Sunday, September 18, 2016

Knitters’ Day Out 2016

As usual, here is my report from Knitters’ Day Out ---

For my morning class, I learned how to pick up stitches and work a top-down set-in sleeve using short rows to shape the sleeve cap. This technique is pretty fiddly. The instructor had us work a strand of waste yarn along with the main yarn on the pick-up round. The reason for this was so we could identify the pick-up round later and tighten up that row of stitches so it looked better. I have to say that I did NOT enjoy this. It took me longer to tighten up the round than it would have to just seam in a sleeve using mattress stitch. This is the only photo I have. The bits of orange peeking through are from that strand of waste yarn:IMG_4038

I’m interested in top-down sleeves because I think it will be easier to get the length right, but I wasn’t enamored of this technique. I wonder if patterns are ever written to work sleeves flat (separately) from the top down? I am completely willing to try that. I’m also willing to take a look at this book, which just came out. Has anyone seen it yet?

My afternoon class was about afterthought pockets. I took a class with Lily Chin in 2014, so I knew she was a great teacher. She did not disappoint this year! For the first pocket, we worked some waste yarn into the swatch and then removed it later to open a hole in the fabric.



We worked a very simple pocket and discussed its pros and cons. Lily likes to round the bottom corners of the pocket to reduce the amount of lint, etc, that collects there. I worked Pocket #1 in red yarn:IMG_4014



This is a little tiny pocket worked over 7 stitches. It isn’t very deep, but you get the idea.

The next pocket required the use of a crochet hook, but no waste yarn. It is worked as you work the sweater fabric (making it technically NOT an afterthought pocket, I guess). The opening reminds me of a buttonhole. I worked this pocket in white yarn:IMG_4020


The final pocket was the most flexible because it is truly an afterthought – I marked a spot in the fabric where I wanted to insert a pocket, and just cut a strand of yarn in the middle: IMG_4021

I unraveled the yarn and placed live loops on needles. Then I worked a pocket in blue yarn:IMG_4032

You can see that the three pockets all look different at the opening. I won’t give you the full scoop on that because I don’t want to give away Lily’s Secret Sauce. There are lots more little details and tips that we got along the way. Let’s just say that some pocket openings are more stretchy (and therefore more prone to sagging, especially given the yarn and pocket size) and some are more stable. Our class even brainstormed a couple ideas about how to stabilize the pocket opening even more.

I really appreciate Lily’s attention to lesson planning. Her homework was completely appropriate (not too much, not too little, just the right amount to allow us to practice the techniques). Her handouts were correct and complete. Her learning goals were right-sized for a three-hour class. And she used technology to teach better – here’s a shot of her setup at the front of the room:


She is using the camera on a Microsoft Surface tablet to capture her hands and project them on the big screen. We students could see EXACTLY what Lily saw in her own hands, but much bigger. (The black and white things on the table are just lamps.) GENIUS! This is a big step forward from standing in front of the room with giant knitting needles held over one’s head (teacher’s back to students), which is a pretty good low-tech way to do a demo for a group (and also superior to just having students stand behind you while you sit in a chair and work a technique).

Lily also has lots of digital photos organized in folders on her tablet so that she can quickly show us projects that use the techniques being taught. But lest you think that she is all high tech… she still brings plenty of samples for us to study and touch. IMG_4026

I learned a lot in this class and am anxious to put a pocket in one of my Greynbow Sweater swatches as a test. Here is my completed pocket sampler:IMG_4031

As for the marketplace… I tried not to acquire too much this year since I am focusing on stash reduction. I did not buy any yarn or fiber, which shows some real restraint because there were some gorgeous things on offer! But I did pick up a few things:IMG_4033

First, I got another pair of folding scissors to replace the one I lost at airport security in Bali. I like to have a pair in each of my notions bags. I also got another Lolo Bar. I have one that is almost gone and I really like it. For my big purchase, I finally chose a pair of wool carders – these are the Clemes & Clemes ones and I got them at the Gurdy Run Woolen Mill booth (I’ve bought fiber from them before and been very happy with it – all roving which can be hard to find!). They are quite lightweight and comfortable in my hands. I’m looking forward to blending some fibers for future spinning projects.

The other thing that came home with me wasn’t purchased. Julie and Alison left these plates of Plötulopi on the swap table, and I scooped them right into my bag. IMG_4035

I don’t have any immediate plans for this yarn, but after visiting Iceland last summer, I felt that I just could not leave the yarn on the table with all the Red Heart Supersaver. I’ll do some reading and consider a pattern (here are some tips for working with Plötulopi). The absolutely worst case scenario is that I return them to the KDO swap table another year. Julie said she had a lot of trouble knitting with this because the strand kept drifting apart. It didn’t feel good, either, so she KonMaried it. Julie, were you working a particular pattern? Maybe I’ll try one of those Lopi style sweaters…


  1. Nice hand cards and those classes sound incredible - even though you did not enjoy one terribly. It seems you learned (or at least reinforced) that set in sleeves are the best!

  2. Wow -- that first one does sound fiddly. You know how scared I am of Lily Chin, but I have not doubt that she's one prepared, kick-ass teacher. I remember seeing Elizabeth Zimmerman chop into a sweater to just quickly add on a pocket when we were watching one of her videos. I remember gasping. For some reason, this seems more scary than a steek. I mean, it's finished! Why would you do that?

    Great score on the Icelandic wool!