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Knitting in Company

Knitting in Company

Last week I went to a knitting retreat that I’ve been attending for the last two years.  We meet at the St. Francis Retreat Center about an hour from my home.  The rooms are simple, the food is wholesome, and the company is great!  This retreat has a few social events such as a sock yarn exchange and a single one-hour workshop, but most of the time is listed on the schedule as “Relax.”  The center has a short walking trail around a seasonal pond and some slightly longer trails up in the hills.  A lawn with large, shady trees spreads across the front of the retreat center as well.  Just before the retreat, I had the unfortunate experience of being rear ended twice in one week, so it was great to spend a weekend not driving at all and just basking in the company of fellow knitter.

The conversation ranges from the technical (such as the best way to finish the top of a colorwork knee-high sock) to the personal (dealing with health issues) and everywhere in between.

Knitting in company is one of the best things ever.  I was part of a spirited conversation about the best interchangeable needle sets and all the considerations you might make in deciding which one to purchase for your first set.  I’m quite sure my non-knitting friends eyes would have glazed over about two minutes in!  With our hands at work, our minds are free to puzzle over both the mysteries of life and the technicalities of our craft.

I highly recommend finding a knitting group.  It doesn’t have to be a weekend retreat, a weekly or monthly group also has many of the same advantages. has listings and many yarn shops have social knitting events.  Many communities have knitting guilds that have social events as well as more formal meetings.  You might even find a group at a local library.

I’m on the top row, sixth from the left.
Stitches West 2018

Stitches West 2018

Here in the Bay Area, Stitches West is THE go-to event for knitters.  Hundreds of classes and vendors over a four day weekend means non-stop knitting and crocheting fun!  This year I was there a bit on Friday to shop and then took classes Saturday and Sunday.  In between, I got to say hello to many friends!

My Saturday class was called Think Proportional…for Garment Design with Susan Lazear.  This was a 6 hour class that started with looking at our own measurements and examining what they told us about our own proportions then moving on to analyzing how garments fit proportionately and how we could apply the same proportions of a garment to our own work.  I’ve taken other classes about using measurements, but Susan’s emphasis on proportions really made me think differently about my design work!  Susan was a great teacher and really tailored the talk to our needs.

In between the two halves of the class, I got to meet the Knitmore Girls, my all time favorite podcasters!

On Sunday I took a class called Slick Set-in Sleeves with J C Briar.  In that class we practiced making a top down no seams set in sleeve on a child’s cardigan sample and then learned how to adapt the same concept to other top down and bottom up garments that are written for sewn sleeves.  She also gave us some hints for applying the technique to our own garment design.  As with all of J C’s classes, this one was really well organized and informational.

I also attended the Student Banquet and Style Show on Saturday night where I took to the catwalk and showed off my Seacliff Beach Poncho!  It was a fun event with lots of inspiring knitted and crocheted garments.  You can see the photos of all the garments from the show on Facebook.  I also won a prize for participating!  Thank you, Stitches West!

With the help of a friend, I picked out some yarn from Stunning String Studio to make another Custom Fit sweater and a couple of skeins of sock yarn from Leading Man Fiber Arts and Seven Sisters Arts.  My younger daughter has already claimed one of them.



I had a great time and look forward to next year!



Addi FlexiFlips Review

Addi FlexiFlips Review

Two of three needles in before beginning a round.

In November at Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle, I came across a new DPN style by Addi called FlexiFlips.  These are similar to the Neko Strickespiel curved DPNs that I reviewed early last year in that there are only three needles in a set.  The difference is that instead of being in a fixed angled shape, the FlexiFlips have a short cord between two metal needles.  This means they can go from straight to a tight angle and back as needed.  They are pretty spendy– around $24 from most retailers for a single set of three needles– so I purchased a single set of size 1 needles for hand knitting socks.

I’m about half way through making my second sock with the needles and I can say that I will definitely use them again for another pair.  Their flexibility gives them a distinct advantage over the Neko needles.  I am having little to no problems with laddering and the flexible shape of the needles makes them easier to adjust as you work.  Like the Magic Loop method, these needles only require two changes in a round, rather than the three or four you’d have with regular DPNs.  Unlike Magic Loop, you won’t need to manage a long cable and these are very easy to tuck into a purse or pocket.  You may have to adjust the directions to you pattern a bit if it’s not needle agnostic, but if you are used to doing this for Magic Loop already, it shouldn’t be a problem.  Patterns that are designed for Magic Loop can easily be completed with the FlexiFlips.

Beginning the round with the third needle.

For the fastest speed on the leg and foot of a sock, I like using a very small eight or nine inch circular because there’s no needle changes at all, but the small circulars have very short needle lengths and they can fatigue my hands more quickly than DPNs.  The FlexiFlips have a longer needle length overall so they are easier on my hands and I don’t have to carry an extra set of DPN’s for heel flaps or toes as I do with the small circular.

My one criticism of the FlexiFlips are the needle tips.  They have the design of one blunt needle and one sharper point.  Each time you have worked all the stitches off a needle you have to consciously think about how the empty needle goes back into your right hand so that the preferred tip is ready to use.  I prefer pointier tips in general, and especially can’t think why I would want a blunt tip in a needles sized for sock knitting.  Sadly, when working back and forth for short rows, that means one tip is going to be blunt and the other sharp if you’ve be orienting the needles the same way each time.  Either that, or you have to slip the stitches so that you have the pointy tip going in the right direction for both needles as you do your short rows or think ahead during the last round before the short rows.  Many patterned stitches use both needle tips to manipulate the yarn, and again, I find having to always have the left hand tip be my non-preferred style to be a nuisance.  If I could get a set with sharp tips on both ends of the needles, I’d be a much happier knitter!

Blunt tip, left, and pointy tip, right.

Overall, I’d recommend these needles.  They combine the ease of the Magic Loop method with the compact feel of a small circular or DPNs.  If you do a lot of complex patterning on socks, they might not be the best choice because of the tips, and they won’t work for larger circumferences like that of an adult hat.   They are comfortable to use and work well for socks or close fitting sleeves.

Stitches West 2016

Stitches West 2016

Last weekend I attended Stitches West and took a couple of classes.  I went in with the plan that I would take pictures and post all my favorite things, but alas, I got so caught up in looking that I failed to document the experience.

I did get to meet the Knitmore Girls of the podcast by the same name just as I walked in.  Jasmin was perfectly gracious at me just stepping up to say hello!  They recently did a few episodes interviewing Steven Be and Stephen West at last year’s show (I think) which really enhanced my enjoyment of Stitches as well.

I got a lovely blocking mat set from Coco Knits, my big purchase for the show, and I got a sweet project bag from Slipped Stitch Studios which my dear friends who attended with me gave me as a gift.

I also found a new yarn vendor, Fiberlady, which offered a selection of bamboo yarns, beautifully dyed.  I am allergic to wool, so many of the beautiful fibers that are at Stitches I can’t actually work with without blistering.  I feel like I am in heaven when I go into a a booth were I can touch everything!  My purchase there was two skeins of a lovely variegated yarn.


I enjoyed two classes.  One with Brooke Nico, where we learned about circular shawls, and a mind blowing (at least to me) class with JC Briar, all about how to harness the power of spreadsheets to develop patterns.  I’m currently working on my first sweater pattern and this class was exactly what I needed.

If you are in the bay area, Stitches is one of those must see events at some point in your knitting career!