Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Stitches East

I was in Baltimore for Stitches East this past weekend. I usually only go for a day or two. This year, I went a little overboard and signed up for 4 days worth of yarny goodness. I took three classes. The first was the Danish night shirt with Vivian Hoxbro. The nightshirt is a single-color undershirt, where texture stitches are used to create motifs much like color is used in stranded knitting. Here's my sample star.
There are purls, twisted stitches, and 2 stitch (one by one) cables worked without a cable needle. If you look at the first set of left-leaning cables (the left side of the bottom right point of the star), you'll see I had some problems at the beginning. There's texture work on both sides, which was both a little confusing and kinda tiring (no rest rows for you!). But I figured it out eventually and the next set of points were much better. I especially like the tight vertical columns of twisted stitches. I'm not a big fan of twisted rib in general, but I think here it's a nice effect.

On Friday, I had an all-day Bohus class with Susanna Hansson. A million strands of thin yarn? On tiny needles? With the odd purl thrown in for fun? Hell yeah, you bet I'm in!
I had some concerns initially about gauge, or more accurately, needle size. I knit loose and usually go down two needle sizes automatically. So in general, for me, fingering is size 0 US for 7-8 st/in. I heard Bohus was teeny, so I wondered what that meant (my teeny? normal people's teeny?), cuz I own 4/0 needles, but I don't really wanna use 'em, ya know? (That's mostly the double point aversion talking, but there's also some fear of multiple finger pricks.) But I shouldn't have worried. I ended up using double zeros for the ribbed cuff and zeros for the colorwork. It helped that the yarn was a fine fingering weight, plus stranding causes tightening anyway. The toughest part of the exercise turned out to be purling continental, something I don't do very often. I usually do fair isle two handed, so I can actually pick knit stitches when I have to. There's no purling in fair isle, though, hence the rough times working on some of the purl rows.

Susanna brought Bohus garments from her collection and lent us white gloves so we could handle them.
They were all beautiful, and in great condition too. That shouldn't be surprising, considering both the craftsmanship that went into them and the high prices they were sold for. Here's some detail of the colorwork and label.
The depth you get from the purl stitches is really amazing. Now I'm really itching for my own bohus sweater. But no, I should finish the little Blue Shimmer wristlet/sock top kit first. Then I can think about a bigger kit.

On Saturday and Sunday, I was in the Danish Skra-Trojer (no, I can't pronounce it) sweater workshop with Beth Brown Reinsel. The sweater in question is a bit of an oddity. It was knit in two colors and in two drastically different weights, a white fingering and a blue worsted. Beth said it was most likely a matter of necessity; the knitter used whatever she had on hand. She also pointed out that yarn dominance in stranding could be used to your advantage to make one yarn more pronounced. The star pattern is Norwegian influence. In terms of construction, the body is knit in the round from the bottom and then split into separate front and back for the tops, which are then knit flat (more continental purling ugh). Here's as far as I got in two days.
Pretty cool, huh? My progress would be a bit more impressive if these pieces weren't so small. They're about right for a smallish teddy bear. Check out the cuff on the sleeve on the right. It's done in twined (aka two-end) knitting, which I really took too. It's somehow both stretchy and solid. The downside is the strands get twisty as hell while you're working.

Between classes, there was the Stitches market. Let's just say I was at the door when it opened on Thursday and had to be shooed out when it closed on Sunday. You can probably fill in the rest.

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