Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ahhhh...The Knitting Experience

What a great five days in northeastern Pennsylvania! The experience started with an in-depth exploration of the rural roads between I-78 and Stroudsburg, undertaken because I-78E was closed due to a chemical spill. After sitting in traffic and travelling two miles in one hour, I decided to head left at the detour point, instead of right like everyone else. Rationale? On these two-lane rural roads, this volume of traffic just isn't going to move. Yeah, right. I discovered that no matter how quaint these towns are, somehow, someway, all the people who have cars within a 20-mile radius gravitate toward the same stoplight all at once. Add some really messed-up stoplight timing and we have...traffic jam! I was an hour and half late to the first class. My friend, Gina, however, sat in the I-78 and US-22 traffic and got there on time. It took five and a half hours to get to Kirkridge (note: it took three and a half hours to get home).

And once I arrived? I immediately whipped out my knitting needles, proceeded to cast on 20 stitches and commenced to knit backwards. Doesn't that sound like a migraine in the making? Surprisingly, I managed to wrap my head around the process without getting a headache. Backwards knitting (and purling) is very, very convenient when you are working a small number of stitches because you don't have to turn your work! The only thing that you need to remember is that when knitting backwards, the backwards knit stitch takes the place of the normal purl and the backwards purl stitch takes the place of normal knit on the rows that are knit backwards.

Thursday dawned bright and early. Gina and I were up at 6:30, with Gina in search of coffee. After finding said coffee, out came the needles and the knitting started, with a short break for breakfast. Then class, which was learning to knit with two colors, and a little bit of Fair Isle practice, before moving on to knitting an argyle square. Knitting stopped for lunch and dinner, but just barely. I got an absolutely yummy massage, followed by a great yoga class later in the afternoon. Dinner followed yoga, which was followed by...you guessed it...more knitting.

I can't remember Friday's class and the handout is upstairs. But it's safe to say that we did more knitting on Friday, as well as some pretty serious stash enhancements. I found Cascade's Rio, which just screamed out to be a sleeveless shell and I started working on the stitch pattern design. And I can truthfully say that by the time bedtime rolled around on Friday, I had pretty much had my fill of knitting.

But Saturday dawned and I was up at 6:30, needles in one hand, coffee in the other, ready to knit some more. The class material on Saturday was close to being a migraine trigger. We started tackling short rows, which thankfully I knew how to do. For socks. Making little mitered squares and triangles and mitred corners with an attached band nearly drove me over the edge. I didn't finish my mitred squares. I'm not going to. That's the only technique that I learned that I didn't like.

Sunday we were up again, early, and knitting, trying to figure out what went wrong in one of the techniques. It took some doing, but we did it, with a lot of help from Jill (one of the instructors). And then we put everything together. We learned a 3-needle bind-off (how cool!) and 3-needle bind-off with applied I-cord (how cooler!). Then we ate lunch and came home.

In addition to all the new techniques, I learned a lot about me. My knitting looks pretty good compared to other knitters' knitting, even women who have been knitting for decades. I'm able to actually learn a technique and provide assistance to other students. I don't like mitred squares.

I learned a lot about the other women who attended. We come from all walks of life: flight surgeon, pediatrician, "just" an administrative assistant (not!), dairy farmer, home economist, knitwear designer, attorney, medical equipment engineer. Some are mothers, some are grandmothers and some have no children. All are very interesting, witty, funny, strong, and most had very moving or inspiring stories to tell. Most found their need to knit increase after 9/11. Some have been knitting for 40 or 50 years, others for only a year or so.

I learned that California doesn't have thunderstorms like we have in the mid-Atlantic region. There was a rather long, lazy thunderstom Saturday night and Starr was so entranced by the lightning. I discovered that groundhogs don't exist in California, so of course we reported groundhog sitings. Hmmm...I wonder what Californians do on Groundhog Day?

I discovered that there's a designer inside me, wanting to get out and that I (almost) have the courage to tackle the task of designing a sweater or shell (I actually have four sweaters rolling around in my head trying to get out). My color sense and texture sense is improving. And I'm loving it.

I came away with yarn and patterns for several new projects and a new-found confidence in my knitting competence. I've got pictures, but downloading them to the laptop and then uploading them to the blog is more effort than I'm willing to invest tonight.

The next Knitting Experience on the east coast will be the last week in October in Shelburne, Vermont, and will be on the topic of Knit-to-Fit. Alas, I can't go. However, I'll be back at Kirkridge next spring for Finishing and Embellishments.
Susan and Jill run great workshops!

1 comment:

Dudleyspinner said...

That sounds like a lovely time, lots of learning. About the people and the knitting techniques. Glad you finished your socks. I have one sock from a pair I started that is in Indiana, and I am trying to replicate its mate in Kansas. My sister has the lone sock. She wears a foot brace and had a blister, I told her to try the wool sock, she was skeptical, wool will be so hot. I gave it to her on monday and she wore it all week, blister was healed and now I have orders for as many pairs of wool socks as I can make. Silly me, should have kept the wool sock secret to myself. :)