Basket and fireplace not included.  Sorry.

Basket and fireplace not included.  Sorry.

Would you like to have this dreamy sweater's-worth of yarn for your very own FLAK sweater? Enter the contest, and all 2,610 yards of 100% wooly goodness could be yours!  Here's what to do:

1.   Make up your very own, original FLAK-ronym.  That's right; the orignial FLAK acronym stands for "Follow the Leader Aran Knitalong".  So now I'm asking you to create a new acronym that expresses your personal FLAK experience (or the one you'd like to have).

2.  Post a comment to the blog with your FLAK-ronym and its description before 12 AM on November 1, 2014.

3.  Stay tuned and I'll announce the winner shortly thereafter!

I can't wait to see what you come up with.  My readers are the cleverest beasties ever.  In the meantime, it's not too late to join me this weekend at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago. CLICK HERE to register!  The Windy City will never be the same after this, I promise.

Want something a little closer to the West Coast?  Come play with us at Knit Fit in Seattle! CLICK HERE to see more.

And if all that weren't enough: Something Slipper-y is Coming.  That's right:  I just received the first advance copy of this little number, which should be on store shelves in time for you do do some seriously fun Holiday Knitting:

Featured slippers: "Killer Rab-Boots"

Featured slippers: "Killer Rab-Boots"

The official release date is November 15, but I have a sneaking suspicion that pre-ordered copies will arrive before that.  And these are some seriously silly slippers, if I do say so myself. Need a little something to knit for your loveable, zany friends and relatives?  Look no further than Carrot socks, Panda-face maryjanes, and real live furry MukLuks.  You knew you could count on me to bring the whimsy in time for gift-giving, no?

Knitting by the Sea

Three Women Knitting by the Sea, by Josef Israels, ca. 1900

Three Women Knitting by the Sea, by Josef Israels, ca. 1900

Your weekend plans just got better, because I know what you really want to do is come and play with us at the Astoria StitchFest!  

Instructors Sivia Harding, Michelle Bernstein, Laurinda Reddig and I will be teaching and learning in Historic Astoria, on the Oregon Coast this Saturday and Sunday.  Come Friday night and join us for dinner at the StitchFeast, too! There'll be a fashion show, a book-signing, and best of all: Dinner with your fellow knitters at Baked Alaska.

Hosted by the Astoria Fiber Arts Academy, StitchFest is poised and ready to take the northern Oregon coast by storm in this, its very first year.  What a treat it will be to say we were there at the beginning!  Grab a friend and get ready to make some new ones, too.

I'll be teaching classes on Norwegian Mittens, Color Theory, and Knitting Project Planning. CLICK HERE to register, and see all the other teachers' offerings - you'll be glad you did!

What I Made at Camp

Did ya miss me?  I've been away at summer camp!  Hosted by Freedom Kilts in beautiful Victoria, BC. I attended Kilt Kamp with Barbara Tewksbury last week.  We learned the art and science of traditional kiltmaking, under Barb's expert tutelage.

Traditional kilts are sewn completely by hand, and contain anywhere from 4-9 yards of fabric. The tartan weighs 16 oz per yard, so it's no wonder that an 8-yd kilt (like I made) is often referred to as a "tank". Dinnae fall in the Loch. 

Every kilt is custom made to precisely fit the measurements of its wearer.  At the same time, the pleats have to be engineered to exactly accommodate each tartan's unique weave.

The tartan I chose is Scott Green, in an Ancient colorway.

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The first step in making a kilt is to do some "tartan whispering". The maker has to determine what the pleating options are for that particular tartan, making sure that none of the rules for how to pleat are being broken.

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Then come the layout (measuring, re-measuring, marking and basting) and pleating phases.  My kilt has 20 pleats, but there can be as few as 15 or as many as 30, depending on the pleating style and the tartan.

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8 yards of heavy tartan are a lot, when the temperature is 90 degrees F. Our workshop went "shoes-optional" right away.

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Each evening Barb retired to the tennis court opposite the kilt shop to practice piping.  At which she is also an expert. Not to mention a fashionista - get a load of those sassy tights!

For some reason, I was the only camper who had matched my pincushion to my tartan.  Who knew?

See the horizontal line of beige stitches at the top of the pleats?  That's the STEEK.  Yep, knitting stole the word from kiltmaking.  It's Scots Gaelic for "secure" Thanks, Scots!

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Every kilt has a hidden piece of cotton broadcloth installed at the waistline to stabilize the pleats.  Since Barb is an American, she always uses this print, which she kindly shared with me.

In addition to the steek and the stabilizer, kilts are reinforced with heavy canvas interfacing, which is also pleated, for even more rigidity.  This causes the back of the kilt to hug into the small of the wearer's back, not unlike a weightlifting belt. It feels fantastic to wear.

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Barb shows me how to choose the right scraps of fabric with which to attach the buckles. The straps have to match the tartan exactly, even though they are invisible when the kilt is buckled.

Putting the lining in my nearly-done kilt.  Fingers flying too fast for photos.

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Done. And. Done.

All the Happy Campers, on the front porch of the kilt shop.

Kilt camp lasted 5 days, with most of us campers working 12 hours or so each day.  Although an experienced kiltmaker can complete a kilt in 20-40 hours, we newbies were much slower.  Of the 10 campers attending, I was the only one to finish in 60 hours.  

So am I ready to hang out my shingle and become a real kiltmaker? Sadly, not even close.  I need some more practice first.  

Which should not be a problem, because my family are already placing their orders!

Want to learn more about the making and wearing of kilts?  CLICK HERE, and have fun.