Friday, 13 August 2010

Knit Camp Day Five - Friday

I'm sitting here with my eyes watering as the stench from the Avon Skin So Soft is completely overpowering.  I applied it tonight for the first time as I did get bitten by some midges on my pre-dinner stroll around campus to see the castle, and I am going to have to walk back after this with bare arms and legs.  I'm dressed up in a skirt as we had the Ceilidh tonight, which was a lot of fun.  No wonder this stuff repels midges, it's absolutely vile, sort of a combination of talc that's gone off, mixed with citronella.  I may have to burn the clothes I'm wearing...

This morning's class with Jared Flood was brilliant.  He is a very thorough and scientific teacher, eager to share all his knowledge with us, drawing diagrams on the white board and making very detailed explanations of everything from how to read a chart, to his favourite left leaning decrease (the SYTK - Slip, Yank, Twist, Knit).  This was the Girasole Blanket boot camp, and I scored a skein of bubblegum pink Cascade 220 from the practice yarn to start my sample with.  I completely screwed up the crochet circular cast-on, so it's just as well it is a sample.  I've done Emily Ocker's cast-on before, which generates an odd number of stitches (I think), but Jared's version casts on 10 stitches and I did something wrong because I had loops hanging out.  He also covered how to block large knitted items and how to knit the lace edging on at the end.  I don't know if I will ever knit this blanket as it is enormous, but I enjoyed the class.

After lunch, I headed over to the Marketplace, which is in a building I haven't been in before, nearer to the residences than the building where the classes have been held.  I didn't really know what to expect, but it was really good.  Bigger than I expected, bigger than Knit Nation I think.  I particularly liked that there were a lot of regional or local specialists there, including a rare sheep breeds display with greasy fleeces from several breeds I'd never heard of.  There were a couple of places doing ganseys, some Shetland knitting, Shilasdair from Skye, loads of indie dyers, and some familiar faces like Toft Alpaca, Uppingham Yarns, Artisan Yarns, P/Hop patterns from Medecin sans Frontieres, EasyKnits, Blacker Yarns, a stall selling JC Rennie yarns on the cone and loads of others. It didn't seem particularly busy when I was there in early afternoon, but I talked to a few traders at the Ceilidh and they seemed satisfied with their day.  It will probably be a lot busier tomorrow, Saturday, when day visitors can come.

So what did I buy?  I bought six gorgeous handmade ceramic buttons, in deep blue with lilac flowers on them; a skein of hand-dyed sock yarn from Artisan Yarns plus I ordered two skeins of cochineal linen lace yarn from her; 3 P/Hop knitting patterns for two shawls and a hat; 2 shawl pins; and a drop spindle from a South Yorkshire trader that starts with a W (I know that is useless, but the spindle is in my bedroom and I am in the computer lab).  Not only does it spin a lot better than the ones we were practicing with in class, the owner showed me a different way of spinning with it which I found a lot easier.  I was actually able to produce five feet of fairly smooth (but still relatively thick) yarn right there and then.  So I am hoping to spin the coloured top that Jon gave me in class, into useable yarn.

The fashion show got cancelled, and may be rescheduled for tomorrow, so I dropped my things back in the room and went for a walk around this gorgeous campus.  I went clockwise around the loch, past the golf course, and headed up to see the castle - which formerly had the grounds to itself before this became a university.  By then I could hear the call of the bagpipes, so I followed it along, past the memorial gardens, to another set of residences where a lone piper was giving a splendid concert.  I don't think I have blogged that there have been pipers and drummers rehearsing here all week as there is some sort of competition going on in Glasgow.  It is so amazingly appropriate as you are walking past the beautiful loch, with the sunlit crags towering over the trees, to the stirring sound of pipes in the distance.  On the way back to my room, I passed another group of about 10 pipers and drummers, and paused for a free concert for several minutes.

The Ceilidh was held in Stirling Management Centre, which is on campus but I think run as a separate hotel and conference centre.  We sat down to a very nice dinner which included smoked salmon starters (delicious) and Haggis with Neeps and Tatties as a second course.  I tried the haggis but was not sold, I decided to stick to the neeps and tatties.  However the food was all a million times better than the student grub we have been served in the campus restaurant! Somehow we ended up with Lucy Neatby, Annie Modesit and Debbie Stoller sitting on our table, and they entered into a spirited discussion on the relative merits of combination knitting vs other kinds of knitting which I wish I could have heard better as it sounded quite entertaining. It was fun to see everyone around the room knitting in between courses as well. After a very big dinner, the music started up in the other room:  two accordions, a drum kit and a fiddle.  The drummer was also the caller, and he soon had us up in sets to do a big circle dance that I can't remember, and then the White Sergeant.  He introduced the latter as 'not very energetic' and I, being gullible, fell for that one.  I am not very fit, and I tell you that one session of yoga a week does not enable you to do two back to back sets of the White Sergeant.  I had to sit the second one out.  It was very entertaining watching knitters stumbling through the unfamiliar dances in high spirits, and Debbie in particular entered very much into the spirit of it all and seemed quite good at it as well. 

I can't believe that tomorrow is the last day.  It seems to have gone really quickly, and at the same time it seems like I have always been spending my days knitting and surrounded by other knitters who are all lovely.  It will be a shock to be home and not have as much time to knit.  I worked on my Haapsalu shawl this morning, I am getting better at the nupps now, and I took my neckwarmer to the Ceilidh as it is an easier knit and I am less likely to screw it up while chatting to people (and drinking...).

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