Archive for the ‘Classes’ Category

Friday was an amazing day at Stitches, especially since I attended an all-day class taught by Cat Bordhi on the Foxglove Sock Architecture as explained in her latest book. It was amazing just being in Cat’s presence, but watching and listening to her information about sock construction was very enlightening. Her visual aids and her method of explaining techniques were so great, that I really feel like I have reached a whole new level of understanding regarding sock design and sock architecture. She was extremely patient, and was available to anyone at anytime for one-on-one attention if they needed it. It’s really hard to put into words just how amazing this class was.

My baby sock design

When class finished in the afternoon she asked to see the baby sock I designed and I was shocked when she said it was one of the better designs she’d seen. Since I didn’t plan the design and it was just created as I knit, I realized that sometimes I over-think things and that just going with the flow sometimes produces the best results. By the way, I hate this photo of me, but since this is the only photo I have or will probably ever have with Cat, I will treasure it. And yes, that is the Tangled Yoke Cardigan.

Me & Cat Bordhi

When class ended that afternoon I met my wonderful husband in the market for more shopping. I only picked up a few items, and although it’s barely worth mentioning the stitch markers I purchased at Ellen’s Half Pint Farm, it is most definitely worth mentioning the Full Thread Ahead booth. Normally I prefer to not shop at these types of vendors since they are a LYS from the local area. I personally would rather give my money to my LYS, but Full Thread Ahead had two items my LYS doesn’t. An over the ear light for knitting in low-light conditions and the new Cookie A sock patterns. I ended up only purchasing the Trystero pattern, but I’m sure the others will be added to my sock patterns fairly soon.

Stitches West

The Ravelry booth had a few fun things to purchase, but I decided on the Raverly pin and the Bob pin. I really wanted the Ravelry canvas bag, but honestly I have too many bags as it is, although on Saturday I forgot this fact. Other than meeting Jess & Casey, the Passport was the best thing at the Ravelry booth. Several exhibitors had their logo imprinted on a page that looked exactly like pages in a passport, and the idea was to go around to each of those exhibitors and get a stamp or sticker from them for your page. When you filled your passport, you then returned it to Ravelry for inspection and you were then entered into a drawing of prizes donated by the participating exhibitors. This Passport got me into lots of “trouble” on Saturday, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see why.


The marketplace closed at 6pm, so hubby and I went to dinner with Laura, Barbara, Cindi, and Rhonda. Since both Laura and I had a vehicle, we got to leave the horribly overpriced food at the hotel, and went to Red Robin since it was affordable for everyone in the group. The food, drinks, and service were wonderful although little did I know that later I was going to later regret eating the Bonzai Burger, fries, and large beer.

Back at the hotel, nobody wanted to “call it an evening” so we sat in the hotel lobby to knit and got lucky enough to have both Michelle and Rebecca join us as well. Hubby sat with us for 2 rounds of drinks. He ordered us Bailey’s Coffee and that was another item I regretted later on. He left us to our own devices around 10pm and went to the room to watch a movie. We all stayed up until 1am and then decided nobody was going to be useful the next day unless we turned in for the evening.

Back in the room, hubby was in bed soundly sleeping (so cute) and as I leaned over the weird sink to wash my face, I felt a rumbly in my tumbly and it wasn’t good. But that’s not the worst of it. While the rumbly continued in my tumbly, and the horrible feeling of “worshipping the porcelain god” was going on, I had an intense fibromyalgia flare. It was so painful, that even wearing my jammies hurt like hell. It went on for hours until I took a second dose of Flexeril and finally fell asleep. What a day!


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Cookie Sock Design Classes

Before I get to the recap of my sock design classes with Cookie, I wanted to quickly thank you for all your amazing comments and although I’ve been horrible (again) at keeping up with blog-reading, I do appreciate you for stopping by here occasionally to check in on me and I do consider those who comment here frequently, to be true friends. Thank you for sharing your personal stories with me and offering me words of encouragement during the last few months. I don’t think you’ll ever know how much it truly means to me.

