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Monday, November 14, 2011

A Cat Bordhi Weekend...well, mostly

What to say about this weekend?

I am profoundly tickled. 
My arms hurt some. 
My brain was not entirely boggled - which surprises me. 
I need to go update Ravelry with alllll the new projects I can't wait to start - and the ones I started during the classes I took this weekend. 

(Caution - extreme knitterly content. I had a blast!)

So - about 6 months ago, folks started alerting me that a "Knitterati" was coming to teach in Arizona. I reviewed the class options and registered for two classes.

I am profoundly tickled. 
Cat Bordhi came to Arizona this month. She was teaching up in Phoenix and then came to Tucson to teach at Kiwi Knitting this last weekend. (Bonus! She brought us some rain too!!)

I am a profound admirer of Ms. Bordhi's very clever mind and amazing, fun, and beautiful patterns. 
I've made a variety of Moebius-based items from her books "A Treasury of Magical Knitting" and "A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting".

Heather Ordover got me started on Moebius knitting in July 2008 - also at Kiwi Knitting! (Heather does the nifty Craftlit podcast and can also be found on RavelryGoodreads.)
Back in 2008, I made a moebius scarf for practice and then worked my way through (with guidance from Heather) a pretty spiffy Trifold Knitter's Bowl - in a variety of purple feltable yarns from my stash.
From there I knit and felted/fulled a variety of Moebius Baskets and bowls. 
(Um...pictures are pending...(seems I put them somewhere "safe")...but you can see a lot of them on my Ravelry project page. (Well, if you have an account. Sorry).)

However, the opportunity to take a moebius class from Ms. Bordhi herself was irresistible so I registered to take her "Magical Moebius Knitting" class given on Friday.
I must say, getting to hear Ms. Bordhi explain Moebius knitting with all the background, experience, tips, and charming humor was stellar. 

I'd done my "homework" and refreshed my memory on the Moebius Cast-on but choosing a class project was a bit more challenging. I wanted to knit something that was a little beyond where I'd already been - but I didn't want to make myself miserable (or look like a blithering idiot) during the class. After plotting 4 new moebius projects**, I settled on starting a "Spacious Show & Tell Moebius Bag" during class with a skein of dark green variegated LanaLoft from my stash. (Stash-busting!!)
(I love Lanaloft - it felts beautifully and doesn't come with the mohair fuzziness and shedding of the Lamb's Pride. But yes, the stash busting for this project will include some Lamb's pride.)

Ms. Bordhi offered a wide range of tips and information regarding...the cast-on, project options, moebius structure (I especially loved the "equator" reference to the cast-on row), how lace moebius knitting creates an opposite-slanting parallel pattern, wool options, the shrinkage tests she'd done, how to test for felt-ability (separate strands down to near-fluff & try spit-splicing - if it doesn't felt, it's not wool, not a felt-able fiber or is superwash), and felting clues and how-to info (hang onto your top-loader washer and put projects into a well built/sealed fabric bag to keep the felt fluff out of the mechanics of your washer (the Yarn Harlot explains why here - from experience)).

I was especially intrigued to hear more about how certain yarns felt better doubled (Cascade 220) and that the Brown Sheep Wool felted more densely when knitted very loosely than when doubled.
I did a poor job taking notes. {sigh} I guess I could try to take the class again another time...{happy prospect!}.

Cat did some of her close-up demonstrating outside in our lovely "Fall" weather. The knitters in the class were a charming, colorful, knitterly, and intelligent group. Some of them were known to me from the Tucson Handweaver's and Spinner's Guild and from other knitterly events and classes.
(Everyone was concentrating fiercely to learn the Moebius Cast-on.)

There were a variety of scarves and baskets started in the class. Inspiring. I had not realized the entrelac-like structure of the Undulating Moebius Scarves. That's a whole 'nother level of fascinating!! I'm also tempted to knit one of the lace moebius scarves/wraps and I'd like to see if I have any yarn in the stash that would work for a "Lost Trail Cape.... Yep, the blather demonstrates the level of inspiration (start-itis) this class inspired. 

K. Trying to move on. The class was grand and lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. 

I did not take the Saturday class, "Finding the Fountain of Fresh Knitting Ideas", fearing my knitting was not up to a "design" level. I heard from friends who did take the class that is was also very inspiring, a great deal of fun, and that it offered some extremely interesting perspectives and thought processes.

