Madrona 08

I arrived home yesterday through a serious of minor miracles. I was sure I was too tired to wake up in time for the 5:30 shuttle (despite a patented “triple alarm system” I use whenever I travel) I was sure I didn’t have enough time to get through security when I saw the queues, then felt positive that the weather would cancel the flight. I squeaked through all of that by the skin of my teeth, it seems, and I’m home and so tired that I’m surprised my teeth and hair haven’t fallen out, just because they can’t be bothered to hold on any longer.

I sort of screwed up at Madrona too….suffering my first real case of “camnesia” (was that Mamacate who came up with that? I think so.) where my camera stayed in my sock bag no matter what happened, and plenty happened, let me tell you. (There was a rumour that a knitter got on the horse statue in the lobby bar. I was long gone to bed, but I don’t find this at all surprising, since I feel that there is a certain inevitability to the combination of knitters + alcohol + party atmosphere + wool fumes + a whack of your friends + a full size proper horse (his head was a lamp) in a BAR that can only result in an Annie Oakley and Target sort of episode. I am certain the hotel sensed this.)

Madrona is one of my favourite events all year, and it is (all horse rumours aside) that way because of the fabulous atmosphere. It’s a great place to teach, a wonderful place to learn and the whole time I’m there I feel as though something really important is happening. At SOAR, Jeannine had this tape she’d woven that had all of these wonderful expressions woven into it, and one of them.. the one that has really stuck with me is “When an elder dies, a library burns to the ground”. So many people in this world, the fibre world, really are elders (no matter how old they are) and having an opportunity to learn from them is phenomenal. Books and blogs and all the ways we use to pass on what we know about knitting and spinning is a wonderful thing, but there really is no substitute for the incredible opportunity to sit at the feet of an elder (Metaphorically. Madrona has chairs.) and watch and learn. Since what we do so involves touch and feel, what you can get from being in the actual presence of the stuff and the teacher is very valuable. It’s sort of moving, especially having the honour to be on the teaching end sometimes. To make the most of this, and because I was teaching and speaking and learning and had the opportunity to see friends that I only see once a year….I may have attempted to put more hours in a day than is strictly possible, or wise. I’m so tired that…. I’m so tired I can’t think of how tired I am. Here’s what I do have pictures for. Forgive the fragmented thinking today.

1. A parade of great minds:


Doesn’t this look like a bunch of ordinary women on their way out to dinner? It’s not. That’s Kathryn Alexander, Lucy Neatby, Janine Bajus, Susanna Hansson, Margaret Radcliffe, Anita Luvera Mayer, Ruth Sรธrensen, Myra Wood, Jean Wong. Nancy Bush and Judith MacKenzie McCuin. The molecules in the wake of these women walking are educational. (Canadians…note the green grass just sitting there looking like it’s not a miracle.)

2. I took a class with Ruth Sรธrensen on designing with self striping yarns.


I learned a great deal and had a wonderful time, but the highlight of that class for me was seeing Ruth’s work in person. It’s very interesting and beautiful and right after I saw this skirt?


I went straight to the market to buy yarn. STRAIGHT THERE. (Shut up Denny. I do too wear skirts.)

3. I took a class on how to spin yarn for socks from Judith. As always, I now have a rampaging case of “Judith-itis” and shall drive my friends mad for some time to come saying “Judith says…” and “When Judith does it….”

We created cabled yarns, which while they seem like they would be too bumpy to make a good smooth sock yarn, are apparently ideal. Very sturdy, very elastic…and the bumps on a cabled yarn (Judith says) fit together in knitting fabric like interlocking driveway stones and make a very beautiful, very smooth surface. (I have not swatched to prove this, but Judith has never lied to me about anything else.) We started with a two ply…


That was pretty easy. I make a two ply all the time. (Even when I should really make something else.)

Then we added extra ply twist to the two ply. (As a chronic underplyer…..this gave me entire fits) and then plied those two plies together in the direction of the original singles. It makes a really beautiful yarn that looks almost beaded to me.


My first attempt was so horrible that I had to have an entire do-over. When Judith says “add more twist” in the first ply, she is not fooling around. I had to add twist until nausea overtook me, then go back and run it through the wheel to add more. There is still not quite enough. I got the hang though.

This is the same yarn but done with a ply of merino/silk and a ply of yak (de-keratinized, so it’s white.)


Look at this though. This yarn is my new best friend. The only thing stopping me from making a sweaters worth of this right this minute is that I don’t have the fibre and …. to be entirely honest, it took me about 30 minutes to make this half metre sample.


That little precious is two singles of pure silk and one of natural yak.


I’m currently using this wee strand for a bookmark and fighting the urge to eat it…. it’s that beautiful.

4. Since Ruth was there and since she’s the one who designed the Kauni Cardigan that so many of us fell for, Kauni’s were everywhere.


It was like a club.


I realized, as I snapped pictures and had other people snap pictures of all the Kauni’s that I had never posted pictures of my finished Kauni, so today I took a couple.


It’s super wearable, and I do wear it, it’s even been washed several times.


When I’m not wearing it, it’s hanging on the back of a chair somewhere in the house. It thinks it’s art.


(I agree.)

This concludes our interesting coverage of fibre people doing interesting things. We now return to your regularly scheduled blog programming. (That would be me, screwing up grey knitting while it snows. Try to control your enthusiasm.)

