Saturday, February 3, 2007

Madrona Report

(I am finally on the mend and have been cleared for limited computer access and blogging by the rest enforcer my loving husband. This is a conditional release however and privileges will be revoked if I relapse due to failure to exercise moderation…)

My absolute favorite part of Madrona is visiting with friends from both near and far that I don’t get to see nearly often enough.

Beyond that it’s hard to pick favorites at Madrona because the event itself is just wonderful from start to finish and the classes, in my experience, are always excellent. The only bad part of Madrona is waiting a whole year for the next one!

That being said, if I had to pick one class from the entire weekend as my favorite then Susanna Hansson’s Lapland Hand Garments: The mittens from Rovaniemi would be that class.

When the Madrona class listing first came out I had googled ‘rovaniemi mittens’ and found Lene’s lovely mittens . I was quite intrigued to learn this interesting intarsia in the round technique though the reference in the class description of using “11 small balls of yarn” sounded a bit daunting. I was thrilled when Vanessa and I both managed to get in to the class before it filled up.

Day One – The Mittens of Rovaniemi
After some interesting historical and geographical background we were able to admire, fondle and even try on the sample mittens. I read Lene Alve’s blog regularly and so I have admired her knitting online many times, but it doesn’t compare to seeing her absolutely perfect and beautiful knitting in person. Lene is an artist and an absolutely inspiring knitter.

The mittens were very difficult to part with once on the hand!

The first part of the class involved learning the technique with Cascade 220 and larger needles (I’m new at this blogging thing and was so intent on my knitting I forgot to take a photo of this part). Once we felt comfortable the process in the larger gauge we were able to pick out the colors for our finer gauge cuff.

The technique was a bit more challenging in the finer gauge and smaller needles (I believe I overheard Stephanie tell Susanna that the larger gauge sample made one a little over-confident and the finer gauge knitting was a more humbling experience)

Sample mitten in progress

This had to have been the quietest knitting class I’ve ever been in. There was no chatting or cross-talk in the room - everyone was heads-down and focused on their knitting!

Of course, Vanessa, being the lightning fast knitter that she is, was miles ahead of me towards the end of class. Here she is knitting away:

(note the difference in magnet placement on our charts!)

The mitten round-up at the end of class. My mitten is the blue and green one on the left.

Usually by the end of class I’m ready for a bit of a break before continuing on with my sample (for example, the break for my Estonian lace sample has been going on for over a year now…), but I think this technique is quite addictive. After class Vanessa and I went straight to our hotel room and kept knitting, only stopping because we had to leave for dinner with friends.

Susanna Hansson is simply an excellent teacher and an absolutely lovely person to spend the day with. I’m anxious to take another class from her and am looking forward to attending the the Nordic Knitting Conference in October if I can.

I may have been a bit over-enthusiastic in relaying my excitement about the class to Susanna repeatedly as I saw her throughout the weekend. I’m nothing if not enthusiastic... (Sorry, Susanna, I wasn’t really stalking you. Thanks for being really nice as I gushed about the mitten class and expressed my disappointment in not signing up for the Bohus class again and again. I’m sure by Saturday you were thinking that the hotel was maybe a wee bit too small and, my goodness, can’t they screen these people somehow?)

You can see more reports on this class here, here, and here.

Day 2 – Morphing Cables and Mentoring
My morning class on Friday was the Morphing Cables class with Fiona Ellis. I enjoyed listening to Fiona talk about her inspiration for cables and techniques to use in order to achieve different cable forms. I think I would have done better with a slightly more structured class on this particular day. I was starting to feel decidedly unwell at this point and not overly creative. The unstructured approach left me a bit at loose ends (no pun intended) until the Sudafed finally kicked in close to the end of class. I enjoyed chatting with my neighbors though and seeing their lovely cable creations, Lara’s was particularly lovely. My own was quite hideous and there will be no photographic evidence presented here.

