Thursday, August 13, 2009

Post-Sock Summit Musings

The settling back in process is happening, but I still feel like I need some time to decompress & process the meat of my estrogen-rich, life-expanding, challenging week that was Sock Summit. What better venue than a captive audience, eh?

One of the things that struck me about the Summit was what a pervasive attitude of downright kindness was exhibited by participants, students, volunteers, instructors, & vendors alike. The generosity & helpfulness of everyone I rubbed elbows with, well, it rubbed off on me. I keep hearing/reading the phrase "life-changing" bandied about as a Summit descriptor, and for me I think the phrase has most meaning in this context. I found myself feeling inspired to redouble my efforts to offer a helping hand where needed, to listen to & value the experience of others, and to relax and remember that we're more alike than different.

Sock Summit offered the possibility of experiencing epiphanies if you kept your heart open to them, & at the risk of sliding into the maudlin, it happened to me. The Luminary Panel in particular worked on my emotions; I was as surprised as anybody to find myself tearing up throughout the discussion. I discovered that I am completely, head-over-heels in lurve with Judith MacKenzie-McCuin, who, when asked by an audience member during the Q&A session about how to handle the guilt associated with possessing a large yarn stash, referenced Julia Child who said a good chef requires a well-stocked pantry because inspiration strikes at odd moments; the message? don't be ashamed of your fiber stash. This was a welcome antidote to my feelings about my massive 4-day shopping spree, btw.

A few of my other favorite quotes:
"We really need to use our hands; they're not happy if they're not doing something." -Barbara Walker

"All you have to know is the next one step."
-Deb Robson
Misty eyes were quickly followed by hearty laughter, however; these women are one funny bunch! I don't know which is funnier: the image of Nancy Bush crawling around on the floor of a Scottish dance to better photograph men's kilt hose, or her comment after sharing the anecdote: "It's true." Only a handful of us in the audience seemed to get that she was referring to the rumor about what men wear under their kilts (nothing); if you read my blog, you won't be surprised that I got it. Not to be outdone, when asked if she thought being a woman in the fiber industry was more difficult because of her gender, Meg Swanson replied "I don't know, I've never been a man." She followed up with her answer to the question "How did you end up in this business?": "I was brainwashed." Elizabeth Zimmerman, brainwasher to the (knitting) stars!

Despite not having access to any classes (I was there last-minute to help friends with their booth in the Marketplace), and therefore not having opportunities for classroom learning , I feel like I absorbed the collective knowledge of the gurus via osmosis. I also received some welcome instruction from my friend Brooke of Tactile Fiber Arts about my drop-spindling. And just being in the presence of Abby Franquemont felt like I was learning something (be sure to check out her upcoming new book, Respect the Spindle). So good to meet you, Abby - wish we coulda found time to share an adult beverage.

I did get to be part of the attempt to break the Guinness Book record for most simultaneous knitters on Friday, which was a hoot. About 1000 knitters in one big-ass room, all knitting together for 15 minutes on straight needles, per the rules (even Cat Bordhi!). I didn't remember to bring my camera to the Ballroom, but the lovely Leila Wice sent me the photo above - thanks, Leila! I came across 2 other photos on Flickr that have my mug in 'em too. One from megtknits' and one from feministmama (no, not our feministmama, one from PDX). You can't see what I'm working on in the photos, so I took this shot when I got home. I used my own COLORBOMB Creations handspun, WoolyBear in 'Kiss Me', and my Nana's vintage Boye needles.

Things I loved but forgot to blog yesterday: Burgerville blackberry milkshake & onion rings; the dual-flow, water-conserving toilets at the Convention Center (low for liquid, high for solids!); the fact that Portland has a bridge ride & is unbelievably bike-friendly; Miss Babs' yarn in 'Yummy'; Frog Creek Fibers yarn in 'Wild Orchid'; meeting & laughing with the lovely Star Athena; Signature Needle Arts new dpns (covet, covet, covet); the cute mini-sock pin BalletMommy created & gave me; Jennie the Potter & her lovely wares... The list doesn't end.

Only a few regrets: wish I had bought more than 1lb. of Stumptown coffee beans to bring home; I had roommate issues that left me feeling sad; I wish I could have stayed an extra day in Portland to explore more; didn't really chat long enough with Ravelry's Casey, Jess & Mary-Heather; not everyone got to attend that wanted to (but there's always the next one!); not having time to shop out my yarns to the amazing PDX LYSs; and I SO wished I'd taken more pictures! Since my camera stayed in it's bag almost the entire time I was gone, if you have any pictures that include me, I'd love to see 'em! I know at least one person asked to take my photograph.

No pics of me working on my current sock project, Veltrelac, so I took a photo of 'em yesterday. I did manage to make some progress on them while there, and am really enjoying the entrelac, my first stab at that technique. I encourage knitters who haven't tried entrelac yet, fearing it is dificult; it isn't! The pattern I'm using is Annetrelac by Sandy Beadle, and I'm knitting them in the recommended Schaefer Anne yarn. Don't you think it is doing the variegated yarn justice nicely?

So, I'm taking the warm-fuzzy feelings from Sock Summit and I'm going to let them wash over me in the weeks & months to come. Don't be surprised if you see more of me here in share mode as I try to develop that side of myself. Time to start writing up those patterns in my head, making myself vulnerable, & putting them out there.

In the words of Meg Swanson when she was asked what is the one most important thing she learned from her mother, Elizabeth Zimmerman: "You are in charge of your own knitting." Amen!


  1. Lovely. So well said. Thank You.

  2. Velma,

    Thanks for writing this. IMHO you are already the embodiment of the kind, open knitter. Just meeting you briefly at BSG two years ago (still feeling bummed I didn't make it this year, would have loved to see you again), I feel connected and enlivened by your huge spirit. While I am terribly inconsistent (Life just pulls me in too many directions!), I am so grateful for the knitters (like you) who are!!!

    xoxox - Laura (Bunnyslippers)

  3. This post inspired me to finally delurk. I found you through Ravelry and love reading your blog. I'm a spinner and knitter myself and your work is really inspirational!

  4. Sounds like you had fun. So did you get anything from Jeni the Potter? I love my mug I bought from her at MDS&W. Hopefully I can make the next one. I think you should vend at the next one too!

  5. loved meeting you in person, lady!

    it was a special time, fo' sure. I'm asking myself to live as big and open and loving as the Summit asked of us.

    great recap!

  6. So very cool that you were knitting your luscious colors on your Nana's cherry-red Boyes. Thanks for sharing.
    oxo Leila
    p.s. Can send beans... let me know if you want a fix.

  7. Thanks so much for sharing your piece of SS. Love the socks!

  8. Thanks for writing so eloquently about the SS. I'm bummed I couldn't attend but your blog entry helps me feel like I get to share at least a piece of it. Plus, I can't wait to see what you brought back for me!!


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