Friday, February 22, 2008

Mall of America Knit Out 2008

Hi Knitters,
Well, I am finally sitting down to share the Minneapolis Knit-Out at the Mall of America. What an experience. The mall is massive, the crowds were massive and best of all, the love of knitting and crocheting was massive. The turn out for the event was absolutely staggering, literally thousands and thousands of knitters were in attendance.

Above is an example of the demonstration areas that were blocked off for instructors. This is Isela Phelps who has written a book about loom knitting. She creates beautiful work using those plastic ring looms. She makes lace, cables, scarves, hats, anything you can think of with the loom. I was following her at this spot so I was pleased I got to see her demo because I don't really know much about this technique. I think it looks interesting. Her husband is the man standing directly behind the rope and he was so attentive to her every need. It was sweet, indeed.
What would my travel post be without a fuzzy photo of something? Right next to my demo was the fabulous Kim Werker of Crochet Me and Interweave Crochet fame. She was crocheting up a storm and I wish I could have joined right in.

I did two demonstrations, one each day, and they went well, but man, it was loud there. You literally had to shout to be heard. That was a bit tough.

You have to see what was going on right next to my first demonstration here. Yep, that's Annie Modesitt herself and yep, I was right next to her. Did you see those ginormous needles? She had such a massive crowd that my table had to be scooted back a bit. That makes me laugh, that is so me. I had a nice-sized group but she drew crowds. That was fun to see.
We also had these things called Author's Forums where a group of authors would go on the stage in a large rotunda area for a question and answer session led by the adorable Vickie Howell of the Knitty Gritty show and the author of many books. It was fun to meet her in person.
The woman in the green jacket is Edie Eckman, who most recently wrote the Crochet Answer Book, and look, she is crocheting away during the forum. I love it! I got to go out to dinner with Edie and she has an interesting and long career in the knitting/crochet industry. I really enjoyed her and learning about all of the things she has going on. She has a great new book coming out soon about crocheted motifs and it looks so fun. I had the chance to see a bunch of the motifs that are in the book and they are beautiful. I will definitely be getting that one when it hits the market.
I snuck this quick shot while I was sitting on the stage. This was Sunday and it was well attended. The Saturday crowd was much bigger. See how there were two levels? On Saturday that upper level was jam packed with people and the seating area was standing room only. I loved that there was such a high interest level for a knit-out. I think I know why the crowd was so large on Saturday and it may have been due one certain author.
I don't have a picture of this but I did get to meet Debbie Macomber and that was a treat. She is the author of countless fiction novels and the Blossom Street knit shop based novels. She is wonderful and her following is like nothing I have ever witnessed before. On Saturday, while I was sitting at the tables with other knitting authors for book signings there was an enormous line wrapping around our tables. I was trying to figure out what all of these hundreds of people were waiting for and then I realized they were waiting to meet Debbie! When I met her I discovered that all of the proceeds from her knitting instruction books goes to charity. She has made thousands and thousands of dollars for charities through these knitting books. I was hugely impressed by her. I can see why she is so beloved.
I had the huge pleasure of meeting new author Karen Thalacker, a knitting family law attorney from Iowa. Her book, Knitting with Gigi, is completely adorable and it teaches kids how to knit. Karen has four lovely kids of her own and her husband is a judge. How's that for a fun family? She is cute as can be and she seemed to be having such a good time taking it all in. It was really fun to get to sit with Karen and meet her family. I think she has a second book coming out soon along the same lines as the first.
These were the signing tables we sat at and this first person is Melissa Morgan-Oakes sitting next to Kristin Nicholas. Melissa and Kristin actually live about 15-minutes away from each other in Massachusetts and they know some of the same people. What a world. Melissa's new book teaches you how to knit two socks at a time on one long circular needle. It is a great technique for finishing both socks at the same time.
Okay, I know I have talked about Kristin to no end but just one last plug about her. She was just interviewed for the latest show for the Craftsanity podcast. Please listen to this if you are at all inclined. You will instantly see why I am enamored. She has great stories about starting out in the knitting industry, Martha Stewart, pre-computer days in publishing, farming, etc. Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood does a fantastic job interviewing, as always. I know, enough already. I can't help it.
Here is Antje Gillingham with her circular needle sock book called Knitting Circles Around Socks, Edie Eckman (still crocheting), and next to her is Nicky Epstein, who I loved meeting. If you aren't familiar with Nicky's body of work just type in her name on amazon and you will be hugely impressed. She now has her own book imprint called Nicky Epstein Books through Soho Publishing, the Vogue Knitting publisher. She was great to meet. I have been a long time fan.
There were many others I met and saw from afar like Brett Bara (Crochet Today editor) and Candi Jensen (check out her crochet baby books, too cute) and they were filming for the Knit and Crochet Today show which is on PBS. Both are so nice and talented. Kristin Nicholas and Maggie Pace (the pick-up sticks woman) are both going to be contributing to 13 episodes of this show. I don't think we are getting this show in my area (anyone?) but I sure would like to see it. Also, the wonderful Tanis Gray was at the mall for Soho Publishing and she worked so hard all weekend. The hotel I stayed at was so packed full of famous knitters, it was crazy. You never knew who would get on your elevator, great fun.
To end the weekend I watched the international fastest knitter contest. It was amazing. I don't even know how to describe these women. They were having so much fun and their fingers are like no others.
When we were waiting for the shuttle to the airport, Kristin spotted the winner of the fastest knitting contest and brought her over. Her name is Hazel Tindall and she is from the Shetland Islands. She is the most incredible knitter I have ever seen. She told a story about her knitting as a child, she doesn't even remember learning to knit, it was simply a given.
Hazel's knitting group heard about the fastest knitter and the winning number of stitches was something like 170 stitches in three minutes. Her group didn't think that was very fast at all. They did a trial run and they all smashed this record with Hazel leading the way. This is when she realized that she was incredibly fast. Her record at the knit-out was a staggering 265 stitches in 3-minutes. Wow. Her fingers flew like the wind with almost no motion at all. Hard to believe. I was honored to have a picture with her.
Take care and have a good weekend.
best, susie