So now that you know I love you, (in spite of my lack of commenting on your blogs), here’s just a little re-cap of my Cookie class!

A few days before my birthday, I told DH that I hoped he hadn’t purchased anything because I knew what I wanted. He was a little surprised but not shocked when I told him I wanted to spend the day in Burbank, California on a Sunday to learn sock design from the sock design queen herself, Cookie A. Of course, he asked the typical “how much is it”, question, and agreed that $150 was a fair enough amount for two, 3-hour classes from someone who I obviously admired. I promptly placed my online order at Unwind for the two classes, gladly gave them my credit card info, and within moments I was confirmed for the classes.

Sunday morning, I arrived at Unwind 15 minutes before the class started and Cookie was still setting up her mannequin display legs outfitted in her beautiful sock creations. The first class was named Top-Down Sock Design and the description stated: “Learn how to design a sock using the stitch pattern of your choice. We will use a standard sock construction including a ribbed cuff, heel flap, gusset, and wedge toe.” We were each given a 10-page handout that included all the material we learned in the class along with some worksheets and charts that are worth the price of the class alone. The class taught me so much, but I now finally understand why it’s easier to design a sock from the cuff-down instead of the toe-up. Not that it can’t be done toe-up, but with complicated designs, it seems to be much easier cuff-down (or top-down). The three hours flew by and although my design worked in theory, when I got home and worked on it further, I realized it didn’t work in function. The lace pattern was diagonal and so it ended up pulling the sock diagonally. Back to the drawing board.

There was a one-hour break between classes and so I took a leisurely walk down the street towards Porto’s to have lunch. This is an amazing Cuban bakery and cafe, and if you’re ever in the area, make sure you don’t miss it! When I was there it was crowded and difficult to find a seat, but if you’re patient, it’s worth the wait. I didn’t “brave” the traditional Cuban sandwich, but instead ordered a usual favorite of mine, the Italian Sub. I would not hesitate to order it again!

The first class was great, the lunch was great, the weather was ideal, and so I had high hopes for the afternoon. The class was named Sock Design Overview and the description was “learn about various concerns in sock design including which numbers need to be calculated, where stitches need to line up, what to factor into your personal fit, heel types, pros and cons of top-down vs. toe-up.” This class included a 5-page handout and including a few sections that were the same as the first class, but it definitely seemed more mathematical, which is definitely what I needed, but I’m not sure my brain was prepared for it. We seemed to have a lot of additional “free time” at the end of this class where we could either draw out a sock design or swatch, but I personally would’ve rather heard Cookie teach some more. It seemed like she either ran out of material to discuss, or we didn’t ask enough questions or something, but I was a bit disappointed the class wasn’t as “jam-packed” as the first. Then again, my head was already spinning from the first class, so maybe that was a good thing.

Would I recommend Cookie’s classes? Absolutely! Would I change anything about the classes … well … since you asked …. My personal opinion is that it would be nice to combine both classes into one full day class, or if not, maybe schedule them differently. I would’ve preferred that the Sock Design Overview class in the morning for 2.5 hours and then after an hour break for lunch, the Top-Down Sock Design class could be scheduled for 3.5 hours. It all still ends up being 6 hours total, but to me, it just makes more sense to have the overview class come first and the design class to follow.

It was a great experience and I now appreciate even more how brilliant of a sock designer Cookie is. I have a better understanding and appreciation for the patterns she charges money for and will not hesitate to purchase anything she designs because for what you get, the price is amazing. I sorted through all of her patterns for quite some time and finally settled on purchasing Twisted Flower and Thelonious, although I’m sure I’ll be adding to my Cookie pattern collection a little bit at a time.

Meanwhile, since I’m waiting for a few skeins of Louet Gems to arrive at my doorstep to start one of the patterns I purchased, I think I’ll attempt my own simple sock design and hopefully will be posting a successfully designed sock here soon.

