Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Back from New York

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Two weekends ago I was in New York – right in Times Square, in fact – for Vogue Knitting Live. Here’s my view from the hotel.

View from hotel

Classes were good as always. I get a kick out of seeing everyone’s socks. Suzanne was wearing Hamantaschen in the Green Mountain Spinnery yarn from the October sock club. Great knitting!

Suzanne shows off her hamantaschen socks from the sock club.

In the Marketplace, I stopped by to see Sarah at The Plucky Knitter booth. Check out all those colors!

Gorgeous colors at the plucky knitter booth at vklive.

And here’s a closeup of Sarah’s colorful Fagus splendour cowl.


I may have had to take some of her beautiful colors home with me… my friends keep telling me I need a new hat.

Ysolda and I visited Habu textiles, where there is always intriguing yarn. I ended up buying some fabric to make a super cool scarf.



New York was great but COLD. It’s good to be home.


Spring 2013 Teaching

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

If you’re reading this, then I’m on my way to New York City for Vogue Knitting Live! I’ll be teaching some classes on Saturday and Sunday at the New York Mariott Marquis, and then I will be enjoying a bit of relaxation in New York. I’m looking forward to visiting a few friends, and it wouldn’t be a trip without some fun shopping and delicious food.

I’ll also be teaching at two West Coast venues this spring.



Stitches West will be right around the corner from me at the Santa Clara Convention Center, February 21-24, 2013.

Some of my classes are full but there are still spots available in my sock design class, Sock Innovation: Top-Down Sock Design (all day on Friday), as well as Intuitive Chart Reading: Cables (Saturday morning). 




Vogue Knitting Live Seattle will be held at the Meydenbauer Center and Hyatt Regency Bellevue, April 5-7, 2013.

Registration has just opened for the weekend packages, and you can check out all the classes here.

I hope you can make it to a class this spring!

My Kind of Town

Monday, October 29th, 2012

I just got back from Chicago where I taught at  Vogue Knitting Live at none other than the Palmer House Hilton. Fun tidbit: This is the same hotel where my high school prom was located. Ah, the memories!

Classes were great as always, and I had wonderful students. Frances, a member of the sock club, not only knit Reykjavik, but spun the yarn for them as well! This photo doesn’t do them justice – she has more photos on her Ravelry project page for you to see.

I spent a little time in the marketplace where I visited the Green Mountain Spinnery booth to share the latest sock club socks. It was great to see so much of their yarn in person. I only wish I got to spend more time in the market place.

On Sunday, I participated in a panel discussion about publishing. This is the Red Lacquer Room in the Palmer House Hilton before everyone got there – very swanky.

And of course it wouldn’t be a trip to Chicago without an Italian beef sandwich (or two)! Also, who knew that asking where the best place to get a beef could result in so many strong opinions? I can’t decide between Al’s and Portillo’s. Personally, I prefer the Italian beefs my dad used to make from scratch (I’m still kinda sad that he sold his meat slicer instead of giving it to me), but Portillo’s and Al’s are pretty darn good too. Mmmm, beef. Luckily, no fights broke out, even when a non-Chicagoan student asked the class where the best place to get pizza is.

How was your weekend? I’m glad to be back in sunny California – are you in the hurricane zone?

Dyeing Yarn with Wendee of Hazel Knits

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

I was ecstatic when Wendee of Hazel Knits agreed to dye yarn for last year’s sock club, and even more ecstatic when I discovered I would be traveling to her part of the world and able to drop by in person. Fellow designer Anne Hanson was also traveling to the area, so we headed over to Wendee’s together. Wendee had her dye studio set up so that we could dye some of the yarn for the club!

Wendee experimented a lot with different shades of orange, working to find the perfect color just for us.

Working with Wendee was really interesting. She’s very methodical and has an efficient dyeing system so that she can rotate various yarns through each part of the process quickly. We had a fantastic time mixing and swishing yarn in giant bowls.

Here is lots of yarn hanging to dry.

