summit redux—a story in yarn

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events, yarn and dyeing

sock summit was such an incredible event and an amazing experience—i was honored to be asked to teach at the convention and had looked forward to it for over a year. i don’t think i can ever find the words to thank tina and stephanie and all the ST-2s

for including me in the group of instructors invited to teach alongside lifelong heroes such as barbara walker, anna zilboorg, priscilla gibson-roberts, meg swansen, judith mackenzie mccuin, and so many professional peers who i have come to know and love through the fine art of knitting.

by the time august 5, 2009 arrived, i was giddy with anticipation. i’m still pinching myself that i was actually mingling with all of these great knitters at the teacher’s dinner that evening.

after we ate and had a few little speeches, introductions, and some pictures, we each received a surprise commemorative tote bag containing goodies from the event sponsors. the bag was big—generous with pockets and roomy inside. little did i know that by the time the summit was over, it would be filled to overflowing with yarn, fiber, and sundries. so much so that i would have to send it home by post—no way could i carry it all with my luggage.

yesterday, it arrived safely on my doorstep and now i can share the treasure trove inside with you.

probably my favorite thing inside the bag at this point was a skein of STR mediumweight in the ST-2 colorway

isn’t it gorgeous?? i’m so happy i got one! i promised rachel h. that i would design a sock with it (and you know, i don’t have a sock on the needles right now . . .). i even thought of the perfect thing; i just have to play around a bit with some stitches to make it happen.

digging around in the bag some more, i found a bundle of yarn from webs

two skeins of valley yarns huntington and one skein of franklin hand-dyed (i am lovin’ this colorway—i think it’s mountsprin).

there were non-yarn goodies as well, including luna bars, pretty knitter’s soap, and, best of all—gift certificates from the loopy ewe and abundant yarn and dyeworks (must not forget to use these!)

the knitmore girls tape measure was actually not in the bag; i received that the next morning when i did a little interview for their podcast. i’m not sure when it will air, but i’ll let you know as soon as i know.

oh, but it doesn’t end there—more yarn to go (and we are still at the teacher’s dinner—the market hasn’t even opened yet).

zauberball sock in rich, deep plums and brick reds; a soft, fuzzy singles from schoppel wolle. i’m not sure i’d knit socks from it, but then again, maybe . . . it’s got nylon, so it might wear better than some other singles. or it might make a beautiful scarf.

a bundle of louet riverstone, enough for maybe a vest or a boy sweater, was at the bottom of the bag, packaged up with some SOAK.

this was all totally unexpected—at least by me . . . i was thrilled and awed just to be in that room and then we all got present too?? wow.

the next few days were sort-of a blur; i had a lot of classes to teach and not much time to spend in the market. i’m afraid most of my time there was spent racing around, trying to see as many people as possible and failing, hehe. you know—the yarn fumes.

but now that i’m home and able to think a little more clearly, i’ll try to describe the market as best i can. first of all, it was very, very big. i’ve never been to stitches or to a convention for knitters, but i’m assuming this market was bigger than most. and really really special.

the reason i say that is that this market was almost entirely filled with hand dyers and handcrafters of specialty knitting tools and accessories. the sheer artistry was palpable at every turn. it was entirely clear that this market was handcrafted by someone (that is, someone whose initials are TINA) who cares a LOT about exposing us to the best that our community has to offer.

you might say, “well, of course!”
but even my very favorite shows include exhibitors that are merely so-so. not true at the summit—not by a long shot. if anything, the outstanding quality in each booth was almost crippling—how could one choose amongst them?

(then, as evidenced by my own carryout bag, there were those of us that simply didn’t, ahem—we just got one of everything, hehehe).

where should i begin?
i know—let’s look at the accident i had when josette put a spell on me what i scored at enchanted knoll farm. but first, i just want to say that truly, it isn’t fair what some dyers are up to these days—some of them are absolutely ruthless in their production of beautiful things.

i ask you—is it any wonder that i weakened?? just look at those colors—i’m already plotting how NOT to knit them for david. well, maybe one; but only for the anniversary socks. josette’s BFL sock is the softest i’ve ever felt and still, i can see it is a good strong yarn. i can’t wait to dig in. i bought that blood-red mix specifically to knit socks for david, but i’m wavering, selfishly, now (oh, c’mon; i know you do it, too). i think i could see my way clear to letting him have the brown ones, but the red . . . i could burn in hell for it, but i may end up saving that one for me.

on friday, someone brought this lovely skein of anzula sock yarn to class as a gift from the dyer—so nice of her! i know a little boy who likes blue very much and who now loves handknit socks as well—this will be perfect, since i had nothing like it in my stash.