175 thoughts on “Madrona 08

  1. Stephanie, wow, I can’t believe I’m the second to comment…very strange. I just wanted to say thanks for your wonderfully educational and humerous blog. I’ve been reading it faithfully for about 8 months now and can’t live without it. It is reasuring to me (a knitter of almost 3 years) that you too take classes. I attended my first fiber arts fair last year, but we just walked around and looked at stuff. I’ll have to take a class next time. Glad you enjoyed your trip, even sans pictures.

  2. I couldn’t take classes this year, but went to the marketplace at Madrona on Friday. Boy, was I glad I had a day off from work and didn’t wait until Saturday! I scored some beautiful Irish yarn from Black Water Abbey Yarns (really hope they’re back next year with WAY more stuff, but I did get a swatch card and now I have the web address). So glad you liked our grass and got a chance (maybe?) to go outside and soak up a little sun. I love the Kauni and I saw the yarn, but my wallet did a little scream when I started to calculate the cost for a sweater (ok, it was actually Uncle Sam and the thought of having to pay my tax bill in 2 more months that held me in check). But SOMEday…….they are just stunning.

  3. The Kauni is just as pretty as we all knew it would be.
    The weather wasn’t any better in LA last weekend than it was in Tacoma.

  4. Sorry, in my excitement to comment on your k-a-u-n-i cardigan, I misspelled the name of it. (blushes).

  5. The Kauni is beautiful!! Cant wait to be able to afford the yarn and pattern for myself ๐Ÿ™‚ Welcome home and may you get all the rest you need so we dont have to go with out our daily “Harlot” Fix!

  6. Seeing the green grass makes me want spring all that much more, given that it must be at leave -200F including windchill here in Indiana today… But the art that is the Kauni warms me up even more than the space heater under my desk!

  7. So, if I go by my proper name of Judith, people will take me more seriously? Actually, I always refer to Judith as my evil twin….. Thanks for the great blog!

  8. The Kauni is art. Definitely.
    Also, as a dedicated sock knitter and (very) beginning spinner, I find the idea of cabled sock yarn fascinating. Yarn with singles small enough to not just two-ply, but cable!! I am in awe (and a little bit of green-around the edges jealously..(I know, practice…)

  9. I’ve been telling myself for a few years now that I have no interest in spinning. I’m so convinced that I have no interest in spinning that it’s become a mantra – must repeat it to myself pretty much on a daily basis. You’re not helping……..

  10. Judith gave classes at the fiber festival in my inlaws’ home town. That happens every OTHER year. That no one bothered to tell me about. I’m still bitter, and fight the urge to weep when I even see Judith’s name.
    Looks like a grand time, and I love the herd of Kaunis in the wild.

  11. Hope the bottle will help you cope with the cold, glad that Pam is sending you the skein. It was nice to meet with you again (if only in the elevator). I was “put to bed” last night, don’t even remember how the light or the TV turned off…..elves? Wish they’d make the yarn too! Happy homecoming!

  12. Why is it when I have the time to go to Madrona (or Rhinebeck or MSW etc) I don’t have the money? Or when I have the money I don’t have the time? Someday…
    It looked like so much fun. So glad you had a great time!
    Also where does one get dekeratinized yak?

  13. Ah yes, “Judith-itis”…my mom and I always come away from Madrona with that condition, too. I agree, it’s such a wonderful retreat. I feel fortunate to be able to attend. And the teachers I’ve talked to all feel the same way you do. They love getting to be part of this gathering.
    I think that Madrona must exist in some sort of time warp. I don’t generally function well on low amounts of sleep, except there. I seem to run on pure adrenaline and inspiration and am often unable to sleep because the yarn in my head keeps me up all night.
    (I’d be happy to vouch for your skirt-wearing-ness…I was behind you in line at the Artful Ewe on Sunday.)

  14. Hi Stephanie and Welcome Back!
    A quick update on the ongoing battle between knitter vs. squirrel. Carole Knits and her family bravely fought a skirmish from INSIDE their home and won.
    The squirrel appeared on the arm of their living room couch and proceeded to run around once his position was known by the family. The squirrel even tried to run up the stairs to the 2nd flr however Mason (their guard cat who was actively manning his post on the stairs) proceeded to loudly hiss then swat the squirrel back downstairs thereby denying him access to the 2nd flr sleeping quarters. This also answers the age (nay centuries) old question of “Why do knitters and cats tend to peacefully coexist together?” Answer: They are a formidable (yet unsuspecting) allied team in protecting hearth, home and STASH from the little grey beasties. Please see Carole Knits blog post dated 2/13/08 called “In Da House” for the rousing finale and triumph of Knitter with Kitty vs squirrel. You will not be disappointed.

  15. The Kauni Club shots are wonderful – your sweater fits you very well and the button is a dear design. I’m heading to Stitches West for two classes this year and now I’m looking forward to it even more. Thank you for the photo of Knitting Elders…must have been a heck of a dinner, I’m grateful you got to be with your peers.

  16. My new wheel shipped yesterday. It’s being shipping to ME a woman who swore she would never ever be sucked into the whole spinning thing. I blame it on Mamacate.

  17. Looks like you had a wonderful time. I, myself, attended Knit-Out 2008 this weekend. These events are so much fun and no matter how much you know, there is always something to learn. Your pictures are great. Playing with those fibers is a great way to ignore the snow and cold outside. The intricate work you do, like on that beautiful Kauyni amazes me. I can’t imagine the detail work and how you can focus. You make it look so easy. Keep those needles flying.

  18. Thanks for such great reads on your blog. I start every day reading your posts.
    I would love to go to a conference such as this; can’t travel for a host of reasons. Wish Toronto hosted one…and the yarns, the workshops, that sweater…so lovely…but the green grass! Could you enlarge photo, please?

