Recently, I attended the knitting convention, Stitches West, which was held at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. What’s not to like about gorgeous, hand-dyed yarns surrounding us knitters on all sides?
Miss Bab's Hand-dyed Yarns
The Yarnover Truck, a mobile yarn store from Southern California, had again a spectacular assortment of unique hand-dyed yarns from small companies such as Zen Garden. Sigh.
And then Southern Yarns had a giant selection of Handmaiden Sea Silk yarns, ranging from “Sea Silk” to “Flaxen” to “Rumple”, a bouclée silk yarn! Here is Rumple plus Sea Lace and Swiss Silk in light hand-dyed tones:
Next, there is Rumple and Swiss Silk in darker hues. Since my yarn budget was quite limited, I satisfied myself with photographing all these yarns instead of buying them!
Handmaiden also has some intriguing yarns with summer fibers such as flax and linen. Their Lino and Flaxen looked amazing, but I contented myself with looking this time.
Yoth is a yarn company that emerged last year as a huge hit at Stitches and they were back with much more stock! Their gradient sets, sold on gorgeous wooden dowels, almost sold out during the first day of the market last year. By the third day, their booth was almost empty.
Yoth is a family-run company from the Pacific Northwest, and their natural colors reflect that. I see the Oregon forests, rainy days, and stormy oceans that I enjoyed during my college years reflected in their yarns:
Occasionally, a bright sunny day took us by surprise, resulting in a "sunny day keg" celebration on campus. The Yoth colors pay tribute to those rare bright spots as well:
I held off from buying most of these yarns, not from a natural sense of frugality and virtue, but because I planned to stock up on vintage buttons from Unbuttons! my favorite vintage button booth, owned by Linda Sicard. She and her son are incredibly friendly and kind, and always go out of their way to help you find the perfect accessories for your special projects. And the buttons are so reasonable, I always buy a years’ supply of buttons there, so that I have just what I need when each sweater is done. Here are some of the buttons I purchased this year:
I stick with buying metallic buttons as well as black and white ones, as those are the most useful to me. And, of course, I bring my yarns and project plans with me so that I am not just wildly speculating--the buttons are all chosen to match a specific project, unless they are really spectacular, like the pearl cluster ones. I think those deserve to have a sweater designed around them!
I was also lucky enough to attend Lorilee Beltman’s Vertical Stranding class at Stitches this year. Lorilee is one of those instructors who explains clearly, step by step, punctuating her remarks with all kinds of references to interesting tools and techniques I would never have thought of! I would highly recommend her class to anyone who is interested in learning how to knit vertical lines without tackling a full-on intarsia project. Look at this gorgeous sock where she created a plaid-like fabric:
We created a sample in Lorilee's class to practice different vertical stranding techniques, and I made my sample into a caterpillar monster which I sewed googly eyes onto and stuffed and sent to my baby niece who is only a few months old. I purchased the googly eyes from the Stitches Booth of Kristen McCrory. She specializes in little knitted monsters and cute toys, and these black eyes come in different sizes--you just push them through the fabric and lock them into place with a back holder like an earring. Her etsy shop is named Kristen's Kords. Don't you love the eyes in this caterpillar/swatch monster?
To keep baby caterpillar from feeling lonely on the trip to Montana, I knitted a little friend from her using the pattern, Mini Kitty Pouff by Molly Rivera, from Knitpicks.
If you follow the “mini” kitty pattern and use the bulky yarn recommended, you will end up with a sofa cushion. By using dk weight yarn and small needles I obtained a kitty who really was mini, instead. I think he makes a nice companion for the little caterpillar, don't you?
But I digress. Lorilee Beltman’s class was a fantastic learning experience, and I am already applying the vertical stranding techniques I learned from her to a new project, but more about that next time. Lorilee promised us class attendeees a free pattern as well, and I have my eye on her Bold Move Skirt!
My MIL and I both fell in love with this skirt when we had the opportunity to examine it in person, it really is as beautiful as it looks! I even got to try the skirt on, and it is very flattering.
I also took Leslye Solomon’s class on how to use sewing patterns to create knitting patterns. That class was really fantastic, too! I have been working on my own for the past year to convert a sewing pattern of a jacket into a knitting pattern, and it was great to take Leslye’s class and hear the affirmation that I have been thinking along similar lines to a knitting expert. After all, I was just making it all up as I went along. Leslye is so analytical that she had a lot of tools to make the process easier, such as knitter’s graph paper for creating a schematic of your pattern pieces translated into knitting, and blocking wires to ensure that you could predict the size of your finished knitting pieces in a similar way to fabric.
The jacket I am making uses both vertical stranding and the techniques of following a sewing pattern, so I will blog from time to time about the adventure. In the meantime, here are photos of the yarns I purchased at Stitches West:
There is almost 1,000 yards of yarn in this $40 skein of Handmaiden Silken
Lace, which gives me way more yarn for the money than their other yarns.
I plan to use it to knit the pattern, Vivian by Jennifer Wood. You can find
the pattern in her Refined Knits book:
My other fun yarn purchase was a skein of Anzula Breeze to match the
Handmaidensilken I bought last year. The two yarns will be combined into a
lace summer top to match my pair of shorts:
I will use the Anzula linen silk blend for the body of the pullover--it is about 750
yards for a $30 skein, which was a much better deal than the other yarns I looked
at in the market. Then the silken lace yarn will be used for the lace accents to the
top. I will likely use the pattern, Silla by Jennie Atkinson again, with some further
modifications to the neckline.