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In the ever growing saga regarding my health, (skip this entire paragraph and save yourself the boredom), I saw a wonderful Endocrinologist last week and although I have all the symptoms and TSH levels that show hypothyroidism, she’s running additional tests on my T3 and T4 levels to confirm. She’s also running some other tests to rule out other diseases and such before committing to a fibromyalgia diagnosis. She thinks my last Dr was an idiot for not running additional tests to rule out positively everything else first. I definitely agree with her.

Mystery Stole 3 KAL is the most fun I’ve had in a LONG time and definitely helped me with my knitting mojo. I finished the first clue on Saturday and was semi-sad that I had knit it so quickly since that has left me with 5 days of no MS3 knitting. The only negative part to this KAL are all the yahoo digest messages that seem to be a complete waste of reading. As a matter of fact, it’s only July 5th and there are already 1,400 messages that have been written. Who has the time to read all of that? In my opinion a lot of the messages are from people attempting to knit lace for the very first time ever, and they’re clogging up the message system with whining about frogging for the 3rd & 4th time or asking for help since nothing makes sense, etc. Did these people not read the KAL description which states: “This year’s stole is not recommended for beginning lace knitters, but if you are comfortable with lace techniques and reading charts, you should be just fine.” I think not!

There will probably be no MS3 knitting on Sunday. I’ve signed up for two sock knitting / design classes taught by none other than Cookie A who designed sock patterns such as Pomatomus, Monkey, and Baudelaire, just to name a few. The classes are being taught at Unwind in Burbank, CA which is only about an hour from my home, so it’s fairly close and in addition to finally meeting Cookie, I’m excited to meet other knitters who are as passionate about socks as I am.

In yarn collecting news, my next post should have photos of some new yarn. DH & I refinanced our home and since I made sure we took out some extra cash, I decided that I’m going to celebrate my birthday month by increasing my stash. DH said he was fine with that, but that’s also because he knows I’m the penny pincher in the family and that I’d never purchase too much yarn. HA! We’ll see about that!

In addition to the MS3 shawl, I’ve GOT to post my completed photos of the Handsome Shawl from Victorian Lace Today, the adorable felted bag I gave my niece last month, and the Feather & Fan socks I completed weeks ago. I’m also currently knitting Shedir and a pair of ankle socks for DH, but I’m pretty sure those will be on the back burner Friday morning when the MS3 clue is available. My blogging mojo is still missing though, so for those of you with access to Ravelry, you’ll probably see photos of my completed items there first. By the way, my “name” on Ravelry is GuiltyPleasures. Sounds like a porn star name huh? Maybe I should change my blog name.. any recommendations?

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Are you getting tired yet of Stitches West recaps? Well this is the very last post about it (at least for THIS year).

Saturday morning I woke with excitement, but I was also a bit sad since I knew this was my last day at Stitches. When we arrived at the convention center, we soon discovered that there was some type of dance competition going in the ballroom which was the floor above the vendor booth area. I sat DH in a comfy chair next to an end table in a quiet corner (too bad there’s no photo of it) and he set up the laptop with a movie and his headphones. I knew he’d be entertained for quite a few hours since he was watching Pirates of the Caribbean (for the millionth time).

The convention center was PACKED with people & the line to get tickets for admission to the Stitches Market was LONG! As I walked in, I noticed the crowds today were about 3 or 4 times that of the first night. WOW! Good thing I got most of my shopping and browsing completed on Thursday and Friday. I stopped back at the YarnDogs booth where I’d spied the sock blocker keychain the day before & purchased it as well as some KnitKlips. I then went to the Stitch Diva booth for help on my felted clogs. Sitting in the middle of the convention floor walkway was the Curiously Clever Clogs pattern designer, Jennifer, crocheting an afghan with the largest crochet hook I’ve ever seen. I stepped into their booth and told one of the workers of my dilemma with the pattern and she stated I’d have to speak with Jennifer since she’d never knitted them. Of course there was a smallish crowd around her, and since I had class, I decided to stop back later.

