August 05, 2015

Class Notes: 2-at-a-time, Top-down Socks

In September, I will be both vending and teaching knitting classes at the Georgia FiberFest. 27 knitting classes are offered, and among these classes will be my three.  I thought it might be of help to anyone who is interested in taking these classes if I elaborated on the classes in a few posts because there has been some information missing from the website and there may be some things in need of clarification. Let's start with socks.

If you've read my posts previously and you know me, then you know that I don't do DPNs and the idea of having to knit a second sock after a first is complete is not in the slightest bit a motivator.  So, of course, the class is 2-at-a-time, Top-down sock knitting on a single circular needle. Now, you may think that if you've never knitted socks before, then this class is not for you; but I say, come on in, the water's fine!  As long as you think you can knit in-the-round, even if you've never attempted it before, you can learn to knit socks 2-at-a-time.  The second-best part about this technique, which involves using the Magic Loop method, is that there are no needles to drop, no stitches to drop. The best part, of course, is that when you are done with one sock, you are done with the other.  After a while, you might get to be so quick about it that, like me, you have worked up a pair of socks in just over a week. It may seem daunting, but seriously it's totally not difficult.  It just requires a little focus at first.  We'll have 3 hours to focus in this class and you will be able to leave the class having finished a complete pair, albeit child-sized, of socks. Doesn't that sound like 3 hours well spent?  The only things that I ask of you in advance is that you brush up on 2 skills: kitchener stitch (because we will need to do some) and casting on using the long-tail method of your choice.  If you are not familiar with long-tail cast-ons, try this:



 Here are the pre-attendance particulars of this class:

Homework:  None. (You gotta' love a class with no homework, right!?)

Supplies to Bring: One solid, light colored fingering weight yarn (anything smooth, non-splitting, and non-fuzzy—at least 200 yards divided into 2 separate balls); one pair of US 3 or US 4 circular needles (42 or 47-inch cable required); one locking stitch marker; scissors.  During this class we will be knitting a child-size pair of socks. 

Don't worry about searching out a circular needle for the class if you don't already have one.  I will have them for purchase in my booth along with quite an array of very lovely sock yarns. It might even be a good idea to bring some of that left-over fingering weight yarn in your stash.  You could bust a little stash and make a pair of socks.  

August 03, 2015

August, already?

It would probably be odd if I didn't say that I have hit August having completely missed the mark on my plans for summer knitting.  Although these were fairly loose plans, I still managed to basically ignore them altogether.  There was a list of socks, and an early start to Christmas knitting--though I think I should get points for having at least amassed the yarn stash for said Christmas knitting as scheduled. I'm going to blame the July order for 70 skeins of yarn in the same colorway for my lack of progress.  I'd tell you about that, but I'm under contract to keep secrets until the reveal later this summer.


Instead, there was a new lacey tank top design that I can't show you because it's part of the book I'm collaborating on with another amazing artist, which was finished just last week.  There was the cast on for another Market Street Shawl, which was flying off the needles until last week when Rocket decided that she needed me to whip up a shrug--in black acrylic--for the first day of 6th grade (and bet me she won't even wear it).


It's blocking this morning, but isn't needed until Friday because Friday is the first day of school because that made a whole lot of sense to the school board, just not to the parents.  There was a pair of Jay Walkers in Little Pigs (Velvet) that are half of a leg in (x 2), but which, after much repairing of an incorrectly worked 2 stitches, I find that I don't really like working.


I don't think it's the pattern, it's probably just me, but maybe it's the pattern.  I've found another that is more engaging and I will probably cast on this week. There was a second test-knit for a cardigan pattern for the book that I began in May and has one whole back panel finished. Hmmm. I guess I can forget plans of having that finished by Labor Day, but I think that's the next big push anyway.

It's not like I've just been ignoring my knitting, either.  Mother Nature has been excessively vindictive this summer season and it's been a daily struggle to get anything to grow.  It's like trying to grow crops in the desert! You'd never know that we were in the North Georgia Mountains with temps at or above 97 degrees for the last 6 weeks and so little rain that the ground is blowing away like we're in the Dust Bowl.  The veggies we are getting are twisted and scarred.  Our sunflowers, though the yield was good, had weird alien mutations from too little water and scorching sun.  They were smaller than expected and the yield was low--only about 5 gallons of seeds, which is the same as last year, only with double the plants.

4 sunflowers growing out of a single stalk head



Every morning since the beginning of May I've had to get up before the sun to work around the farm because there's only about 4 hours before it's 90 degrees and 50+ percent humidity. I have had to assign that mid-afternoon block of ungodly heat and humidity to the housework, which is consistently less productive than I'd like because after working outside in the heat and humidity (before noon the humidity is usually about 70%), I'm one tired farm hand by lunch time.  I said to my husband last night that I hope it cools off for just a day because wouldn't it be so nice to go an entire day without being soaked through to the underwear from the humidity?  On a farm, you can't just hide in the air conditioning, you know. At least the lambs are growing up and we haven't had any more problems after that initial 5 weeks of bottle-feeding a sheep.

