Daily Archives: February 24, 2009

Madrona Part Deux

And so we return to Tacoma last week….


Up early


(though since I should have been on Central Daylight Time,  it shouldn’t have been hard) to be ready for my morning class, “Knit to Flatter and Fit” with Sally Melville.  This will be a chapter in her upcoming book, “Mother-Daughter Knits” (due out March 2009).  If you get the chance to take the class, it was great (we were her first students); otherwise, I’m looking forward to buying the book, having had a quick glance at Sally’s advance copy!

I mentioned the homework: a full-length photo of yourself, then scaling your silhouette down to 1:8 and bringing that with you.  Wild.  My husband took the pictures, and it kept looking like my knees were bent (don’t know if it was the angle or my hypermobile joints).  Also, I’m not sure I really wanted to know how I looked from that perspective in my leotard without a skirt.

But it was in a good cause.  Part of the class was playing paper dolls!  We looked at different sweater styles, lengths, and shaping, and ‘tried them on’ our silhouettes.  To my surprise, below is one of the most flattering combos: a shaped, somewhat longer sweater, and a straight skirt.


Neither of which figure prominently in my wardrobe (but could do so more — it’s just hard to find straight skirts that fit me well).  Sally convinced us that the unshaped boxy sweater probably needs to be shorter than it sometimes is (high hip length at longest) and be balanced by something else that creates an hourglass type of shape to be flattering.

We also did measurements, like shoulder width and sleeve length (things I haven’t done since 8th grade home ec, if even then).  My shoulders are average, I’m short-waisted (hm, makes sense, but nothing I’d ever overtly thought about), my head’s big (well, I knew that).  Then Sally told us briefly how to adjust sweater patterns to our sizes and how and where to put in shaping.  My seatmate, who was tall and chesty, nonetheless had narrow shoulders and had great trouble with sweaters sliding off her shoulders.  Sally demonstrated how to recalculate a pattern to adjust shoulder width.  She talked about armscye shaping.  She talked about any number of dressmaking details I had no idea about.  She also talked about general aesthetic principles that could be applied to fashion and to flattering fit, such as: dividing something into unequal parts is more interesting to look at (but not too unequal).  There was so much in 3 hours, my head was spinning, and it was all fascinating.

I took this class because I hardly ever knit sweaters any more, and want to re-start; but want to make sure any I make look good.

Oh!  Another word of wisdom to pass on from Sally.  “When we buy clothes, we buy things that make us say, ‘I want to wear that’.  When we knit things, we knit projects that make us say, ‘I want to knit that’ — not necessarily, ‘I want to wear that’!”  True.  Very true.  And perhaps sometimes we should just put down the needles and back away from the project; or modify it quite a bit if we want to look good in it.  One last word of wisdom she passed on: “The biggest mistake knitters make?  Following the pattern!” (that is, not making the changes that their body requires: lengthening, shortening, etc.)

Then lunch with Sam and Laurie, at which point Sam did a show-and-tell (and -pet) of her marketplace acquisitions (allowing me to make mental notes about some places not to miss).  Sam, I met at Sock Camp last year also:  among other wonderful attributes, it was her MP3 dock that let me perform my Knitting Ballet (YouTube link if you’ve forgotten, or not seen the few seconds of craziness).  It was great to see her again!  Though we will see each other three times this spring, which is wild…. Laurie, on the other hand, is my internet twin, but this is the first time we’ve met in real life.   We have this uncanny habit of doing the same things as the same time:  knitting the same projects, learning to drop spin, and buying the exact same (or nearly so) yarn at The Loopy Ewe.  Our favorite colors are the same.  We first met through the first DishRag Tag: Laurie was the intrepid captain of our team, the Cotton Commandoes.


Sam’s on the left with a Feather and Fan scarf, Laurie on the right wearing her new Wollmeise Shetland Triangle.

So, Laurie had an all-day class and mine was just in the morning: After lunch, I talked with a friend for a while, messed around a bit more in the marketplace, checked in on the internet, and then met Laurie when she was done with class for a serious though fast trip through the marketplace.

Sam mentioned Rainy Days & Wooly Dogs (etsy link) in her blog post linked above: after seeing her yarn from these vendors, I had to check them out.  Dang, I don’t have a picture, but Laurie and I had fun there.  I especially liked their way cool Gothsocks (here’s their recently sold item listing, and a number of the Gothsocks are there; click on any one to see a sample of it knitted up; it’s a self-striping yarn).  But the colors that were left at the end of the day, I wasn’t sure which, or if, my daughters would like.  Well, the Rainy half of the dyeing duo (who was there that day) so very kindly offered to skein up some yarn that was dyed at home but hadn’t made it to Madrona, when she got home that night.  She was as good as her word, I ducked in quickly before class the next morning and came home with the PERFECT skein of yarn for each daughter:


Little Goth Girl for the Gothlet, on the left, and Green-Eyed Monster for the RockStar (meaning that literally, not figuratively; she’s not a jealous type particularly, just green-eyed and, um, extremely feisty at times).  The Little Goth Girl will apparently be variegated colors in one stripe, separated by black stripes (about 5 rows high, if I remember right); you saw the Gothlet’s favored style of dressing, I think variegation is right up her alley!  And she likes black and green and purple.  Green-Eyed Monster is subtle tones of rich greens and aquas.

