Saturday, April 14, 2007

April Is A Very Busy Month

I just love April--there always seems to be so much, I have enough on my plate to fill three months, and it all needs to be wrapped up before May 1st. This year is no different from other years: every weekend has had something scheduled for at least 3 months, and I spend all my spare time recovering from one thing, and getting ready for the next event, workshop, or meeting.

One thing I am not doing this year is going to the Conference of Northern California Handweavers big meeting, scheduled for next weekend. This year's meeting is being called a "retreat" and is being held at Asilomar, the famous conference center near Monterey. The conferences are a chance to take spinning, weaving, dyeing, and felting workshops with regionally and nationally known experts, and (usually) there are incredible opportunities to shop, as most of the fiber and equipment vendors make the trip to Northern California for the conference.

However, this year is different. There are only 14 workshops (none of which I'm interested in), the conference is expensive (over $500 if staying at Asilomar), and Asilomar does not allow vendors, so there's no shopping. I decided months ago to save my money and go to next year's conference, to be held in Sacramento.

While I'm not going to CNCH, I won't be sitting at home. The School of the Renaissance Soldier is the same weekend (See my post a couple weeks ago, further down; there are pictures of me in costume), so I'm off to spend the weekend doing what reenactors like to do best--getting sunburned and dirty while having fun. This year's weather forecast is for warm, sunny weather, so the "Action in the Low Countries" should be fun.

Speaking of a lot of fun, we managed to squeeze in a visit on the opening day of Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Los Angeles last Saturday. The Faire has found a new home in the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale, and last Saturday was (for us Northern Californians) nearly perfect weather: cool, cloudy, and even a little drizzle. I wore my Flemish dress, Stephen wore his new socks (which needed to be fulled even more, as they were much too large), and we both had a marvelous time. While we were there, I did a lot of knitting on a new Monmouth cap for Stephen, and a number of people stopped and took pictures as I sat, either in "Nobles" or in "German Camp," knitted, and (in the best tradition of Faire), gossiped with friends. While there wasn't too much to buy, I did manage to find a lovely new pair of German shoes, so now I need to build new Germans to go with the shoes.

I knitted a Monmouth cap for Stephen based on talking with a friend about the caps she had knitted. She started with the description in Richard Rutt's History of Hand Knitting of a cap found in 1969 in Monmouth, and worked out the right size needles (US#11) and the right yarn (1 skein of Cascade 128). I ran by a LYS while we were in Southern California (Happy Hookers in Chatsworth--cute, cluttered shop with a nice owner), found the yarn, and splurged on a set of rosewood #11s. The cap worked up quickly, fulled into a thick, warm cap for Stephen's bald pate, and was a nice little project to work on at Faire. On this cap (nicknamed "Monmouth 1.0"), I turned the brim after fulling. On the next version, I'm going to try picking up the cast-on edge as I'm knitting the cap, so that the brim is already turned when I get ready to full it.

That done, I tried another experiment: knitting a pouch. I need a small black belt pouch, and couldn't find anything that was remotely what I wanted. After fulling the Monmouth cap, I thought, "This might work for a pouch," so I started with a skein of Paton's black merino and my trusty #11s, and knitted a pouch. I doubled the strand (one from the center, one from the outside), and made the pouch as large as I could and still keep it to 1 skein. I fulled it this afternoon, and ended up with a nice little belt pouch that is approximately the size I wanted to hang off my belt. It's also thick enough that I can carry small things and they won't fall through (a common problem with unfulled knitted pouches). So this experiment was a success. I've included approximate instructions:

Belt Pouch 1.0

Materials: 1 skein Paton's Classic Merino Wool (225 yds/skein)
1 set #11 dpns

Cast on 48, and join. Put a ring stitch marker at the join.
Knit 3 rows.
Knit 3, *bind off 4, knit 4,* repeat from * around. You should have 8 bound-off areas.
Knit each stitch, and when you get to bound off stitches, cast on 4 stitches using "backwards loop" cast-on. You should be back to 48 stitches and have 8 openings.
Knit about 30 more rounds.
*Knit 2, knit 2 together,* repeat from * around.
*Knit 1, knit 2 together,* repeat from * until about 8 stitches are left.
Draw end of yarn through the eight loops and pull tight. Tie off.
To full, wash in hot water in the washer, then dry in a hot dryer. Cut a thin leather thong to thread through the slits at the top of the pouch.