl" which focused on double knitting. The cast on took forever for me to pick up but I did eventually get it. Double knitting felt intuitive and I caught on to that quickly. Soon I was focused on the chart with "same, same, different, different" repeating through my head. Big light bulb for me when I realized that I could take just about any pattern and make it double knit. When my husband saw the swatch I made he immediately made a request for a double knit hat. The best part was that I'm not very good at the Kitchener stitch and Jill stayed late with me to make sure I had it down. The resulting swatch is the item I'm most proud of from all of my classes: brand new cast on, brand new double knitting & proper kitchen stitch to finish it up.

There were other vendors at the market but I tried to avoid them for stash overflowing reasons. I bought a Addi Lace turbo needle from the Yarn Cupboard but tried to stay away from her other yarns because her kits and lace were so tempting (I have tons of lace & kits already). There was also a lady with gorgeous spinning fiber and I was very close to buying some but I stayed strong since I haven't been able to spin on a regular bases. Another lady was selling rug hooking supplies and then on Sunday morning there was a table of amazing cupcakes.

I can't believe all I purchased was 3 hanks of sock yarn and a set of needles but it's wonderful now to have new sources for buying yarn in the future. This whole weekend really opened my eyes to what's out there and inspired me to learn more and try more projects. Here's a look at the contents of my knitting bag when I finally got home:

Hands down, the best part of the entire retreat was hanging out with such nice people. We all ranged in age but got along great. This morning my Ravelry inbox was full of friend requests from all of the ladies I met. I can't say enough how lucky I feel to have met them. I will definitely be signing up for another retreat if/when the Yarn Cupboard does it.

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