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I drove down to Madison to join my mother at the Madison Knitters Guild Knit In. She had volunteered to serve as vendor coordinator. I volunteered to serve as her minion. All day Friday we scurried around, helping to orient the vendors, answering questions and directing them to their reserved booths. That evening we retired to the Clarion Hotel lobby for a welcome glass of complementary wine.

Enjoying some wine at the Clarion while waiting for Patty Lyons' keynote. #mkg2015

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We shared the lobby with a large crowd of folks who were there to attend a model train show. They beat us to the lobby and the wine, being chronically on-time, as train enthusiasts are known to be.

The Clarion gathering room. Full of knitters and train enthusiasts. What a wonderful place to be. #mkgknitin2015

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After our refreshment, we headed over to listen to Patty Lyons’ keynote speech. What a hoot!

Patty's keynote is the place to be. It's cold outside but it's warm and wooly in here. #mkgknitin2015

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Patty. Our feature teacher. A giant in the knitting world but itty bitty in real life. #mkgknitin2015

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She gave a talk about the importance of knitting gauge swatches.

Yeah. I've been there. #mkgknitin2015

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Gauge swatch: also known as the lying liar who lies to us.

Gauge tragedies in mohair are particularly painful. #mkgknitin2015

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While we were there we got to enjoy some awesome knitwear creations close-up.

THIS is the way to accessorize your hand knits. #mkgknitin2015

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I need me these clogs.

Knit stitch clogs spotted at #mkgknitin2015

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The next day, I thew myself into classes. I took two classes from Mary Germain (she of the fabulous color work sweater below).  One class was devoted to different kinds of Latvian mitten cuffs: scalloped braid, twisted garter, and garter colorwork.

Mary Germain showing off some intricate Latvian cuffs. #mkgknitin2015

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The other class was all about Estonian lace. Here’s my pitiful first attempt at nupps. Gack!

My Estonian lace border and center smaller. All joined. The sewing up was pretty easy. The rest needs work. #mkgknitin2015

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Now this is what I’m talkin’ about. Now those are nupps.

Ooh. Floaty clouds of Estonian wonderfullness. At Mary Germain's afternoon class's. #mkgknitin2015

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During my breaks I shopped feverishly. There were so many wonderful vendors. Mom told me they had twice as many this year as last.

@javajennie selling tempting bags at the Knit In. She offers "java" in many serving sizes. All highly caffeinated. #mkgknitin2015

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Did you forget needles for your KnitIn class? You can get extras at Johnny Skein's booth. #mkgknitin2015

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No worries. Galpaca brought the honey. #mkgknitin2015

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This guy makes the most awesome felted flowers and killer hats.

Spry Whimsy making felted flowers. Live at the Knit In. #mkgknitin2015

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Later that night I met up with some friends for dinner at Grandpa’s Pizza on Willy St., followed by a trip to the Old Sugar Distillery. So many tasty new places have popped up in Madison since I moved away.

Tasty Honey Cap at Old Sugar Distillery. Plus knitting. #widn #mkgknitin2015 tagging @ra_krieg @ballke @soxtherapist

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Later that evening, I joined other knitters in the Clarion Lobby for more knitting and carousing. These knitters really know how to carouse. Jammies and all.

Patty Lyons in her knit-dorable flannel sheep jammies. #mkgknitin2015

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On Saturday, more classes. This time an all day class on Latvian mittens.

My completed mini Latvian mitten with thumb. I just need to sew up the cuff with the picot edge. #mkgknitin2015

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A lively string band spiced things up in the common area at lunch time. I wish they had been there on Saturday too.

String band livening up lunch time at the Knit In. They should definitely have them back next year. #mkgknitin2015

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A wonderful trip. I’ll definitely come back to the Knit In in future years.

I’ve been meaning to blog about my new Raspberry Stripes Cardigan. But this cardigan just doesn’t want to hold still. All it wants to do is go out to dinner, attend a concert, go for a walk, and even do chores around the house. Couldn’t get near it with a camera.

I love its drapey simplicity

The pattern is Caramel by Isabell Kraemer. The basic cardigan is pretty simple, but it has spawned all sorts of wild and inspiring variations.

My inspiration for this particular color combination came from memories of my recent visit to Eugene, OR. If you go there, you must buy the berries. Ever seen three colors of raspberries in one stall? Each stripe of this cardigan is the color of one type of natural raspberry: red, black (purple) and golden.

Yarns Used:

Spin Guilt

After several months of no spinning, I’m back with a vengeance. And before I’m allowed to spin any new singles, I’ve tasked myself with plying the singles I’ve already spun. I need to free up some bobbins. Perhaps not the most artistically inspiring mission statement. But sometimes pretty things spring from necessity.

