Retreat. I took a couple. A retreat from blogging for a week and I attended a knitting retreat as well. The blogging retreat was out of frustration with lack of progress and general trouble I'm having with my current knitting projects. Not voicing them out loud I hoped would make them go away, but alas they are still here. So, not a fun retreat; more of the duck and cover kind. Now, the knitting retreat, well, that on the other hand was absolutely, positively FABULOUS! It was with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee the Yarn Harlot herself and wow, I learned more in those couple of days than I've learned in the past 7 years of knitting. Really. The woman is a positive font of knitting knowledge. Her classes were Knit Smart, Knitting for Speed and Efficiency and Grok the Sock. If you ever get the chance to take one I highly recommend it. They will rock your knitting world.
The first night was the lecture style class entitled Knit Smart. Stephanie gave us the general history of knitting and clued us in to all sorts of tips and tricks. By far my favorite is the tip that you only have breasts on the front of your body. Sounds silly, but she says you should measure your front chest from the middle of your side, across your breasts, to the middle of your other side then double that number. This is the size you should knit for the "front" of your sweater. Then do the same measurement across your back and double it. This is the size you should knit for the "back" of your sweater. Knit either the front or back sized sleeves - whichever is more accurate for your measurements. Seriously this tip bowled me over. So very simple and logical, but yet I've never heard it or read it anywhere before.
The whole next day was dedicated to her class titled Knitting for Speed and Efficiency. We learned the 3 basic styles of knitting: picking, throwing, and lever knitting. You may have read in this post that I knit kinda strange. Well, I found out I'm really a picker who is making it harder than it should be and my purl stitch is just wicked crazy. Now, I'm picking without all the extra movements, albeit very slowly, and have learned the Norwegian Purl stitch. I feel like a new knitter! The lever knitting was by far the trickiest to learn, but is also considered the fastest knitting style. It originates in the Shetland Isles. Basically, you keep one long needle stationary either with a knitting belt or part of your body (like your armpit) and then you work the second needle with your left hand while carrying your yarn in your right hand. I'm very, very slow currently, but I am quite enamored with it. So much so that I ordered a belt and 40 cm long dpns from Scotland (you can't find them is the US, or at least I couldn't) to really dive into this technique.
The last class Grok the Sock took place Sunday morning It was a class on everything you need to know about the construction of knitting a sock without a pattern. We made wee little socks (that were supposed to fit a baby although, as you can see mine came out much too small for that at a gauge of 10 stitches/inch!) to solidify the concepts as we knit them. I have been a toe-up advocate, but after learning more about heel construction I might start knitting cuff-down again.
Well folks that's it. This was supposed to be a Year of Projects update, but since I have no noticeable progress on any of my many knitting projects to show you I updated you on my learning instead. I'm even thinking of starting over on a few projects and beginning again using these new techniques learned over the weekend. Really my brain is still spinning trying to assimilate it all. If you want to check out the other YOP participants check them out here. Have a great week everyone!