Sunday, September 25, 2011

VKL Was AWESOME! True Story

Whew!  It's been a while since I've caught up with the blog.  Sorry!  I've been inordinately busy the past couple of weeks and I haven't had time to read blogs, either.  Expect a slew of comments on old posts sometime soon.

I'll do a catch-up post on my own stuff, but this post is all about the FABULOUS time I had at Vogue Knitting Live on Friday!!!

As some of you may recall, I had been waffling about whether to make the trek up to LA or not, but after a won a free class of my choice from a blog tour I was SO IN!!!  I quickly signed up for a custom knitting design class from Josh Bennett on Friday afternoon and then waited patiently for several weeks for the event to arrive.

Let me tell you: it was SO WORTH IT.  Here's the skinny:

The Class
The program told me that my class was being held in Classroom 511.  So...up on the 5th floor of the hotel.  I thought it was a little odd that they had groups of classrooms on the upper floors of the hotel, but I headed up to find it.  Boy did I feel like a hick when I realized that it was just a hotel room with the bed removed!  (DUH!)  They had set up four skinny tables for the 10 students, leaving a tiny sliver of room in the front for Josh to do his thing.  It ended up being quite lovely though because it was much more casual this way.  No one had trouble seeing or hearing what was being demonstrated, and we all felt comfortable introducing ourselves and asking questions.

 Josh Bennett is a WONDERFUL teacher.  He took us through all the steps of designing a sweater.  I mean, we actually designed an entire sweater in class!  He had worksheets with typical sweater instructions written out, with blanks for the stitch or row counts, and another sheet with the equations needed to figure out the correct numbers.  We took the measurements of a volunteer and used those numbers to fill in the blanks in our worksheets.  Along the way, Josh gave examples, answered questions, told stories, and showed samples.  I was excited to see that he had brought in samples of most of his sweaters, and tear sheets of his other designs.  He was kind enough to stay behind after class and answer more questions and even agreed to take a picture with me.  He totally demystified sleeve cap shaping for me and I was able to apply what I learned to the sweater I'm modifying for my brother.  Score!!!

The Marketplace
I wasn't sure what to expect from the marketplace going in.  I had looked over the list of vendors and most of them seemed to be other LYSes in SoCal, not a bunch of indie dyers like you seem to find at larger venues like Stitches or Rhinebeck.  I also knew that all of the fashion shows, book signings, and prize drawings were happening on Saturday and Sunday so I would miss out on those.  But this was my first knitting event, so I was still excited to go.

It turned out to be fantastic fun!  My first stop was to see Michelle Miller of Fickle Knitter Design.  She had her own booth with samples and copies of her first book, Leaves: Fickle Knitter Design, Volume 1.  I have been reading Michelle's blog for years now and I love her designs, especially her one-skein shawlettes.  It was super cool to finally meet her in person and have her sign my copy of the book.  She even gave me a fun tote bag to carry the rest of my marketplace purchases.  Thanks, Michelle!

My next stop was RedFish Dyeworks, right around the corner from Fickle Knitter.  Holy cow, people!  The colors!  I don't think I have ever seen so many beautiful colors on such beautiful yarns, arranged in a perfect rainbow of glittering skeins.  Every time I picked up one gorgeous skein, I traded it for the one right next to it, and so on and so on.  Eventually I settled on the three skeins shown here.  I am so glad they have a website I can order from because I'm already kicking myself for not getting more.  I had been saving up my yarn money for a couple of months, so I splurged on some luxuries: The purple skein is 400 yds of a silk/cashmere blend, the gold skein is 800yds of a silk/camel blend, and the variegated skein in the center is 450 yds of 100% silk.  For people who like knitting lace, this stuff is to die for, and very reasonably priced.

