There is so much to cover from SOAR that I figured the best thing to do was to split it up into two parts. I'm going to start with the 3-day workshop and then next time write about the four 3-hour classes. Sound good?
Judith and Nancy had us start out with the glove pictured at left. The yarn is 'Khroma' that you can get at Nancy's store The Wooly West. This is a really nice 50/50 blend of alpaca and wool. This pattern will appear in a future issue of Piecework (I think!). We learned the decorative cast on and talked about general issues when knitting gloves.
Then we spun silk to use for embroidery thread to decorate the back of the mittens. Judith brought in her copy of Handplagg so that we could trace designs onto trace paper so that we could then transfer the designs onto our gloves. If you have never seen this book in person you are missing out! It is a beautiful book chock full of images, projects, and inspiration. The only catch is that it is only in Norwegian. Frankly the photos and drawings are good enough that you don't need to be able to read the text.
Anyway, you can see that I haven't finished the gloves nor have I finished spinning the silk to do the embroidery. The knitting shouldn't take long. I just put this project on the back burner so that I could be sure to finish all my gift knitting.
The next project we started in the class was a twined mitten. This pattern is featured in the next issue of Piecework. The white yarn is a Swedish yarn called Mora Yarn that you can also purchase at Wooly West. It is a Z-plied yarn that is great for doing twined knitting. Before we started knitting with the Mora Judith had us spin some Z-plied yarn to do the contrast two color cast on. Twined knitting is not as hard as I thought it would be but it does take a little while to get used to the hand motions. Even though I got used to the hand motions need to do twined knitting it still takes me longer than standard knitting. Regardless I am looking forward to getting back to knitting on this mitten.
The last major project we worked on was spining down fibers to knit into a pair of garter stitch mitts. The dark brown on the right is buffalo. The grey is a yak and merino blend from Peace of Yarn. The white is cashmere. These are some seriously soft mitts! Down fibers, because of their short fiber length, are a bit tricky to spin unless they are mixed with a longer fiber. The fun thing is that after you spin and ply your down fiber yarn you get to beat it up. First you put it through a series of hot and cold baths all the while pounding on the yarn with your bottle of Dawn (or equivalent). After that, roll it in a towel to get rid of the extra moisture. Then smack the yarn on the counter. It is a great way to get out any extra stress you might have. I am farther along than what is in the picture now and am just about ready to graft the two ends together. I can't wait to be done with these so that I can wear them.
Judith also showed us how to make separate detachable mohair cuffs. These are traditional cuffs worn in Scandinavia to keep the snow out of your gloves. Larger ones are made and worn around the tops of your boots to keep the snow out. The concept is very easy. There is a base yarn and then the mohair locks. Cast on a small amount of stitches with the base yarn and knit a couple of rows without the mohair to get started. The cuffs are knit in stockinette stitch and the locks are incorporated into every knit row. After wrapping the yarn around the needle then fold the lock over the needle and knit like normal. Omit the mohair lock on the first and the last stitch. Then purl back locking down the mohair. These are very fun cuffs that can be made with any long staple length wool.
That concludes the projects from the 3-day class. Both Judith and Nancy were very generous and knowledgeable teachers. Because we had so much to do in such a short time they made themselves available to us by staying in the classroom until 9pm each night. I recommend them highly as teachers. Also, Judith has a new book on spinning coming out in March. If the book is only half as good as Judith herself then this book will be worth its weight in gold. Put it on your list of books to buy.
Just a quick note by way of explination as to why I haven't been posting. Right before Thanksgiving the other "workerbee" in my office gave his two week notice. When I got back from Chicago we had one day of overlap and then I was the only workerbee. Needless to say this means a lot more work and stress for me because now all the projects have to go through me in order to get out of the office. On top of this my grandmother is not doing well and we expect that she won't be with us for much longer. Add to this all the travel I have been doing and the move that we made a few months ago it has been a stressful fall and winter. I am ready for the new year!
On Thursday I take off again for another trip. This time to Mexico with family to visit the area where my husband is from and meet his other siblings that I haven't met yet. I am really looking forward to this trip and plan on taking lots of photos. I am also planning on trying to get a few more posts together before I go but if I don't happy holidays and a very happy new year to everyone!
**The above picture I took a couple of weekends ago while my husband slept in and the dogs cuddled with him. I thought it was just too cute not to share.**