Since teaching my little sister to knit via the internet and telephone, and then attempting to teach my left-handed aunt to knit, and then being asked by my step-daughter for knitting lessons, I decided I should probably take a “how to teach knitting” class. Since I’d never formally taken any knitting lessons I wasn’t sure how to approach teaching another person without frustrating them and me (as in the case with my aunt), so I decided to learn from a professional. The class was a one-hour market session named Teaching Learn-To-Knit by Beth Whiteside. Overall the class was great, but there was one student who slowed us all down a bit and it seemed like Beth had to rush through some of the things she was trying to convey. It wasn’t the students fault though since she was hard of hearing, and although she sat in the front row, the noise level was horrible. Unfortunately the market session classes were in the vendor area of the convention center in screened off rooms, and not only did you have the noise from that, but then there was the noise from all the announcements on the PA system. Although I enjoyed the class immensely and learned a GREAT DEAL of useful information, I probably won’t take another market session class again unless they move it out of the vendor area and into regular classrooms.

After class, I figured DH was still entertaining himself with his movie & that I may have a moment or two to do some last-minute shopping. I ended up at the perfect booth for some lace-weight yarn to start a project from Victorian Lace Today. The first skein I purchased is 903 yards of Graceful, a 100% fine lace wool, and the second skein is 3100 yards of Heaven, a tencel and merino wool blend. Unfortunately the photo doesn’t show you the stunning sheen on the skein of Heaven, but if it knits up as beautifully as I hope, I will buy a skein of this in every color!

Unfortunately I got so side-tracked by all the beautiful lace-weight yarn, I completely forget to go back to the Stitch Diva booth for help on the clog pattern. DUH! I’d carried the darn half-knitted clog and pattern instructions around with me for two days, and completely forgot! I’m blaming it on all the yarn tempting my eyes & screwing with my brain.

That’s it for my adventures at Stitches. I can’t WAIT for next year! By the way, I think tomorrow I’ll have a FO Friday!

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In great anticipation of the three-hour class I signed up for, I arrived at the convention center thirty minutes early and started to search for the classroom. I must say that Stitches really has done a beautiful job at setting up information displays to help get you where you want to go. I entered my classroom, met a few classmates, pulled out my materials and anxiously waited. It was another one of those minutes feeling like hours moment, but then the instructor, Gwen Bortner, began to speak. The class was called Pattern Customization & the description basically stated that you would learn how to recalculate a pattern you love, to work with the yarn you love, just by utilizing a gauge swatch & a bit of math. Of course nobody ever wants to knit a gauge swatch or do math, especially me, but that must also be why the sweater I knit DH did not fit very well. After this class I now understand why making a gauge swatch is critical to success. This class well exceeded my expectations and not only did I learn a great deal of usable information, but it was presented in a straight-forward and organized manner with unexpected humor. Gwen was entertaining, informative and engaging. I hope to take another class from her in the future.

DH met me for lunch after my class and we purchased a ticket for him, so that he could experience “knitters shopping heaven” firsthand. Our first stop was the XRX/Knitters booth were they were promoting their latest book release: Victorian Lace Today. As I started thumbing through this exquisite book, I not only appreciated the beautiful photography & stunning shawl patterns, but also realized that there are 40 patterns and the book was priced at only $29.95. I was quite shocked! I don’t even knit lace and I thought it would be a perfect addition to my knitters library. In addition to this beautiful book though, most (if not all) the lace shawls from the book were displayed throughout the booth. Each shawl was a beautiful work of art and even though all the exquisite detail of each one made me feel a bit intimidated, I did notice that a few of the scarves in the book said “beginner”.