Of course we had to try dyeing for ourselves, too – not just the club. I dyed two skeins of yarn (one Artisan Sock, one Filigree Lace) in gorgeous shades of brown. Now to find the perfect projects to knit…

Jean Paul Gaultier at the De Young

Monday, May 28th, 2012

A few weeks ago, I went to the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco with Cirilia, Kristine and Adrienne. Apparently we are all knitters who also have an interest in clothing construction, textiles, and nail polish. We saw so many amazing things, but my personal favorite was this dress. I’d seen it before in Knitwear in Fashion and was really excited to be able to see it up close. Most of it is knitted, but some parts are crocheted, and one area looked like it was done with macrame.

The back was equally amazing. I love the fit and the shapes and, well, all of it.


There wasn’t much in the way of interesting socks from a knitting perspective. There were a couple machine knitted knee highs or plain striped socks, but nothing too fancy. I did snap a photo of these because I liked the ridiculousness of them. Socks in silk slippers in high heel wedge sandals… plus pom poms!

Aday who is an even bigger Madonna fan than I am (I lost track around the early 90s) went CRAZY over these corsets that were worn by the queen of pop herself. It was especially interesting to see the shape of those corsets compared to the other garments that were made for a standard runway size.

Another piece I was excited to see was this dress made from film. Anne had told me about a documentary she had seen with this very dress in it, and from her description I recognized it immediately and understood how fantastic it must have looked in motion with wind blowing and to get the effect of the film unrolling. I’m going to have to hunt down that documentary.

I was a little sad to find that there weren’t any pieces from The City of Lost Children, one of my favorite movies of all time. Jean Paul Gaultier designed the costumes for the film, and there were sketches for the costumes but no actual garments.


If you find yourself in the San Francisco area, I highly recommend a visit to The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk if you are a fan of spectacle. I was surprised to hear so many people who were at the exhibition commenting on how unrealistic it is to wear any of the pieces. It runs through part of August.


Windy City Knitting Guild

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Over the weekend, I headed to Chicagoland for some classes with the wonderful ladies and gentleman of the Windy City Knitting Guild. As soon as I landed, my gracious host Tina asked what I like to eat. “Portillo’s!” I exclaimed. I might have overdone it with three italian beefs in three days, but it was YUMMYLICIOUS. Oh right, we knit too! Here are the cute mini-socks everybody finished in the Toe-Up Socks With Gusset class with the vase of tulips Cathy brought to class. They were some of the speediest knitters I’ve ever encountered. I only had to explain the cast-on once, and they were off.

Toe-up socks

Of course there were some sock addicts. Michelle showed off her license plate and her PB and J socks from last year’s sock club (pattern now available through Ravelry).

Someone loves socks, ya think?

Michelle's PB and J socks

Frances showed off her pink Ripple Leaf socks also from last year’s sock club (pattern now available through Ravelry).

Frances's Ripple Leaf socks

Rachel showed off her Stalagmites in progress.

Rachel shows off her Stalagmite socks

It’s hard to say whose feet these are, but I think they are Rachel and Abby donning Kai-Mei and Monkey.

Kai-Mei and Monkey socks
Michelle, Rachel and Abby also knit sweaters and wore some to class.

Michelle, Rachel and Abby in lovely handknits

Frances likes to knit lace like this Estonian shawl pattern from Nancy Bush. Alas, I tried to get a photo of Tina’s shawls, but she moves too fast!

Frances's shawl in progress

I had the pleasure of meeting Lynne of Grinning Gargoyle yarns, a local dyer. I especially love her gargoyle artwork. It reminds me of the University of Chicago.

Love the tag

She brought some of her goodies to class.

Grinning Gargoyle yarns

And of course, I may have walked away with a small reminder of Chicago.

Grinning Gargoyle yarn

More Iceland!

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

And to wrap up my fantastical Icelandic adventures, here are some more photos from the land of wonder, in no particular order.

Early on in the trip, I was lucky to teach classes at Storkurinn, a beautiful yarn shop in Reykjavik. Unfortunately I forgot my camera but was glad to return for photos. Such pretty displays!


They had copies of my book on display.

Books at Storkurinn

During some down time, Ragga showed off her lovely handknit socks while spinning.

Ragga spins

We headed to Alafoss where the mill used to be located.


