Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Stitches Midwest 2006 Part V: In Which I Stop Dragging This Out Any Further

Let It Be, Already

Did I mention the Beatles fans? I don't think I've mentioned the Beatles fans. We were sharing the host hotel at Rosemont with a multi-day convention of Beatles fans.

They began arriving Friday, dragging beer coolers behind them. The muzak in the hotel lobby gave way to a nonstop loop of Beatles tunes supplemented by the simultaneous outpourings of a dozen amateur guitarists. The fans were a mixed lot, just like the knitters. Most were perfectly nice people. Many displayed a possibly unhealthy attachment to the 1960s. And a few need to get out in the sunshine a lot more.

I like the Beatles well enough, I suppose, but after the first full day of them blasting in my ears I was starting to twitch. Then I made up a little game called "What if the Beatles were knitters?"

Here's what I came up with:
  • "She Loves Ewe (Baaaa, baaaa, baaaa)"
  • "Norwegian Purl"
  • "Can't Buy Me Yarn"
  • "I Wanna Hold Your Handspun"
  • "A Hard Day's Knit"
  • "Sgt Pepper's Local Yarn Store Band"
  • "All My Roving"
  • "Lucy in the Sky with Bobbins"
I felt better.

Gansey Marathon

Sunday was devoted to "Knitting Ganseys" under the tutelage of knitting rock star Beth Brown-Reinsel. I've admired Beth from a distance ever since I picked up her book on Gansey knitting at Halcyon Yarns in Maine.

This is Beth.

Beth Brown-Reinsel

You may well imagine my surprise when she, like Merike Saarnitt, turned out to have read this blog and said some awfully nice things. I blushed to the roots of my hair. Or at least where my hair used to be. (Who else is out there that I don't know about? Lily? You reading this? Speak up, Lily. Don't be so shy.)

Beth's method in her full-day gansey class is to lead the students through the creation of a miniature gansey. It uses all the techniques of the full-sized garment, even unto itty-bitty baby cables. I was on enough of a cloud that I sailed right through the Channel Island cast-on (of course, I'd had a brief encounter with it at Knitting Camp) and sped upward through the body to the point where the patterned stitches begin.

And then I realized I'd 1) completely forgotten the seam stitch on the left side and 2) started adding an extra purl stitch in the patterned area, thereby throwing off the design completely.

It was at this point that I began to mutter to myself like the Condoleeza Rice reading the New York Times. I grit my teeth and ripped back.

Jon, meanwhile, flowed steadily onward.

Jon Knitting

He's such a good knitter. Clickety click went his needles, leaving an adorable little sweater in their wake. No fuss, no muss, no swearing. He reached the neckline in time to take off for lunch. I stayed in my seat and tried to make up for lost time.

I'm pleased to report that in spite of a precipitous drop in blood sugar around 1:30, I did catch up. I even made it to the Market in time to eat a stale, overpriced hot dog in the presence of Sally Melville, who was lunching with Sean. (They're pals, you know. Am I connected, or what?)

Then, back to class for three more hours of knitting. Beth handled the class extremely well, demonstrating processes (including basic gansey design) up front while still taking time to help everyone individually as needed. And she didn't dumb things down, either. Our miniature sweaters had split welts, shoulder straps, all the finicky details.

And I learned, oh boy did I learn, that I am a Loose Knitter. Not that kind of Loose. Well, not only that kind of Loose. Jon and I were working on the same sized needles and with the same yarn, and my sweater was twice the size of his.

Of course, that gauge meant that ultimately I created about 3/4 of a vaguely sweater-shaped conglomeration of lumps in which something like cables may be glimpsed if you strain your eyes.

Mini Gansey at the End of Class

But I've done it now. I've done the cast-on, the welt, the side seams, the arm gussets, the sleeve pick-up, and so forth. My plan is to do this mini-sweater again, on smaller needles, and then plunge into a gansey for myself.

Thank you, Beth. As we used to say back on the farm, it was just like one of the Guermantes party scenes in A la r├ęcherche du temps perdu. A total rip-snorter.