which brings me to another thought about sock summit—how very very nice everyone was to me throughout the weekend. i just love meeting people i’ve known through the blog and i have fun teaching classes, so i am always thrilled when students share that, too. and the vendors were amazing—we received such generous gifts of yarn and time all weekend long, as dyers invited us to browse their booths, explained their yarn lines in detail, and listened to our ideas. collaboration is so important in our field and i find the enthusiasm of other professionals an exciting and vital part of the design process. it was very good to touch base with lots of dyers and vendors in one weekend (though sadly, i did not get to talk to everyone i wanted to).

on saturday i finally hooked up with ronni, who flew in that morning for a quick two-day weekend at the summit. we had so much to catch up on; i was excited to see her again. she was helping out a friend by working in the tactile fiber arts booth (one of the dyers i never got to speak to, darn), and brought me a gift of some gorgeous fiber

this is a seriously soft and luxurious yak/merino blend in colorway sky (she knows me so well). i can’t wait to try it out.

actually, i picked up a few spinning goodies over the weekend—just a few—there were so many tempting things. at the miss babs booth, which i visited with cookie on sunday, we were absolutely blown away by the array of yarns and fibers (ooops, i think i turned cookie on to a whole yarniverse she hadn’t seen before)

babs herself was on hand to show us around and it was a real treat to finally meet and hug her in person. you might remember that she provided the gorgeous yummy sock yarn for the bricker socks i designed this past spring (a yarn i enjoyed knitting with immensely). and she has lots of other beautiful yarns in sooo many colorways. including that rusty-gold skein of yet merino/silk laceweight i picked up.
what i didn’t know is that she also dyes fiber—a smoky batch of BFL in the moat colorway caught my eye and she quickly pulled it down and pressed it into my hands (the vixen!). it’s a blend of dark and light BFL fiber that is overdyed in dark tones of charcoal, green, and black. we stayed for quite a while in that booth—babs is a charming and delightful person to talk to and so interested in working together; i feel really lucky to have met her and hope to spend time with her again soon.

while i didn’t get to see most people for more than a few minutes over the whole weekend, i did run into liz bernstein of mackintosh yarns several times, who always met me with a big wave and a warm smile—i just love that about her. liz sent me yarn last winter that i have my eye on but haven’t had a chance to use yet (though something is brewing there). she and her mom, cathy, offered a beautiful array of fibers and colors for knitting and spinning from their bright, tiny booth.

once again i was taken with the darker shades of sock and fingering yarn and walked away with two skeins. the top one is celtic sock yarn in colorway cauldron and the bottom one is skye sock yarn in colorway safari.

as we were walking through the market on sunday, a very nice rep from berocco (whose name i didn’t catch, but thank you!) ran up behind me and pushed two skeins of ultra alpaca light into my bag (this really did happen). i’m telling you—people are just too nice. these are lovely colors that will make wonderful socks for the guys—you can’t go wrong with a great green and a nice spicy rust. or a flashy metallic sock when a cute boy asks for it, hehe.

(i was really glad he picked that one, since they were so generous to me at the summit.)

i bought a copy of chrissy gardiner’s new sock book, toe-up!

she and her business partner, donna, have become friends to me over the last year or so; we meet at TNNA and i always enjoy spending time with them, though sadly we did not have a chance to have dinner as we’d hoped.
i can certainly use some expansion of my toe-up sock techniques, so i’m looking forward to reading it. chrissy has lots of cute and sophisticated socks included, along with some great step-by-step instructional passages.

another attraction of the book is that our good friend gail

photographed all the patterns and techniques contained inside—in her always-beautiful style. i’m so excited for her; she did a great job. yay, gail.

and last but not least—one booth i kept going back to drool over was a verb for keeping warm. kristine had a great spot right near the front of the market and i couldn’t help but pause every time i passed by—it was that good. first of all, kristine herself is just lovely—perpetually calm and collected, she has a thoughtful sensibility toward her work and her fibers. her intense interest in natural dyes and a passion for collecting dye methods is fascinating to listen to. i could have taken home half the booth—she gave me free rein in that regard, bless her—but i restrained myself to just a couple of things; we will have plenty of time to work together, heh, no need to be piggy about it, now.

i selected a skein of wishing wool/silk laceweight for a specific project in a colorway she created new for sock summit—filigree. this antique gold-and-rust colorway will look really pretty, i think, in a lace pattern i swatched back when i was beginning thee nightingale stole—i’ve kept it in mind for a heavier lace yarn that had a little more depth and i think now i’ve found it (hattie, are you psyched??).
i also took the opportunity to try a bit of kristine’s gorgeous spinning fiber—two very special ounces of her baby camel/silk blend in colorway taboo. taboo indeed—if i’d had this one on sunday, it would have been my top-choice, hands down, as a spinning treat. now i’ll have to wait, but maybe it will be nice to take along to rhinebeck in october . . .