  19. I want to be in the Kauni club too! It IS art. So is the silk/yak blend. Believe it or not, there are two yak living at a farm just a few miles south of us (Stouffville). I wonder how they’d feel about being sheared by a novice……..

  20. Sounds like you had a great time. I’m trying to imagine silk and yak together…that must be a fabulous combination.
    Maybe you’ll be wearing a handknit skirt on tour this year rather than your gorqeous Bohus?

  21. It’s not just the fibre community that’s like that. It’s every community. All of these ‘elders’ hold incredible amounts of knowledge, a lot of which can never be portrayed in books, videos, blogs, etc. Being at a culinary school I understand what you mean. Sounds like you had a FABULOUS time though! Wishes for the much-needed rest!

  22. I often wonder at fiber events how long they would have to be for me to take all the classes and see all the people and do all the learning and spinning and knitting and shopping and just plain hanging out that I need. I figure a couple of months should do it. I wouldn’t have slept much either. (Are you coming to SPA?)
    I want to learn to make that yarn. Even just a half meter’s worth. I could wear it around my neck like gold. (Precious.)

  23. WOW! Thanks for all the fiber stuff! Wonderful pictures. Very inspirational. I need to go home and cable some yarn. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  24. The Kauni is really beautiful, and the buttons–! Those buttons may well be the most beautiful buttons I’ve ever seen! Congratulations! (Rest will come. No point in wasting a really great time sleeping, after all)

  25. Wow, grass and spinning and yaks and knitters and Kaunis oh my! Travel stress aside, it just sounds like a little bit of heaven.

  26. Knitting as art – of course! That’s why my Clara Bartons remain hanging on the towel rod between wearings instead of hiding out in the sock drawer. I like admiring them and they like being admired. Brilliant!

  27. That sweater IS art, it doesn’t just think it is. And I like your colorway the bestest. I have to admire. I’m not really ambitious enough to knit a whole entire sweater (yet). Now, that skirt…. ๐Ÿ™‚ But alas, it’s socks and more socks for me. The Purple Wonders got finished (a wonder in itself)and I have worn them several times. KnitPics has great basic yarn. Alas, I’ll never spin: tendonitis sez no. Welcome home!

  28. That Kauni cardigan looks absolutely gorgeous. it’s hard to believe that the pattern isn’t more oomplex (not that I’ve tried to knit it, but I thought it would be much more involved than two strands of color …)
    It’s definitely art.

  29. Wow. Look at all those Kaunis! The collective hours of knitting makes one’s head spin. Lovely.
    Question: Why are your buttons, Steph, on the right front band, and the others seem to be on the left (as far as I can tell)? Right-handed vs. left-handed? Canadian vs. elsewhere in the world? Some other cosmic reason? Just curious…

  30. I love the Kauni sweater and the fact that you were able to round up seven people who had knit and were wearing it!
    I will not spin. I do not have time to spin. I don’t have time to do all the knitting and crocheting I already have planned. I will not learn to spin. Get thee behind me, spinning wheel!

  31. Someday I’ll get to one of these fiber shows, and then maybe I’ll actually get the chance to try spinning to see if I’ll like it as much as I imagine I will. Right now I’m settling for learning how to handpaint sock yarn.
    I was supposed to go to the Knit Out in Minnesota this weekend (where I hear they had a veritable heat wave of 31 degrees!), but came down with the flu on Friday and had to cancel my travel plans.
    And Stephanie, I’m thrilled to know you’re coming to Charlotte! I’ll be there with bells on! Well, ok, not actually wearing them. Or even carrying them … well, you know what I mean.

  32. Stephanie, thank you for the words about elders (I have been knitting for 60+ yrs), but there I was in the crowd gathered around you in the teachers’ gallery astounded at your demo of straight needle in the pit knitting! While I might fall into the category of chest dimension limitations, I don’t think I’d ever be able to match your speed. (I also missed the horse incident and hope that the horse itself will be missing next year!)
    Too bad you couldn’t have stayed one more day. Yesterday, Monday, was so beautiful, that I went out to finish my yard cleanup.

  33. It is a strange thing: For knitters, showing up at an event wearing the same item of clothing as another attendee is cause for celebration. For many non-knitter women, it results in immediate withdrawal to the ladies’ room for weeping and gnashing of teeth.

  34. There was green grass!!! I want green grass. I’ll even take brown grass. I just want someone to get rid of all the flippin’ SNOW!!!!
    Green grass + yarn + fun + other knitters (aka people who DON’T look at you strange when you start talking all things knitterly) = HEAVEN!!!

  35. I’ve got to say that Kauni is freakin’ amazing. How could anyone feel drab and dreary with those colors laying about? It’s like Spring and Summer decided to become wool when I see that sweater. Don’t get me wrong, I’m from Minnesota and I know from winter, but just seeing photos of that cardigan perk my day right up!

  36. Dang it! While I missed Madrona (after moving to Montana from Washington it wasn’t easy to plan on attending) I ended up being in WA on Saturday.
    Then I dropped my husband off at Seatac airport at 6 am Monday for a flight through Detroit. I’m always telling him, “see, this is the Yarn Harlot. If you ever see her at the airport you have to go talk to her.”
    He did sit on the plane next to a well known dressage judge (dressage being my other passion), but he did not say anything about seeing any knitters. He actually talked to the judge about my horses so I’m sure he could talk to you about knitting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. I want a Pocket!Ruth to take with me wherever I go, to tell enchanting stories about life Denmark and Europe and about being fearless in the face of thieves and passports and I just was so glad to take that class from her! And, how did Denny like the fiber?