They have one of the best vans ever:

Alafoss van

Then all the international knitters arrived. Here they are listening attentively to Ragga. She is probably warning them not to fall into the middle of the earth. This is the site where the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian tectonic plates meet. They are shifting apart and leaving a giant hole in the earth.

Knitters in Iceland

These people are ignoring the somewhat hidden signs that say not to step near the edge.

These people could fall into the earth

Do not walk here

Here is the site of the first parliament ever.


We took a trip down and saw a fantastically clear pool surrounded by moss.

Pool of water

People toss coins into the pool and make a wish. Someone could make a lot of money diving in there and collecting them all, but then all their wishes would probably never come true.

Glittery coins

Of course we stopped by a yarn shop that was connected to a cafe with the most delicious mushroom soup I’ve ever had.

Yarn shop!

The nearby town is yarn bombing the area. Here we have a knitted dude.

Yarn bomb

And of course his wife is a knitter with needles and all.

Knitter yarn bomb

We saw lots of pregnant ewes. Some of them had triplets and were HUGE! They were skiddish about our presence because they’re protective of their unborn lambs.

Pregnant sheep

Here’s a ram. Also known as one of the big papas. Isn’t he regal?


This pretty horse loooooved attention, jumping in front of the camera and pushing away his other horse friends.

Pretty horse

This poor horse has an awesome ‘do. I joked that next time I’d bring a perm kit.


Then we headed toward Geysir, the geysir for which all other geysirs are named. The water there is HOT!


The steam amidst the landscape was stunning.


Here is Little Geysir bubbling.

Little Geysir

Geysir and Little Geyser are not that active anymore, but their neighbor Strokkur spouts off every few minutes. I got to catch it in action!


Wow, that’s a lot of water.


Then we headed to Gullfoss, the waterfall with the most volume of water in Europe. It was so massive, I couldn’t get it all in my frame.


And then we headed to Isafjordur in the western fjords. It was gorgeous, but cloudy. I was too busy running about that I didn’t take very many pictures.


Ragga taught an awesome class on traditional Icelandic lopi sweater knitting. Here is the mini sweater I finished and steeked in class!

mini lopi

On our last day in Isafjordur, we got stuck in a pretty intense snow storm which resulted in flight delays.

snow storm

So we spent our time knitting in the local knit cafe that serves booze! Natalie got some work done on her Wayward socks from the February sock club shipment.


I think she likes the color red. Notice the matching red nails with her handknit sweater.


Iceland is a pretty small country, so the local news heard about knitters stranded in Isafjordur and came to videotape and interview us. I think the camera man was surprised when we turned our own cameras on him!


Iceland is such a wonderful country. I highly recommend the trip if you can manage it. So much knitterly and sheepy goodness with the most amazing scenery.

In and around Reykjavik

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Have I mentioned I love Iceland? I think I did a few times already. Jill and I arrived a few days before the rest of the group, so we had some time to explore Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland and home to half of the country’s population, when we weren’t out looking at sheep, petting horses, or rolling around in gigantic bales of yarn at IsTex. Here are some random bits from about town.

We first headed to Knitting Iceland headquarters which is in a shared studio space.

Ragga's shared studio

Of course it’s crafty and beautiful.


There were some Icelandic lopi sweaters (known as lopapeysa in Icelandic), of course.

Lopi sweaters at Knitting Iceland

I especially liked this display with Faroese yarn in the upper left, Icelandic yarn in the upper right, and Icelandic knitting books and dvds by Ragga on the lower shelves. Ragga leads tours to the Faroe Islands too, since it’s so close to Iceland. She explained that the Faroese yarn is made with fiber from the Faroe Islands that is sent to a mill in Poland where it is spun and dyed. I am eyeing that beautiful yellow yarn, but let’s see how much suitcase space I have near the end of the trip.

Knitting Iceland display

Ragga’s studio-mates are locals who work in creative fields. I especially liked the pillows from her studio-mate who designs cute prints.

Cute pillow!

Cute owl pillow!

Raven pillow

Another of Ragga’s studio mates is Ragnheiður of Umemi. If you’ve spent any time on Pinterest (here is my page if you want to follow me), you may have seen her NotKnot pillows. Ragga has one in her living room.

