Friday, September 28, 2007

A Weekend With Annie

It's always so much fun when a well-known knitting teacher and designer comes to town! Last weekend, the Sacramento Knitting Guild -- aka the Stockin'ettes -- played host to Annie Modesitt. Annie taught 4 classes over two days: Embellishments & Beading on Saturday, and Cables & Lace on Sunday.

I think my favorite was the embellishments portion, but I definitely picked up *a lot* of useful tips from all the sessions. In my opinion, no matter how good a knitter you are or how long you've been knitting, there are always wonderful new and different things to learn.

For instance, it is truly mind-boggling how many different cast-on and cast-off methods there are. My mom knit for 60+ years and always used the same methods. Those were the ones she used when she first learned to knit, and they were the same ones she was using when she put down her needles for the last time. (And here's a really sad thing: other than me, Mom never had another friend who knit. Pretty incredible thought today, huh?) I definitely credit the Internet for spreading new ideas, inspiring and publicizing new books, forming knitterly communities and helping new designers, teachers, and authors gain market traction. Look at the explosion of knitting/fiber-related shows and conferences. And the yarn! Well, the wild proliferation of yarns and patterns available to today's knitters just couldn't have happened without Internet buzz.

What do you think?

Anyway, Annie was a lot of fun. Her teaching method is very personable and she has lots of knitting-related stories and jokes to tell. We all had a good time and laughed while we learned.
This is Annie & me joking around with the pictures in her new book, Romantic Knits. Annie donated a full set of her books to the guild library. Thanks, Annie! We look forward to your next visit!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Great Balls o' Fire!

Here's the latest in my Summer of Magical Socks series -- the Chinese Fireball Dragon socks. The yarn is from Sunshine yarns, and for once, I don't mind the pooling and flashing in this colorway, because, after all -- it is supposed to be dragonish.

I used the "Small Capitals" stitch pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks, but did them toe-up with an inch of ribbing to finish up the leg. The stitch marker is a sterling silver dragon charm.

The dragon picture in the picture with the socks is created using a Japanese needlework method called bunka. It is done with a small hollow punch needle and a fine raveled-silk thread. I started this piece when I lived in Okinawa as a teenager, and finished it when I was in my early 20's. I never liked all the "beginner" bunka pictures with flowers and birds -- I liked the advanced ones with tsurus, tigers, and dragons. :) I made several bunka pieces while in Okinawa, and gave them to friends and relatives. I kept this dragon, but this is the first time I have ever hung it on a wall in my house. I like it. I think it will stay for a while. :)