  38. Welcome home!!
    Straight needle in the pit knitting? What is Joan talking about? What’s that?

  39. It looked like great fun…I was thinking of going to the Knit out this last weekend but don’t belong to any knitting groups–so do you see a lot of ‘solitaries’ at these type of gatherings?

  40. I can’t wait to start attending these festivals after the wee monkeys don’t need me every moment of every day. They are growing fast, so I’m sure when this event occurs, I’ll be amazed. And a little sad. And then I’ll be posing with statuary at 4am in some wool-infused city, going “children WHO?”. LOL
    Take care, get some rest, thanks for the fun pictures. That patch of grass lying there like it happens ALL THE TIME is amazing…I can almost imagine how wonderful it smelled.

  41. Knitting Olympics 2008?? I keep forgetting to include that in a post….are there plans? Should we be shopping for the perfect project? (a challenge, yet potentially achievable with proper training and commitment? ๐Ÿ™‚
    Any reason to buy more yarn and patterns….

  42. Back to the grey? You’ve got to be kidding. TUESDAYS are for spinning some colorful overplied cabled yarn, aren’t they? (or perhaps knitting some more colorful socks). There’s too much white and brown and gray everywhere to do gray knitting (or did you store up enough color from Madrona to temporarily fuel up?)

  43. Apropos of nothing really knitting, as I was reading and thoroughly enjoying your blog, I happened to be listening to Sasha Dobson’s new album (did I just date myself with the word “album”?!) called Modern Romance. And at the very moment that I was reading about the weather in your neck o’ the woods, I was listening to the particular track called “Spring Is Just Around the Corner” It’s such a catchy little tune you just have to download it and listen to it when the snow starts falling again. You’ll be thinking ice cold beer on the deck before you know it!

  44. So glad you made it home in nearly one piece. You certainly were among the goddesses. I swear I sat next to Lucy Neatby at your Represent Tour Kick-Off in NYC. Either that, or someone else that looks a lot like her, including the purple hair. If only I had thought to ask… Now you might want to get some rest. I’m guessing a bout of Startitis might be hitting you when you wake up.

  45. Were do you get the pattern for that skirt. And the yarn. And every other bit of information necesary to make that skirt. It is gorgeous. I want it so badly right now. AHHHH… love it.
    Glad you had a good time.

  46. Sharon V: “straight needle in the pit” is how Stephanie holds her right knitting needle; it’s
    the equivalent of using a Shetland knitting belt (which is how Hazel Tindall achieves 262 stitches in three minutes). When your right hand doesn’t have to support the needle, it’s free to manipulate the yarn faster. There are variations of the technique – needle in crease of leg, etc.

  47. You do realize that it is still winter in Canada and there are what? 2 months left? If you feel daring enough to wear that skirt in 2 months, you’re good to go. That and if it fails, give it to one of your daughters; I’m sure they wear skirts.

  48. Judith-itis? You have an inflammation of your Judith? Oh no! There are shots for that now, though. You should be okay soon. Just, y’know, don’t pick at it…

  49. Is there some knit festival calendar somewhere? I’m not a real knitter, I get distracted and set projects down for…ever really. But I love the technical details of knitting. Can muggle-knitter hybrids have fun at these festivals?
    Oh don’t mind me, these are rhetorical questions. Thanks for the vicarious experience.

  50. Wow. Before I read this post I thought my “family day weekend” was sort of slow but now I know it was downright dull. Silly trumped up holiday…
    I’ve had Kauni yarn in my basement for a looooooong time. Maybe I should dig it out in light of your “knit with bright colours and winter won’t suck your soul out of your ear” theory (paraphrased…of course).

  51. Check out the Kauni Gang! Speaking from experience, when you get a bunch of women together all wearing the same jacket or sweater you tend to walk in a v formation through crowds. Also it’s easy to find your group if you get lost “Hey did you see a bunch of chicks dressed like me? Tell them I’m looking for them.” I got seperated from the rest of my car club in Austin Texas and I just asked people if they’d seen a group of women dressed like me and people just pointed the way.

  52. Excellent! So glad you had a good time! I love the skirt (can’t wait to see your version), the ‘beaded’ yarn, and especially the buttons you picked for the Kauni! Beautiful. =)

  53. Dang. You had to go show some gorgeous cabled handspun. I was really trying hard the last 6 months -telling myself I do not need to add spinning to my list of addictions. But that cabled handspun – it looks soo squishy and touchable. I just want to pet it. No I want to make my own. *grin* I am glad that you had a good time out on the west coast. It has been unseasonably warm – making the grass grow…but we usually have another month of winter weather. What did the ground hog have to say? Hopefully you took some warm weather home with you!

  54. “The only thing stopping me from making a sweaters worth of this right this minute is that I don’t have the fibre and …. to be entirely honest, it took me about 30 minutes to make this half metre sample.”
    Um. That and the fact that you have to finish spinning yarn for a gansey? (Okay, we’ll let you take a nap first.)
    Love the Kauni club! Yours is gorgeous, and is flattering & looks comfy on.

  55. I can’t believe I never thought of cabled sock yarn before!
    I’m always spinning microscopic singles and wondering how I’m going to make them suitable for knitting *anything* other than wedding-ring shawls.
    Thank you so much for showing us this.
    P.S. I also chronically under-ply. Must work on that.

  56. Annie Oakley’s horse was named “Target”? That just seems so….wrong.
    That cabled yarn is beautiful. Even without all the (many) other good things that came from this trip, that lovely sample of a new twist on one of your yarny skills would have made it worthwhile, woudn’t it? Glad you had such a grand time!