As I was carefully examining each shawl, I realized that it was 1 pm and we had scheduled to meet up with Lain. I have been corresponding with Lain via our blogs for almost a year and she was actually the person who left the very first comment on my blog last year in April. Even though she has an amazing personality which shows through on her blog, she’s even better in person. We had a wonderful time looking through the vendor booths flipping through books, fondling yarn, and chit-chatting about this and that, but the time passed by too quickly & she was off to a game for one of her beautiful children. She has the cutest post about us all meeting which is funny & definitely worth reading! I know if Lain & I lived closer to each other, I’d have her knitting more & she’d have me scrapbooking!

I’ve debated off and on for quite some time about knitting the Clapotis. It seems like everyone has been there, knit that, but it’s a pattern I come back to time and time again. I never had the right yarn for the project though, and so it remained on the back burner. At the Brooks Farm booth however, they had TWO Clapotis on display each knit in a different yarn type. I showed it to DH & he immediately said he liked the one knit in their Four Play yarn, a 50/50 wool and silk blend, and then proceeded to choose a colorway for me. The colors are definitely not in my typical wine palette, but I really do like them and I’m glad he talked me into purchasing it.

One of the best items of advice from my class this morning was to purchase a skein of yarn you think you love, knit a swatch with it and if you still love it, go buy the yardage you need for your project. Since I wasn’t in love with the yarn I used on DH’s last sweater, I asked him to choose a skein/ball of yarn at the WEBS booth and I’ll knit it into a swatch at home for him to see. I told him if he still likes it, I’ll order enough yarn to make him the sweater of his choice. He chose this skein of Valley Yarns Colrain, a 50/50 blend of merino and tencel in a colorway named Majestic Blue. It’s soft, has a beautiful sheen & is hopefully a dream to knit with.

As I wandered around looking at all the vendor booths, the Victorian Lace Today book kept sticking in my head and I decided that since it had left such an impression on me, that the best thing to do was just purchase it. As I started walking towards the XRX booth, I remembered seeing something about book signings. I wondered if this author was also signing so I checked my schedule and sure enough, she had signings scheduled most of that day. I located her last signing at 4:30 pm and figured we had a few minutes to get to that booth.

We arrived promptly at 4:30 at the YarnDogs booth and there was only one woman ahead of me in line. I don’t know what I was expecting, if anything, but this beautiful mature woman with a slim build was sitting before me and spoke in a soft English accent. I told her I’d never knit with lace weight yarn and that in fact I’d never knit any lace items, but that her book just captivated me and I was so surprised that such a beautiful book had been written with so many patterns for such a low price, that I knew I should own it. As she opened her book, she proceeded to tell me that her publishers didn’t think the book would sell for a higher amount and she also implied to me that she wasn’t happy with her publishers for underestimating the value of her work. She then started delicately flipping through the pages and shared with me the patterns that would be perfect for my first project. She took off one of her shawls and told me where she had found the original pattern for that particular lace edging and how it was only a partial pattern, and the history, and so forth. She mentioned that on one of the scarf photos it shows an edging that does not match the pattern in the book but that most of the edgings can be changed anyway.

At some point I realized that quite some time had elapsed and I looked behind me to find nobody waiting. ??? She kept speaking to me like I was the only person in the room. I basked in these moments with the author until we discovered that someone else was waiting for their book to be signed. I guess I couldn’t complain though, since I had just spent about ten minutes talking to her and it is one of those once-in-a-lifetime things you never forget. I will treasure the moment and this book for my entire life.

After the book signing I was floating on cloud 9 and believed it couldn’t get any better, but of course while I was looking through my bag of yarn when we arrived back at the hotel, I found a small blue box. I opened it and found an absolutely beautiful pearl & sterling silver bracelet from Harlan Beads. I have no idea when or how DH managed to sneak away from me to purchase this, but him doing things like this for me are one of the millions of reasons why I love him! We finished off my perfect day with a lemon drop cocktail at the hotel bar followed by sushi for dinner. Unforgettable!

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