Sunday, September 14, 2008

Back to Portland

Dateline: Portland, OR, 9/14/08

After many years without visiting Portland, I am here for the second time this year. This time I'm attending the Knit and Crochet Show, an event held jointly by the national knitting and crochet guilds. I flew this time, not being up for another 1500-mile round-trip drive. The weather is a lot better than when I was here in March. No snow this time; in fact, it's warmer here than it is at home.

I'm practicing traveling light for my trip to Italy next month, when I'll be taking several train trips. I did pretty well on clothing, but of course I brought more yarn and more projects than I could possibly work on in 4 days. Still, I had no problem taking the light rail from the airport to a stop just a half block from the hotel. I continue to be impressed with Portland's public transportation.

Knit and Crochet is a much smaller conference than Stitches. This has good and bad points. The market is a lot less crowded, but there are a lot fewer vendors. There are fewer classes to choose from, but still a good variety, and a lot more crochet classes than at Stitches. This time I took exclusively crochet classes. I don't crochet as much as I knit, but I really enjoy crochet, and I'd like to learn more about it. (The market included a booth for the Crochet Liberation Front, a group that defends crochet against the too-common bias against it among knitters.)

Both of my Friday classes were with Darla Fanton. I've taken classes with Darla before; she's an excellent teacher, and she teaches unusual techniques like Tunisian crochet. These two classes were in bead crochet. I had a really hard time with the first class, which was crocheting a bracelet with very fine thread and a tiny hook. After several bad starts, I gave up and decided I should try it with heavier thread first. I did a lot better in the afternoon class, where we crocheted a necklace with wire (pictured at the top).

Yesterday I took a shawl crochet class with Melissa Leapman, a New Yorker who is the author of several knit and crochet books. We made 3 miniature shawls in class, and I really enjoyed the two triangular samples. The one on top has a picot edge and the other a ruffled edge. Since most of my crochet work so far has been limited to scarves, I was happy to learn how to do increases.

This morning's class was in broomstick lace with Jennifer Hansen, the owner of Stitch Diva Studios, who also specializes in unusual techniques. I couldn't imagine what kind of technique would use a huge knitting needle (size US 19) along with a small crochet hook, but I soon found out. You make big loops and put them on the knitting needle, then crochet into groupings of the loops. The class project, which I haven't yet finished, was a small Victorian drawstring pouch. Jennifer managed to include all sorts of techniques in the project: increases, decreases, short rows, and working in the round. I think this technique would make a beautiful scarf.

Of course I was tired for my Sunday afternoon class, but I still enjoyed Going Around in Circles with Marty Miller. We crocheted several sample circles, learning how to increase (if starting from the inside) or decrease (from the outside), add a ruffle, etc. The sample at the upper left is the beginning of a short row circle.

I was pretty restrained at the market, buying only a little bit of yarn, a book and a few patterns. I think I've finally caught on to the fact that I have an excessive stash, and spending a lot of time beading has decreased my desire to buy yarn. I'm also saving up some yarn buying "credits" for next week's Peninsula LYS Shop Hop.

I didn't have much time to be a tourist in Portland, but I did go to the Saturday Market yesterday. This Portland institution goes back almost 35 years. My first trip here was in 1975, when Jim and I came here to visit his brother Tom and sister-in-law Suzy, who lived here then. On Saturday morning they chopped a bunch of ingredients and came to the Saturday Market, where they operated a taco stand. (This was in addition to their day jobs.) Now the food stands seem a lot more commercialized, and the market is a lot bigger than I remembered.


alce said...

Yay for crochet! They look like great classes; bring your sample projects to SB Knitters!

Vivian said...

Is that broomstick lace (big knitting needle and small crochet hook) that you described? I've only seen it done once, at The Knitting Room.

Fae said...

Yes, it's broomstick lace. I had never seen it before, but it was fun!