Yarn Fest 2015 Report

So, I’m back from Yarn Fest, busily doing laundry, unpacking, and dutifully taking photos of my new yarn to note in Ravelry. I have lots to relay and not a whole lot of time to do that, as I’m having to cram all of my usual weekend tasks into one day. Here goes:

This was my first Yarn Fest. It was everyone’s first Yarn Fest. Interweave has hosted other events, such as Knitting Lab, but this was their first multicraftual Yarn Fest. I was delighted that they held it in my own back yard, in Loveland, Colorado. As much as I’d love to attend VK Live or STITCHES or other big knitting events, I’m just not willing to pay the money for the event plus the airfare. If I can’t drive to an event, I’m not going, at least not any time soon.

Therefore, I was thrilled to find out that Yarn Fest would take place right here in Colorado. I also liked the format — a la carte pricing for whatever happened to interest a person. Some people came for the entire event and had classes scheduled all day, every day. Some people were there for days, but left plenty of free time to enjoy the Marketplace or other area attractions, or just to sit and knit. Me? I scheduled classes all day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and left after class on Saturday afternoon. That was a trade-off: I missed Linda Cortright’s keynote talk on Saturday night, and I missed out on what looked like some fun classes on Sunday morning, in order to salvage some of the weekend to take care of household stuff in front of what’s going to be a really busy week.

When I checked in on Wednesday afternoon, I received a goody bag so full of things that it took three photos to capture it all:

goody bag extras goody bag reading goody bag yarn

There were three skeins of nice yarn, some patterns, and three magazines, including the latest Knitting Traditions, which I was thrilled to have.

On Thursday, I took Galina Khmeleva’s class on Orenburg knitting. Galina is a walking encyclopedia of Orenburg lace knitting, and the class was fascinating.

Orenburg class

By day’s end, I had enough knowledge so that I could put together a lace shawl or scarf of my own. And I will, because I stopped by Galina’s booth, Skaska Designs, and loaded up on qiviut:

qiviut pyramid

I realize I went pretty nuts, but I had planned to buy qiviut if I could find it in the Marketplace, as it’s becoming harder and harder to come by. To me, qiviut is worthy to add to my long-term stash. Besides, now I have the skills to knit it into something wonderful.

Friday was Math Day. My morning class was Math for Knitters with Kate Atherley, which was very helpful and informative. In it, I found out that Kate had written a book about how to write good patterns:

knit design book

I made sure to pick this up before I left town. I need this book. I have designed several sweaters over the years, the instructions for which exist as a pile of notes with taped-together charts and graph paper, and I’d love to get them in a state where others could enjoy them, too. Now, Kate, how about providing some words of wisdom as to how I can find the time to do this?

In the afternoon, I took Sweater Design with Ann Budd. Ann has a very intuitive way of explaining difficult concepts, so I was not disappointed with this class. Really, I wished I’d taken it years ago, when I first began to heavily modify, then design from the ground up, complicated cabled sweaters.

After class I went back over to the Marketplace. I’d blown my budget (and then some) on the qiviut, but I did end up buying this delightful Mountain Colors yarn from Cowgirl Yarns:

Mountain Colors lupine

On Saturday, I took a class on buttonholes, zippers, and pockets from Nancy Shroyer. This class was helpful because I’m working on a cardigan for my mom, and I really want the button band to come out looking nice. After taking Nancy’s class, I think I can pull this off.

My last class was also with Nancy, on Fair Isle Knitting. We started a headband:

Fair Isle headband

The headband provides a good overview of techniques in stranded knitting, such as two-handed knitting and capturing floats. While I’m not much of a headband person, myself, this was a good teaching tool, and will make a nice Christmas gift.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s Yarn Fest. Maybe I’ll stay for the whole thing next time.

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Homework Procrastination

I knew better. I really did. I knew better than to put off doing my homework for my Interweave Yarn Fest classes. After all, I signed up for this shindig months ago — the day registration opened, in fact. And, as I was so taken with the classes being offered, I booked myself solid for three days.

Some classes require nothing more than showing up with what’s typically in my knitting bag. Others, however, require gathering materials and knitting swatches or starting projects to be worked on in class. I knew this. I knew it when I was signing up for classes. I’d made a mental note of the fact that homework was required in several classes and moved on with my life. Months went by. The Yarn Fest, noted on the family calendar, crept closer.  And now? Now, I feel like a student who’s had months to work on a long-term project, but put it off until the last minute. This weekend, in what little discretionary time I had, I finally put together a binder for Yarn Fest, printed out course information and homework, and started getting my head wrapped around the fact that I’ve got an expensive three days of knitting stuff going on, and I need to maximize my value. I certainly won’t maximize anything if I’m not prepared.