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehn, Etcetera

When you've spent three days knitting with a group of guys, and eating food of dubious quality, and watching Marie Osmond hawk chillingly ugly baby dolls on QVC, you can't help but bond.

Here's my buds, in the shirts I cooked up as a welcome to Chicago.

The Guys, Stitches Midwest 2006

Of course, they're gay. So then this happened.

Franklin's Angels

Oy. I'm fahrklempt.

P.S. Cafe Press has picked up "Sheep on Plane" as part of their gallery of Snakes on a Plane paraphernalia. World domination through wool, comrades. Excelsior!


Karen said...

You name dropper, you! By the way, I almost peed myself when I scrolled down. I have to go change...

Anonymous said...

I can't decide which one of you is the cutest....

how about "knit and shout", "the long and winding skein", "I'm frogging".

anne marie in philly

Julia (MindofWinter) said...

Great post, but I like the Charlie's Angels pose most of all. Did you guys actually remember how they posed or did you have to consult the Angels' Guide?

Unknown said...

Sounds like a blast. I can only hope that Rhinebeck will be as much fun.

You'll have to introduce me to all the famous folks when we're there, Franklin.

Rosemary said...

Dude, I used to go to Beatlefest back in the day!

I love those little sweaters! I bet it was a great class.

Looks like you had a good time :)

Sner said...

Snort - Excelsior! It's been great reading your review of stitches. I wish we had more of these types of things in Canada so I could attend and learn.

TurnipToes said...

Oh my poodle's butt! I am so jealous of the sweaters, the guys, and the random Angel poses.

If y'all attend such a gathering again next year, I may seriously have to consider increasing the male participation.

And such a cute little willie sweater.

Anonymous said...

Oh Sure. I'm over here working on a "definition ridge" and trying to arse out where the gussets start and you're sucking up to the Gansey Goddess herself.

Sherry W said...

Holy sheep, that picture!

Cheryl:) said...

Thanks for the foray into the fun of Franklin's Angels. You all look like you had such fun -- may you be able to pee freely at future events!!

Anonymous said...

I remember the original Angels. I want to know which one of you was Kate, because she was totally the best one.

I used to be a very tight knitter. Despite the...uh...breathing exercises...I'm still slightly tight.

Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, Beatles or Knitting. Hmmm... I love knitting but I'd have hung out at the Beatles convention, I'm afraid.

Love the Angels.

dpaste said...

Lokk at that ittle sweater! I wish I could see what is on those t-shirts.

Patience said...

Glad you loved Beth's class. I took it in a 2-day format, I'm amazed you got through all that knitting in one.

On another topic, any chance of adding messenger bags to the product list? Or did I miss an earlier explanation of why they aren't in the shop?


pacalaga said...

Baaa baaa baaa...

Oy, my sides hurt from the laughing.

Lucia said...

That has gotta be the world's cutest gansey. Yet another class I wish I'd taken.

All You Need Is Yarn... I Saw Her Spinning There... I'm Happy Just to Knit With You... I've Just Seen a Lace... and, if your spouse thinks your stash is too big, You've Got to Hide Your Yarn Away.

brewerburns said...

That little gansey is genious. Genious! Seriously, I want to knit one now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Stephanie, I may now have to work "arse out" into my daily conversation. I'm sure the world will be a better place for it....

junior_goddess said...

Love the Yarnlie's Angels. Very nice!

Anonymous said...

Oh Franklin, you are SUCH a rock star, and you don't even know it. Methinks that's a big part of your charm.
I'm taking bets on Lily in the comments. Any takers?!

Keep on bloggin' baby, you do it SO well!!
sheep on a plane indeed. Don't you mean M*F'n sheep on a plane?!

miastick said...

Hi Franklin,
I've subscribed to your blog for a few months but never left a comment- but now I just have to. Those Beatles-titles are absolutely Fabulous! Even my husband, who doesn't know how to knit, laughed! And he doesn't know "knitting English" either. Now, that means that it is funny.

