Category Archives: Stitches

Stitches East Part 4

It is now nearly 2 years since I went to Stitches East. High time I finally finished telling you about it! In my previous witterings I had got as far as the Saturday night. So we will start here with Sunday.

On Sunday morning I took Joan Schrouder’s class on Shaping Shawls: Triangles & Trapezoids. We looked at different directions to knit shawls. First, from the point up, and from the top long edge down. We practiced both of these on the same sample, without casting off and on again in the middle.


This one was fun to knit, but the rows are all rather horizontal and I’m not sure whether a shawl made in this method would actually be very flattering on short, wide, me.

Then a wing-shaped triangle, with sideways knitted on edging. I do rather like this shape.


And lastly we looked at knitting side-to-side. This has an elongated middle section, allowing you to make the shawl wider without getting any longer. I can definitely see this one having potential too, and I like the vertical stripes.


Joan is a lovely person and an excellent teacher, and a mine of experience and useful information. Her class was jammed full of useful information about how you can actually use these shapes to make interesting and very wearable shawls which are also fun to knit. If I have another opportunity to take a class with Joan I will jump at it!

The last class of the event was Fully Fashioned and Fabulous with Melissa Leapman. She was an excellent choice for the end of a long four days. I don’t know how she manages to have so much energy! She managed to make the class enthusiastic and chirpy,  without wearing us into the ground 🙂

We explored fully fashioned increases and decreases to shape knitting:


Splitting a central cable for V-neck:


Splitting for a V-neck in a lace pattern:


Creating the illusion of shaping with increases and decreases, first in garter rib:


Then in normal rib:


Melissa is a prolific designer (I have a couple of her books already), and I really enjoyed the tips and tricks from her class.  Towards the end of the class we discussed how you could use fashioning to create shapes, and also to create the illusion of shapes. I love this kind of thing, and found it fascinating.

As you may have guessed from previous hinting there was a bit of stash enhancement as well 🙂

Some books:


A pattern and yarn for some mittens, and some lace weight yarn:


A shrug pattern, and some more lace weight yarn:


Some purple and green sock yarn (I think the colours of this are fantastic!):


Some more lace weight yarn:


Some double pointed needles, and the Webs catalogue:


Some bargain cashmere / merino:


Some more bargain cashmere / merino:


Yet more bargain cashmere / merino:


I had a wonderful time at Stitches, although I was absolutely exhausted afterwards! Great teachers and classes, and it was wonderful to see so many things at the market that I have only ever read about or seen online. I would love to go again one day.

Stitches East Part 3

On Friday I had signed up for an all-day class (6 hours in total) on Seamless Argyle Socks with Suzann Thompson.

Argyle Sock Class

This was such a clever technique, I am incredibly impressed. Suzann had figured out a method of knitting argyle patterns in the round without seams by taking apart commercially made socks to see how they were constructed and then experimenting with ways to adapt this to hand knitting. You use a method similar to entrelac to knit each coloured diamond individually, and then knit the next diamond onto the previous one, using a method similar to that used when working short rows to eliminate the gap between the diamonds. A great fun class, and the brain certainly got a good work-out!

I loved all the different colours and yarns that different people had used.

Argyle SocksArgyle Socks

And here is mine:

Argyle SockArgyle Sock

I am so proud that I was the only one to finish their sock in the class 🙂

Friday evening was the fashion show and dinner, the items from the fashion show were provided by the people who had stands in the market. A great idea since it meant you could have a proper look at how a garment would hang and an opportunity to see things that I had missed in the market. I was very organised and made notes on my program about which stands I needed to go back to.

On Saturday morning my class was It’s Not Over ‘Til It’s Finished with Edie Eckman. We covered what aspects of finishing you needed to plan for before you even start knitting, along with some tips for during knitting, and blocking, seaming, and picking up stitches. A lot of these were things I already knew a bit about but it is always interesting to hear new opinions, and to have your existing thoughts confirmed.

Finishing Sample

The swatch looks a little wonky partially because part of Edie’s method is to have us try things and discover for ourselves whether a certain approach works or not. You certainly remember it! I also liked her attitude that there is rarely ever one correct way to do something, and that you need to experiment with what will work best for each particular situation. For instance, for a neckline whether you work the decreases on the edge stitch or a couple of stitches in from the edge. If you work them right on the edge it can make an untidy edge which is sometimes more difficult to pick up from. However working the decreases a couple of stitches in from the edge, although it makes the edge stitches neater and easier to pick up from can also make them tighter, and can mean that you can’t get the garment over your head.

All in all a very practical and useful class.

On Saturday afternoon it was back to Maureen Mason-Jamieson for her class called Short Row Savvy.

We tried out 3 different methods of short rows, and worked them from both the knit side and the purl side of stocking stitch fabric.

