The big yearly extravaganza that is Stitches West always makes me think of the circus rolling into town. Not that I ever enjoyed the circus that much as a child; but Stitches West feels like a big treat, a vacation from real life.
Just like a child, I have a tendency to pig out on classes and feel exhausted fairly early in the game. This year, I was a bit more realistic; I had only one morning class (all day, really) and three afternoon ones. Even this felt over the top. I'll have to exercise more restrain next time. A good class requires so much focus that I feel both inspired and exhausted as I stumble out of the classroom.
This year I took excellent classes from Joan Schrouder, Melissa Leapman and Maureen Mason-Jamieson. I learned how to knit and design celtic cables -- not that I am planning to design my own anytime soon. I figured out Japanese short rows at last. And I learned more ways to kitchener than I ever suspected existed. To kitchener: my new favorite verb. I plan to conjugate it frequently, in the present and future tenses.
The market was, as always, over the top. On Saturday, it was so crowded that for the first time, the thought that came into my head was "Thank heavens for the internet!" Some booths (Habu Textiles and Foxy Knits, which sells pretty much every shade of Koigu) were so crowded one couldn't even get close to the yarn.
I tried to skip the local shops and focus on the smaller yarn producers whose yarns cannot be found in stores; I like Toots Le Blanc ,which sells lovely, undyed blends of merino and angora wool. I used the yarn purchased from them last year for my Flower Basket Shawl, which was finished during Stitches West and is on the blocking board as I type.
I had a short shopping list and managed to stick to it fairly well. None of the books I had thought of buying made it home with me. For once I had an accurate picture of the yarn waiting for me at home, which saved me from many an impulse buy. I did need some worsted weight wool to tackle that ribbed pullover from Melissa Leapman, and I found it at the Shelridge Farm booth. I am swatching with it today and thinking of the changes I might make. Joan Schrouder converted me to knitting in the round as often as possible, and this is how I will tackle this sweater. The wool is a smooth and light worsted, with excellent definition. The color is named "Olive" but it really looks more brown than green. I think it will show the cabled accents nicely.
At events like these, one runs into the best and the worst examples of knitting. I thought the furry/glitzy/stripy poncho craze was over, but there were plenty of them in evidence. There were also some beautiful, jaw-dropping creations, most often spotted during knitting class. One fellow student was wearing the most elegant pewter-grey cashmere sweater, her interpretation of an Alice Starmore pattern. I spotted several spectacular lace shawls. Indeed, lace was the dominant theme of the event, with the XRX booth devoted to the shawls featured in Jane Sowerby's book on Victorian lace patterns. Seeing and touching the shawls up close was a treat, the cotton candy of my outing to the knitting circus.
Back to real life now; with the shawl and my Rowan cardigan all done (photos coming soon), I get to think about my next project, probably the ribbed sweater. By the time I am done, the weather will be too warm for a turtleneck. Meanwhile, I cast on for a Tomten jacket while at Stitches West. The yarn is a heathery green shade of Cascade 220, from my stash. I may or may not opt for red accents later on. The indentations on this square look like shoulders, but they are actually the armholes. More on this clever pattern later.
To see a modern classic sweater, beautifully executed, you must check out another knitting blog ; this is the kind of knitting I aspire to (she says as she labors with yet another garter stitch project). Scrumptious!