sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

August 15, 2009

sock summit: day 2
posted by soe 11:54 pm

Calf IncreasesFriday promised exciting new learning opportunities as I had a three-hour class from Joan Schrouder scheduled that promised to teach me different ways to shape knee socks. Many of you may remember back when we were kids (when we wore knee socks) that inevitably they ended up in a pool around your ankles and you were forever tugging them to keep them in place. That would be because they were manufactured socks made around some set measurements that would fit what some fashion designer deemed to be an average leg. If your leg differed from those measurements at all — by being too shapely or not shapely enough or being taller or shorter than specified — your socks were predestined to fall down.

Knee SocksJoan had brought a plethora of knee socks with her to show us the variety of ways one could make socks that look nice and that fit. She passed around first one sock, then another, always explaining the different techniques she’d used. With some, she’d just increased the needle size as she’d gone along. With others, she’d added extra ribs. And with still others, she increased in a pattern or between cables. She even brought a sweater to share how these techniques could extend past knee socks and into other garment shaping.

Calf Shaping 2Then she set us loose. We each knit a couple of swatches to see how you might incorporate the various techniques in. The one at the right shows how you could create a seam up the back of a sock. Ideally you would not choose to do this in lavender worsted weight yarn, but I needed a light colored yarn for another class, so worked with what I had. She also gave us a great diagram with the points marked where one should measure to create custom-fit socks, as well as other useful tidbits, such as how much give you want in different parts of such a sock.

Immediately after class let out, I scooted upstairs to take part in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for “The Most Number of People Knitting Simultaneously.” There had been some grumbling when the planned event was announced because the Guinness folks had a very narrow definition of knitting, which demanded that one knit with “traditional” needles, not with circular or double-pointed needles (such as one might make a sock with). But, generally, people were excited about the endeavor and the organizers took into account that some people might have left their needles at home by having straights that folks could borrow for the 15 minutes we’d be knitting together.

"Needles Up!"The Knitters Depart

Cheerleading volunteers warmed the crowd up with a series of exercises and photo ops before the teachers trooped into the first few rows and the Summit organizers, Stephanie and Tina, took the stage. Stephanie was her funny self as she got the crowd laughing along with her at the silly Guinness rules we had to follow, introduced the monitors (including the bartender from the marketplace), and answered last-minute questions (it would be okay to just pick up your needle and keep going if it fell during the time, but it would not be okay to unknit if you made a mistake, because, after all, during the Olympics you aren’t allowed to run backwards). Then, armed with needles and yarn, we all started knitting as the clock began counting off the 15 minutes.

A Leafy ShawlThe hall was abuzz as knitters chatted with those around them. Hands moving, we admired the various knitted items around us, such as this lovely Dianna shawl. We heard tell of the poor knitter who’d accidentally embedded one of needles in her leg, necessitating the EMTs being called and a trip to the hospital. (She later checked in on Ravelry to note that she was fine and had only missed the record attempt, for which she’d brought those same needles.) Before we knew it, time was up and we were all heading back into the wild.

Having not yet been inside the Marketplace, that’s where I headed. My first stop once there was the Sock “Museum,” where organizers had made an attempt at capturing some of the history of sock knitting. Knitters from all over had taken old patterns and recreated them and knitted modern patterns that had broken new ground. It was impressive to see how socks have changed — and how they haven’t — through the years.

Stockings of YoreArgylesHimalayan SocksSock Beginnings

And then I went off to shop.

I admit now that I did not give the Marketplace space the respect it deserved. I’ve been to large conferences before and thought, “Twelve aisles, no problem. I’ll have time to do a couple of loops through before the Summit ends.” I was sure of myself and confident of my plan of attack, which was to visit booths that interested me and to write down those that I wanted to revisit in order to buy later. This would, I reasoned, cut down on impulse buys.

And on Friday it worked like a charm. I bought three skeins of yarn — two of which were half price, a gorgeous green, and enough to knit the sample shawl in the booth. And the other skein was a cotton-blend skein that will become socks for Mum, who is allergic to wool. I patted myself on the back and congratulated myself on a smart plan.

The only problem? I’d only made it through a third of the aisles.

Nonetheless, by the time I was due to meet Rebs’ mom for a ride over to Vancouver, I was done shopping and feeling a bit tired and cranky. I hadn’t eaten lunch and was probably dehydrated, which may be why I promptly got into an argument with a vendor.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t so much an argument as a discussion. But the woman claimed that knitting with the yarn held in your right hand is called the American style. I did not dispute that Americans traditionally have held their yarn that way, but did take issue with her parlance, since that technique is generally known as the English style. I suggested that perhaps she might call it that because we are Americans, but that it really had its roots in Britain. I assured her that, having learned from my British grandmother, I had it on pretty good authority that the English hold their yarn in their right hand. I know, I know… It was a petty disagreement to have, and even the voices in my head were suggesting I should walk away, since there really was no point to continuing to belabor the point, but I just couldn’t let it go. Perhaps the woman could also see that, because eventually she claimed she could understand my point. Frankly, I think she just wanted me to leave her booth. Either way, I felt I’d stuck up for my knitting heritage. (This is probably how wars begin…)

I spent the evening with Rebs, Rick, and Joseph again.

Rick and RebsJoe Cool

They took me up to the town where Rick had grown up, a few miles outside Vancouver, to one of their favorite restaurants. It was a nice little place with good grilled cheese and french fries. We also got to go through the paper mill car wash — twice! — much to Joseph’s delight.

On our way back to their place, they took me on a tour of some of Joseph’s favorite sights — including a number of other car washes and a giant inflatable dinosaur advertising cars.

We read Joseph a bunch of stories and then he headed off to bed. Rebs, Rick, and I hung out for a bit longer, and then Rebs dropped me off at the bus depot so I could return to Portland.

Rebs and Me

It was a good day.

Category: knitting,travel. There is/are 3 Comments.

As one who doesn’t knit, I am so, so impressed! Amazing all those people knitting together. As far as store-bought socks go, I think the newish brand -smart wool socks are the best. They don’t ever slip down. If anything the elastic may be a touch too tight. I live in these socks winter and summer.

Comment by Nan 08.17.09 @ 10:49 am

[…] rest of the afternoon was spent in the Sock Summit Marketplace. I mentioned in my reporting of Day Two that I’d gone into the commercial end of the summit with good intentions and a plan of […]

Pingback by sprite writes 08.24.09 @ 12:52 am

Nan, we’re a big fan of the smart wool in our house, too. Rudi finds them especially comfortable for biking.

Comment by soe 08.24.09 @ 12:58 am