This past weekend, there was a cheerleading convention and a knitting convention in Tacoma. Not liking the look of all that polyester, I attended the latter: yep, I’m back from the Madrona Retreat!
My first workshop was Estonian Mittens with Nancy Bush. These are the black and white patterned mitts that come to a point at the top – Nancy asked that we not post photos of her collection, but a quick google shows exactly what I mean.
Between teaching a few new techniques – the two colour cast on and ‘braid’ rows – Nancy talked about the history of the mittens. They were often made as part of a women’s dowry, and the patterns could indicate social/marital status. For poor Estonians, who were essentially serfs who had to who had to spin and dye their yarns from materials at hand, the mittens were important for more than warmth. The red colour is found on all garments, but in limited amounts, to protect from bad spirits; this part I found especially touching. Imagine knitwear being so functional – physically, socially, economically, and even spiritually.
I managed to squeeze in a little trip to the Museum of Glass to look at some great outdoor sculptures, which of course included Dale Chihuly’s several-hundred piece exhibit on the bridge of glass. Seeing the sculptures changing with the afternoon light made me appreciate glass more (I’ve actually never been much of a fan), especially the bird-like Martin Blank installation. An art-filled day.