so yes, i came home with quite the little haul. i’m not ashamed though—so much of it will be used right away in projects that i have lined up. you might not see it again for a bit, but when you do, you’ll be amazed at the array of lovelies it will become.

haha, i’ve been having a funny exchange with my older brother all summer about sock summit—i think it was just really really hard for him to get his head around the whole idea of thousands of knitters flocking to oregon to . . . knit socks. and to maybe take a class from me (i am, after all, forever his annoying little sister).

oh, i made comparisons with rock concerts, where legions of fans flock to a stadium to have just one group blast their eardrums out for a few hours. i talked about economic impact, the growth of small business, passion, scholarship—all manner of directions that might drive the point home.

when i started sending photos of the luminaries sitting across from me at the opening ceremonies and the rush of attendees into the market, he began to form a better picture.

but the thing that REALLY drove home the magnitude of the event??

lanyards with “sock summit 2009” printed on them.

no joke—all of a sudden it was not a knitting bee any more. go figure.
suddenly he was bemoaning the fact that he didn’t have one from the inaugural sock summit event (he lives in korea and sadly, that’s just a little too far for a weekend trip, heh), and boy that would be a real conversation starter at work, where he needs to display a badge at all times (HINT). that’s my ultra-cool big brother for ya.

fortunately, i have two, since i was both a vendor and a teacher, so i’m sending one to him. i’ll keep the vendor card, but he can have the neckstrap. heck, i’ll even send him a button.

35 thoughts on “summit redux—a story in yarn

  1. Anne,

    Loved your comments about your brother and his coming to understand that Sock Summit is a Real Deal. Until my husband snapped to the understanding that knitting to me was just like fly fishing to him there was no connect. Now when I talk knitting he gets it and often makes comparisons between knitting and fishing activities. I can just see some guy wearing a Sock Summit lanyard at work and explaining it to his puzzled co-workers.

    Thanks for your review of Sock Summit. Sounds like it was amazing and fun. –susan

  2. Hi Anne!

    It was wonderful meeting you, such an honor! Thank-you so much for stopping by my booth to chat a little more. I’m really glad you liked the yarn you picked out. I can’t wait to see it knit up. I hope your garden is enjoying this 60 degree weather we’re having here in the Midwest. I hope we cross paths again soon. Thanks again. =)

  3. What a great review, and how wonderful to hear that one of my knitting idols has idols of her have given me the urge to knit socks, something that has always been avoided…not to mention your beautiful lace work…please keep on giving us mere mortals something to strive for Kate in the Uk

  4. Wow. In a weird way, I’m sort of glad I didn’t go as I’m not sure how I would have picked. Or that I would have picked so much we’d have to sell all our worldly possessions minus the new yarn, of course, to fund the purchases. I think I seriously heart everything you got. Is that even possible?

  5. Anne..I’m just catching up on your posts….the yarn in this one gives me goose bumps, the tomatoes look so yummy, and I think your gray maze sweater is one of the most beautiful sweaters I’ve ever seen. Will you be offering the pattern?

  6. ok, what is it about guys and lanyards????? I listed my hubby as a vender too so that he could help haul things in and with break down……so what was his favorite thing about me participating in SS09….the lanyard…he loves it even hung it up in his office….ok, I’ll fess up, I like my lanyard too!

    your yarn haul is beautiful!

  7. Anne, So nice to have gotten to give you a hug..I, too was so very happy with SS09..there was so much fun, laughter and real a long time knitter,I showed my friend,that knitters aren’t unfriendly, you can learn and enjoy with being just plain nice..approachable..
    You are very special

  8. What a great post! It must have been so much fun to go through that box when it arrived, reliving all of the excitement of the SS. I just wiped drool off of my desk after viewing all of those lovely fibers! You’re going to have your work cut out for you, knitting up all of these new skeins. You poor thing! LOL

  9. I have one huge regret about Sock Summit – I went by the Briar Rose booth several times (and chatted a bit with Jocelyn each time) and saw you at a distance a couple of times, but

    (I really didn’t want to chase you down like a stalker or anything, tho’ I must admit, on Sunday after Luminaries, I paused long enough to consider it, as you sailed past several yards and 100s of folks away from me…)


  10. Woot! What a loot!

    glad to know the spell works LOL – now, if only I can repeat it:)

    Of course, like all things, it came back on me big time – I cast on some BFL in your Marie Antoinette pattern and am waiting for some lace yarn to dry for the bee shawl because I lurve beesss!