This is my second big knitting show I’ll have attended, with the first being Loopy Ewe’s Fall Fling about a year ago. For that event, I put together a binder with dividers for each class and a pen pocket for supplies. That preparation helped out a lot, as I was in class for several days straight. I knew I’d do the same thing for Yarn Fest, but I put off actually doing it.

Until now. Last week, I realized, with a start, that I was out of procrastination time. True, I’ve got until Wednesday to get ready, but really, I don’t. I have this weekend. To extricate myself gracefully from work for a few days, the coming [short] workweek will be devoted to, well, work. That leaves right now to get ready for Yarn Fest.

I logged on to the website to see what I was up against. Granted, knitting homework ain’t thermochemistry, but still, it does take time. What if I had several time-intensive things to do? What if I had a lot of exotic supplies to track down? On top of work and family obligations, this might be quite the ordeal for the weekend.

I compiled a list of supplies I’d need: Various knitting needles, bits of yarn here and there, so not a big deal. I looked at the homework. One of my instructors sent out an email asking us to please, please have the homework done before class, because we’d never catch up otherwise. Yes, I could see that. Two swatches that were not insubstantial. Here’s one:

notebook and swatch

For another class, I had to start a headband:

headband begun

I raided my Knit Picks Palette collection. These colors were from a kit for knitting various colorwork mittens, so I know the colors will go together gracefully.

I also put together a binder (the one in the swatch photo above). I put tabs for each class:

notebook tabs

Inserted a pen pocket for pens, pencils, and supplies:

pen pocket

And printed out all of my class materials.

I’m still kind of annoyed with myself for waiting this long to get things together. I’ll have to start packing this weekend, as I can’t expect to have much time at all to devote to this during the week. Now that I’m (mostly) prepped, I can look forward to Yarn Fest.







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Convertible Season

It’s Springtime here along the Front Range, which means the forecast is usually “mostly sunny, highs around 70, with a chance of a blizzard.” Some days, you can drive a convertible with the top down. Some days, you drive your all-wheel-drive vehicle with snow tires. Such is life.

So, when I decided I just had to have mittens to match my new shawl:

Yowza on

I decided I’d make them convertible so that I could have warm mitten tops covering my fingers for cold days, and I could button back those tops when it’s not so cold.

I bought Mountain Colors yarn to match the shawl in sturdy, springy 4/8 (colorway: Thunderhead), and cast on the day the yarn arrived. I decided to size up to my size 3 Signatures, instead of my usual size 2’s that I use for mittens. I think the size-up worked well because this yarn is more of a true worsted weight than the usual fingering that I use for mittens. The pattern is my go-to Smitten With Mittens, modified as discussed below.

Modifications: The ribbing is three inches long, which I prefer for better coverage. I did KFB increases for the thumb gussets, rather than m1’s. I picked up an additional two stitches at the thumb crotch for a total of 18 stitches, to keep the thumb from being too small in circumference. When I picked up the four thumb crotch stitches, I twisted them by knitting into the backs of the stitches. I knit the thumb almost to cover my thumb before doing the decreases.

I knit the mitt until I was happy with the length in the fingers, and then ribbed for about one inch (about 8 rows). For the mitten tops, I used a size 1 DPN to pick up the left leg of 20 stitches (that’s half the total) along the back of the hand-side.

stitches picked up

I knit across those stitches TBL, which creates a row of twisted stitches and makes the picked-up row tight.

knitted across stitches

crossed line of stitches

Then, I CO 20 additional stitches along the palm-side using the knitted cast-on,

cast on additional stitches

distributed the stitches among 4 needles (using a 5th working needle), then knitted the back-side stitches and ribbed the palm-side stitches in 1 X 1 rib for about 8 rows.

knitting top back knitting top palmside

I then changed to all stockinette until the overall length was right. Finally, I decreased according to the pattern. At the top, I made a little single-chain crochet chain and attached it as a loop. I sewed buttons right above the cuff ribbing in the center of the back-side.

finished on

The mittens blocked up just a bit short in the mitten tops, creating a gap along the palm side instead of a goodoverlap.

finished short

So, I wet the mitten tops and spot-blocked them about a half-inch longer.

spot blocking

The result gave me just a bit more room in the fingertips, which beats re-knitting, anyway.

finished longer

Now, I’m ready for convertible season.


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