Yarnover 2014

Yarn buddy (yarn holder) and skein of yarn.
Someday, perhaps, these two will meet again in a project.

All the waiting for it to be Yarnover finally turned into it actually being Yarnover yesterday. We got there in plenty of time to thoroughly examine the Yarn Market. I was fairly restrained this year, only bringing home a “yarn buddy” and a single skein of yarn. I’m not sure how much use the yarn buddy will get, but I’ve been curious about them for a while now, and since I wasn’t blowing all my accumulated savings on yarn this year, I figured, well, why not? I don’t know as I’d want to haul it anywhere, but for knitting (or crocheting) at home, it should work just fine. The yarn is a luscious silk/merino blend, fingering weight, and a different shade of pink than most in my stash. Not that you can see the pink streaks in this photo—the yarn is cream and super-pale pink—but really, they’re there. And buying a brand called The Grinning Gargoyle is fun in its own right.

Classes? Oh yeah, I went to classes, didn’t I? My morning class was “Starter Plug and Play Shawls” with Amy Singer. It was a good class with excellent handouts. I don’t think I’ll use the yarn I brought for the class for a shawl, but the technique made sense, and I can use it for a yarn that looks more interesting when turned into lace. The yarn I brought, a solid off-white fingering weight, spent the class murmuring quietly that a lace shawl was all very well and good, but it thought it should be something crocheted with textured stitches, or perhaps something with cables. It was distracting trying to hear the teacher over the yarn. I can probably find an immediate use for the shawl border she taught us. It feels like almost every shawl or shawlette I’ve done has a border of two or three garter stitches, and that’s a perfectly decent edging, but I’m bored with it. She has a simple alternative that ends up looking like applied I-cord, without being tedious to work like applied I-cord is. Yay!

Yarn vendor and knitters at Yarnover.
The merest hint of the wealth of yarn and other goodies available.

My afternoon class was Carson Demers’ second class on knitting ergonomics: “Swatchbuckling.” I’d taken the first class at Yarnover last year. It was theory; this was practice. I don’t know how far I’ll be able to take his advice to look up as much as possible and not at your knitting. Yes, I can knit simple stuff without looking at what I’m doing, but I like seeing the stitches form and seeing how the color changes in the yarn work out in the actual project. (Hmph.) On the bright side, I seem to hold the needles and move the yarn mostly all right, although my purling technique could do with some tweaking. I wasn’t thrilled to see the “horror” video again. He has short videos of different people knitting, some in healthy ways, some not so much. One is of someone knitting who has strained their left hand so much while knitting that a tendon in the forefinger has ruptured, causing a bulge at the knuckle and preventing them from ever straightening that finger again. Yeegh. Oh yeah, I’m feeling motivated to modify my purling! Not that it was all gloom and doom. At one point, he had us get up and try walking while knitting. Walking while knitting while not actually looking at our knitting, that is. So there we are, out in the hallway going around in a slow circle, when a classmate commented that we looked like monks in prayer. Maybe I should try this while listening to Gregorian chants.

By the way, Carson Demers does not recommend this practice when climbing stairs. Just so you know.


Yarnover 2013

Yarnover was this past Saturday, April 27. Well, it might be more accurate to say that Yarnover was Friday night and all day Saturday, but I’ve never gone to the dinner with the teachers on Friday night, so it’s still just a Saturday event for me. (And it’s just as well I didn’t go to the dinner this year, as I probably would have drifted off to sleep in the dessert.) Other years, the weather during Yarnover has been horrid, like all-day cold rain. It makes running out to the car to drop stuff off unpleasant, but it’s perfect weather for staying inside all day and knitting. This year, the weather was gorgeous, and on top of that, it was only about the second day of gorgeous, seasonal weather this year. It was a good thing I was in a windowless room for my morning class and sat with my back to the windows for my afternoon one.

The loot.
The loot.

The general loot this year included a bottle of Soak wool wash—your choice of Celebrate scent or unscented—and a travel mug that announces to all viewers, “I Knit, Therefore I Am.” No bag this year. Not that I need still yet another bag, but this was a lesson in the importance of never assuming anything. The bag I’d brought was stuffed full of the things I needed for the day, but I’d brought along a second bag just in case, and it proved necessary.

I found my first class, “Knitting Happily Ever After: Ergonomics for Knitters,” both educational and depressing. Don’t get me wrong: Carson Demers was an enthusiastic and positive teacher. I give him full credit for the “educational” part of my description and no blame for the “depressing,” because that would be my reaction to the topic no matter who was teaching it. I don’t deal well with the fact that an activity I enjoy so thoroughly (two of them, actually, since crochet has its hazards as well—okay, three, if you add in most things computery) can damage me. It was disheartening to go through his checklist of risk factors and add up how many of them applied to me, some of which could be worked on (diet, exercise), and some of which were basically immutable (being female, and in a few years, being over 50). And despite the fact that the entire point of this class was to learn how to do something about this and be proactive, I couldn’t shake the thought that maybe it wouldn’t be enough, that one day all the good posture, rest breaks, exercises, and so on simply won’t compensate. In the meantime, though, I now know a simple way to arrange a towel to nudge your back into a healthier configuration when you’re stuck sitting in a folding chair for the better part of three hours. No, the irony of holding a class on ergonomics in a room furnished only with folding chairs has not escaped me.

My afternoon class was “Top Down Shawl Workshop for Intermediate/Advanced” with Stephen West. Another enthusiastic and positive teacher—whee! I now have a better idea of how different numbers of increases can shape the angles in a piece of knitting, plus I also know how too many purl-side yarnovers on top of each other can distort a shawl. But the part the class couldn’t teach me and which I’ll have to get to on my own was how to trigger my creativity enough to get an idea for a top-down shawl in the first place, an idea that I could then make real.

Beyond the classes, Yarnover is an excellent opportunity to acquire yarn, and yes, I did pick up a few skeins. I’d had my eye on fingering yarn dyed in a continuous gradient already, and was thrilled to discover it at Yarnover. I was even more thrilled when I got home and compared it to the online source I’d been thinking to try. The yarn I’d gotten at Yarnover was $10 cheaper per ball, and had more yardage! My other yarn purchase was two hanks of Tosh Light Merino for a project (Barndom) I decided on while in Stephen West’s class. I dunno…they’re beautiful hanks of soft fingering yarn, but there are many beautiful fingering yarns out there, and I don’t get why these are so special that everyone murmurs reverentially, “Ooh, MadelineTosh…”

Afterwards, Suncat and I went out to dinner. I am certain that the sushi and ice cream we enjoyed at Yumi’s and Licks Unlimited in Excelsior was as excellent a meal as the Friday night dinner with the teachers, and a tad less crowded. But only a tad—nothing like a beautiful warm evening to lure people out for ice cream.