Thursday, October 12, 2006

Last Weekend--Recap

In a word...good. Very good.

This weekend was the 4th Annual PJ Party, sponsored by Bob at Hunt Country Yarns, one of the LYSs in my neck of the woods. On Friday afternoon, 35 knitters (including one man!) converged on the Clarion Hotel in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, for a weekend filled with knitting, eating, and chocolate. It was sheer heaven!

On Saturday, Bob introduced the secret guest (how he manages to keep the theme and the guest secret is beyond me). This year's guests were Leslie and Chris from Mountain Colors. Leslie (one of the founders) started the program by talking about how she and Diana started Mountain Colors and where they get their inspiration (the mountains and flora of Montana). She explained their dyeing operation, from tying the yarn to the final shipped product. She illustrated her talk not only with slides of Montana (I'm ready to go there!) and the Mountain Colors dyeworks, but also with samples that showed off their beautiful yarns.

After lunch, we reconvened for a little hands-on work. Leslie had originally wanted to have us try our hand at dyeing, but alas, the hotel wouldn't allow it (too messy). So as an exercise in color, she had us choose a picture from a magazine and analyze the colors in it, both foreground and background. It's amazing how many colors are actually in a photo, once you really look at it. The second part of that exercise was to try to create a "dye sequence" using watercolors and the colors in the photo. It's a lot harder than it seems (that makes me appreciate the Mountain Colors colorways that much more). The third exercise was to choose two skeins from the little mill end packet that they gave to each of us and try out several stitch patterns that complement handpainted yarn. This was truly an eye-opening experience for me. For example, slip stitches will move the yarn around to break up the striping or patterning.

After we finished with the "formal" part of the program, Leslie and Chris, with the help of Bob and Valerie, pulled out the trunk show. They had models of their patterns knit with (what else?) their yarn. Even better, they had a variety of their yarn for sale. See?

Need I mention that there then ensued a shopping frenzy? This Libran broke her pledge not to buy any more yarn until the very small stash was depleted. But I couldn't help myself...there were two yarns that I thought would make a great vest and highlight my eyes. It was a once in a lifetime chance! To be fair, I selected the yarn, calculated the price, then put it back. I did this about three or four times before caving. The final justification was "Happy Birthday to me!" (Leslie and I share a birthday, by the way. How cool is that?)

There was also a fair amount of horse yarn trading of our mill ends. Here are a couple of attendees quite engrossed in choosing the perfect combination of yarns:

And here are Leslie and Chris, getting in some precious knitting time:

If having Mountain Colors there wasn't good enough, there were also door prizes galore, donated by various vendors. I was the lucky recipient two balls of Fortissima Socka, color 1026, which is a light grey wth a thin strand of orange and black. It will make a perfect pair of socks for Tom. After dinner, we knit far into the night.

Sunday dawned clear and bright. We had a good breakfast (I particularly liked the hash browns) and then repaired to the room next door for the final knitting session of the day. Everyone was more relaxed and it was sad to see our numbers slowly dwindle as people made their way home. I'll definitely go back next year.

Cool Knitting Tricks
One of the highlights of the weekend was learning different knitting techniques from the various attendees. The best thing I learned was knitting two sleeves at the same time. Not only is that cool, it's brilliant! You don't have to keep track of the rows and both sleeves will be knit with the same tension. The next time I swatch knit sleeves for a sweater, I'll use that technique!

In other knitting progress, the Spirit Trail sock is coming along. This is a sock of my own design (gasp!) and I'm very pleased with it at this point. I haven't decided on a heel or toe style, but I'm leaning toward a short row heel. That will be challenging. I'll post pictures later.

On the Christine sweater, I've decided to suck it up and knit back backwards. I think that's the only way that I'm going to knit the Fair Isle bands correctly. I also think I found that error that was causing the pink row to be off.

Next up: the Knit Picks KIPer bags arrived and I'm giving them a test run. Look for a product "review" soon!

Weekend Preview
This weekend is going to be chock-full of activities. In addition to a haircut in an attempt to tame my unruly locks, we'll also be looking for a new cat or kitten, attending the Morven Park races, possibly attending the Fall into the Arts festival, and celebrating someone's birthday. And that's just Saturday!

I'm getting tired just thinking about it!


Anonymous said...

First off...
Happy (early) Birthday! yay! Wishing you fun and celebrations all day/week/month long!

And secondly, wow! - that event/workshop sounded wonderful! What an adventure and experience. I love the idea of realizing colors in a picture and trying to recreate them in a dye sequence. And I'm so dorky, that I just loved that there were Ott-like lights on every table and surface. Brilliant!

Sounds like you had a great time.

Lazuli said...

Wow, what a fun-sounding event! That's great you got to go! Happy early birthday!

msubulldog said...

Wow, that sounds like an amazing weekend! Such fun! And Happy Early Birthday. :)

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! I really hope you find a kitty this weekend. Wouldn't that be great?
That workshop sounds cool. I usually do a basic sock pattern with handpainted yarn so I might try a slip stitch to see what you are talking about. Are you going to show us your stash enrichment or do we have to wait until you start the vest???

~Jody said...

Happy Birthday!!! Sounds like a lovely weekend!! I want to see your new yarn!! Ooo-I think I need to lay off the exclamation points!!

Sheepish Annie said...

You do the coolest stuff. I just seem to go to the grocery store all the time...

Happy Birthday and congrats on the yarn score. I can't wait to hear how the kitty search goes!!!!! I'm very excited for you!