First came this 2-ply blue merino. 886 yards. One strand of tonal blue. One strand of a more variegated fiber in ocean colors.

blue merino cropped

 

Next came this rainbow Corriedale from Gale’s Art. I spun these fine singles for a class last summer, then never used them. I split the roving into thin strips so I would have lots of short color repeats. I spun the singles chain-ply to retain the stripes. 606 yards.It looks vaguely Koigu-ish.

colored corriedale cropped

Last of all came this golden brown BFL/silk. The singles had been sitting on the bobbin for a long time waiting for inspiration to strike. But I’d never been able to find something else appropriate to ply with them. So I decided the best thing to do was to ply them with themselves (chain ply) and move on.

BFL silk cropped

Tried a new experiment this week. I had a bunch of hand carded Corriedale left over from a previous spinning project. I decided to try spinning it worsted.

I know, I know. Why go to all that effort to card it by hand only to ruin it by spinning it the wrong way?

I don’t think I ruined it.

Right now a problem I have with my worsted spinning is keeping it from getting too dense. Sometimes a gal wants to knit a hat that won’t drown her if she falls into the lake.

I also wanted to see how spinning the same prepared fiber would behave with this other technique. Really see it, not just believe in the physics of it.

Here are my results.

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Plump but not poofy three ply. Sturdy but not heavy. I wouldn’t knit socks with it. But a sweater would work. And in the aforementioned lake scenario I probably wouldn’t drown.

Slow knitting

I’ve been knitting all evening. Two episodes of Bunheads. Two episodes of Mozart in the Jungle. All I have to show for it is this little ribbed cuff.

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Why does knitting go so slowly some days and so quickly on other days? I feel like I could have knitted the whole ribbed hem of a sweater in the time it has taken me to make this cuff.

* Whining over *

Ok. It wasn’t that bad. I fixed the cardigan. And it wasn’t even all that hard.

This goes out to all those knitters who may have read my previous post and have been frightened away from button holes forever.

I had a tantrum. It’s not that bad. By it is a finicky process and you have to do it right. Gauge is really important.

1) I removed the button hole band on Friday night. Then I removed all of the sewn on buttons.

2) I left the button band itself attached to my cardigan because it was the right length. The pattern recommended that I knit it most of the way, then attach it while it was still on the needles so that I could more easily determine if I needed more or less length. Good tip.

3) I counted rows of my button band to find out how many rows I would need to knit for my button hole band. No more measuring with a measuring tape for me. I’m going to measure by the only yardstick that means anything in knitting. My actual gauge.

4) I then figured out my button placements based in the number of rows. Evenly spaced and everything. I sewed the buttons on.

5) I cast on the button hole band, counting my rows very carefully, spacing my button holes so they corresponded exactly to the placement of my buttons. This worked very well.

6) Before sewing up I actually buttoned the button hole band on over the button band to ensure that it would not stretch unpredictably. And it didn’t. Everything was perfect.

Victory. I declare victory.

I’m don’t know if this description is at all similar to what knitting teachers tell you to do. But it worked for me.

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It’s hard to conceal my ire. I was so proud of how this Reverb cardigan was turning out. The purple yarn was lovely. The pattern was easy to follow. I knew the cardigan would look super-hip on, and would go with most of my wardrobe. But the button band betrayed me.

I don’t have any experience with button bands. So far, I’ve managed to avoid knitting cardigans that require buttons. I pretended that I preferred the open look. But the truth is, I was afraid of the button band. And now I know I was right. Button bands are pure evil.

  • Button bands stretch unpredictably and throw off your measurements. 4 inches between button holes. Oops, looks like you have 5. 5 is ok right?
  • Button bands lull you into thinking five buttons will do…until you try on the cardigan and realize you really need seven.
  • Button bands keep you from appreciating your brand new very pretty cardigan because something is just slightly “off”.
  • Button bands are so hard to satisfy. Put the button too far to one side, and the whole thing stretches like a scallop. Which would be nice if that was something I wanted. An artistic statement, prehaps. But it’s NOT.
  • Button bands wait until you have the cardigan all blocked, with the ends woven in, to speak up and tell you something is wrong.
  • Button bands remind you that your stomach is not as flat and firm as your dress dummy’s stomach. They’re rude little buggers.

Stupid riggin’, friggin’ button band.

Here’s the cardigan. You can see the issues I’m talking about.

I guess it’s time to remove the button bands, reknit them, and do the finishing all over again.

But not now. Not today. Today I shake my fist at the universe.

Tomorrow I’ll take apart my cardigan.

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