Have Ewe Any Wool?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Awesome Cookie A!

This past weekend I had a wonderful time on Solomon's Island with another fabulous sock designer - Cookie A. Once again, Marie hosted the knitting retreat at her lovely Victorian home. Lots of fabulous food, great company, and several classes taught by a fascinating sock designer.

This time, the classes were held in the glass enclosed front porch at "The Maples". What a fabulous venue for the class - overlooking the water. The views were fabulous!

The porch was the perfect spot for the class. We were all both enlightened and entertained by Cookie A. She was a very engaging instructor and filled us with so many ideas! I learned so much and took a lot of notes! Cookie definitely knows how to take some of the most complex concepts and break them down into smaller parts that all of us could understand. She identified features of the various stitch combinations that we hadn't really though about before. We broke down and analyzed not only the stitches, but the backgrounds as well. Fascinating!

On Sunday afternoon, Cookie took part of the group out into the lawn to analyze some of the unusual chart symbols that sometimes appear in the German lace patterns. The rest of us stayed on the porch and worked on charting our own sock design.

Cookie taught several classes spaced out over the two days. I learned so much and had so much fun! There was definitely a lot of laughter in addition to all the learning. The classes included:
  • Intuitive Chart Reading
  • Traveling Stitches
  • The Perfect Rib
  • Modifying Stitch Patterns
  • Sock Innovation - Top Down Sock Design
Traveling stitches. We explored a section of knitting that was moving from right to left....and then back again. This was great for analyzing the background stitches and the pattern as it "moves" across the knitting. I'd never really thought about what all the stitches were doing and how to make the lines nice and clean.

Cables. I just started knitting cables last year, I was thrilled with the opportunity to try out some additional cables. I learned so much as we broke down each part of the cable and analyzed the "edges" that are created by the various stitch combinations. I had never really thought about the components involved or what makes the cable slant right or left until we worked through it during the class.

Lace. We also worked with a combination of lace and traveling stitches. It was fascinating to watch how certain stitch combinations cause the knitted fabric to bias. I could definitely see the importance of fully analyzing and testing your design before committing it to a garment. If I were to design my own sweater, this type of swatch would become very important for so much more than just the gauge! It's essential to see what the pattern does to the knitting itself so it can be modified if necessary and properly incorporated into a garment or sock.

In the final class, we designed our own sock and tried to make our ribbing "flow" into the design of the sock. This was easier said than done, but not impossible! The socks were to be designed from the top down. This had a few advantages:
  • You can try the sock on and fit it properly over ALL parts of your foot. One area that causes a lot of problems is the fitting over the heel. With a top down sock, you can adjust the pattern accurately for each part of your foot - the main part of the foot, the heel, the ankle, and the calf. It's a great way to create a customized sock!
  • The first 2-4 inches of the sock are actually a gauge swatch. If it's too big or too small, you only have to rip back a few inches. It's also used to "test" the pattern you selected to see if it really works or if it needs some modifications.
  • Top down design also allows you to rotate the pattern and select where it looks best - centered down the middle or off to the sides....and THEN determine where to put the heel to get the preferred alignment.
Every evening, we all sat around knitting and chatting....reluctant to let the day end. Of course, I worked in some spinning - it's so much easier to spin and chat than it is for me to knit and chat! Vicki managed to finish her sweater on Saturday evening and graciously modeled it for the camera Sunday morning. Isn't it gorgeous? I love the very feminine look of the lace and the definition that the contrasting pink provides.

Cookie's joined our evening knitting sessions and worked a bit on a gorgeous green sweater. It's her own design and we can't wait to see the final result. Much of the weekend, she was wearing a very elegant purple/mauve sweater which was also one of her own designs. It was absolutely stunning! I think we all fell in love with it. Unfortunately, she hasn't written out the pattern...at least not yet. Hopefully she'll get both sweater patterns written up and published before too long! (You can get a glimpse of the purple/mauve sweater in a picture further down in this post.)

Marie had arranged for a shipment of yarn to be delivered from "The Sanguine Griffin". The chance to purchase new yarn is always a good thing - especially we were inspired to knit more socks but just didn't have the "right" yarn! The original idea was to have a colorway created specifically for our weekend, but time constraints prevented that from being a viable option. Check out all the gorgeous colors nestled in the basket! We drew numbers and then selected from the basket based on the number we drew....that way, it kept contention for colors down to a dull roar!

The Sanguine Griffin had even sent a special skein as a gift for Cookie! (The yarn had green in it that matched Cookie's hair - very color coordinated!) (Cookie and our hostess, Marie are on the left and on the right, Cookie is "modeling" the skein.)

Everyone had Cookie sign their book and pose for a photo op. Of course, I was no exception!

Marie barely sat the entire weekend as she was so focused on making this event special for everyone else! After everyone left early Sunday evening, she finally got a much deserved chance to sit and chat with Cookie - and get her books signed as well.

Reluctant to leave the island, four of us stopped at "The Pier Restaurant" for a seafood dinner. I had the Fried Oysters Rockefeller (fried oysters atop a bed of baby spinach with chopped tomato and lots of bacon topped with a bacon dressing). I love seafood, so I was definitely in heaven! While we were eating, we managed to catch a fabulous sunset. Unfortunately, the photos through the windows are a bit "yucky" as the sea spray and smudges prevented clear pictures. However, I did go outside and snapped a few additional ones...to catch the colors just after sundown.


  • At 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for the posting. It was nice to read your comments and relive the great time we had last weekend.


  • At 1:19 PM, Blogger K @ Tidewater Knits said…

    Ooh, that sounds completely fabulous!

  • At 10:23 AM, Blogger . said…

    What a great retreat. You have a gift, your pics and description made me feel like I was a part of it. Or at least that I wish very much that I was there too!


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