Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sock Summit!

There are lots of things that need to be covered on this neglected blog, but I will start with the wonderful, amazing Sock Summit 2011.  My traveling companion had a slight glitch in plans and returned from a trip to Europe on Thursday, so we skipped that day and drove to Portland on Friday morning, July 29th.  We signed up for one class Saturday afternoon and two one-hour classes on Sunday morning.  The rest of the time was ample for shopping, eating, resting, drinking wine, and knitting.

We arrived Friday afternoon, checked into our hotel and walked over to the Convention Center to register. There was no line and it took only minutes.  Nothing else to do then but check out the market!  This is one amazing market; both times I've spent significant time shopping, only to return home and hear about wonderful booths that I missed.  Of course, I actually have plenty of yarn and fiber here at home, but it doesn't hurt to look, does it?

I had to refer back to my 2009 Sock Summit blog post to see how my shopping compared this year.  I think this year won.  My acquisitions are divided up by day:

Friday's purchases included a beautiful gradient-dyed package of fiber from Fiber Optic Yarns.  It's merino and silk and dyed in a continuum of colors ranging from black to purple to shades of blue.  I had been wanting to get fiber like this for a long time, and was glad to get the chance to choose a favorite from a wide selection of colors.  I also got a set of handmade glass circular needles from Sheila and Michael Ernst in a beautiful dark blue to purple color.  (Should have taken them out of the box to photograph but they probably would have just looked black anyway.)  Next was a lovely skein of yarn from Three Irish Girls in a one-of-a-kind colorway with the coolest spots of color.  I had to get a new button and coffee cup to match those I got in 2009, and then we did some damage at the Bar Maids booth, where we found wonderful Lo-Lo Bars of hand lotion, foot-smoothing cream, and lip balm.  The scents and textures of their products are amazing.

Saturday we went back to the Bar Maids so I could get a jar of special Face Pudding that had been sold out on Friday.  It's wonderful moisturizer, full of anti-oxidents and vitamins.  We also stopped back to see restocked yarns at The Amy Lee Show, as she had great self-striping skeins but was running low on inventory on Friday.  I bought three of her beautiful yarns.  Goth Socks sold out in minutes the first day, but I think these colorways are just as nice.

Look at the sparkles in this one!

After much hemming and hawing, I also bought a new yarn swift, since I was tired of my yarn tangling in the metal connectors of the plastic swift I had and this wooden one from Sweden looked sturdy and easy to use.

I took a class on Saturday afternoon.  It was taught by Mary Scott Huff, who was very energetic and personable, and concerned two-color stranded sock knitting.  It was helpful, but didn't really give me a definitive answer to my main question (maybe there isn't one!) and it was freezing cold in the classroom.  All in all, I think the information I got from the class could've been presented in about an hour instead of the three hours allotted, but I did pick up a couple of tips and a cute pattern.

Saturday afternoon was the flash mob.  There are videos on You Tube that show it, and it was a lot of fun.  We saw me in a couple of them, but just briefly.  I'm trying not to watch the videos in an attempt to get the song out of my head.

Sunday morning, we took one-hour classes.  The first was taught by the incomparable Anna Zilboorg and was about making the perfect buttonhole.  I will use this technique on my next sweater, but will have to practice it a couple of times before I get the hang of it.  My attempt in the class was less than successful.

The second class was on a different shape of afterthought heel and I've already used the technique on a sock I had in progress.  I like how it came out, although I decided to pick up a coupe of extra stitches on each side to avoid the gaping holes in the corners, and that seemed to work well.

Sunday morning was also the Fleece to Foot competition, which was really interesting.  Yes, there were three sheep in the Oregon Convention Center.  The sheep were sheared, the fresh wool was spun and plyed and then socks were knit.  We didn't stay for the end, but the process was fascinating.  And yes, there's Anna petting a sheep.

At the same time, finals were held for the Fastest Knitter.  Contestants had to knit with sock yarn on a prescribed number of stitches for three minutes.  Deb Barnhill won with a total of 57 stitches per minute. The first runner-up was close behind with 56.  You could hardly see their fingers move.  Here's a photo of Deb in one of the heats.

The video I took was not of the finalists, but of another heat of contestants.  They were fast also!

And then, of course, instead of leaving as early as I'd planned, we had to take a last tour of the market.  I ran into my spinning teacher who had some of her wonderful fiber for sale and I couldn't resist picking some up.  I lamented to her my lack of ability when I had tried to spin a silk hankie, so she gave me a quick lesson.  Then I had to buy a package of them to try again, along with some merino/bamboo/nylon. I also looked too long at the great fiber from Sunset Fibers and came away with a lovely bump of BFL.  Oh, and then just because I had been thinking about it, I went back to Fiber Optics and bought some MCN.  Her colors are so vibrant....unbelievable.

Oh, and there was the largest sock to knit on. I don't remember the details, but this "sock" has been travelling around and being knit upon by thousands of knitters.  It's very large.

And that finished our weekend.  We ate a late lunch since it was already about 2:30, then hit the road back to Seattle.  We ran into a little traffic, stopped for coffee to keep awake, and made it home without incident.  On the way down, I mentioned that I couldn't believe that it had been two years since we drove down to the inaugural Sock Summit, and now I can't believe that the second one has come and gone.  Even though I have plenty of yarn, fiber, and tools and have taken lots of classes, I'm sure I'll be waiting on my computer for registration to open in 2013.