Being Judged and Winning a Door Prize

This is going to be a very long post. Fair warning, there are pictures of knits. Not for the faint of heart.

I’m part of our local Knitter’s Guild, which is basically a magical organization of amazing people who all share the same interest as me: hording yarn for the apocalypse. We horde hard, and we horde often.

I just made a t-shirt slogan, didn’t I?

Anyway. Since knitting is one of those things that you can do pretty much anywhere, unlike some hobbies, we do occasionally get pieces done. While we do have a Show and Tell at our monthly meetings, I rarely get up to show anything because OMG SO MANY KNITTERS LOOKING AT YOU. It’s a little daunting, even though everyone is super nice. The guild does a biannual Adjudicated Show, where we have a luminary in the knitting field come in and stage a death match for our knits: all the wool enters, but only one ONE SWEATER LEAVES.

Sorry, this post is getting a little all-capsy. BET YOU MISSED ME AND MY HUMOUR, READERS. THE HUMOUR! OH GOD THE HUMOUUUUUR.

Our Very Famous Knitting Person this year was Kate Atherley of Wise Hilda fame, who has written a couple of books, teaches many classes, and does an awful lot of pattern writing and tech editing. So basically, a superstar.

I was very very worried about this. Kate is an expert, and I am definitely not. Kate is excellent at the finishing touches, the things that transform a piece from well done to spectacular, all the little details that make something heirloom. I had finished my bulky colourwork jacket, which was the only item I was going to enter, but I started looking around the house and I realized how very much more I’d finished in the last two years, and so decided to enter eight items. I figured now was my chance to show them off a bit, and if I got very, very, very lucky, I’d win a third prize or something along the way.

The Adjudicated Show is a masterpiece of organization. In the days leading up to it, the knits are categorized, adjudicated and photographed. The show itself consists of volunteer models showing off the knits while the Adjudicator tells us a little bit about what she liked about each item, and then the prizes are awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in each category. There are also door prizes. I mention this, because I managed to actually win one of the door prizes right off the bat. I was pretty excited; I mean, I figured that it was probably the only prize I was going to go home with, so hooray! Free knitting stuff! And I didn’t have to do anything more than have the right number on my ticket and not spill my Fanta on it. Score. I’m not saying I was there to win, I definitely was there to oogle the handknits. If there are handknits available, I desire to oogle them. I will oogle away a whole afternoon if I’m able.

What you need to know is this: my friends are very enthusiastic people. They volunteer. They volunteer to help out with knitting things, like the adjudicated show, so Anne, a knitter of great repute herself, had been there at the adjudication. she knew who had won what, and who had entered what, and who had left dirty kleenex in the pockets of their sweaters. In other words, she knew what was coming.

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Photo credit to the amazing Meredith Sexton

 The first knit of mine that came down the runway was my Drips hat, a pattern by Bethany Hill, and I used Madeline Tosh Vintage in “Edison Bulb” and “Chimney Sweep”. The hat itself is a very satisfying knit, I especially enjoyed the slip stitches, which I hadn’t done before, although they are hardly daunting. And, you know, knitting in neon. Doesn’t get much better than that. Kate shares my love of neon, so she quite liked my colour choices.

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Photo credit to the fantastic Meredith Sexton

I was keeping my eye out for this hat; I had only seen it on me and I wanted to see how it looked on the model. So I was a bit surprised when it came out as Kate announced that it was the third place prize winner in the Head- General category. This is the first hat I’ve designed myself, I’ve had the idea kicking around for awhile to have floats on the outside of colourwork, and this is the tentative first steps into that concept. I was really hoping for something that screamed “LOOK AT THIS YARN!” and not “MY HAT IS INSIDE OUT!”. It’s hard to go wrong with such gorgeous yarn; Austral yarn by V Berry in the colourway “Dragon’s Toothpaste”, and OctoBaa yarn by indigodragonfly in “If You Really Wanted To Mess Me Up, You Should Have Gotten To Me Sooner! (High Fidelity)”. I purposefully chose a slightly heavier yarn for the floats and colourwork, as I wanted it to pop just a little bit extra. They are very very close, but the indigodragonfly is a bit more tightly twisted. Knitting this went swimmingly until it was time to start moving the colourwork to the left, and then it became a nightmare of ripping back and ripping back and redoing until it worked properly. Luckily I had fallen behind in my watching of the terrible and enjoyable Beauty and The Beast show on the CW, so I had lots of mindless tv to go along with my not-mindless-knitting.  But third place! A PRIZE. I HAD DESIGNED A HAT AND KATE ATHERLEY LIKED IT ENOUGH TO GIVE IT A PRIZE! I was excited, and relieved, and totally high fived all my friends like a nerd. So it came as more than a shock that the next thing I had entered won first place in the next category, Hands – General:

