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August 02, 2011

Sock Summit Recap

I don't know if it is possible to do a comprehensive debrief of the Sock Summit. So much happens in those 4 days. Half of it I'm not even a part of (they had demonstrations and lectures at the same time as classes) or there was so much going on I couldn't capture it in a single post. Nor do I think you want to read such excruciating detail.

So I'll sum it up in a general impression. I have few pictures because my phone died every day by noon. I think it was the traffic app I had installed. Quite frustrating. I have a few terrible pictures I took with Mom's camera but nothing else.

The Oregon Convention Center was filthy with knitters. I have heard we had over 6000 attendees which is not too shabby! They have a lot of big round banquet tables set out in the public area for people to sit at and knit and this is the nicest way to strike up a conversation and meet someone new. My first day I met a woman who had flown in from Australia just for the Summit. I met a lot of Canadians. One Toronton told me that the border guard asked her, "What IS it with all the knitters?"

Wednesday night was the teachers' dinner and I'm always so shy at these. I forced myself to sit at a table that was almost full so I would have to talk to people and really enjoyed all the women at the table. They were smart, funny, really nice, and completely the kind of people I'd like to hang out with. I mentioned that I had done informal polling in my classes last year and found math/sciences to be over-represented in knitter professions. I had one class that had two surgeons and two nurses in a single class (one nurse had just come off the night shift). So the teachers around my table did a quick check and everyone at that table was either a mathematician, in high tech, or medical. I would love to see some formal data. I think it is really interesting and wouldn't have made that prediction. I paid attention in the classes I attended this year and from general conversation I learned that I was taking classes with pediatricians, rocket scientists (seriously!), neuroscience research scientists, a Fulbright scholar, and a retired math professor. The theme for me became, "don't let looks fool you" because all these super-smart, super-educated women were in jeans, t-shirts, and Birkenstocks. Not a power-suite or super-hero cape to be seen!

The class I taught went extremely well. It was a relief this year to have fewer classes than I had last year. I had more time for classes myself and time to shop in the marketplace (where the most amazing vendors were set up selling one-of-a-kind knitting loot). My students were wonderful and engaged and I enjoyed them all so much. It is hard to show the cool stuff I learned in class. You will just have to picture me looking at Japanese knitting books now, knitting very well-fitting socks in a pattern I came up with after seeing a beautiful sweater on someone else. I took a spindle spinning class and that has some instant-gratification progress I can show. The thicker, slightly fuzzy part of the yarn on the right is what I spun last year after trying to teach myself spinning. The thin, tight yarn on the left is what I can do now after a brilliant spindle spinning class.

This spinning is done from something called roving which is basically cleaned and combed fleece off a sheep. This is an example of some fleece I bought for the spinning class. It is already dyed so it will spin up into pretty yarn. You can kind of read the label in one of these pictures. It says it is 100% Blue Faced Leicester which is a breed of sheep. Isn't that cool?

The classes I took were awesome! Wonderful instructors and really interesting subjects. Most classes were 3 hours long and absolutely flew by. I had one class that was all day and that seemed to be over too quick also. My instructors were amazing and skilled and just really really interesting. I wanted to visit with each of them but all the students wanted to (completely understandable) so I didn't get to talk to anyone much. I'm hoping that I can connect with them after Summit a little.

I wish I had given myself a day off (Summit was Thursday through Sunday) because it was really hard to come back to real life Monday. It felt like everything had changed and why didn't everyone know? How could I schlep back to my cubicle and act like the last 4 days didn't happen? Not easy. I have both my knitting bags as well as my spindle here like I'll be able to do something with them.

I'm still tired and horribly behind in regular chores. I need to pay bills, do laundry, vacuum, etc. I've announced to everyone that will listen that next weekend is for me and I'm not going anywhere or doing anything. Time to re-enter real life!