OK, so it really did warrant an exclamation point. At the inaugural Vogue Knitting Live! I was lucky enough to take classes with Franklin Habit, Fiona Ellis, Debbie Bliss, Merike Saarnit, Meg Swansen & Amy Detjen, and Leslye Solomon, as well as attend lectures by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and Mr. Habit, and hear a panel discussion with Trisha Malcolm (Vogue Knitting editor-in-chief, Stacy Charles (owner, Takhi Stacy Charles), Debbie Bliss (her very own cottage/mansion industry), Melanie Fallick (former chief of Interweave Knits and editor of her own imprint at Stewart, Tabori & Chang), and Brett Bara (former editor of Crochet Today). There was a cocktail party, a dinner, and a big, busy marketplace. And there were tons of like-minded folk hanging out together for three days in Midtown.
If you're friends with me on Flickr, you've already seen this picture, but meeting and taking a class with Meg Swansen was the highlight of my weekend.
And I've kicked myself for not getting a picture with Meg's partner-in-crime Amy Detjen who was just as funny (if not more so) and knowledgeable as Meg. My new goal is to get to Knitting Camp.
But I started the three-day weekend hustling to Midtown, after tossing the kids at Nick, to get to class with Franklin. It was an intimate group (a dozen of us?) in a hotel room - a real hotel room from which they had removed the beds - pawing Franklin's handknit samples while he talked about the history of lace knitting, focusing on Orenburg, Shetland, and Estonian lace. Franklin is a funny, charming man, and, having taken a couple of classes with him over the years, he is very good at imparting a lot of information without your feeling like you've been lectured *at*. I just wish I could have gotten in to his lace edging class!
Instead, I had a class with cable queen Fiona Ellis, which I've already put to good use in a proposal. Unfortunately for me I was whipped by Friday afternoon. After Franklin's class there was Stephanie's lecture on Your Brain on Knitting, which was very entertaining and enlightening. Then a quick scramble for some lunch (N.B. folks who stood in that crazy Starbucks line in the hotel, there is another Starbucks just across the street - you could probably even run over there without putting on a coat), and a chance meeting with a Massachusetts/Maine knitter. I really didn't even think I could make it to the cocktail party. But I stuck it out, spent some quality time at the marketplace, which was really nice, spread out over two floors with seating areas and a couple of fashion show setups. Unfortunately, there wasn't any prosecco at the Purls and Prosecco reception, at least while I was there, and I was really beyond tired by then so had a quick drink (and a super-yummy mini cheeseburger appetizer) and headed home.
Saturday started with the lovely Debbie Bliss and a class on shaping with cables, which set my brain abuzzing. Debbie was also generous enough to give us all a copy of her kids' book Essential Knits for Kids: 20 Fresh, New Looks for Children Two to Five, which was very lovely of her. She was gracious and entertaining, signing books and talking about how she got to where she is today. No lecture for me that day, so I had time to check out the marketplace some more when it was in full buzz. My afternoon class was Merike Saarnit's Nupps, Buds, and Bobbles, which was fun and educational. Goodness, are there a lot of ways to make those little bumps! And that night was the big Mohair dinner and fashion show. Everyone I sat with was very nice (they're knitters, how could they not be?), including one of the finalists for the mohair contest. I wore my finished Grés (pictures to come), and aside from the eggplant in the first course (I'm allergic), the food was good. However, the speeches and such seemed more like an industry gathering, which this sort of was, although most people in the audience were knitters rather than folks who work in the industry. I had to zip out of there after the mohair show to attend a dear friend's birthday party in Brooklyn and was flattered to be carded (hehe) but even more flattered that some other party attendees really liked my sweater.
[Pardon me. Nick is having a wrapping emergency. Today is Stephen's 8th birthday. The Red Velvet Cake has been baked, and now some presents need to be wrapped. Frosting to come...]
Sunday broke far too cold and early but was so worth it when I attended Meg & Amy's class on EPS. Oh, this was such an awesome class! Meg and Amy are a comedy duo. I loved their Midwestern down-to-earth-y-ness. And the samples they brought to show were beautiful. EZ's knits don't travel any more (and with good reason), but there were lots of recent Meg knits and even more talk about EPS. Though I've read the books numerous times, it was so much fun to go over it all again in person. Some day I'm going to Knitting Camp (and then Retreat); Annie and I have made a pact! But I think we're going to wait until the kids are a little older (and I have some disposable income - it is far away from everything). After my awesome time with Meg & Amy, I was able to attend Franklin's lecture, B is for Purl, on the fun and insanity of deciphering antique knitting patterns. Loved it!
My afternoon class was not quite as entertaining. Leslye Solomon is knowledgeable, but she's more of a knit-it-in-pieces type (when Knitty has just published my largely seamless pattern), and her style of teaching didn't quite work for me. I should have known I wasn't going to have quite the amazing experience of the morning when I mentioned to the woman sitting next to me that I had been in Meg's class in the morning, and she gave me a blank look. But it was a good reminder for me that there are so many different kinds of knitters in the world, and there is room for all of us at the table.
Somewhere in there I attended the panel discussion on the role of independent designers in the handknitting industry (or something like that), which was ... interesting. When the panelists include the heads of two large yarn companies, a craft book editor, the former editor of a popular crochet magazine, and the editor of one of the biggest knitting magazines, the deck seems kind of stacked against actual, independent knitwear designers. Or maybe that's just me. There were some technical issues with the microphones that made it difficult for the panelists to get into a rhythm. And there was a lot of stress placed on professionalism (meeting deadlines and such) that seemed obvious to me, but maybe it was a wake-up call to others. I was surprised (as was the knitter next to me - another Massachusetts lady) by the edge to the whole thing. Maybe it's because I worked in the publishing industry for a long time, but I wanted to remind these industry leaders that without knitters and independent knitwear designers, they wouldn't have much to do. Just as I always had to remember that without those pesky authors I wouldn't have had many covers to design or books to paginate. Especially these days with the methods of the delivery of information constantly changing, we all need to remember that being the publisher can be in anyone's hands. Granted, the bigger publishers have a more visible platform, most of the time. But even that is changing. None of this is to say that you can get away with being unprofessional for long in this industry (it is small, and word gets around), but I think the industry needs to remember that they wouldn't have much to do without knitters.
And somewhere else in there I met Beth Hahn of the charming Miss Flitt series, was recognized by my Turn of the Glass on Friday (and saw Teva Durham wearing her Knitty sweater, Lady Lovelace), caught sight various knitting luminaries at the Market, including la Harlot, Mr. Brooklyn Tweed, and Ms. Go Knit In Your Hat. I know there were others, and I had fun meeting people, myself.
So, that's my wrap up of VKL. Sorry for the delay on that, but things are very busy chez Purly. More on that soon.