It’s like going to summer camp when you’re a kid: we play games, do a scavenger hunt, there’s a talent show and afternoon arts and crafts time. But it’s also a knitter’s heaven: you get one-on-one instruction from some of the best knitters out there (this year’s teachers included Stephanie Pearl-McPhee/The Yarn Harlot, Tina Newton (Blue Moon’s dyer), Anne Hanson, JC Briar, and Anna Zilboorg), a variety of classes (which may or may not include inventing your own stitch patterns, sock repair, dyeing, spinning, colorwork, lace, sock architecture, and so on), and lots of goodies and tips in between. There’s nothing quite like chatting with knitting giants over chocolate croissants and learning how to make perfect buttonholes in a double-thickness button band, or how to avoid those little pointy corners when grafting a sock toe closed.
It’s also a great place for networking: many of the campers are designers, yarn store owners, dyers, editors, and influencers in the knitting & crochet communities. So you meet some amazing people and get to put faces to some of the names you may have seen in books or on the Internet. This year I met (among many others) Irish Girlie Knits, kzooerica of Kollage Yarns, Sam of Yummy Yarn Studio, and repeat offender Laura/Knitifacts, who gifted us all with stitch markers (check out her lovely new purple rain markers!).
One of my favorite parts of Camp is the homework. A month or two before Camp starts, Steph & Tina assign us all Camp-related homework. Every year of Camp has a different theme, and the homework goes along with the theme. Last year it was “boobies” (don’t ask). This year Camp was Alice in Wonderland themed, and the homework was “Jabberwonky.” Everyone interprets the theme in their own special way, knits something amazing, and brings it to Camp. On the last night of Camp we all unveil our homework projects and tell the stories behind them. Sometimes the stories are just as good, if not better, than the knitted item itself.
Since I’m getting into designing and trying to get my name out there, I wanted to design and write up a pattern for my Camp homework. Generous gift to fellow campers? Perhaps. Sneaky marketing ploy? Definitely. After playing with a bunch of colorwork ideas and then ultimately remembering that I hate knitting colorwork, I settled on designing a sock.
Barbara Walker’s stitch dictionaries (my new bible) provided a dragon-scale stitch pattern, I recruited some speedy test knitters from Ravelry, and my friend Kathy took me on an adventure that included wading boots, purchasing a $250 chess set, and a little friendly trespassing. The result was these gorgeous pattern photos, and my first for-sale pattern: Jabberwonky.