My arms hurt some. 
Nope - the general aches and pains I had on Sunday were not related to extreme or prolonged knitting.
I helped my little brother move on Saturday. {wry grin} Complete with boxes, chairs, bed, dresser, bungee cords to keep everything in the truck...and a bit of a drive.
Slightly out of the ordinary exercise can inspire aches and pains. It wasn't too bad, but I noticed my muscles some on Sunday. 

My brain was not entirely boggled - which surprises me. 
I was back at Kiwi on Sunday for Cat's "New Pathways for Sock Knitters" class. I've had the book that supports this sock structure for years, but had not yet really explored it and had certainly not knit any socks from it. Earlier in the week I had done some studying of Ms. Bordhi's videos relating to the book's techniques: increases, decreases, wraps, and a refresher of Judy's magic cast on.

In the class and a little bit Sunday evening, I knit two sample socks ("Upstream" & Foxglove") and a very small basket that allowed us to practice the new heel turn (no gusset stitches to pick up!!!).
I plan to finish knitting the matching pairs of the sample socks to gift away as baby socks but there are sooooo many patterns and variations on the basic sock structure to explore.

I finally got to use my spiffy alphabet stitch markers from Jeds Joy - and they were much admired by my table-mates. It rained pretty steadily Sunday so there were no "Fresh Aire" demonstrations behind the shop - we were indoor knitters that day.

My "Ah-Ha" moment from the class: the book basically covers variations on where to put the increases for the instep/arch rise. Increases on the sole of the foot - on the top or all on one side. The designs in the book were inspired by the increase placement options and it's fun and amazing! It makes sense that this is the first book in a series...where to stop was probably the hard part of writing the book! The heel turn utilizes concealed wraps that minimize holes or gaps and do not require us to pick up stitches to join the heel to the instep stitches. And the basic structure works well with toe-up or top down. I have always been intrigued by the Coriolis Sock pattern and now I have a hands-on clue regarding how to knit it and why the pattern flows the way it does, emulating the Coriolis effect of the earth!

Another "Ah Ha" moment was looking down our table to see all the Lorna's Laces Cat Bordhi Ah-Ha Learning Yarn. The bright colors and short color changes work well to isolate the parts of the knitting stitches and make it easy to see what you're doing or what Cat was demonstrating. I like primary colors and rainbow-y stuff so I did finally succumb to purchasing some of this yarn for this class. Seems like quite a few other people succumbed as well:
I learned another toe-up sock technique - the garter-stitch toe. I'm not finding a link to explain this stretchy/easy toe-up start option...it is similar to something a friend of mine does to start all of her toe-up socks (excepting she does it in stockinette stitch) so you-all may already know this. Basically, you cast on 6 stitches and then knit 12 rows of garter stitch. You pickup 6 stitches on the remaining 3 sides of your garter-stitch square and then start knitting the toe of your sock - in the round.

Cat noted that although the Magical Knitting treasuries are out of print, she does expect to release them (possibly with some updates) as e-books in 2012.

If you haven't already reviewed the patterns/techniques in her new e-book, "Cat's Sweet Tomato Heel Socks" - please take a gander. The samples she brought and the quick tour she gifted us with during our Sunday class indicates that her innovative ways of looking at and simplifying Sock architecture continues. "Impressive" is a very pale description of Cat Bordhi's mind.

Oh - and making tendrils to add to your knitting is a variation on a weaving edging technique...and it's entirely spiffy!!

I could go on for quite a while about the class and the techniques and the patterns. However, I will attempt to rein in my enthusiasm and finish up this (already very long) blog entry. 

** I need to go update Ravelry with alllll the new projects I can't wait to start - and the ones I started during the classes I took this weekend. 
Plotting for the moebius class stirred up other projects: I've resurrected a plan to make a "Somersaulting Rim Trifold Bowl" for a friend. She has a striking Zebra painting in her entryway so a black/white Trifold bowl came to mind when I first visited her house. I'm am newly smitten with and plotting to knit/felt "Felted Foursome" basket with more of that purple yarn that seems so abundant in my stash (and it'll kinda go with the Trifold Knitter's Bowl...).
Then there's the lace moebius scarves/wraps I'd like try and the "Lost Trail Cape...and about 9 patterns from the New Pathways book...

Hmmm - seems the Cat Bordhi classes should come with a warning label: "May cause extreme Start-itis and possible stash-enhancement. 

Especial thanks are offered to Ms. Bordhi, Heather Ordover (for getting me started on Moebius knitting) and most especially to Lynn Davis at Kiwi Knitting - for her shop, excellent taste in Yarn and for being such a great hostess even when she didn't feel well. Thank you!

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