Friday, September 19, 2014

Arkansas Fiber Arts Extravaganza 2014: Yarn Market

This was the first time I had ever been to a yarn market of any kind, so as you can imagine, I was overwhelmed with the need to buy EVERYTHING!

Yarn Market view from entrance
The market included about 25 different vendors, and it was set up in a large auditorium. It everything a fiber artist would ask for: yarn, roving, knitting needles, crochet hooks, hand-dyed yarns, local yarns, local fibers, spinning wheels, weaving looms, and many fiber accessories and gadgets. 

I would recommend numerous walk throughs, because there is so much to see. The crowd booth favorites were definitely Knit Unto Others, Must Stash Shop and Sky Loom Weavers. The staff at all three booths were very friendly and helpful and they had their booths displayed with a copious amounts of merchandise. 

I ended finally breaking out the debit card on my second visit. I bought some beautiful hand-dyed yarn from Must Stash, hand-spun yarn and some weaving tools from Sky Loom Weavers, a sheep measuring tape from Knit Unto Others, and some great alpaca yarn from Edge of Eden Alpacas. I also bought All Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, so I can have something to read in the hotel and of course, have her sign it.

All my purchases! So happy!!!

Arkansas Fiber Arts Extravaganza 2014: Day 2

This post should probably be called "Jessika Learns to Continental Knit While Sighing and Occasionally Growling," but I thought I should keep the posts labeled in order, because I am a neat freak and the lack of a proper post label would send me spiraling into a deep dark disorganized depression (I hope you enjoy that alliteration!). As you can see though, I had a class on continental knitting today. For those of you who don't know, continental knitting is a style of knitting where the tension of the yarn is held in the left hand and the right hand/needle "picks" the yarn to form the stitch. My knitting style has evolved over the past 10 years of me knitting, but I have grown very comfortable and very quick at knitting in the english style of knitting. In the english style, instead of holding the tension of the yarn in your left hand, you hold it in your right, and throw or wrap the yarn over the right needle to for the stitch. You may be wondering, why on Earth would I need to know another form of knitting if you are already are accomplished in another?
The reasoning behind this is as follows:
  1. You can NEVER have too many tools in your knitting tool belt!
  2.  When teaching others to knit, especially crocheters, you have another way to show them yarn tensioning that may be more comfortable and natural to them.
  3. If you have issues with arthritis, tendonitis, or any other repetitive stress injuries, this is another style of knitting that works different wrist, hand and arm muscles which causes less fatigue.  
  4. This style of knitting is considered the fastest, because there is less motion when switching from purl to knit or visa versa. 
  5. It makes doing color work much more easier and comfortable.
The class was conveniently called Continental Knitting and was taught by Elizabeth Green Musselman. Almost all these classes at this event are taught by knitting superstars,  so it should not be surprising to know that Elizabeth is a very accomplished knitwear designer and genius behind the Dark Matter Knits blog and podcast. 

As I've stated before, there was initial struggle in holding the tension of the yarn in my left hand, but once I got it down, it made straight knitting a breeze! Purling continentally was a different story. It is awkward and so tricky, so much so that two different ways of purling continentally have been developed (standard and Norwegian). By the end of this class, my hands were cramped and I was in no rush to switch to continental style knitting anytime soon, but I feel very comfortable in my understanding of this knitting style and why it is preferred by many.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Arkansas Fiber Arts Extravaganza 2014: Day 1

Well, the time has finally come for another knitting vacation! I have made it to the Arkansas Fiber Arts Extravaganza in Hot Springs, AR! However, unlike my drive to Gatlinburg, TN last year where I conveniently threw my debit card away some where between St. Louis, MO and Paducah, KY, the stresses of travel was not self-inflicted. Unpredicted rain, and by rain I mean a deluge with hurricane force winds, was the cause of my travel stress this year. Which meant 35 mph travel on a 70 mph highway with hazard lights on, for two hours! So needless to say, but I'm going to say it anyway, I arrived later than expected to the hotel...

This morning I woke up to a very nice view from my room at The Austin Convention Hotel & Spa.
The hotel view, overlooking sleepy Hot Springs, AR.
At 11am I was able to go to the registration area, get my name badge and some other nifty goodies before my first class: Knitting with Colour with the one-and-only Stephanie Pearl-Mcphee aka "The Yarn Harlot". If you call yourself a knitter and don't know who she is, you are both a silly goose and crazy, because she is a fantastic, knowledgeable and witty person, knitter and writer.
Arkansas Fiber Arts Extravaganza swag bag and name badge.
Okay so now that I have informed you about how great the teacher is, you shouldn't be surprised that the class was equally great. I'm a note freak and took tones of notes, but I will only give you the highlights, because I believe everyone should take her wonderful class firsthand, that way you get all the information unfiltered and intact.

The avid knitters in class.
Knitting with Colour Highlights:
     1. Everyone sees color differently
     2. Knitters look at the subtractive color wheel for color reference.
     3. Can't figure out a color combination? Steal from nature, photos and fashion.
     4. There are a number of color combinations and color rules that always work. Stick to them!

My color work swatch I designed and knit in class.
I have so much more confidence when it comes to color placement and proportions of color now that I've taken this class! I feel like if I ever design a swatch, I will have the smarts to design it well enough so that when I get around to knitting it, it won't look 100% like vomit. Yay! Vomit factor diminished!

Now that I just finished talking about vomit, lets talk about food. It's sad that my mind goes from one extreme to the other, isn't it? Regardless of the odd switch in topic, just follow me on this train of thought for now thought. I ended the day with a giant burrito and jalapeƱo strawberry and avocado ice-cream from Nom Noms Mexican Grill N Chill. The burritos were similar in style to Chipotle, but they had the option of mango salsa, which won me over. Plus, the fact that they had ice cream in such a wide variety of flavors made for a super fun end to the meal!

All right, I'm done rambling for now! 

XOXO