Friday, 12 June 2009

Ravelry day, that t-shirt, and a homemade chart stand

I don't know where the week has gone, but somehow it is Friday already and time to blog.
UK Ravelry Day last week was fantastic. I had a really good day, everything seemed really well organised and everyone was so friendly. Several times I fell into conversation with other knitters over a cup of tea or while we were waiting for something, and met loads of nice people. My friend Mishka from the London knitting groups was there as well, so we sat and knitted together for a while and attended the Meg Swansen lecture together. The day seemed well attended, I'm not good at estimating numbers but I think there must have been at least 150 people at the Meg Swansen lecture. Many of us wore badges with our Ravelry names on them.

And I wore my t-shirt! I wore it over a longsleeved t-shirt in a toning shade of dusty pink, and I received several compliments during the day. The first few times I had to fight an urge to blurt out the ugly truth about the inside seam allowances, but I managed to restrain myself and just smile graciously and say thank you. It was just the right level of warmth for wearing indoors in a big hall on a rainy chilly day. Because it drizzled steadily outside almost all weekend - I felt sorry for the c. 25 traders who were outside all day with their wares. They were at least dry as they were under plastic-roofed market stalls but they looked very cold. Hopefully it was worth it for them, they certainly seemed to be doing a busy trade for most of the day. I didn't buy very much myself: I bought one skein of soft purple British Wool sock yarn, thinking I might try one of the patterns from my 'Little Box of Sock Patterns' that Swooze sent me. And I bought a CD ROM of Shetland Lace patterns and tips from Elizabeth Lovick. I bought a pattern from Medicin sans Frontiers for some lacy fingerless mitts, and a copy of the latest issue of the Machine Knitters Guild newsletter to see what they were up to. And a copy of Debbie Bliss' Eco pattern book after hearing her lecture. But I had a lot of fun looking at all the great indie dyers and spinners, a wonderful button lady, luxury fibres and even two live alpaca shivering in a pen in the rain (the stall holder said they were perfectly fine, they live outdoors).

I enjoyed my two lectures. Meg Swansen, daughter of the great Elizabeth Zimmerman, read several excerpts from her mother's books, but the best part was an extended question and answer session about her and her mother's work. One question was whether she ever thought the February Baby Sweater and subsequent February Lady Sweater would be so popular, and she laughed and said wasn't it amazing - then she invited everyone in the audience wearing a FLS to stand up which resulted in about 7 people standing up (including Mishka). Debbie Bliss' lecture was less well attended, probably because it was right at the end of the day and daytrippers were on their way home, but very interesting. She talked about her career as a designer and held up several garments from various books including her new one which is just coming out called "Design It, Knit It", talking about how the designs illustrate some of her own design philosophies and preferences. For example, designs that are flattering to the pear-shaped figure by not cutting the figure off at the widest point with ribbing bands etc. I was very impressed with some of the designs from the new book, and also from the Eco book which I subsequently purchased plus later via mailorder some dusty rose Eco cotton yarn to go with it.

I saw a great gadget at the show: a portable chart holder made out of black nylon. It had a concealed magnet board on one side, and a pocket on the other, and snapped together so that you can take your knitting chart on the road. I was immediately interested as I've found my own magnet board very awkward, it doesn't prop up, if it gets knocked the magnet markers get dislodged, it's hard to store. But the holder at the show was smaller than my own board, and its magnets seemed even weaker in their holding power. Plus it was expensive. So when I got home Sunday morning I sat down and made up my own. It's turned out pretty well and I've already used it several times for my 'Hey Teach' chart (i'm halfway up the sleeves now).

I made it with one big piece of fabric for the outside cover, stiffened with medium fusible interfacing, and a non-interfaced pocket on one side to fit the magnet board. The other side has a non-interfaced pocket to fit a piece of lightweight perspex which I cut to the same size as the magnet board, then on top of that it has a half-width slip pocket which is interfaced with stiff interfacing. I sewed all around this construction with right sides together, then turned it right sides out and pressed the seams flat. I also caught into the seam an interfaced fabric finished-edge strip to be the snap band. And before I sewed, I hand-sewed a snap onto the front cover.

Then I sewed on three snaps: 1 to snap the cover tightly closed around the magnet board for storage/travel, one at the end of the fabric strip to turn the holder into a chart stand that stands up horizontally or vertically, and one to catch down the excess end of the fabric strip when the holder is being stored. It works great! And it was 'free' as I already had all the stuff in my stash.

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