Sock Summit Report (plus a sock cast-on lesson)

"Sock it to me" is such a cliché, but it's true this time–I've been socked with sock goodness! Yes, I was lucky enough to attend the Sock Summit in Portland, Oregon, this weekend. Actually, I was only there on Thursday and Friday because I had to come home and teach a sock class at my LYS on Saturday–the irony.

The party started at the opening night kick-off on Thursday night, when Stephanie Pearl McPhee and Tina Newton talked about how they fantasized about, conceptualized, and organized the summit. The speech was hilarious, of course, and at times very moving. They thanked all of the teachers and people who helped them on their journey, and as those people stood up, I realized the magnitude of this event. They thanked people like Meg Swanson, Melissa Morgan-Oakes, Barbara Walker, Cookie A., Nancy Bush, Lucy Neatby, Cat Bordhi, and on and on and ON! It was a true meeting of the "knitteratti."

After the final standing ovation, we got to meet these folks, which was wonderful. Everyone was graceful and lovely; obviously they were as happy to be there as I was. (On a side note, I got to meet our own Sandi Wiseheart in person–finally–and she's just as sweet and welcoming as you would think she would be.) As I shook hands with Meg Swanson and then Barbara Walker, I realized how lucky I am to be working in knitting–meeting some of my idols and teachers (I've learned so much through these gals' books) as part of my job. Wow!

I got to knit a few stitches on the World's Largest Sock (photo at right), a traveling art piece that's truly incredible. There were probably eight of us seated comfortably around a table knitting on the same sock. So much fun to be a part of that.

The Sock Museum was also a highlight. There were sock examples for each decade, starting with the dawn of time. My favorites were the Confederate and Union socks sitting right next to each other–the North and South of sock knitting. There was also a fabulous stocking from the late 1800s. It was a really neat collection.

At right are the fab rainbow stockings that were the show-stopper of the Thursday night party. This gal sat on the stage and posed for photo after photo. Wonderful work here!

I met Brian (photo at left) from Skacel, who's in the process of knitting seven pairs of socks at once on a 100-inch number 1 needle.–one pair for each day of the week! The seven balls of yarn are held in a shoe caddy. Brilliant.

When I was driving in from the airport, I tuned in the local PBS station and who should I hear but Cat Bordhi! A local program was doing a special on the Sock Summit and sock knitting in general, and Cat was talking about the culture of knitting. She said something that really hit me in the heart when she was talking about how knitters form communities. She said that when knitters get together and knit, they become the best versions of themselves. I saw that over and over at the Sock Summit.

The overall feeling at the summit was one of friendship and kinship. I didn't really know anyone there very well, but I was welcomed by all and I felt like I was walking into a family reunion of sorts–I was welcomed as a longtime friend.

Perfect Sock Cast-On

In the spirit of the teaching and learning that took place at the summit, here's a lesson from Nancy Bush, Sock Summit teacher, about an Estonian cast-on that's perfect to use for socks because it's so stretchy. I like this cast-on because the space from my heel to where the top of my foot meets my leg is a little bigger than average, and if I'm going to have trouble with a sock fitting, it's going to be there. I always cast-on loosely, but I don't like the look of a really loose cast-on because it can be messy and "loopy." This cast-on is naturally stretchy without looking loose. Try it on your next pair of socks!

Speaking of your next pair, Nancy has written several classic sock knitting books, including  Knitting on the Road, Knitting Vintage Socks, Folk Socks, and the wildly popular lace book, Knitted Lace of Estonia. If you don't have at least one of these sock books, you are missing out on some amazing sock-knitting opportunities!

It's been such a pleasure to write this post–I hope some of the inspiration I got at Sock Summit rubs off on you and your knitting.




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