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  • nordic knitting conference 2014

    I have a little announcement to make today. It's a rather exciting announcement, actually! There's an event coming up in October that I'm really looking forward to...if you know me well (or if you read the title of this post), you might already know what it is!

    I'm teaching at this year's Nordic Knitting Conference! Do you like Nordic knitting? Like the lace and mittens of the Baltics? Fancy some fair isle? Then it's time to start thinking about coming to Seattle this fall. I'll be teaching along with some pretty fantastic folks, I must admit. That's reason enough to knit a pair of announcement mitts and take silly photos, don't you think? This year's conference takes place October 3-5. You can find the class schedule and more details at the Nordic Heritage Museum website right here.

    Arne & Carlos are the headliners this year, and it's possible I squealed a little bit when I found out. You might've seen their book on knitted Christmas balls, or their Space Invaders Mariusgenser. These guys are masters at putting a new twist on old techniques, which I love. As headliners, they'll be delivering the keynote speech on Saturday night, which is always worth attending.

    Also on the teacher's bill are Swedish-born technique master Susanna Hansson, handspinner extroadinaire Judith Mackenzie, all-things colorwork muse Mary Jane Mucklestone, the creative and talented yarn maven Cirilia Rose, and Laura Ricketts, an expert knitter who has lately focused her attention on Sámi knitting, which I find very, very exciting. It is an honor to be teaching alongside all of these folks; aside from my initial excited squealing when I heard about Arne & Carlos, as a colorwork lover I've been following Mary Jane's work for years, and Cirilia and I actually met and became friends at the last Nordic Knitting Conference in 2012 (and come to think of it, Laura was in our Latvian mittens class, too!).

    We'll be teaching a variety of classes over three days, the class schedule is here (subject to change at this point). You'll find classes on everything from introductory stranded knitting to spinning with Icelandic fleece, choosing colors for your colorwork, knitted braids, or even Lopapeysa-pimping. The only bummer about teaching myself is that I can't take any of the classes! If you're not a knitter or a spinner, there are also a few lectures you might be interested in attending. The conference is hosted every two years by the Nordic Heritage Museum, an organization right in my own backyard in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, and one of which I am a proud member. If you attend other knitting events like Vogue Knitting Live, Stitches, or Madrona, you'll find that the Nordic Knitting Conference is much smaller - as evident by the much smaller list of instructors - but a cozy, friendly, and absolutely worthwhile experience. There's an upside to specialization. Here's a quick run-down:

    - Classes take place over three days: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (this year that'll be the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of October)

    - Friday night features a Happy Hour event so that you can get to know other conference attendees; mix, mingle, and knit, of course!

    - Saturday evening is the keynote presentation, with dinner included. I've attended both times I've attended the conference and it's always a wonderful experience.

    - There's a marketplace, featuring a variety of great local vendors!

    - Registration opens June 2nd at 10:00 AM, so mark your calendar.

    If you're coming from out of town, the Hotel Ballard and the Ballard Inn (both on Ballard Avenue, about a 20-30 minute walk away from the museum but with easy bus access) are offering a 15% discount on rooms to conference attendees. Just ask for the Nordic Knitting Conference discount when reserving your room. If you'd rather not stay in a hotel, the Sunset Hill B&B is very close to the museum and would be a lovely place to stay. Other options could be found via airbnb.com, or if you want to try and room together with someone, you could try and coordinate lodging by posting in the Ravelry group for the 2014 conference.

    Feel free to shoot any questions you have about the conference my way as well - if I don't know the answer, I can direct you to the people who do. I hope to see some of you there! And for those of you who want to know about the mitts in the photos - I know you're out there - I'll be posting about those a little later on.

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    Tangentially related: if you're in Seattle, or the Seattle area, the Nordic Museum hosts a monthly Knit & Spin gathering. Typically it's the first Sunday of the month but you can check their Ravelry group to find out when it's happening. I haven't been for aaaages but I hope to make it back this year at some point!

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  • adventures in handspinning

    Apparently working on a collection of knitting patterns isn't enough yarn in my life, because I've been spinning with my spindle on my days off! I finished my second skein of handspun this week and I think I've made good progress from the first. I give you Minty Blue Faced Leicester:

    It's a wee skein, about 44g and approximately 35 yards, but I love it. I also tried my hand at dyeing for the first time, and I'm thrilled with the result. I used food coloring to kettle dye it on the stove top, and I love the minty color I wound up with. Here's a peek at each step of the process, from the single (which I divided into two parts to ply), to the plied yarn, to dyeing, and finally the finished yarn:

    I haven't measured wraps per inch yet, but it's definitely finer than my first skein of yarn was. It looks so lovely and fuzzy in the skein, though, I almost don't want to knit it up! Here's a look at the thickness, with a dime for scale (this also gives you a sense of how tiny the skein is):

    I'm excited to keep spinning with my drop spindle, because I feel like I'll continue to get better with practice. There's also something really incredible about working on a craft that is as ancient as spindle-spinning. I picked up some nice Shetland wool a few weeks ago and I started spinning that, so we'll see how it goes!

    (P.S. For those who are wondering how that first skein of handspun knit up, you can check out my ravelry page for the chunkiest wristlets. They're pretty hilarious and ridiculous and would probably fit right in on the set of Game of Thrones.)

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