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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sock Summit

Greetings from Portland OR, home of the second Sock Summit. We just finished doing a Flash Mob out in front of the Oregon Convention Center. What a hoot!!! It seems to be the norm here for the sock knitters to have multiple colors in their hair, tattoos, and piercings. And who said knitters are little old ladies. There we all were, about 1000 of us, and with the other 1000 watching and taking pictures, doing our yarn dance to music. Unbeknownst to me, people had been practicing this dance for weeks, but I stood in the back and followed everyone, and it was great fun. I'm sure it's going to be up on YouTube in in no time flat. Google for Sock Summit Flash Dance; you won't regret it.





My classes here have been nothing short of spectactular. I taught Austrian traveling twisted stitches to 31 people, and there wasn't a single time when I had to repeat anything. They were the most expert bunch of knitters I have ever encountered, and it has been the same for all my other classes. Strick-ly Socks was a smash success, with everyone producing a perfect sample toe, and today I did the Magical Switch for Tubular Bind Off, and again, everyone had 100% success. These women are fun, energetic, and not afraid of anything. Lots of them are walking around wearing tiaras, and I desperately want one to wear too!!





I have been showered with gifts from my students, from chocolate to beautiful hand-made stitch markers. The market is, again...I hate to keep using the word, but it's wonderful. I finally rounded out my collection of Signature circular needles. I now am the proud owner of sizes 3-9. One of the good things about this market is that there is no sales tax here in Oregon. Oh..should I mention there was a Dansko booth in the market? I got a pair of purple patent leather clogs which are TOO cool. Alas, I am forced to actually wear them home on the plane, as there's no room in my luggage for them.





I also have the disk for the Intertwined Studio computer stitch program, which I am dying to try out. This program allows you to make charts with all the standard knitting symbols, create your own, AND, lets you put text right into the charts. This is what I have been waiting for, and Heatherly Walker, who is the creator of this, was in one of my classes.





I stopped in at Kimber's booth, Optic Fiber, to show her the shawl using her yarn that is almost done. It's a beauty, and will be ready to go for Stitches Midwest. She is the most amazing dyer, and her yarns are some of the most beautiful hand-dyes I have ever seen. Another talented hand-dyer is Miss Babs, whose yarns draw me in like a moth to a flame (but moths also love yarn, so that's pretty weird, huh?)





Soon I will be back in CT, then off again to Stitches Midwest in Chicago.


Cheers to all from beautiful Portland, where it hasn't rained once since I arrived.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ireland

Greetings from Mansfield Center, CT; home from 9 days in Ireland. It's so nice to travel, but really, there's no place like home. Once you get to your destination it's all fine,the trials of getting there can be full of stress. Due to an Amtrak delay, we almost missed our ship in NYC. We boarded with just 40 minutes to spare before it sailed. Going transatlantic on the Queen Mary 2 is, to us, the only way to cross. We had 7 glorious days of sailing, most of it nice weather. Sailing under the bridge out of New York harbor is always a thrill, as you would swear that the funnel of the ship is going to slice the bridge in two.








There's a needlework group that meets every day at 2:00, so I got to meet up with other people who knit, crochet, do needlepoint, etc.


During last summer's crossing I met a young woman who was as much in love with knitting as I was. I was so fortunate to see her again on this crossing. Her name is Bianca Griere, she is from Canada, and someday, probably in about 10 years, she is going to be a fashion design star.




The ship catered to my gluten-free diet, and one morning I was presented, with a flourish, a plate of gluten-free blueberry muffins. I have to say, they looked alot better than what they tasted. But the thought was lovely, so I ate two of them. They will never give you one of anything on that ship, even if you specifically ask for just one!



Here's my church (well, almost mine) in Kilkenny.

Once off the ship we flew to Dublin, rented a car, and proceeded to drive all around Ireland. Lots of the beautiful scenery was missed due to fog, mist, rain, cold, and very high winds. The Cliffs of Moher was a case in point; I was afraid of literally being blown off the cliffs. The wind was so strong you couldn't walk into it.

Here's what we were up against on the Dingel Peninsula, which has some of the most beautiful scenery in the whole world.





For me, the high point was Aran. After a choppy ferry ride over, we hiked most of the way to the Black Fort, which had a spectacular view of both the island (Inishmore, the largest of the 3 islands), and the ocean. And guess what? I bought a hand knit Aran sweater at Kilronan (the "city" on the island), AND some white yarn. I also spent a considerable amount of time looking at all the sweaters for sale.


Someone on Aran needed a new mattress, so it had a ride on the ferry! I guess that's the only way for a mattress to cross.



Sweaters for sale at Kilronan on Inishmore.



This little cottage has a thatched roof, but most of the houses don't, as it is a terrible fire hazard.








You wouldn't believe all the rocks on Aran, both in the ground, on the ground, piled up for fences, etc. In order to farm, they actually had to make soil from beach sand and seaweed.

This a picture of the ground.

These are rocks made into a wall.


View from the fort




I tried my first Irish coffee, which was quite good, due to the large topping of whipped cream. Being gluten-intolerant I didn't try Guinness, but our friend seemed to enjoy having two pints with each meal! The B and B's we stayed in were lovely, and served beautiful and delicious breakfasts, which fortified us for the days spent trying to keep warm and dry!! I am so sorry I missed the sweaters on display at the National Museum in Dublin. I didn't know about that until I came home and read Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting; should have read it before I went. Duh.

Home sweet home; picked up our lovable and gorgeous rabbit from the rabbit-sitter's house, slept around the clock, and now I have to fly to Portland on Wednesday for Socks Summit.