Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sock Summit: Trailhead to Base Camp 1

Steven and I made it through Day 1 of Sock Summit!  We’re not at the top yet, but we got to Base Camp 1 successfully.  Whew!

My first class was Spindle Spinning Basics with Abby Franquemont and Denny McMillan.  I bought the class kit, which included a basic bottom whorl spindle.  I was a little worried when they said that knowing how to spin on a wheel would actually be a detriment to learning to spin on a spindle (because I already have a “prototype neural pathway” for the physical activity of spinning), but it was okay!  I can now half-hitch, park, and draft just like most 2-year-old Peruvians can. 

We didn’t have time to ply any yarn in our 3-hour class, but I think I understand how to ply on a spindle.  We’ll see. 

Abby and Denny were great teachers – I recommend them wholeheartedly.  I loved hearing about Abby’s childhood in the Peruvian Andes – so interesting.  (Read it on her blog, or wait for her book, Respect the Spindle, due out this November.)  She was precise and articulate in her directions to us, but still warm and funny.  Great combination.  And I was blown away when she showed us socks that she knit with her first spindle-spun yarn – she made them only 15 months ago.  (She’d spun on a wheel for years but is a relatively new spindle spinner!)

My afternoon class was “Finding True Sock Yarn Happiness” with Clara Parkes.  We talked about the requirements of sock yarn and how “true sock yarn happiness” is found in the perfect balance among elasticity, strength, and absorption.  We talked about different kinds of fiber and listed their strengths and weaknesses; we also got little samples of various fibers and taped them to our handouts.  We did the same review with yarns and examined swatches and sample socks.  We saw a few special socks that are featured in Clara’s forthcoming book, The Knitter’s Book of Wool (due out in October) – it was neat to get a preview of them. 

I left this class with a confirmation of a sock yarn philosophy toward which I have been moving for a while now, and here it is: No More 100% Merino Sock Yarn!

It’s okay to have merino mixed with nylon (or perhaps “nature’s nylon,” aka mohair).  But no more 100% merino.

Do you know how much sock yarn is 100% merino?  A LOT.  Right after Clara’s class, the marketplace opened to registered students for a couple of hours.  The Harlot Herself was at the doors to the marketplace.  I can’t resist the urge to photograph her.  It must be so annoying to be on the other end of that!IMG_4107Steven and I hit the ground running.  I saw Brian from Skacel knitting his 7 pairs of socks at one time:IMG_4108At this booth, I also snagged a really neat Addi needles with one Turbo tip and one Lace tip.  I checked out some of the Dye for Glory entrants (mmmm, String Theory).  I fondled the Briar Rose fibers for quite some time (I’d heard about these on Brenda Dayne’s Cast-On but have never seen them in person).  There was a LOT to see, and so much of it was merino merino merino.  I asked Clara earlier why so much sock yarn was made of merino, and she said that sock knitters like it (or think they like it) because it feels so good in the hand, and that the Australian merino industry is really strong.

Clara suggested that we seek out Blue Faced Leicester sock yarn, and I found some!  BFL is my new BFF.

This is an awful photo, but here is my haul from that first evening.IMG_4115 I’ll photograph this better later and describe it more.  That sparkly yarn on the right is for Anna.  The sunny yellow next to it is for S1.  The robot bag is for you know who.  Steven and I both got some of the Jacob/Alpaca/Mohair black yarn to the left of the sunny yellow – we plan to have a Toots LeBlanc sock yarn smackdown knitalong.  That big hank on the far left is worsted weight yarn but it was far too yummy to leave – I got an Anne Hanson knitspot pattern to go with it.  That Briar Rose booth was truly irresistible.

Later, we went to the Opening Ceremonies.  Steven asked if my munchies were dinner or a colorway.  This small plate does look like it could inspire a colorway, doesn’t it?


Whew!  We were POOPED when we got home.  And that was just the first day. We made it to Base Camp 1, but what will tomorrow hold?

1 comment:

  1. Really? Only 15 months ago? That really surprises me!

    Knitting 14 socks at once is just astounding!

    Have you spun with BFL yet? If you haven't, you will love it. Very sproingy.