  11. You are very generous! I don’t think I could give my lanyard away for anything. I’m tempted to wear it at work with my keys, even though that’s not usually “done”. I wish you hadn’t posted pictures of all of that yarn! I ended up with some gorgeous spinning fiber from A Verb For Keeping Warm, too, that I’m dying to dig into; you’re dead right Kristine was so much fun to talk to! And, of course, there was all of the yarn I walked away with… Sigh. 🙂

  12. Maybe I better sit down for a minute…I’m dizzy from looking at all that gorgeous yarn! SS09 was such a wonderful experience. One I will always cherish. I’m still basking in the memories. Thank you so much for being so kind to me when I interrupted you and Gail at the Starbucks to say hello. I’m having a blast knitting away on my Boxleaf with the (well, one of the) Grandma’s Blessing I bought while there. So much yarn and patterns, so little time! I look forward to seeing all the wonderful things you create from all the SS09 goodies!!

  13. Giant sized blush and thank you!! It was a high point for me to have finally met you! Big hugs!!

    SS09 was so fantastic! How wonderful to relive it again through this extraordinary post! What delicassies you acquired!! Lovely, lovely, lovely!!!

    Happy almost weekend!! 🙂

  14. What can I say except for a sigh at all the lovely goodies. I’m looking forward to the products that will come from your fertile imagination and nimble fingers. Many thanks in advance!

  15. Enjoyed your post about the Sock Summit – wish I could have seen the market. Off topic – just yesterday I received the yarn and pattern for the Shakespeare in Lace Club. I’m so delighted with the pattern, and the yarn seems perfect for it. Thanks for sharing your design talents with us!

  16. I loved working with you in class on Friday – what a special treat to get to meet you. I picked up several skeins of yarn but mostly was overwhelmed by everything. I now regret I didn’t get more but I just couldn’t choose. The best thing about SS was meeting everyone and how approachable everyone was. You are so normal and like the rest of us when it comes to being awed by the teachers and writers that were there. I was so inspired – it was just the best 4 days of knitting of my life.

  17. I so enjoyed reading your review Anne. I’ve regretted many times that I did not go. BTW, I check in on Gail, Neuroknitter’s blog about as often as I do yours. Her photography is nothing short of gorgeous.

  18. I am drooling over your loot. I am glad you were able to convince your brother what Sock Summit is all about. Thank you for posting the different indie yarn dyer company because I just got my knitting “mojo” back and I was hoping to go through your site to get an idea of some great dyers for socks yarn. I am not giving up on the socks, darn it.

  19. Hallo Anne,

    Your Sock Summit recap is most wonderful and it’s lovely to see that you liked the Verb presentation. I work for the lovely and amazing Kristine and Adrienne. I am very blessed to be in their employ. Looking forward to all the designed goodness you will make with everything.


  20. You are too sweet! I too am sorry we didn’t get to spend some time with you. Definitely let Chrissy or I know when you’re going to be in Oregon again!

  21. What an amazing haul! There is some serious loveliness there, but I have to say a Verb for Keeping Warm is the hands down winner. Her work is so wonderful, you can really tell the artistry and intelligence that went into it.

  22. anne, glad to see you mentioned tactile fibers. one of my dearest high school friends, brooke, is one-half of that awesome duo…a shame i didn’t start knitting til 12 years later and missed out on a chance to “mine” all that expertise in person!

  23. I’ve seen some incredible triangle shawl/scarves knit from zauberball, with it’s long color runs. I can’t wiat to see what you come up with for that great goodie collection!

  24. I didn’t get to go to Sock Summit, but read a TON of blog and Ravelry posts about it — so much fun.

    But I actually think your posting here was one of the “best” I read — I actually learned a little “from the other side” (from a teacher’s point of view) — fabulous! And what generous, generous vendors. Just amazing!!!

  25. Hi Ann,
    It was lovely meeting & chatting with you. I can’t wait to see what you knit up with my Anzula yarn. I love that the skein will be knit up for your nephew. The Sock Summit really was an amazing experience. Happy Knitting!

  26. Wasn’t the Summit the most fun a knitter could possibly have? I am still amazed at how it’s affecting me. Knitting Turkish-style socks right now, even though I’ve cast on a half dozen projects since I got home.

    I have been knitting with Zauberball since early July. I knit very different things than you… mine is a wonderful mitered square stole on size 4 needles. Photo here:

    I find that it’s softer than Noro Kureyon sock, and it’s more firmly spun than Mini Mochi. I am able to do a double-decrease without splitting, even using sharp needle points. It has been in my purse for over a month and it’s not pilling. I am very fond of this yarn so far.

    I have not washed the yarn yet. That is the last frontier, but so far, it’s better than expected as far as how it was spun (and the colors of mine… yelow-orange through berry, purple, navy… well, just inspiring).

    For what it’s worth.

    LynnH in 62F Lansing, Michigan (how can this be August?)

  27. Thank you for your wonderful review of Sock Summit. Being an Australian, it was great to have a chance to experience vicariously through your blog. Now, which lace yarn to try next?!

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