Short Rows

My sample was knitted from left to right of the photo above (I did try rotating it so the cast on was at the bottom, but because of the angle I took the photo at, it looked weird). The stripes were used so that I could easily tell where I swapped method.

From left to right we have: YO (yarn-over), two methods of wraps, and Japanese short rows, each worked on the knit side, followed by the same sequence worked on the purl side. I added in the second wrap method since I usually work my wraps the other way around to the way Maureen described in the instructions, and I wanted to make a direct comparison. Maureen’s method involves bringing the yarn to the other side of the work, slipping the stitch, moving the yarn back again and then slipping the stitch back. I slip the stitch first and then move the yarn, slip back and then move the yarn back. I reckon my method is slightly neater, but then I am biased 🙂

This was the first time I had tried the yarn-over method so it was interesting to add that to my repertoire of techniques. My favourite method of all is the Japanese method, I think this is the most unobtrusive method I have tried so far. I am still experimenting with different ways to use this with socks. At the moment I am still using the safety-net of safety pins but think that with a bit more practice I should be able to dispense with the safety pins, which will make the whole operation a bit more portable.

On Saturday evening there was the student banquet, where those who wanted to could show off their creations. I volunteered to show off my Patchwork Sweater. I always forget when I volunteer for these things quite how nervous I get when it actually comes to standing up in front of people. I hadn’t put enough info on the information sheet (next time I will know better), and I’m afraid I was totally inane when Rick (Rick Mondragon, editor of Knitters magazine) asked me questions. Here is a photo of me and Rick:

Rick and Heather

Luckily you can’t hear me 🙂 or see me shaking. One of these years I will learn that I am not a born performer.

The rest of the banquet was very enjoyable, the food was good, and we met the lovely Debbie Radtke from Fiber Trends (she who designed the felted hedgehog), who sat at our table. At the end of the meal they handed out gifts for everyone, which had been donated by the Stitches sponsors. Paul chose a kit with Kaffe Fassett sock yarn, and I chose a bag from Skacel.

Regia Sock YarnSkacel

The Skacel bag included yarn, a pattern booklet and an Addi circular needle. The needle is unusual because they were made as a mistake and so aren’t commercially available. It has the sharp point of an Addi lace needle, but the finish of an Addi Turbo. I am looking forward to trying it out.

I think we did very well :-) 

Details of my last day at Stitches, and of what I bought at the market will follow soon.

Stitches East Part 2

After lunch on the Thursday I went to my first class of the event. Each class is 3 hours although there are also some double classes which are 6 hours long. There are 7 slots for classes (one on Thursday, and two each on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) so a maximum of 21 hours of classes. I signed up for all 21 hours since it is a long way to travel and a great opportunity to take classes from so many different teachers.

My first class was Collar Obedience Training with Maureen Mason-Jamieson (she is in the pink below).

Collar Obedience TrainingCollar Obedience Training

We learnt about the different sections that make up a collar and the properties and functions of each section. In the class we knitted a shirt style collar for a round neck cardigan, but Maureen’s notes had a lot of information on how you could adapt this for other situations. The collars we knit did, sit, stand, and roll over on command as advertised!

Collar sampleCollar sample

Good fun and the instructions were well written and contained a lot of information. I haven’t really knitted collars much but really enjoyed this one. I think also it will be an interesting alternative for a neckline. I have a rather short neck so polo necks and high rolls don’t look good (and also prevent me turning my head around which is a little irritating – you may have noticed I am not into suffering for fashion 🙂 ), but I like the way this collar adds interest while also lying flat at the front.

Also on the right hand side of the sample you can see where we had a go at a double pick up. This is a technique where you pick up stitches on both sides of your edge, so enclosing the edge of the knitting – good for an edge where both sides will be seen. I will definitely be using this edging on cardigan bands in the future.

After the first workshop I went to a talk given by Kaffe Fassett.

Kaffe Fassett

Apologies that the photo is a little blury. Flash wasn’t allowed, and Kaffe moved a bit fast for my camera in that light.

This was the first time I had ever heard Kaffe talk, he is very engaging and an entertaining speaker. He talked about his new book Kaffe Knits Again, but also more generally about designing in various media and about his life as an artist and designer. He has an exhibition coming up in Bath that he mentioned but he didn’t say where, I think it was going to be some time in the new year so I will try and find out more information. He has a totally different approach to knitting to me, he isn’t really at all interested in the technical side (which I find fascinating), but it was really interesting to hear him talk and to see his slide show of his work and inspiration, a totally different perspective on knitting for me.

After the talk it was time to make a beeline for the opening of the market. The market opened for 3 hours on Thursday night just for people who were registered for classes. Then was open generally Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This is the snaking queue of knitters waiting for the doors to open.