Bonnie & Clyde
Puck, however, daily reminds us that he is not a sheep, but rather a dog, and takes advantage of every opportunity to get out of the pasture and fuss at the back door to come in the house. It's a circus every day on this farm.

Puck
So August begins with a Market Street Shawl, a latent pair of socks in need of a do-over, and a cardigan sweater on the needles. I guess I had better get to it before I'm posting about how short August was for knitting, huh?

July 24, 2015

Georgia FiberFest: The Best Dinner in Town!


As a fiber arts vendor, I'm finding that the days of vendor dinners and vendor perks are gone.  The last few years it's been more like "here's your booth in the furthest corner we could find and if you want heat or air conditioning, there's an extra fee." With few exceptions, the "thank you" attitude is gone and the "give us money, more money" attitude reigns supreme.  That's why you will find that I am not going to be attending some of the events this year that I have in the past. Vendors are used, abused, and just flat out unappreciated.

The Georgia FiberFest, however, is completely different.  I've become personally involved with the promotion of this event because this is one show that is built around expanding and nurturing the fiber arts community with a genuine sincerity. Sure, there's money to be made from every angle, but this event is about bringing people with a love of handcraft together to learn new things, meet new people, and just have a really, really good time!  


On that note, every year, the organizers of the Georgia FiberFest, Sharon Bogenshutz and Karen Cross, arrange for a catered dinner for the participants of the event that tops any fiber event that I know I have ever attended (and that certainly includes Stitches South and all its many questionably coordinated after-hours events).  The dinner always includes a speaker with whom everyone, no matter their crafty preferences, can relate and benefit. This year, as I've mentioned in a previous post, the speaker is Pam Powers. You can go to the Georgia FiberFest website and find out all about her or read my previous post or make a visit to her Revelry pages.  But, to be honest, that's not what this post is about.  This post is about food, because when you go to an event like this one, an event that is out-of-town for pretty much everyone who attends, vendors and visitors alike, there's always that issue about food.  We are all comfortable with what's local where we live, but throw an out-of-town trip into the mix and, well, sometimes the most adventurous thing about your journey is finding a place to eat that doesn't turn your stomach.  I hate going somewhere, spending an uncomfortable amount of money for food, and then it turns out to be gross, you know?  Last year, the night before a show, I stopped at what I recall now as a sketchy little Chinese restaurant off the highway, you know how one does, just to get something quick that's a change from fast food. There was so much MSG in that food that the overnight and following day result was a sickness so intense that I am sure that I very nearly didn't survive that dining experience. I don't like to dine out when I travel.

That's one of the reasons why I like this event so much. They make it possible for you to eat food that won't kill you dead.  Not only are there great restaurants within walking distance of the convention center, but Sharon and Karen have consistently made the effort every year to provide a catered meal to alleviate some of that anxiety about where and what to eat. The food is always fabulous! This year I expect it to be no different.  They've stepped away from the traditional venue catering (even though it was pretty fabulous last year!) and hired their own chef.  By that, I do not mean that they hired their own executive chef from a corporate catering company.  Nay, nay!  They've hired a chef out of his own restaurant  to cater a very complex dinner for us (and by "us" I mean anyone who wants to make a reservation and have a seat).

Chef Keating's restaurant, Epic, is rated with 5 stars on Yelp.com, and is considered to be the best dining experience in Columbus.  But we aren't eating in his restaurant. Nay, nay!  We are dining at the RiverMill Event Center. Not only do we have the best chef in Columbus catering for us, but he is doing it in an historic building with a riverfront vista. I'm told that Chef Keating, his wife, and staff have bent over backward to accommodate our wishes for the Georgia FiberFest. You don't get that at any ol' fiber festival.  


To make your reservations, go to the Georgia FiberFest website or click here: dinner. The dinner may seem a bit pricey, but it's really only about $5 more than last year and did I mention it includes a top-notch speaker? As well, there are menu options for gluten-free and vegetarian diners. If you live somewhere like Atlanta, you know that it's going to cost you that much just to walk in the door to an event like this, let alone pay the valet to park your car, but the other perk is that you don't even have to drive! Sharon and Karen have hired a shuttle so that you can park at the Convention Center and be chauffeured to and from the dinner.

Oh, but that's not the best part. The BEST part is that there are PRIZES!! Every year, the vendors donate items from their booths, and before the dinner concludes, MANY, MANY lucky diners go home with some really superb gifts.  I will be donating a few goodies from my own shop, and you will certainly want a chance to win those! 

Alright, so now I'm off to dye an insane amount of yarn for a custom order, but I hope that you will explore the dinner option because, well, I'm going to be there in the company of some of the best handcrafters in the South, and we would love to share a meal with you!

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