From Knit Camp 3

In journal form!

Thursday was another Fair Isle day – this time an ‘advanced’ class.  Once again I was staggered how hard the students worked – everything I asked them to do was worked on with gusto, from colouring in squares to analysing swatches!

The morning was taken up with looking at colour.  Some of the exercises involved looking at photos in colour and black and white, then choosing about a dozen colours from a section of the pic and finding the right colours on the J&S shade card:

Next, actual yarns were chosen from the box of left over yarns from my projects, supplemented with yarn specially brought for the occasion:

Later we worked on swatching for colour and pattern using either bits of pattern we knew we wanted to use, or bits from an earlier exercise:

For a long time Dot Lumb has been working on a new British spinning magazine called Yarn Maker.  And for almost as long we hoped the first issue would be ready for Knit Camp.  The printing was finished on Monday, Dot got them on Tuesday and posted a box up, which arrived on the Thursday, just in perfect time for the Thursday Spin Night!  Ann Kingstone, another tutor here (who designed the Knit Camp vest) and I both had things in the issue so got our pic taken with it:

The spin night was amazing.  I lost count at 75 people, many of them with wheels.  The anticipation was almost palpable, and the number of knitting stars in the room was huge!!

Once most people arrived, Oliver Henry of J&S talked about Shetland fleece and showed the differences between the grades of sheep and how the fleece is graded.  As always, he was both informative and entertaining – and most people understood most of what he said, despite his lovely Shetland accent!

After Oliver had done the sheep and fleece, I did a bit on preparing and spinning the Shetland fleece.  As I had anticipated the interest, I had got Nick to take some video of me doing the demos, so that people would be able to see more easily.  There were a lot of new spinners there as well as ‘old’ ones, some of whom were new to spinning fleece in the grease, and they seemed to get a lot from the evening.  I had suggested to Oliver that he bring some fine fleece – he brought 25 and sold the lot!

By the time I had got back to the chalet there was not a lot of night left as I had to be up at the crack of dawn on Friday to set up my stall for the marketplace.  Once that was done, I left it in the capable hands of Jo’s sister-in-law, Heather, and went back to my class room to teach one more class, this time on triangular shawls.

This class had folk with widely differing experiences, but once more they all piled in to the first exercise, playing with paper triangles.  We look I some detail at the geometry of the different triangles, and then they decided where to go next.  Some followed one of the patterns I had with me, and some started designing their own.  Several had not used yarn as thin as the J&S cobweb and 2 ply lace weight provided, so that was another new experience for them!

As soon as I had finished teaching and had cleared up my classroom, I went back to the marketplace to take over from Heather.  She had done a grand job selling both my stuff and Yarn Maker and very kindly stayed on so that I could eat some lunch before taking over completely.

The rest of the afternoon was taken up selling and talking – a very pleasant way of passing time!  It was good to see so many people I have had email conversations with in the past.  I am sure I won’t remember all the names, but I will remember the great times we had.

It was a slightly more leisurely start on Saturday!  The stall was set up so all I had to do was some tidying, putting out more wool etc.  Then talk and sell for a while before the Ethnic Lace seminar.  This was Donna Druchunas talking about Artic lace, Nancy Bush talking about Estonian lace and me on Shetland lace.  I found it fascinating that the three very different traditions all had very much the same basis – money.  In each case it was a way for women to earn an income.  Shetland lace was by far the oldest (I hadn’t realised that the Estonian lace ‘industry’ was as late as the 1930s) but times have not changed – knitting is still a way that women can make money from the home.  We had a great audience and I hope they got as much out of it as I did.

Then back to the marketplace.  There were a lot of new and different faces today – Friday had mainly been folk who had been at Knit Camp for at least part of the week, but on Saturday there were more than 300 who had bought day tickets in advance.  As on the Friday, it was lovely to be able to speak to folk (and take their money!!).

During the day a group of spinners and knitters were attempting the world record at the Back to Back Challenge – spinning and knitting a sweater of roughly DK weight from raw fleece.  The fleece was donated by Oliver at J&S and by the Provost of Stirling, Fergus Wood.  I didn’t see much of it, but took a moment off the stall to see the action.  Some of you may recognise Sandra who works in the shop at J&S as one of the knitters and Susan Johnson of the Shetland Guild as one of the spinners.  I don’t know the final time, but they know they got the record for the fastest international team, with folk from the UK (England, Scotland, Shetland), Germany and the US – may be others!

Late in the afternoon came my last ‘official’ bit.  I was one of eight on the Luminary Panel (with Lucy Neatby, Jared Flood, Ruth Woolly Wormhead, Nancy Bush, Annie Modesitt, Deb Robson and Norah Gaughan), being asked questions by Debbie Stoller of Stitch and Bitch.  Debbie was a good Chair, but we were a bit too polite and there were no all out fights!!  It was all good fun and again the audience was good.

Then it was packing up time – it takes a far shorter time to break down a stall than to set up!  Everything goes into boxes, in my case to go north on the J&S pallet to be sorted and posted home when I am up there.

It is now Sunday morning and I am sitting alone in the chalet.  Sandra, Oliver and his wife Catherine left a bit ago to travel up to Aberdeen by car.  The folk on the Shetland trip meet at lunch time for our coach north, and the overnight boat to Lerwick and another fun-filled week, this time in Shetland.

12 thoughts on “From Knit Camp 3

  1. The final time was about 6 hours ten minutes, sadly short of the 4.51 of the world record but that was a bit optimistic. I think it took us about four hours to work out exactly what sort of yarn the knitters wanted us to produce. If I’d known I was going to be doing this when I left my b&b that morning I’d have put sunblock on my shoulders!

  2. I have the Shetland fleece I got at the spin night spread over quite a lot of my bedroom floor right now, and I’m having a great afternoon with it! I’ve never spun anything in the grease before so it’s very exciting. Thank you for all your hard work at Knit Camp. I had a wonderful time and the various spinning events were my favourite. I hope I get to learn more from you in the future.

  3. Your classes look like fun, I love the photo of the knitted samples, and how wonderful to be able to get together with other experts and talk about different lace traditions!

    I keep having argument with myself about whether or not to order a fine fleece from the Shetland Wool Brokers! I would definitely have bought one if I’d been at the spin night. However, I have a Shetland x Corriedale I should spin first, so maybe next year.

    Of course my fav. photo has to be you & Ann with the magazine 😉

    1. Glad you approve of the pic! As we both had articles in it, it was an obvious pic!

      This year’s fleeces in Shetland are exceptional – probably due to the cold, relatively dry winter says Oliver…


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