My afternoon class was a mentoring session with Stephanie. Holly and I had signed up just to hang out and listen to Stephanie. Class introductions revealed that the majority of attendees had been of the same mind (I was relieved not to have to be the first one to admit it during the ‘around the table’ introductions). Among other things, Stephanie shared a lot of good information about decreasing for set in sleeves and planning decrease ratios based on body frame (complete with drawn flip chart diagrams!). As usual, Stephanie was highly entertaining and educational at the same time.

For some strange reason, I decided to bring my Rovaniemi sampler to work on during the class. In retrospect, I have no idea what I was thinking other than I really wanted to finish it up. I already knew that I didn’t feel well, that the process takes a lot of concentration and there was limited table space all of which made this knitting a horrible candidate for the afternoon’s work.

So of course you know what happened. I looked up at something Stephanie had written on the flip chart and when I looked down one of my 00 needles had slipped a few stitches off. I tried to fix it in class and succeeded in only making it worse. I set it aside and picked up my sock but too late the damage was done! Dropped stitches with this technique have some real negative progress involved in fixing it. To be continued...

Day 3 – Introduction to Fair Isle Design and Colorwork
Saturday’s class was an introduction to Fair Isle design with Janine Bajus. Another excellent class! As a regular reader of Janine’s blog, it was quite exciting to see her lovely designs in person and hear about her approach to designing Fair Isle projects.

This was a 3-day workshop crammed into a single day. Lots of color theory and hands-on color exercises, including interpreting an inspiration photo in yarn. Janine gave instruction on two-color knitting for attendees not familiar with the technique while more advanced members worked on selecting yarn to make their sample cap. The class included two hat patterns and two ounces of yarn from Janine’s really amazing stash of Shetland yarn.

I would love to take the 3-day version of this workshop!

I did not take as many photos as I should have during this class because by Saturday I was feeling decidedly lousy. I wish I’d gotten a photo of Janine’s huge bag of Shetland bobbins. She has a sample of every single Jamieson’s and Jamieson and Smith yarn available. Invaluable if you are planning to design your own Fair Isle garments according to Janine.
You can read Janine's report report here (with all the pictures I neglected to take!).

Yarn and Fiber Marketplace
I was really quite restrained at the Madrona marketplace, especially if we decide to completely ignore the fact that my actual goal was to buy nothing…

My sole marketplace acquisitions:

Birdseye Maple Spindle by SpindleWood Co
BFL and Merino-Tencel rovings in “Autumn” by Chameleon Colorworks
Mulberry Silk-Superfine Merino roving in “Farmhouse” by Blue Moon Fiber Arts

The Chameleon Colorworks rovings will be spun up as my February contribution to my Spin To Knit swap pal.

The Blue Moon Fiber Arts roving is just because I couldn’t resist (I tried, really, but resistance is futile). That’s a dangerous booth to be in!

I also bought some felted flowers from Una at Wooly Walkers (these are gifts for some friends at work).

I have to admit that the lack of purchases probably had more to do with me feeling sick most of the weekend and not from any real self-control on my part.

Toby inspects and approves the Madrona purchases

One of these times I’ll remember to take more photos of the evening get-togethers. The trouble is I’m so busy having a good time that I forget to snap photos. Here are a few that I did remember to take:

clockwise from front left

Mel, Holly, Marti, Vanessa, Jessica

Lara, Kerry, Barb, and Sam from the FT group

Angela! (looking much better in my hat than I do)

Jessica and Marti

clockwise from bottom front

TMK (back of head), Ryan, Jessica, Marti, Rebecca, Vanessa, Peggy

I can’t wait for next year!


Cathy said...

Now, you may take the rest of the week off...what a wonderful post!

Kerry said...

Let's go again!

I'm glad to hear you're feeling better!

Melanie said...

It was wonderful, wasn't it? I could kick myself for passing up on the Rovanwhatsit mittens class. I want some of those mittens.

Angela said...

Denise, you wrote a much, much better report than I did!

Thank you for the photos :)