Back to Friday; we stayed in the market past closing (oops) and therefore headed out to eat late: all the closer restaurants were filled with happy and hungry knitters.  Laurie and I kept walking, and just before we might have turned back, across the street from the Pantages Theater madrona-pantages-theatre, we found a little bistro/wine bar called Ravenous.

madrona-ravenous1 The atmosphere was informal, but the food and service were great.  We had a wonderful time before Laurie had to head home.  And I came back to the Hotel Murano to hear the latter part of Cat Bordhi’s talk, and see the Teacher’s showcase of their work: amazing.

madrona-teachers-0 madrona-teachers-6 madrona-teachers-1 madrona-teachers-2 madrona-teachers-3 madrona-teachers-4 madrona-teachers-5 madrona-teachers-7 madrona-teachers-8

At which point, I was all energized and wanted to try the new Greensleeves spindle I’d bought that day.  (No spindle pic yet, but here I am showing off a Fiber Parfait at Chameleon Colorworks!


Yum!)  I didn’t get the Parfait, but did buy some Optim fiber to try as well as beautifully dyed Merino/Tencel.

So, back to the room late at night, I tried the spindle on some Twisted fiber I’d brought with me; but then was thinking ahead to wanting to preserve the color changes, and remembered a YouTube video about Navajo-plying on the fly on a spindle, that I saw once while looking for something else.

Now– bear in mind I’ve only plied once, on a wheel, last summer, and have never Navajo-plied or plied on a spindle at all.  But there I am, in my room, watching a YouTube video and Navajo-plying on the fly like a madwoman (emphasis on the MAD).  Till the wee hours of the morning.



Gah.  Insanity.  Which resulted in massive caffeine requirements on


when, after ducking into the market to select the Gothsocks and, um, a bit more, I headed to my all-day class, “Overture to Estonian Lace” with Nancy Bush.  Grabbed lunch on the fly, a quick market stop, and back to class.

This class was awesome, overall, though parts were a bit slow as Nancy demonstrated techniques to half the class at a time (the other half didn’t always have something to do depending on where we were in the project; though I had brought along my DadSocks to work on, which was a good call, and I made excellent progress).  Besides learning about the lace tradition of Estonia, specifically Haapsalu, we heard about the backstory of Nancy’s book “Knitted Lace of Estonia“, learned the history of Estonia, could see a slideshow of this beautiful country, saw all the shawls from the book and many original Estonian shawls close up:


and then learned the techniques necessary to knit a Haapsalu-style shawl, old or modern-style, knitting a mini-shawl in the process from natural white Jamieson jumperweight that Nancy supplied.

I now have overcome my nupp-phobia.  It was just the words “purl 5 [or worse yet, 7] together” that struck fear into my heart, especially after my recent thumb ailment that temporarily stopped me from purling at all.  But I learned the trick for setting up the nupp (pronounced to rhyme with ‘soup’), and did a whole heap, and …”as God is my witness, I will never fear nupps again!”

Here’s my mini-shawl the way it came home with me:


then blocked a couple days later.


Isn’t it cute?  (The top Lily of the Valley motif is 7 stitch nupps, by the way!  Or nuppud, as the plural would be in Estonian, a non-Romance language.  See what I learned!)

(I really wanted to get through Madrona-Saturday-day so I could actually show you that knitting above.  I realize there has been a noticeable lack of knitting content on this blog recently.  Though I have been knitting!  A fair amount, even! Promise more knitting pictures soon.)

Right after class, there was an overall Madrona book signing, and Nancy graciously signed a copy of her Estonian Lace book for me, which I’d brought with me.

Oh, and the day before, I’d won a door prize: I picked out a skein of yarn unfamiliar to me, Horizons Lace yarn.  Then I looked at my “Knitted Lace of Estonia” book that night and realized that yarn, Nancy’s own, sold in her online shop linked above, was used in three of the scarves/shawls!  The very colorway I had was used for the Leaf and Nupp shawl (Ravelry link).  Lucky me!   I brought it to class the next day for show and tell.


With that, we’ll pause again (Saturday night was busy) before I embark upon the final Madrona post:  Saturday night, Sunday, and departing.