Not Knot by Umemi

Ragnheiður makes the pillows by hand starting with tubes of knitted fabric that are made by locals using Icelandic wool and a knitting machine. She stuffs them (not an easy task), sews them, and assembles them into cuteness. Here are the knitted tubes stacked on top of her sign inside the studio.


And a NotKnot in progress. I love it!

Not Knot in the making

While we could have easily spent all day at the studio, we ventured outside about Reykjavik. Surprisingly I don’t have a photo of the outside of this church, but it’s a striking building that is visible from practically everywhere in town. Whenever we weren’t sure where we were, we’d look for the church. Inside the church is a gigantic organ.

Giant organ

You can take an elevator to the top where there are fantastic views of Reykjavik. I knew the city was colorful, but even on this grey day I was surprised by just how colorful the buildings were. Everything in Reykjavik is super cute!


At lunch one day we heard there was going to be a horse parade, and lo and behold when we left the restaurant we saw the horses coming down the street. Icelandic horses are their own special breed and are protected. Horses from other places are not allowed into the country, and once a horse leaves Iceland it’s not allowed to return. They are small and cute and look! Lopi sweaters! Ragga told us that we’d see a lot of lopi sweaters about, but we didn’t realize just how popular they really are with the locals. They are everywhere.

Lopi sweaters

Look at how cute these horses are!


We strolled by the pond next to the parliament building and saw some gigantic birds. I tried to get a photo of them with Jill for a sense of scale, but it didn’t really work out.


This guy is hoping I will feed him, but alas I don’t have any food with me. He’s pretty darn cute.


I taught classes at Storkurinn, a beautiful local yarn shop. It was really cute inside, but I forgot my camera! I snapped a photo of the window display later. The local Icelandic students were wonderful. I was worried about the language barrier at first, but everyone here has superb English comprehension.


After I taught classes at Storkurinn, Ragga took Jill and me out for ice cream and then a walk by the beach. It’s a “thing” here and was one of the first dates Ragga and her husband went on. I can see why it’s popular. The ice cream is delicious and the views are gorgeous!

Ice cream!

I love all the signs around the city. This one had me in fits, especially if you consider just how short the rock “wall” was where it is posted.

Ridiculous sign

Ragga demonstrates what not to do according to the sign.

Ragga demonstrates

We then went by the Perlan, a building that looks like it has a gigantic disco ball on the top that, along with the church, is a landmark visible from the other side of town. Inside is the Saga Museum which I didn’t have enough time to actually go to, but I did get a little bit of it with this creepy wax sculpture of a Viking.

Crazy viking

Look, he’s wielding an axe. He is definitely creepy. The cool thing about the Saga Museum is that all of the Vikings are modeled on real people in Iceland, so you might recognize them going about town.


And last, but definitely not least, Jill and I took a little trip just outside Reykjavik to hike up Esja, a beautiful snow-capped mountain range. I wish I’d read the Wikipedia entry before going because it says “At sign 3 experienced climbers can choose to climb directly to the top, instead of following the path which goes off to the right.” Yep, the signs were in Icelandic, and we followed some clearly more experienced climbers who went to the left which meant hiking through lots of mud, rocks, and an area we began to lovingly refer to as The Bog. It was worth it though. The weather was perfect that day, and the views were spectacular. You could see how clear the water is.

View from Esja

View from Esja

Once we got to the big snow at the top, we decided to turn around. The path was hard to see, and our legs were a little miserable from all the rocks. Jill had spent the whole day before walking, and I had spent it standing and teaching.


Here’s a fantastic view of the next peak over from when we were at near the bottom.


It was a bit cold at just about freezing, but keeping a brisk pace and battling The Bog kept us warm. We ate heartily that night!

Natural dyeing in Iceland

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

After our trip to IsTex, we headed to Guðrún Bjarnadóttir’s home where she talked to us about her natural dyeing process. Guðrún is a biology teacher by day and dyes yarn as a hobby, or so she claims. She focuses on using plants and lichen that are available in Iceland. She does use some materials like indigo and cochineal which were historically for dyeing in Iceland, but she enjoys using local plants the most. Here she is showing different types of lichen that she’s gathered.

Guðrún Bjarnadóttir

Here are some of her dye ingredients. Spring has just started, so her materials are still dry from the winter.

