Back to the start of the vacation though, and my workshop on "The Tailored Sweater" with Tuulia Salmela. Wow! What an amazing time I had. I learned so much that it was well worth every penny. I'd never been to any kind of knitting class before so I wasn't totally sure of what to expect. I knew I'd be knitting top-down for the first time, but aside from that my mind was totally open. As it was, the fact that I'd never knit top-down before was something of an advantage I think, because I didn't have any preconceived ideas of how things 'should' be. I just did as I was told and........I'm thrilled with the results!
I also learned how to do a crochet cast on (which is handy as DD2 had just asked me that exact question and now I can wow her with my superior knowledge - if I can remember how to do it ofcourse!) The other expert tip I picked up was how to hide your wrap-and-turns when you're doing short rows. This is invaluable. I didn't quite get it right the first time so I can see the stitches that I did wrong on my sample sweater, but hey, that's the point of making a sample. It's there as a permanent reminder of what not to do. The second time, I cracked it and boy is it wonderful to look at a piece of shaped knitted fabric without a hole or a twisted stitch in it. I'm quite proud of myself.
Tuulia herself is endlessly patient, lively, fun and a fellow European to boot. The subject of washing swatches led to a meeting of the minds as we discussed the differences between US and European washing machines. Not that either of us recommend washing your handknits in a machine (which ever country you're living in), but we know people who do. Just be aware - that agitater in a US top-loader packs a mean punch, so if you must put your superwash in a machine, make sure it's a front loader that bounces the fabric gently from side to side. It may take twice as long, but the gentler ride will give your hours of work a better chance of survival.