  57. I have been sicker than sick for about two weeks Steph and your pics have surely made me smile. I enjoyed most of all the Kauni Klub. How beautiful was that! And don’t you dissuade that cardi…it is art all laying around the back of the furniture looking casual.

  58. What beautiful sweaters on beautiful, YOUTHFUL elders…
    How wonderful. And the Kauni IS art…I love your Kauni club:-) I love the idea of a place where even the molecules knit!

  59. “It was like a club”
    or, a very nice to be in, cult…… just sayin…
    (OK- that shot was purely because I am jealous. There. I said it. I’m sorry. Hopping off to buy my own Kauni yarn! ).

  60. your knitting is art…face facts. It should be draped everywhere. I have decided that I too shall drape my knitting as art and have purchased dowels and hooks this very day to do so. We should all relish our art…thank you for sharing yours!

  61. Wow, Madrona sounds fabulous! I must go sometime.
    And your Kauni is gorgeous. Mine is waiting in the queue. Love the buttons!!
    I understand that type of exhaustion. Hope you can catch up on your rest.

  62. What gorgeous Kaunis on a group of gorgeous women! No Kauni … no Kauni … must … finish … perpetual Manos and Must Have Cardi, when I get the pattern … etc.
    The skirt is lovely. Methinks it would be lovelier on someone slimmer and less curvaceous in the lower body than I. So what if it’s still winter. You could wear it over a solid color silk skirt.

  63. Save the Kauni group shot, because you look as beautiful as you are happy. Kind of reminds me of the shot of Joe we saw when you guys had just shot the rapids.

  64. Wow, the Kauni group shot is amazing! I’m utterly fascinated with the spinning/plying. And by the fact that you managed to cross the O in Sorensen. I almost did Madrona this year. Now I’m flogging myself (with a wet skein of course) that I didn’t try harder.

  65. Not ALL Canadians live in the land of ice and snow. I am about to go for a run in my shorts, with sun screen on. And I live in Canada too. However, I will wear wool socks.

  66. I love the pics of the yarn you spun while at Madrona – all the gorgeous colors! What I wouldn’t give to go to a knitting weekend! …and have vast piles of money to spend while there…

  67. Wow!
    That cabled yarn is beautiful. I have never spun a thread of anything but that kind of made my fingers itch. Is that how it starts? Spinning virus? Uh oh…fleeing before I start another hobby.

  68. Wow, what a fun time. So much better than camp with pit toilets when we were younger!! Was yours the only Kauni with matching sleeves, or did everyone do the matching sleeve bit?? I get so much vicarious pleasure from your knitting travels!!

  69. Judith has another one I especially love: “you can if you like.” That gets heard a lot in her classes. It basically means “Do you have a hole in your head of course you can’t do that you moron.” Heh.

  70. It is art. Lovely.
    Glad you saw the green grass. I saw your ice in Toronto. But it is always fun to get away!

  71. Cabled Yarn!!! That’s what it’s called! And that’s how you do it!!!
    I kept calling it “Um, you know, like super bouncy yarn? Or, um, bumpy yarn? No, not boucle. Come on!”
    I have a date with my wheel now! Oh, the excitement rising in my belly…
    Now, who is Judith and how do I steal her and bring her to Boston?

  72. Oh man! How embarassing ya’ll wore the same outfit!!
    hehe Thos skirts are pretty! And I think I remember you wore a skirt at least once? maybe?

  73. WOW, I really wanted to go this year. Judith’s sock class is great, now if i could only make the socks! But I have lots of three ply sock yarn. Glad you made it there and back. I do you hear you about when an elder dies, I learned to spin at nine and have lots many friends over the years, and often stop ans ask, how did they do that again?

  74. It sounds like so much FUN! Sigh. And the Kauni is just lovely. Please share where you got those buttons??? I’ve never seen them before and I think they are beautiful. So of course I wants them…welcome home!

  75. I am sorry. But that is not enough. I need to know MORE! what are you holding out on us? c’mon. Ruth and Judith? And everyone else? There HAS to be more.

  76. Girl, you HAVE to let us know where that skirt pattern is! It is adorable!
    And if my knitting can be art, yours is ABSOLUTELY art! It’s gorgeous!

  77. I’m glad you enjoyed your time at Madrona. I’m jealous I couldn’t go (again) this year…prehaps next year. I can go visit my mountain and the green grass. Wait. We have that here. Well, I can go visit the mountain anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think Mount Rainier is my favorite mountain.
    That spinning technique is interesting.

  78. I so enjoyed Madrona – it was my first time & all I can manage is WOW! My head is full. Ruth was an amazing teacher & yes – the skirt was beautiful! Glad you made it home safely (5:30am – wow!)

  79. It was great seeing/hearing you again. Constantina & I did see a sock monkey on the horse being quite X rated while having his picture taken. I don’t know if he was a knitter but he was with several knitters. See you in Bothel in April.

  80. This is not specific to today’s blog, it is just to compliment you on how awesome it is to read what you have to say, not only because it is hilarious and creative, but also because there are NO grammatical or spelling errors (unlike this sentence)!!!! I may not be anal about my knitting, but I am anal about my english! Thanks for the pleasure of your words!

  81. Oh, that I were the Judith to whom you referred in your post! Oh, that I could even spin yarn in the first place! Oh, well, you’re doing a lovely job of it all on your own. Although I will tell my husband about the “Judith-itis” attack. I think we should have some of that around our house. ๐Ÿ™‚

  82. I saw the kauni and you in it at Rhinebeck. It is art.
    I’m glad you had a respite from winter.

  83. The Kauni is superbly beautiful! I’ll bet downtown Tacoma will never be the same after this weekend. I’ve lived in the region my whole life and have yet to attend this coveted event. Hopefully kids, work schedules and spousal obligations will allow me to see you in Portland this spring. Cheers!