Amy said...

I've been loving your accounts of Stitches. I got to go, but only to the market, and Saturday only. I looked for you, but I guess you were lounging at home and spinning obliviously. Love the cute little gansey!

Anonymous said...

I love your ganseylet!

Now I have to go figure out how to get my heart beating again after those song titles, as I laughed so hard that I think it stopped...

Mother of Chaos said...

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, a boyfriend dragged me to Beatlefest in Los Angeles. It was just exactly like that. And this was the mid-80s. Twenty years on, and they haven't changed a bit? Whew.

I only WISH there had been a knitting convention going on at the same time. But no. Just...all Beatles, all the time. And me. Sitting there. WITH NO KNITTING...

How I survived is a medical mystery worthy of a five hour Discovery channel documentary.

Sara M said...

someone MUST record those songs

Anonymous said...

I am so dense. I didn't get the "sheep on a plane" joke. now that I get it, I will go and sulk and have a Manhatan and work on my boring (non gansey) sweater...maybe some brain-teasers to sharpen me up! ...I feel like I just read the answer to the crosswords!
Looks like you had a blast!

SolSionnach said...

Of course, then there's "Lucy in the Sky with Bobbles"... but Marilyn would hit me if I sang it...

Congrats on all the knitting royalty readership. FH, you rock!

Norskybear said...

Thanks. I had been successful in blocking the incessant Beatles music in the lobby from my mind. Actually, I wished that Monte had come along, as he could have enjoyed the fest while I was knitting. Of course, I wouldn't have been able to spend so much at the market...

Anonymous said...

Franklin -
Just love the commentary and pics from Stitches. Your "Angels" are a riot! As for the Knitting Beatles, how about:
Baby You Can Knit in my Car
Twist and Purl
Only a Knitting Song
Knit by Me
or Magical Knitting Tour?
Keep bloging and drawing!!! Your blog brings smiles to each day.
Maria in NY

Anonymous said...

I hooted when I saw the Angels picture. We have roughly the same snapshot hanging on the fridge. Husband (psychiatric RN) looking rather sheepish surrounded by three female psyche techs in the same poses.

Anonymous said...

::reading along steadily, enjoying, then hits last pic-- !!!!!!::
::falls outta chair, laughing hysterically::
::still giggling, weakly struggles back into chair, then reads last lines. THUD. repeat of above::

Dammit, Franklin, *warn* a person, wouldja?! Ow.

My neighbors *already* look at me funny on the rare times they see me, but y'know, it's these outbursts of unseemly hilarity at odd hours, day and night, that really make them wonder...

Thanks, I needed that! Excelsior, indeed. ;)

diosaperdida said...

I think I really, really need a Sheeps On A Plane item of my very own.

So much nicer than other animals.

I think th Beetles people should have learned to knit.

Knitting Granny said...

How about
Rip-it rip-it out
Came and knit it
Twisted Stitch and Shout
SSK Sadie
When I'm SSK four
Leave my knittin' alone
Carry that yarn loosly

I'd try for some more, but they're getting worser and worser.

Anonymous said...

Lily and I roomed together at StsMW and totally loved coming through the Beatles convention on our way back and forth to classes. I even had her take pictures of me with the life-size cardboard cutouts of the fab 4. We got hoarse singing the songs, trying to remember all the words...
And, on another note, yes - Beth B-R is absolutely on my "favorite people" list. She came with me to Estonia last year on my little 10day knitting tour and I loved every minute with her. If any of you ever have the opportunity to take a class with her, Do It. Learning the techniques involved in traditional knitting will enable you to knit contemporary styles with a special flair.

Anonymous said...

GREAT PIC! I was going to take that gansey class, but...family obligations got in the way. Love your blog.

moiraeknittoo said...

Best knitter action shot I've ever seen! :D

Anonymous said...

I give up. Please, what does 'fahrklempt' mean?

Fran / Blue Gal said...

I took Beth's class years ago. She rocks. Very well organized presentation.

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