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Archive for August 20th, 2009

It all comes down to relationship… (Sock Summit)

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

yarnhollowcottonsock10This will complete my travelogue of my trip to Portland, Oregon for the Sock Summit conference. It was wonderful in all ways, though I am happy to be back sleeping in my own bed this week.

The People are the Essence

I met so many great people, from my teachers, a few Internet friends, the young woman in my hostel dorm room, a Michigan friend’s sister who stopped by, and just great folks all around.

Melissa who volunteered a lot at the front desk, was someone I’d met online (we can’t remember where) and we talked enough to make a bit of relationship there. I met Karin of Periwinkle Sheep without realizing I would see her. I missed a bunch more, which makes me sad, but that’s the nature of being in a crowd of thousands.

Yarn, Too, is Relationship

I came home with five yarns I did not own when I left. The first photo here is Yarn Hollow handpaint, in Cotton/Bamboo/Nylon. It’s great stuff, and I did a First-Time Toe-Up sock that fits me, in that yarn. Mind you, I almost never love yarn with cotton in it. This stuff is great.


In the second photo, starting at left to right is a merino/cashmere/nylon yarn, DK weight, handpainted by Snicklefritz. I have one sock and one toe already done in this yarn. Soft yarn, quick knit, I’m all for it! My roommate at the hostel (drat, why can I not come up with her name right now) worked at Snicklefritz’ booth and they offered me a discount. How kind.

Following that is “Totally Turquoise” by Karin of Periwinkle Sheep, a gift from her to me (hugs, Karin). It’s 100% merino, totally sproingy. Then you see Briar Rose Fibers (a Michigan dyer), Josephine (75% coopworth wool/25% mohair, super warm, very different than the previous yarns). This will become ribbed ankle warmers when it cools down a bit.

Last, there is a green skein of 100% merino in a thinner gauge than the turquoise one. It was hand-dyed by Miss Babs, and it is called “Yummy” in color “Gumby.” This was a gift from my friend Ilisha who I will speak more of later in this post.

More Knitters

I met Carrie on the plane from Flint to Cleveland (to Houston, to Portland…) and we sat together during her layover (mine was longer, but the same path). Lucky for me, she lives in Michigan. We will probably connect again, I figure.

I spent a lot of time with my friend Rita of Yarn Hollow (in whose booth I worked when not taking classes). We have known one another several years but the many hours to get closer, were precious. I also got time to know the folks from City Knitting in Eastown Grand Rapids, MI, whose booth was next to us.


A New Friend

And I sort of accidentally met a new friend, Ilisha, when she told me she liked my Maxi ZigBag. I immediately liked her style… she was wearing an amazing handknit ginkgo -leaf knitted scarf/neckpiece. In just a few minutes I knew I wanted to connect with her more. We agreed to look for one another at or at least after the Luminary Panel, the final event of the conference.

We did connect at the panel, and it was marvelous. After the Luminary Panel finished, we went to her art studio (she lives in Portland). She showed me a bit of the neighborhood, encouraged me to step into the shop “Fringe Vintage” (photo above) which was at the end of the block, and decided to have a meal together in the neighborhood.


We met up first with her husband Joe and then also her son, and they took me to dinner for Indian food (which was incredible). They have lived in a number of places, and we had a fine chat during our meal. Here is the sign for that restaurant, if anyone in Portland wants to check it out.

More Sightseeing

After dinner, Ilesha and I went to Whole Foods for a few supplies to get me through the flights home. After that, Powell’s bookstore.


Powell’s is just huge, an independent bookstore several stories tall and just incredible in all ways. Very near the front door, they had a display set up for Sock Summit. Ilesha took a photo of me standing in front of that display (thanks, friend).

If you are in Portland, Ilisha (Helfman) and Joe (Freedman) have a show currently running at Beet Gallery of Contemporary Craft, through August 29. Also, Ilisha is in a book called “Knitting Art, 150 Innovative Works from 18 Contemporary Artists.” Other artists in this collection include Kathryn Alexander, Katharine Cobey, and Debbie New. This is excellent company, indeed!

You can see some of Ilisha’s work at these sites:

Hestia House

Follow the Thread

Almost the End, and a “Hiccup”

Eventually we found our way to our respective “homes.” I got up optimistically the next morning. However, I then totally underestimated how long the subway trip to the airport was, got there when the line to get a boarding pass was 45 minutes long, and missed my flight out. Adventure time… my fault.

Eventually, I got a standby flight to Minneapolis that night. They could not get me to Flint on the same day. The good news? Susan Hensel, dear artist/fiber friend, lives in Minneapolis. She was a grand sport by letting me sleep on her couch, and it was actually a delight to see her, if only briefly.


Sue is a strong woman. She is a significant muse for me, it seems that I do extra-ordinary work when she is involved. I did both my “Fabric of Friendship” project and my knitted Self Portrait with her behind me. (I loved her bookshelf full of “fix it” books, and could not resist taking a photo.) It was very good to see her after such a whirlwind experience. An anchor is precious at times like that.


I got home safely Tuesday, and just in time to teach my 6pm class at Rae’s shop. With no surcharge to reschedule my flights… a real bonus. All was well.

Really, I am only beginning to process the influence this trip will have on my future choices. I think there are so many possibilities… but I need to choose in a focused way where I will go next.

I can’t know. I can only take one step at a time.

Portland, you were wonderful! What a great trip it was.