  84. Oh, thank God! Wait, I mean, I’m sorry your grey knitting is screwing up.
    (I have re-knit this sweater more than any other sweater I’ve made. I can’t believe I’m nearly done with the back and still making stupid mistakes. Like doing the braid wrong. Over and over. And yet? I still adore this sweater. Adore it. Am hoping to finish by Saturday for Stitches West. Wish me luck. I’ll need a truckload.)

  85. Are the directions to make that cabled yarn in a book somewhere? Cause it’s REALLY COOL, and I have this 50 gallon bag of various colors of llama fleece and some soy silk that that technique would be excellent for.

  86. this is a fine posting
    that happens when you are so tired
    that you teeth hurt even if you
    do not have a tooth in your mouth
    goodness get some rest april will
    soon be here -the skirts look
    quite vintage very 1920’s
    thank you to all the ladies and the
    wisdom they share with us -salute

  87. Grey? Gansey? Can it be?
    Hope you trapped some of that knitting mojo-super molecule-uber coolness of all those knitterly goddesses and can beam them across the internet – I need a shot!

  88. Do you know how hard it is not to come to your house and steal all of your yarn? It is so beautiful!! I love all that you do!

  89. I’m so happy that you were too busy having fun and learning and doing new stuff that you didn’t have time to blog. That’s the way things should be sometimes.

  90. This was my first year at Madrona and I was overwhelmed with the superstars. What an experience. I too, though not this time, have come away from Judith’s classes driving everyone crazy with my “Judith says…” After my three days with Kathryn Alexander I have added “Kathryn says…” to my repertoire!

  91. I saw the first wild daffodil in bloom this weekend. I couldn’t beleive it. I’ll send some to all those with snow on the ground.
    Try not to eat your bookmark(although it looks good even without butter on it). We were looking at the bluemoon fiber arts website the other night at work and we both had a hard time not eating the colour photos. Some yarns I want to roll in and become one with and some deserves a place at the queens(me) table.
    Isn’t it great to be able to write this is not have anyone call the men in the white coats.
    Looks like a good fiber fest. I would like to try to make it next year.

  92. Stephanie, are you sure that the yak didn’t have the melanin removed instead of the keratin? I feel like if they removed the keratin there wouldn’t be any yak left for you to spin!

  93. Wow, looks like you had an awesome time there. I wish I could have gone too. Maybe by next time I would have the Visa formalities done.
    I love your Kauni too.
    Take Care

  94. I’m going next year! Thanks for the great report! I have a question: are you making 3-ply OR are you plying 2-2plys together to give a 4 ply??I’m a recent new spinner and just learned Navajo plying which gives 3 ply yarn. Thanks!

  95. I still love the Kauni sweater.
    Had my Yarn for a while and the Pattern,
    Im yet to start it.

  96. Thoughts about being tired…I used to work rotating shifts (as a weather forecaster, don’t hate me) a week of days, a week of evenings, a week of “mids”. It was like every cell in my body hurt. When someone asked me if I missed the shift work I said that at least I don’t contemplate suicide every 3rd week any more. It’s different now when it’s for fun but it still hurts.
    It looks like you had a great time and was worth it! Thanks for the pretty Kanui pictures, inspirational!

  97. Dear Harlot,
    I stumbled upon your blog accidently and now spend a large amount of my time at work reading the archives. Since you appear to be an expert on all things yarn related perhaps you can assist me with strange things that have been happening to me since I stumbled across your blog.
    I have what looks strangly like a growing yarn stash but I don’t knit.
    In planning my garden this coming spring, I have blocked a rather large chunk which I am calling the “dye garden” but I don’t spin
    On Saturday night at our monthly craft night I was asked what I was making for Christmas gift this year. I informed everyone that I was knitting sock and scarves (all but one was seriously impressed) My best friend (and a strangly practical woman) Margaret replied “But you DON’T knit” I said “I know”.
    Is there a knitting bug? Can I actually be bitten by it?

  98. ROFL – we use the same alarm system! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Which worked for me, despite only having about 1-1/2 hours of sleep before waking up to get to the train station Saturday morning. [g] I saw two or maybe three Kaunis wandering around, but none of them were you. Gorgeous buttons you found for yours! Glad you had such a good time; all your classes sound wonderful!
    Ms. Knitingale and I were just there for the marketplace Sat. afternoon, although some year I’d love to make it for some classes. It was still fantastic! And for once, I managed to take pix galore – what with the train ride up to Tacoma, and the Marketplace, and then clear, sunny Sunday with the mountain gloriously flaunting itself, I found I’d taken 141 pix in two days! Good thing some are duplicates… [vbg]
    Mary Peed at 7:16 PM, re cabled yarn technique: I’m sure there are several books out there explaining it, but the one I’ve got was published by Interweave Press: Spinning Designer Yarn, by Diane Varney. It was reprinted a few years ago, seems to be pretty available, and isn’t too expensive. It covers an incredible number of different spinning and color techniques – including good instructions on how to spin cabled yarn, up to 8 plies, if I remember right.

  99. Anytime you want to talk about Judith MacKenzie McQuin go right ahead. She is my all time favorite spinning teacher. This spring she remembered that she had taught me to switch hands spinning 20 years ago. Remarkable memory that woman has and so much to say that we can use.

