Sock Summit!

Well, I’m exhausted and all peopled out, but I had a great time.

First, let me say that I highly recommend the HI Hostel in Northwest Portland. It’s inexpensive and pleasant with good service, and it’s within walking distance of everything I needed, including free public transportation.

I got to Portland on Wednesday, checked in at the hostel, and then took the train over to the Convention Center, where I arrived shortly before they started registration. Everything was well organized – they had three lines (depending on last name), but when they saw how many people were there (and figured out that they had enough volunteers), they allowed people with any last name to form a fourth line in front of the Information desk. This speeded things up immensely.

Once I was duly registered, there wasn’t anything else scheduled for the Sock Summit on Wednesday. I could have stuck around just to be part of the crowd, but I’m enough of an introvert that I knew that I needed to go spend some time alone so as not to wear myself out before the weekend even really started. So I headed back toward the hostel. I think that was the day I stopped at a food stand and got a sort of Greek-style grilled cheese sandwich (spinach, feta, tomato, and something else I don’t recall). In any event, it was tasty.

I took note that Powell’s City of Books was on what looked likely to be my daily route, made it back to the hostel, dropped off the registration materials, and then walked over to Trader Joe’s for basic supplies. Then back to the hostel, where I puttered around online and read books and forced myself to stay up to 10 on the theory that even if I had insomnia, perhaps I could wake up at 4 am Portland time instead of 4 am Eastern Time.

And indeed, I was up at 4 am Portland time. Alas. At least I could make myself tea and access the internet and work out what time I needed to catch the light rail to get to my first class.

My first class was one of the short sessions. Chrissy Gardiner taught us her three favorite bind-offs for toe-up socks. I was familiar with a couple of them, as it happened, but hadn’t ever tried the third. I’m not sure I’m likely to use it much, but I do like having more knowledge, so it’s all good.

I went back to the hostel for lunch, and then made a stop in Powell’s. In any case, my afternoon class was with Star Athena, and covered a combination of methods of sock designing, how to write sock patterns, and how the knitting pattern publication process works. I think this was the class I took that had the most information that was new to me. It was extremely encouraging to me, and I’ve got a fire lit under me to get my Inset sock pattern finished. Not that far to go, folks, and then I publish on Ravelry.

Following the design class, the Marketplace opened for people who were registered for classes. It was overwhelming and amazing. I had some missions in mind, and so I headed straight for Carolina Homespun, where I nabbed some Abby batts (mmmmm) and the class pack for the spindle spinning basics class. Then I went up and down the aisles, spending friends’ money and a little of my own. I’m still not certain I made the best choices, but I think they were pretty good ones. And oh, there was so much beautiful stuff there.

Friday morning I got to the Convention Center before 7 so I could get a ticket for the World Record attempt. I am still bemused that I did this, but it seemed like it might be fun. And it was. A few hours later, the attempt started, and I had a good time chatting with the people around me while we knit. Then back to the hostel.

Saturday morning I walked down to the Rose Garden. I was really hoping for a visit to the Japanese Garden, but it wasn’t open yet, and seemed to have an entrance fee to boot, so I skipped it. It was a lovely walk regardless. Then I gathered up my supplies for the spinning class and the books I’d bought and already read. I stopped in at Powell’s, where I sold the books back to them and picked up another for the plane. (This was really quite convenient.)

Then off to Sock Summit again.

I wandered through the marketplace one more time, and then it was off to “Spindle Spinning Basics” with Abby Franquemont. I didn’t actually learn all that many new techniques, but it was a wonderful class nonetheless. Abby & Denny are very funny! But best of all, I loved watching Abby start with some history, and then move from the techniques used to teach children in the Andes (this was new to me, and I hope to use it with my son) to teaching park & draft spinning. Somehow she made the transitions effortless. I wouldn’t say that people found the actual spinning effortless; I mean that the shifts between techniques were natural.

After the class I was almost entirely wiped out. Back to the hostel, with a stop for dinner on the way. I got up the next morning, finally found out that there were other Sock Summit attendees there (we’d been on different schedules), then packed up, checked out, and headed off to the airport.

My flights were pretty much on time (which meant that I got home past midnight). I was exhausted, and seem to have managed to leave the camera on the plane. This means no pictures, alas.

It was an excellent trip, all in all.

Current spinning project

I have some scrumptious tussah silk top that I started spinning shortly before I decided to sign up for the Tour de Fleece, so it is my current work in progress (as opposed to something that’s been languishing in a dark corner).