Dye plants

She had a lot of yarn brewing in her dye pots where she puts the yarn in directly with the vegetable matter.

Dye pot

Dye pot

The demo included showing us how ammonium enhances color. The skein on the left was dipped in ammonia for just a few minutes while the one behind on the right was not. You can see a definite color change.

Ammonium vs not

Seems like she’s been doing a lot of dyeing for just a hobby. This is the yarn that greeted us in her living room!

Welcome couch


Hespa yarn

I may have picked up some yarn and balled it right away to start knitting. The red is dyed with madder root. The yellow and green are both dyed with lupines. The beige is dyed with lichen. And the cream (which has a faint yellow tint) is dyed with daisies.

Hespa yarn

Besides the fabulous dyeing and yarn, the place was beautifully decorated with many textile-related items, including this antique knitting machine.

Guðrún's machine

Also the view from Guðrún’s house was AMAZING. Her view was better, but this was the shot I got around the corner.


AND, she lives by a small farm with sheep and horses! These poor guys were scared of us and huddled to the other end.


These sheep were very friendly and eager to come forward to munch on food. You can see that they’ve just been shorn. Icelandic sheep roam free through the country in the summer and are gathered in the fall where they remain inside throughout the winter. They are shorn twice a year.


And here’s the first Icelandic horse I got up close to. They’re so cute and small and adorable.


I love this place!

IsTex, ridiculous amounts of wool

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Jill, my knitting buddy, and I arrived in Iceland last Wednesday and were greeted by Ragga, the wonderful awesome organizer behind Knitting Iceland. We’ve done loads of things since arriving, but our trip to IsTex deserves a post all its own.

Here is Ragga in her Lopi sweater looking excited about IsTex, the mill where all Icelandic wool is spun.


That’s right, there are twice as many sheep as people on this island, and all that wool from the sheep? Most of it comes here to be spun. That means a LOT of wool passes through IsTex.

IsTex box

This sign is a little misleading. IsTex also imports small quantities of alpaca, cashmere and other fibers to experiment with, but the bulk of what is spun at IsTex is wool from sheep.

Only wool here

There are a gazillion bales of wool. No really, everywhere you turn, more wool. LOTS OF WOOL.


Bales everywhere

The wool comes in different colors from the sheep.

Grey bales

Each of these bales is just under 300kg. Here is Jill standing in front of some bales to give a sense of scale.

Jill and bales

Did I mention there is a lot of wool? Around every corner?

More bales

Ok, one more shot of bales. But really, I couldn’t even begin to capture the VAST amount of wool. We were giddy on wool fumes.

Even more bales

The first step in the production process is the dyeing of the fiber if the fiber is to be dyed in the wool. Here are the vats.


These perforated containers go in and out of the vats (they use heavy duty machinery to lift) to hold the wool within the dye bath.


They do lots of colors. Here are the color cards for Lopi, the traditional Icelandic yarn used to make the traditional lopi sweaters.
Color Cards

After the dyeing, the fiber needs to be dried which is a multi-step process. First it is “fluffed” which means a machine pulls the fibers apart a bit.


Then it goes through some super fancy air fluffing process that literally ends with fluffs of fiber flying down into a room. It’s so exciting it deserves an audience.

Spectating dried fluffs

Here’s a close up of the fluffs flying down.

Dried fluffs

Then the fiber is carded.


It looks like gigantic cotton candy.


Then it is spun onto these cones with two strands in parallel.


Cones of singles

These cones, each with two singles, are then moved to another machine where they are plied onto new cones.

From singles to plied

Those cones are then put onto another machine that will wind the yarn from cones into hanks so they can be washed. I think that step is to remove the oils that are used in the spinning process.

Cone to hank

This hank machine is pretty fast.


There are lots of hanks all over the place. LOTS.

LOTS of hanks

And the hanks are huge. Here is my hand next to one for reference.


And then they are wound into balls and packaged and boxed.

Lopi, packaged

There are aisles and aisles of boxes of yarn at IsTex.

Boxes and boxes of lopi

Can I just say AMAZING? Want to see even more pictures of IsTex? Check out the Flickr set.