Market Queue

Every one was very well behaved and queued nicely, and there was no utilisation of sharp elbows, although there was a bit of a stampede to the Blue Moon Fiber Arts stand. Photos weren’t allowed inside the market but suffice it to say while it wasn’t as big as Ally Pally, there were certainly a nice lot of stands to visit selling a good variety of bits and pieces. More on the stash aquisition in a later part.

There was a KnitU meeting in the market later on that I had really hoped to go to, but was unfortunately too wiped out to manage. So I crawled off to bed at an appallingly early hour, so as to be prepared for the delights of Friday.

This message has also become rather epic, so I will save Friday for the next post, and go and sort out some more of my pictures. I am hoping to put them all in a flickr set when I get my act together, but it may take some time.

Stitches East Part 1

I’m back and still rather jet-lagged. I had a fantastic time, learned loads and met lots of lovely people. My brain still feels rather full from all the new information and things to think about and process. Meeting so many knitters and seeing what they are working on and have made is incredibly inspiring too, I have come home with so many ideas, and things I want to try out. I will attempt to write about the whole thing in a vaguely coherent manner, but apologies if I don’t manage it 🙂

We flew into Baltimore airport on Monday afternoon to give ourselves enough time for a spot of sight-seeing and time to adjust to the new time zone before Stitches itself. We were so lucky that although it had been rather cloudy as we flew over the Atlantic it had mostly cleared by the time we came down the east coast of Canada and the US. I love the perspective you get when flying (this is marred only slightly by the fact that I get travel sick on almost every mode of travel I have tried – walking is ok 🙂 ). Flying is, to me, still rather a novelty and I love to look out the window at all the scenery. It really brought home to me the contrast between the UK (particularly the South-East of England where I live) and the bits of the US and Canada that we flew over. Everything is on a much large scale over there, and is so spread out. It was also fascinating to see the difference in colours. Here at home autumn is just starting, the leaves are yellowish, just starting to turn a pale brown. When we took off it was overcast and the area around Heathrow is largely shades of grey with all the roads and houses, with greenish yellows and yellowish browns of the trees. Canada in contrast seemed to be mostly rich dark brown, dark red and dark purple. It reminded me rather of the heather (the plant that is, not me 🙂 ) on the North York Moors at this time of year. As we got further south the land became progressively greener, but still with a wide variety of rich variations. You could make some great colourwork garments inspired by landscape colours.

When we first landed I got my first shock of the trip, it was so hot! I had been reading the weather forecast for a few days before we set off to see what kind of thing we needed to pack (thereby perpetuating the assumption that the British are obsessed by the weather 🙂 ), but I had been convinced I was reading it wrong. On Monday afternoon when we arrived it was 31 degrees C and humid, and stayed that way for the first couple of days. I was very glad I packed my shorts and sandals 🙂

On Tuesday and Wednesday we did the tourist thing in Washington, D.C. and saw some of the famous sights.

CapitolThe Mall WashingtonThe White House

If you are in the area I can really recommend the National Museum of Natural History (one of the Smithsonian museums, and free to go into). Then on Thursday to Sunday I went to Stiches while Paul continued with the touristing.

Registration for Stitches started at 8am on Thursday but I wasn’t up quite that early. I went to sign up shortly after 9am, and the queues were not too bad at that point although growing.

Registration Queue

At 10am there was the Opening Day Presentation, entitled A Yarn’s Life with Barry Klein, Fontelle Jones and Dana Hurt. This was a very interesting presentation on yarn from the perspectives of a manufacturer, yarn shop owner, and knitwear designer. I found the technicalilties of how they make the yarn particularly fascinating, Barry showed a slide-show including pictures of several of the machines used in creating his yarns (Trendsetter Yarns). It was great to see the huge cylinders with dye-soaked shaped sponges around them that they use to dye space-dyed yarn. I had always assumed that was roughly how it worked but it was great to see it in action. I would love to go to a factory one of these days and see it all in real life.

After the presentation there was a lunch which included a wall of yarn provided by the yarn companies which sponsor Stitches. The idea was that each of the skeins had been cut into approx. 3 foot lengths, so that each attendee could take a length of the yarns they liked and create their own Ultimate Stash Guide (we were given a little booklet which had details of the yarn, and selotape was available for people to stick their yarns next to the right description). It was a great idea but a bit of a scrum! The lunch was my first opportunity to really see how many knitters there were, and the answer is a lot! I had arrived for the opening presentation about half an hour early and sat near the front so I didn’t really see quite how full the room got.

Wall of YarnOpening Day Lunch

Thursday afternoon was my first workshop, but more of that later. This has turned into rather an epic post so I think now is a good moment to pause. Workshop reviews coming soon.