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Photo credit to the spectacular Meredith Sexton

My COFFEE! COFFEE! COFFEE!! Mittens. FIRST PLACE. FIRST.  I am going to brag: Kate said the knitting was so even she thought they’d been done by a machine. A MACHINE. I’m a goddamn MACHINE. yes. Seriously, I sat there completely stunned after that comment hit me in between the eyes like a ton of bricks. I leaned over to Anne and whispered “I’m completely overwhelmed” and she said “just wait”. I hissed SHUT UUUUP to her and tried not to faint when I collected my prize. I did manage to walk directly into the edge of the stage, but I don’t think more than half the room noticed.

These mittens were designed by me, and meant specifically for me, as my love of coffee runs deep. I chose the colours for me; pink, grey and white in Knitpicks Capretta, a lovely blend of merino, nylon, and cashmere. As soon as I finished these mittens, we had a cold snap and my partner borrowed them for the day. I have never gotten to wear them since. His giant man hands have managed to both stretch them out and partially felt them. The next time I knit in cashmere, I’m going to have to lock it in a safe.

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Photo credit to the fabulous Meredith Sexton

I’m skipping over the entries that weren’t mine, because A) this is already going to be a super long post, B) it’s been awhile since I humblebragged (although this is really more like out and out bragging), and C) there were so many awesome knits that we`d be here for days if I wrote up my thoughts on them.

The next entry I had made were my Lowly Worm and Huckle the Cat dolls, which took another First Place, this time in the Knees – General category (knees was for stuffies and things like that). First Place gets capital letters. You’re lucky I’m not just writing in all caps for this whole blog post. It would be a more accurate representation of my feelings, but I will spare you for now.

I knit this Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm set for my daughter’s 3rd Christmas, when she was obsessed with all things Richard Scarry. I used Peruvian Highland Wool, because I wanted something long wearing and hard to ruin. For Huckle, I started with Jess Hutchinson’s Kate pattern, and heavily modified it by adding a muzzle, colour spots, and stitching tightly around the neck to make the head more separate from the body. His clothing was accomplished mostly by adding sleeves, collar and pant legs. Suspenders are embroidered on. The ears are knit separately and then sewn together. For Lowly, I basically knit a sock with intarsia technique for the sole, then a tube, then some k2tog and some leaning increases. Then a hat. Then his dashing bowtie.

When I had left for the show, the kiddo told me “Remember, Mama, WIN WIN WIN! You have to knit faster than everyone else!”. When I brought the dolls home and told her they had won first place, she congratulated me on my fleetness and then promptly tied lowly to the chair and lost Huckle under the couch.

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Photo credit to the awesome Meredith Sexton

You can thank me for the long winter, because I am convinced the weather stayed cold as long as I was knitting this just so it could turn warm as soon as I was done, and thus only allow me to wear it only a handful of times before it just got too hot. This pattern is Autumn Fire by Maureen Moody, knit in Wool of the Andes Bulky in as many bright colours as I could get my hands on. I had to make a number of alterations to the pattern, as for the larger sizes they hadn’t charted out any extra rows for the longer measurements (I suspect you were just meant to start at the beginning again, but that would have looked funny). So I slightly changed the repeating green charts, and made up a complimentary chart to match the other orange ones. And I fretted that I was doing something wrong, but it all came together in the end. I also added afterthought pockets, and changed the cast off to incorporate the button holes, instead of making icord to sew on after. This was my first time steeking, which turned out to be neither as hard, nor as terrifying as others had led me to believe. The gorgeous buttons I got from AMUseEmporium on Etsy.