  100. YH- I love your blog! I too, am reading the archived postings. As well as stash I collect quotes and I absolutely love Jeannine’s. Thanks for sharing so much with us!

  101. That beeeyootiful yarn above – the “two singles of pure silk and one of natural yak” stuff – wouldn’t that make the most gorgeous and wonderful Latavian mitts?
    Or are my tired eyes not thinking of how busy it would be above the cast on bits?
    Happy knitting (and catching up on your sleep)

  102. wow. just wow. reading that post was like taking a mini-vacation!
    does the grey knitting refer to a certain gansey? i won’t even ask, but i’ve been waiting patiently. i hope i haven’t missed it during one of the various weeks where children’s illnesses or games, or what have you kept me away from the ‘puter.
    i really love the skirts and i hope you will talk more about them. my single favorite piece of clothing is a green knitted skirt, made of a mohair merino blend in a lace pattern, with a big silky ribbon tie at the waist. i love that skirt. the one’s you’ve snapped a picture of look just gorgeous and i would love to make one, so spill ok? pattern? yarn?

  103. So, I’m reading Yarn Harlot today, and lo and behold, I see a photo with me in it! Hurrah, our Kauni Day/Valentine’s Day photo showed up! I feel like a very minor celebrity ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m planning on making Ruth’s lacy skirt in the denim colorway, I think. It was great having you in both classes, but particularly in Ruth’s all day class and chatting with you. I still need to work on my cabling before I even dare touch the yak and silk. Glad you made it back okay – there are some interesting getting home stories out there!

  104. As someone who’s new to Stephanie’s stuff (and man am I glad I read fast, I’ve been playing wicked catch up), I’m growing more intrigued by the spinning and the talk of Madrona each year (er, I might be playing catch up on the blog as well…). I’ve completely fallen in love with batts and can’t wait until I can afford to get a wheel of my own.
    But I’ve also started a bit of a sock kick (hey, I just read about Knitty Gritty’s socks & Winter’s Eve socks and [fill in endless blanks here], can you blame me?) so…I have a bit of a dilemma.
    I’m a quasi-new knitter. I’ve just moved to a large city and my LYS has been friendly once. The rest of the time, um, well, I’m clearly not as toney as the rest of their clientele (apparently tennis shoes and the occasional sweatshirt are not the done thing there). So I don’t like to ask them questions, because they usually look at me like I’m a complete freakin’ idiot and begin to talk very slowly to me. This is a bit off putting, to say the least.
    I’m also new to blogs. The only other one I read is an author/friend of mine’s, and well, everyone there is discussing mysteries, not patterns.
    So if what I’m about to do completely and utterly breaks the rules of blog commenting etiquette, could someone kindly take me into a virtual corner and tell me, “Um, duh, not done”? And if I am breaking a rule, I am so, so sorry. Mea culpa.
    But I have a pretty, pretty, self-patterning sock yarn that does not want to be a plain knit sock. It wants something subtle that will accent its colors and patterns. But I’m the only knitter I know (in the real world) within 1,200 miles of me (not counting my kids) and I have no idea where to turn.
    Is it ok to ask for advice on someone else’s blog comments? :/ Especially when you’re new?
    (because it feels wrong. I just don’t know who else to ask…)

  105. YAY that you’re coming to London – we all guessed but Craig and Gerard kept pretty tight-lipped until it was confirmed. Looking forward to it!

  106. The picture of you all in your Kauni sweaters is truly one of the coolest group photos ever, I dare say. Although I couldn’t see too closely, I enjoyed seeing what I could of the different finishing touches on all of the sweaters. WOW!

  107. I became physically weak at the sight of the plied yak.
    This, I must try – you evil temptress.

  108. You know you’re at a great conference when all of the instructors are taking classes from each other. Plus the classes are samllish and you have ample oportunity to chat with instructors outside of class. Everyone was having a great time.
    And I can verify that you went straight for the grey/black Kauni yarn after Ruth’s class – as I was standing between you and it when you arrived. Good thing I’d just decided I wouldn’t get it right then, given the four sweaters’ worth of yarn I’d already gotten and the two more I’d special ordered.

  109. Oooohhh!! I’m so jealous I could just spit. I want to go and play too, only I’m on the wrong coast with no money! Big bummer. I have literally sat at Judith’s feet (we were out of chairs LOL!) several years ago at SOAR with the Swill crew and had one of the most memorable fiber experiences of my life. She’s just amazing! I’ve also had a lap full of Kathryn Alexander sweaters to examine while we talked about spinning and dyeing. It’s enough to make a dyeing, spinning fiber junkie just swoon! I’ve been really fortunate to have had classes with Lucy Neatby and Nancy Bush too. There’s something about being around all those incredibly knowledgeable, creative, brilliant people that seems to just inspire and motivate me to keep learning and trying new things. I’ve tried to explain it to my friends and I don’t think I’ve done it justice. Someone once told me she thought that it must be intimidating to be around all those people who were so talented and creative, that it would make her feel really insecure. While I have definitely had my share of insecure moments, (many, many of them LOL!) a gathering of this caliber didn’t trigger it. It was more like the Muses of all those amazing people got together and whispered to the rest of us, “Go ahead, you should try this too. You can do something really nifty if you just keep trying. Wonder what would happen if you tried it a little differently, new yarn, new colors. Let’s modify the pattern a bit and see what happens!” Hope this makes sense. So next year, when you go to Madrona, if you need someone to carry your luggage for you and be your Sherpa, I’d be happy to do it as long as I get a plane ticket out of it LOL! Glad you had such a great time and thanks for sharing it with us!