After that, I headed over to the Knitters Brewing Co. booth.  They have some fabulous hand-dyed sock yarn, gorgeous patterns and kits, and a really fun podcast called Yarn on Tap that I highly recommend checking out.  I may even have agreed to be interviewed for an upcoming episode!  I had a lot of fun hanging out with Wendy, Kelie, and Rebecca.  We swapped Rav names and I even got a super special handmade stitch marker from Kelie, along with a Sockaholic tattoo!  So much fun.  They promised to come down to San Diego to visit me at the shop soon, so I'm looking forward to that.

Of course I had to take advantage of being able to scope out their lovely sock yarn in person.  I picked up a fabulous Bridge of Roses sock kit in the Greyhound colorway.  I didn't even realize until just now that it includes a cute little stitch marker!  How awesome is that?!?  But why stop at just one kit?  I also picked up a skein of their Sockaholic sock yarn in the Jungle Juice colorway, and now I'm kicking myself for not getting two.  It would be perfect for the Kitman Figueroa mystery KAL I signed up for!  I'll just have to place another order with them and maybe pick up some more Chia Goo needles as well. The cables and tips on these needles are perfect for socks.

Other highlights of the marketplace included meeting Shannon Okey at the Cooperative Press/Bijou Basin booth, chatting with the folks at Namaste and letting them know how much I love their bags (I have several), seeing Amy Singer, Cookie A, and Vickie Howell (I shared an elevator with her and she said she liked my bag), meeting StevenBe of the Yarn Garage (all the way from my home town of Minneapolis!), checking out the carbon fiber needles at Blackthorn Needles, meeting Linda Morse of String from NYC (she wrote the book Luxury Knitting, which first introduced me to luxury fibers when I was a new knitter and didn't know what was "good" and what wasn't), lusting over the quiviut yarns at Windy Valley Muskox (Oh my god!  The samples!), sampling the new Lacey scent from Soak (loved it!), and generally just being with all of these other, happy knitters.  It was so much fun!

I drove home afterwards exhausted but happy, having met a lot of wonderful people both in my class (Hi Sandra and Amanda!) and in the marketplace (Hi Michelle, Wendy, Kelie and Rebecca!), and with new techniques, knowledge and yarn that all made me excited to knit some more.  Now that I've been bitten by the knitting convention bug, I'll be trying to make my way to more shows in the future.  It would be even more fun with some travel companions.  Interweave Knit Lab and Stitches West are right around the 'bout it, Peter?  Can you take a week off school??? ;-)


ccr in MA said...

Oh, what fun! You've got me excited all over again for Rhinebeck--there's just such an energy from being surrounded by people who share your passion. Love it!

Mmm, you got some nice yarn, too. Mmm.

CrookedKnitter said...

Those Chiagoo needles are now my favorite ones for knitting socks. Best tips ever!

And you can always come out to NY for the next VKL. I'm sure Peter would be able to swing that one too right? :o)

pinkundine said...

Wow, that sounds awesome :) Glad your lesson was so good (I'd have been confused by the 5th floor classroom concept too!)

Excellent purchases too :)

leann said...

Sounds liked fun! I wanted to go to VKL in NYC, but was way too pregnant! Maybe I'll go to LA next year. I may vend at Stitches West in February, depending on how Stitches East goes in a few weeks...would love to actually take classes.

Jacey said...

Dude, I'm so jealous! It looks like you had tons of fun. And the goodies you got are decadent!

It's pretty incredible that the sweater workshop was that comprehensive.

Anonymous said...

I hope I look good in this color of green. I am so jealous it is oozing out of every pore! But, you deserve it and I am also happy for you. So glad you enjoyed it all.

Linda (aka JD)

Cookie said...

I'm so glad you had such a good time!

Hilary said...

I'm so glad you had a great time! Any chance you'll be coming up to NorCal for Interweave Knitting Lab in a few weeks??...

Yarndude said...

I'm a little behind in commenting... I wish I could have gone! Josh Bennett sounds like a great guy and that yarn you got is awesome! One day when I have a job and money we can go to these things together!