Sunday, September 28, 2008

An Unexpected Pleasure

I just spent most of the weekend in the company of one of the knitting world's most treasured teachers, Susanna Hanssen. And what a pleasure it was.

The West Coast Knitters' Guild sponsored the weekend, and it was superbly organized by their president, the lovely Holli Yeoh and her staff, and well housed in a setting with plenty of natural light and great food.

But the main attraction was, of course, Susanna. She is a great teacher. Now I know what my friends who go to Madrona are going on about when they rave about her. Friday evening was an overview of Norwegian knitting, which has always intrigued and fascinated me. I am considerably more informed now than I was before Susanna's talk, and came away with a wonderful flavor of the past and present traditions. Susanna is a very entertaining speaker, and we were treated to many anecdotes and stories along the way.


Yesterday was the true prize though... a whole day's workshop on the Bohus Stickning company and the legacy it left, crowned by the opportunity to actually view and touch (with white cotton gloves, natch) about ten of the original vintage Bohus garments and accessories. We even got to knit a little wristlet in yarn and colors that are certified to match the *real* Blue Shimmer. Be still, my heart.

Susanna, in her wisdom, allowed us to get right into the knitting first, knowing that as knitters we would be figety unless we could be doing something with our hands. We over ambitiously, as she put it, dove into the tiny skeins and wound them into tiny balls. I looked over and Mel, my workshop mate, had wound hers into the most perfect little balls I had ever seen, so I had to take a picture:


As pleasurable as the knitting was (and it was VERY pleasurable), it was ecstasy to fondle the Bohus garments. Susanna encouraged us to mentally take the sweaters apart and figure out how they were constructed, which wasn't always easy. Those Bohus knitters did things in ways that were designed to be haute couture, not knitterly. But mostly, it was so much fun to imagine the hands that knit the sweaters and other items, and the people who had purchased and worn them. Some of them had been altered by their owners, or replaced parts of them when they were worn out. It was evident that they had been very loved.









I know... sigh. It was heaven.

What's left to do but knit one? I will saving up for a while to do this myself, but you can go here to order your own beautiful Bohus sweater kits containing the same gorgeous merino/angora yarn that we had for our little wristlets, handdyed to exacting specifications in Sweden by Solveig Gustaffson. We also found out that Susanna volunteers her time to translate the English patterns from their original Swedish. If you would like to "pay it forward" in honor of her dedication and selflessness, you are asked to give a donation to Knitters without Borders.

We also learned that there will be a magnificent museum exhibition about the Bohus tradition next year (2009) in Minneapolis. Do go if you can.

The parting feeling for me was awe in this wonderful company, which schooled knitters in their techniques and left us with an enduring legacy of beautiful, artfully designed and executed garments. A tradition which I can only hope to continue in my own way...

Oh and by the way? I finished the first opera length Due Amori glove...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sock Summit

You are all now officially invited to the Sock Summit!

If you knit socks or have ever wanted to, this will be THE thing to do next year, hosted by the amazing trio of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Cat Bordhi and Tina Newton of Blue Moon Fiber Arts. The unholy trinity of Knitting Out of The Box. Need I say more????

And get a load of this:

Hehe.. more on this as the news breaks!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Progress and More Progress

So... just to catch up, since I have been back from the retreat, most of my time has been spent visiting with my Mom (she went back home a little over a week ago), answering emails and such, and working at the shop.

But a few things have been getting knitted too.. and here is a little progress report on those.

First, the Dué Amori items now include a pair of long gloves in the works as well as a pair of shorter (gauntlet length) gloves, and the scarf is close to being finished.

The scarf, like the shorter gloves, is being done is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Seduction in the Quilla colorway, with 6/0 pearl beads. More pictures promised when finished... it promises to be one of the nicest eye candy lace pieces yet, if I do say so myself. Here it is shown about one-half blocked, one half unblocked, and still on the needles for the rest.

The longer gloves are in progress too, and they are lovely in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Seduction in the Tanzanite colorway with silver lined matte amethyst beads that Nancy gave me during the retreat... thank you my dear! They are perfect for this yarn! Here you see the Fan Pattern that begins all of the gloves, and then the beaded lace pattern that continues up most of the length of the glove to culminate in the leaf pattern on the hand, which I promise to show when it's done!

This shows the decreases on the back of the long, opera length glove. I think this view is quite elegant actually...

And here is actually something JUST FOR ME! Yes, I DO knit for myself sometimes, strangely enough! I picked up this beautiful Rowan Felted Tweed yarn at the Beehive when we passed through Victoria on the way to the retreat, and I truly love working with it. The Leaf Yoke Pullover pattern is from a Classic Elite Summer booklet but it will be very fall-like by the time I am done. I love the in-the-round top-down construction and it is a perfect foil for the detailed knitting I am doing otherwise. I am making several mods of course, starting with the leaf cable, which if you can tell is a bit fatter and rounder than in the pattern. What can I say... it's probably pathological the way I just can't do a pattern as written... ahem.

And here is something I had to start, with a great new yarn we are carrying at Three Bags Full, Malabrigo Sock. Hehe... my mom literally walked away with my only samples of my Rolling Thunder sock pattern so I just had to start another pair... right? This one is working up beautifully (if I do say so myself) in the Tiziano Red colorway with some amazing Toho triangle beads. I am really enjoying the knit, even though the most interesting part is done and now it is just ribbing and regular top down sock stuff, which makes it my designated car and bus project for the next little while. Here is a pic of the sock top so far:

I guess I am getting the Fall Knitting Bug...

The Retreat!

Here is the report on the Retreat over the weekend of September 5, long long overdue...

First, a few words about the enchanted and magical spot where the retreat was held. The house of Sage and Linden is situated right on the ocean, in a little community called Cobble Hill, between Victoria and Duncan on Vancouver Island. I hope I am describing this accurately, as I am the worst in the world at directions, maps, etc. Anyway, here is a view from the porch, which Sage and Linden get to see from their bedroom window... Note the treetop level view and the ocean peeking through the trees. I saw eagles and ravens circling BELOW, which was amazing.


The house itself is graciously proportioned and perfect for a retreat. Here is our workshop room:


and another view of the lovely, spacious room:


We had three days of fun, which included a visit to a nearby Alpaca farm. One alpaca really wanted to check me out, and it looks like she was whispering in my ear. They were such lovely, sweet animals.


The farm owners allowed us to feed them and even wander around in the girls' pen, which was great, and some of us got a bit mobbed.




That is Sage in the midst of an alpaca mob. Sage has a special relationship with one of the babies too:


I think she makes a lovely alpaca mommy.

You all probably know by now that the subject of the retreat was the new pattern, Dué Amori, which is a glove and scarf set. Some chose to start the glove and some the scarf, and I hope all had a great time and learned some things too.

I must say that I think I learned the most from getting to know these talented and ingenious knitters. I certainly enjoyed them all! Hi to everybody!!!!

And now I am ready to do another one, as long as Sage and Linden don't mind another swarm of knitters at their eagle's nest of a setting...

You can see the whole pictures set on Flickr here. Enjoy...