Sanguine Gryphon tussah silk for spinning

Sanguine Gryphon tussah silk for spinning - shiny in the sun

The shaded picture of the braid shows the colors more truly (on my screen, anyway), and the sunlit one shows just why I called this “ooooh shiny” on my stash entry for it on Ravelry.

I’m almost a third of the way through spinning it on my beloved Bosworth spindle:

Stereotypically me

(the photo was taken before I did quite a bit more spinning yesterday afternoon.)

It’s being a dream to spin up – I’m having an easy time drafting it (I’m doing something more on the worsted end of the things) and don’t have a lot of waste. I bought the braid from the Sanguine Gryphon during a charity fundraiser she had going more than a year ago, and while I was scared of the silk at first, I’m having a lovely time of it.

I’m either going to not ply it, or I will ply it with a silk thread. It’s laceweight, and I’m considering making either the Aeolian  or Laminaria shawl from it, if I have enough. On the other hand, it’s coming out a little paler than I had hoped, so it might end up being a color I’d be unlikely to wear.

I guess I’ll have to wait and see the finished yarn!

Challenging myself to finish some old spinning projects

I’ve joined the Tour de Fleece (the Ravelry one, that is).

The challenge involves spinning every day that the Tour de France is riding. (We spin while they do. This is not my bad pun.)

I’ve been a little lacklustre about spinning lately, but am already feeling more excited. I’m spinning a lot more on my current project already.

For the challenge, I’ve decided that I’ll pull out three works in progress that I haven’t touched in months and do my best to finish all three. Then I will have more yarn and more space for more fiber!

We’re putting together a “team” from String Thing, which I think will be fun: we can egg each other on.

Here’s some pictures of the fiber that I’ll be finishing spinning for the Tour:

Some silk hankies I dyed last summer and started spinning last November. My hands were too dry to work with silk over the winter and then I never went back to them.

Some silk given to me by my Ravelry friend debolsillo blended with some Ashland Bay merino I bought from the Woolery. This one will be the challenge: I’m spinning it thick and even, and I’m better at thin and even.

Some handpainted Blue Faced Leicester top from Three Waters Farm, which is local to me. I don’t think I’ll be spinning the rest up the way I started, so this will kind of be a new project.


It figures. I get my sock pattern all written up and partially edited, when I discover that there might be a better way to do the most difficult part. I think it would not only improve the appearance but be easier to knit.

I’m working up a quarter-scale version of the sock, and it’s looking promising!

Fortunately, I can use the experience from writing up the first version to improve the write-up on the new one.

I still have hopes of getting this done by Sock Summit!

Translation from sock to pattern

This last month has taught me that translating my designs into written patterns is hard work.

Fortunately, I have friends who are or will be acting as beta testers. One of them has gotten a good start on the whole thing, and has been doing a good job of knitting what I wrote, not what I meant to write. She’s also told me when my instructions are flat-out confusing. Very helpful!

I’m also glad that I will be taking a class on designing and writing sock patterns at Sock Summit–I hope it will help me learn the language.

Part of my problem is that I learned sock basics eight years ago, and haven’t used written patterns since. Furthermore, this particular sock has a very unusual construction, and so converting the abbreviated summary in my head (which partly uses a three-dimensional understanding of the structure, only not a visualization*, instead of verbal description) into something that someone else can follow is extra tricky.

I think I have a decent draft of the trickiest bit, but we’ll see what she makes of it!

*This is very hard to describe. When I “visualize” things, I often don’t “see” them in my mind. I have a kind of kinetic feel for spatial relationships instead.

Sock Design Progress

Well, I finished one sock of this pair, and will be working on writing up the pattern in segments as I knit the second. I’m finding that the bottleneck with patterns is the actual writing. I’ve found some test knitters, and will be giving them instructions as each part is written; I hope this will make a difference in my actually finishing writing the pattern.

I also need to do the same with the Winter Solstice socks I posted about before.

Hard work!

Design setback

I was just about to post that I was making really good progress on one of my sock designs and that I’d finished half a sock, when I realized that I had half again more stitches than I should on the instep. Then I realized why, sighed, and ripped back most of the way. Fortunately, I had used a lifeline right before the critical row, and so it wasn’t hard to pick up the stitches again.


Twisty brain

All of a sudden I found myself doubting how this sock that I’m knitting will come out. I stopped and thought about the oddities involved, did some math, and still felt dubious.

Then I thought, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” and decided to forge ahead with my original plans. If I have to frog some knitting and start over a bit, well, that’s part of designing!