Monday, May 04, 2009

Spinning and Knitting Estonian Lace

Vacations seem to end so quickly especially if you have been looking forward to them for a long time! Last week, I took Thursday-Monday off of work and travelled over to Pendleton, IN. What is in Pendleton you ask? The Trading Post aka den of delicious fiber crack and yarn. The Trading Post hosted Nancy Bush and Judith MacKenzie McCuin for a class on knitting and spinning Estonian lace. Let me tell you right now, if you have a chance, take a class with these ladies. I learned so much! OK, back to me telling you about the weekend.

Thanks to Lucie, you will have pictures. My camera came out only once during the entire weekend and those pictures were awful! Thanks Lucie for letting me steal your pictures!

I drove over on Thursday afternoon with two ladies from my spinning guild. We had asked Susan, the owner of the Trading Post, where she would suggest to have dinner. She recommended Bonge's Tavern in a nearby town. She was planning on taking a group there so 10 of us met up for dinner. The tavern doesn't have menus per se. The waitress listed everything and everyone ordered from that. That dinner had quite possibly the best salad I've ever had. The blue cheese dressing was to die for. One of those dressings that you consider licking the plate just so you can clean up every drop. I ordered the chicken and really enjoyed it. What made the evening, though, was that dessert. (I'm making myself really hungry right now) I split a piece of chocolate and sour cherry deliciousness with a fellow classmate, Karen. Oh, that dessert was good. *Drool*

The next day, everyone arrived at the Trading Post and started carting our wheels and stuff into the shop. Susan has converted part of a barn and hay loft into her shop. I couldn't believe they had moved everything in there the day before! The color of the walls is so bright and cheery. She has put in a small kitchen which was really handy when we ordered lunch and baked pizzas in the oven.
trading post shopThe Trading Post

Isn't the kitchen cute?

foodFood was a theme for the weekend!

It was definitely chaotic moving everyone in! We fit 30 people plus stuff up on the second floor. After some tweaking and moving around, everyone settled down. Moving from place to place on the 2nd floor could be interesting but everyone seemed really patient with it all. We ended up doing the knitting sections of the class downstairs and the spinning upstairs so stuff wouldn't have to move around too much. This weekend was unseasonably warm for the end of April so you can imagine it was quite warm upstairs! Luckily, the wind blew steadily the whole weekend and we were able to open the windows to get rid of some of the heat.

other corner
Taking a spinning class with Judith is a very organic sort of thing. Sure you have times that she shows everyone something (you should have seen almost the whole group doing stretching exercises) but, the rest of the time, you are listening to stories of her life and experiences. If you can think of a job that involves the fiber world, she has done it. If you have a question about fiber, she can probably answer it. If you want a spinning technique explained and demonstrated, she can do it. Everyone said that they were amazed how much their spinning technique changed from Friday to Sunday. It was absolutely amazing!

judithJudith teaching

mini skeinOne of my sample skeins (I would have taken more pictures of them but they are all white and look the same)

Nancy brought the shawls from her book, Knitted Lace of Estonia, and shawls she purchased in Estonia. Talk about exquisite! You would not believe how delicate and intricate these shawls were. What really got me about them is that the Estonian ladies a) started knitting these just to sell to tourists and b) knit them on 9-10 inch straight homemade needles. That's right, 9 inch needles with 400+ stitches on them. Wow. I loved learning more about Estonia (who knew they loved Sweden so much?) and their knitting traditions. But I think the thing that interested me the most was how Nancy described discovering the Estonian knitting. She said that she came across some watercolor pictures while researching for another book. For her, it was like meeting her husband, you just knew it was right. Nancy said that she just wanted to learn everything that she could about the country and the knitting.

nancy bush and shawlNancy showing us a shawl

swatches and shawlsNancy's swatches, mini shawls, actual shawls and knitting needles from Estonia

The whole goal of the workshop was to spin and knit up a sample shawl (i.e. a wee little shawl coaster) of an Estonian stitch pattern. Nancy had a couple of different options that we could do. Everyone chose one of the patterns to use. We were given some yarn to start out with so we could make the initial swatch. At the same time, we were also learning to spin finer and finer yarn out of a couple of different wools and wool blends. Judith had a Shetland/Rambouillet mix, Falkland, a wool (Merino? should have written that down)/silk blend, tussah silk and mulberry silk (Did I miss anything?). I ended up doing the Lily of the Valley stitch pattern which was a lot of fun and had a lot of nupps (think rhymes with "soups"). I loved the stitch and can't wait to knit a full shawl. This is my little sample.

mini shawlMy mini shawl

I met so many fun people (Hi, Kerry! Hi Lucie!), learned so much, and had such a wonderful time. If you ever have a chance to take a class with these two ladies, don't hesitate to sign up!


Janelle said...

Awesome. I have no interest in knitting lace but I think I would have loved this class, anyway!

Karen said...

Hi, Anne!

Great post, a pleasure to read. And Lucie's photos are great, too. :)

Your mini-shawl-coaster-thingie turned out so pretty! I'm still working on the samples.

I hope we can get together sometime!


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