As this knit was coming down the catwalk, Kate casually mentioned that the knitter of this piece had left used kleenex in the pocket. USED. KLEENEX. Kleenex that had been used. I am a horrible, horrible person. I may have yelled “OH NO!” and then laughed so hard I cried.

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Photo credit to the totally rad Meredith Sexton

Since my jacket didn’t win a prize (except for most forgetful kleenex user), I hardly expected this sweater to win anything, and honestly at this point I was so high on winning anything at all that I would have floated home on a happy cloud. As it was I couldn’t get my head through the door due to my gigantic ego, since this little sweater won First Place in the Anything But An Accessory – First Timer category. This is the first sweater I’ve designed myself, although honestly I mostly just made it up on the fly as I went. My 4 yo daughter wanted a “pirate sweater, wif stripes, and red, and pirate ships! And the YAAAAR skulls!”. I found a nice little pirate ship and jolly roger chart by Sandra Jäger which spared me the trouble of concocting my own. The sweater itself was done flat, because I am a glutton for punishment. I changed my mind (and someone short and loud informed me that the brown was NOT BROWN ENUF) about the colours on the pirate ships about five times after I was halfway done the entire sweater, so each time I laboriously duplicate stitched over the offending colour, then went along and pulled out the original colour, leaving only the new one. FIVE TIMES. I might have a problem. Overall, I worked the sweater top-down, with afterthought pockets. I think it would have been smarter to go bottom up, but there you have it.  The buttons are from digitsdesigns on Etsy, and the yarn is predominantly Paton’s Classic Wool, with some scraps from my stash thrown in for good measure.

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Photo credit to the completely talented Meredith Sexton

We’re coming to the end, I promise! Since my head was so full of hot ego air that my feet didn’t touch the floor, someone thought they would see if they could actually make my head asplode with happiness and overwhelmitude, and awarded me both the Third Place and First Place in the Anything But An Accessory – General category. They almost suceeded; I am pretty sure that sustaining that level of joy and wonder may have permanently cost me some IQ points. This sweet little sweater took the Third Place prize and was knit for my nephew with all possible speed as I had just cast on and he arrived, six weeks early. It’s the Gramps pattern by Kate Oates, with added elbow pads. I used some superwash yarn from my stash (I think knitpicks?) and some buttons from my grandmother’s tin. I think this pattern will become my go to for baby knitting, it’s very satisfying and I love the result.

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Photo credit to the incomparable Meredith Sexton

These sweaters took the First Place prize; I knit them while I was pregnant with my twin boys, in the final month of pregnancy when I was pretty much housebound and pretty much going out of my mind with boredom and tiredness. I’m not sure I mentioned it here, but I had 16 pounds of baby in there. That is a lot of baby, and especially giant for twins. People say their pregnant bellies were the size of bowling balls? Mine was a boulder. A moon. Heck, it was no moon, it was a space station.

The sweaters are a mishmash of the Baby Sophisticate Jacket by Linden Down, and my approximation of how large my babies would be (turns out, I should have knit them even larger). The charts are mostly modified versions of motifs I’ve seen on commercial sweaters, or just plain made up by me. I wanted two sweaters that were clearly a set, but left no doubt as to being distinctly individual as well. Unfortunately I’ve lost track of what yarn I used, although I know the red is from Sheepytime Knits, in a colourway delightfully called “Bowties are Cool”. The buttons are from stephaniexu on Etsy.

So there you have it, I won definitely more than a door prize. A huge, huge thanks to all the members of the guild who made the show possible, and especially to the awesome knitters who gave up their time to organize the show and make it run incredibly smoothly. Superstars, all of you. Thanks too to the awesome places and people that donated prizes; I am enjoying them immensely! You can see all the winners here, and photos of all the entries here.

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