  110. Hey, I see you aren’t coming to Sudan any time soon. There are no yarn stores here, so I don’t blame you. There is an absence of snow, but its replaced by dust, so I personally think the snow wins at this point. Ask me again after I’m standing in it. Maybe I’ll come take a break in London, as it’s about half way…
    I do find it amusing that I will be in Canada in March, and even possibly in Toronto, but you’re waiting to launch the book tour in … April. At least I have the yarn crawl page to tell me where to go if I’m there.

  111. I love that, even though it’s the same pattern, all the wearers bring enough of themselves to the cardi’s creation that each one looks different.
    I can’t wait for winter. I’ve been promised that it should be cold and wet this year. God, I hope they *they* aren’t teasing…

  112. Stephanie, the Kauni(s) are absolutely gorgeous! I think I may have to add it to my (very long) list of “to be knit”,and I never knit sweaters. Does coffee stain yak? Maybe do a pre-emptive strike and go ahead and dye it coffee color? Thanks for the inspiration!

  113. Thanks for the great summary and pictures! Hope to read more about how socks with cabled yarn turn out. Also very gorgeous kauni!
    I’m very disappointed that I won’t be making it to one of your tour stops because of conflicts with the two dates anywhere near me (Toronto and NY), but wish you a great tour!

  114. I think the Kauni is art, too! I have Kauni envy. I have to try to meet you at one of your tour stops this year. My daughter (Laura, not Laverne) got to meet you in Virginia (or was it Washington D.C.?) last year and I was envious of that, too!
    Love, love LOVE the way you write!

  115. I have never seen you wear a skirt in the winter….
    In fact I DARE you. DOUBLE DARE you to wear a skirt in winter. Cause if you do I’ll knit you that wool winter skirt. You of course will have to spin the yarn for it and it must be cabled yarn. That should take a few years. That or I’m screwed. Love Love Love that green grass thing.
    She has worn a skirt once, or twice. And then there was that red dress she got married in. They were not pants.
    Hey Steph….. skirt and an “up do” Dare you.
    All my love your dennyx0x0x0

  116. I agree completely regarding the loss of wise firends. I just lost my dearest knitting friend, very elderly and experienced and am so disappointed at the loss of her life, experience and help.

  117. Please tell us about the buttons on your gorgeous Kauni sweater! Gotta have those buttons! Thanks!

  118. STEPHANIE IS COMING TO VISIT US IN LONDON! YAYYYY!! (and yes, i’ve read Cast’s Off and I know that writing in caps is shouting, but i’m just soooo excited!!)

  119. LOVED connecting with you at Madrona! It is such a great event and I feel so priviledged to have it occur so close to home. Madrona is suffering some growing pains, for sure. If the event next year gives preference in registration to regional folks, which I think it might in order to control size and scope, will you still come back? I sure hope so! I love your idea of a class on efficiency in knitting, and I told Suzanne so. In addition to being a laugh riot, you are a wonderful teacher.
    See you when the book tour comes to Portland!

  120. Think about coming to visit us in Indianapolis. We have a couple of Microbreweries in town if that helps!

  121. me again
    thank you for all the links to your
    friends web sites–i am just in awe
    of the work i have been looking at on
    the web sites
    i came across an old
    coats and clark booklet
    1941 talk about elder wisdom
    and as of now world war
    two had started a history book
    elder wisdom indeed

  122. Seems like that skirt would be better for fall/spring wear, with a warm pair of tights. You know, for those annoying days when it can’t decide whether it’s warm, cool, or cold.

  123. Cabled yarns are very good for splitting up that strangely coloured roving you are wondering what to do with.
    Uhhh, let me try again.
    Space-dyed rovings look great as a cabled yarn!

  124. Hi! I just finished reading your book Knitting Rules! And every single time you mentioned losing your measuring tape I snickered to myself “I have never lost my measuring tape! Mwahahahahaha!” And guess what? I just spent the last hour looking for my measuring tape. And as an added bonus, the metal gauge checking thingy is missing too! I think you’ve jinxed me!
    Ps. I love the little metal buttons for the grey sweater, it’s very beautiful!

  125. That photo of all of you in your Kaunis is amazing. When I think of all the hours put into JUST THOSE SWEATERS, it makes me feel a little faint.

  126. Thank you Tamar (February 19, 2008 2:13 PM) for clearing up the ‘needle in the pit’ phrase. I thought there was a knitting race or something equally absurd!

  127. I just taught another group of beginning knitters last night and they are always surprised when I talk about how this skill gives you access to a whole community of amazing people who will change your life.

  128. I would love to get my hands on the pattern for the lovely skirts shown in your photo of Ruth Sorenson’s self-striping yarn results. Any idea how to procure it? Thanks.

  129. 4 balls of Kauni fromj… are winging their way to me…..Now I’m looking for a doable and wearable sweater/maybe scoop necked vest to make…. crap what have i DONE????
    I don’t wear patterns… because I generally feel fat in them… but you know what- busty or not- I’ll soon be wearing kauni colorwork!
    It’s just spectacular!

  130. ALL of your stuff looks incredible! I have a thing with buttons too…. not sure why, but I think it’s quite common ๐Ÿ™‚
    I also LOVE that skirt… I’ve gotta have that skirt!!! Any info to pass my way would be great!!!

  131. This is not much of a comment, but we have a group of loyal Harlot fans here at this LYS. We were throughing thoughts around and the idea of having the Yarn Harlot come to Reno, NV sparked some interest. We would like to know how to get in touch with you to find out how to rock our knitting community. Please!!!!!

  132. love the colors and your right it looks like a piece of art work. where can i get the yarn and pattern.

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