Getting ready for Sock Summit in Portland, Oregon

I’ve been having a lovely time preparing for my Sock Summit classes in Portland next week. If you have any hankering whatsoever to experience the most concentrated gathering of knitting innovation, intelligence, creativity, generosity, kindness, sharing, and sheer joy you may ever find on the planet, and that doesn’t scare you, I hope you will come be among us on July 28-31 at the Portland Convention Center. Get some rest before you arrive.


I’ll be teaching three full-day sessions of “The Knitting Sleuth,” and one full day of “Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters,” based on my book. “The Knitting Sleuth” is something else, in fact every time I teach it, it is something else. Here is a glimpse:

This pretty thing is not a quilt. It is a sampling of the thrift store sweaters I have been spending years collecting, cutting up, and sewing into frames (made of interfacing). In order to qualify for a frame, a sweater has to have a stitch texture I have never encountered anywhere, and be of enough interest to warrant my students devoting their time to reverse engineering it and hopefully getting lost along the way again and again, thus discovering related yet unique textures that also have never been seen before. Then we extract algorithms and list variables and play and swatch and lo and behold, new knitting textures appear faster than baby rabbits in a well-fed warren. And if this sounds like math, the thing that you think you don’t like about math isn’t here at all; this is math, yet requires none at all. Be not afraid, at all.


I call this Forensic Knitting, and the framed swatches are but one of several dozen pathways I have developed to carry knitters toward fruitful, expanded consciousness. It is more fun than, as one of my students said, “anything else you can do with your clothes on.”

Here is one of the three fawns that spend so much time nibbling dandelions in my yard that I have to recharge my camera battery daily to keep up with their cuteness. And here is the same fawn moments later – she seems to have heard something and she …

took off as fast as her little legs would carry her! I apologize for the blurry photo, but it’s a miracle I caught the little dear (ha ha) at all. As I write, she is back, munching on more dandelions, flicking her tail, and occasionally winning a stare-down with me through the window.


I’ve finished  preparing single pattern versions of the first three designs in my eBook, Cat’s Sweet Tomato Heel Socks, and have posted them on Ravelry along with the eBook, which if I were you I would buy instead, since for $20 you will end up with the equivalent of $54 worth of patterns as well as lots of in-depth tips and tricks and lessons that will not appear in any one pattern. If you click on “Patterns” in the left menu, then “socks,” you will be taken to the three that I have posted.


I get most of my Forensic sweaters at our local thrift store, and yesterday I also found a half-dozen antique steel-cable circular knitting needles. I’ve owned one for years and thought I might never find any more; these are likely from the 1920’s or earlier.

Curiously, there was a pair of  2.25 mm and a pair of 3 mm needles, both about 30 inches long, as if somewhere on this island a knitter may have been working in the round on 2 circs decades before I was ever born. Except that the steel cables are so unyielding that this could not have worked out well at intersections.

The other curious thing is that the tips of the long needles (not the 16-inch needle) also have a very small diameter hole drilled through the tip, suitable for sewing thread – a lifeline perhaps? Keep in mind this is a 3 mm needle, so the hole is very small indeed. Ah, the stories these needles could tell.

The only reason I came up with the 2-circ method and Sarah Hauschka with the 1-circ method (Magic Loop) is because Ingrid Skacel brought Addi Turbo needles, with their pliant cables, smooth joins  and fine tips from Germany to this country in the mid-80s, spending decades investing in the knitting community and trusting that we would appreciate fine tools. It didn’t happen overnight, but she and her husband Hans persisted and in my opinion, changed the knitting world. We wouldn’t be where we are were it not for the fine tools we have to work with. Since then, other needle makers have built upon the pioneering work of Addi Turbo, but I still think they are the best needles made.

I hope to see some of you in Portland! You’ll find me, when I am not teaching, looking blissful at Ruby Jewel Ice Cream. I dare you to have some ice cream, then walk a few doors down and through the door of At the Meadow without spending money on something you never even knew existed or that you wanted. Beware. It happened to me. I won’t even tell you what it is. You will have choices.

Okay, this is in real time. Mama deer just showed up and was instantly attacked by her twins who to my astonishment are still nursing, with VIGOR. Wish you could have seen this: the twins are actually lifting mom up and down with their eagerness. I am grateful every day for living here.