Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Vogue Knitting Live Chicago 2012

Hi, Knitters,
Well, all is said and done. Last Sunday morning, I woke up to my alarm at 3:20am to get ready to hop on the road to Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago. I had to be at the Palmer House at 8am to get my class lists and room assignments. My husband and TC drove to Chicago with me.

The sun rose at around 6:30am and the sky turned a beautiful pink color.

Finally, we could see the tall Chicago buildings on the horizon. It was such a dark and gloomy morning but I guess the day turned into sunshine later. My husband dropped me off at the front door of the Palmer House and went on his way to have a fun time with TC in the city.

As I was waiting for Gabrielle, from Vogue, to meet me by the elevators on the 7th floor of the hotel, the elevator doors opened and out popped Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. She was locating her room and dropping off some stuff for her morning class. She came back from finding her classroom (there were at least 60 classrooms on the floor) and said she had found my room on the way. She then helped me tote my two suitcases to the room. She is just as kind and personable as she seems on her blog. Before she jumped on the elevator to go have breakfast she mentioned that she was concerned that there wasn't a crock pot in her room for the class. She was teaching a class on silk and they needed a crock pot for part of the class content. 

When Gabrielle got off the elevator I was surprised she was on a scooter, I found out that she broke her foot. I can't imagine running this event with a broken foot. She deserves and extra gold star for that. As we were talking about my classroom and student lists and the key and what I needed to turn in after my classes, I casually mentioned that Stephanie had been here and was worried about a crock pot. Gabrielle's face dropped. She said it was the first time she had heard that Stephanie needed a crock pot for class. She turned to one of the volunteers with a worried look. They were certain that the hotel wouldn't have a crock pot available to cook silk in. 

Almost at the same time they came up with the thought that there was a Target directly across the street from the downtown Chicago hotel and off they went to fetch a crock pot. I loved listening to the whole thing and I was glad I mentioned it to Gabrielle. I assume a crock pot was delivered.

As I was waiting for Gabrielle, Carla Scott, the editor in chief of Vogue Knitting and Knit Simple, got off the elevator. She said, as many did during the day, "I haven't seen you at all this weekend." This was because I had just arrived on Sunday morning. The rest of the gang had already been there for several days.  

I got settled in for my morning Toy Workshop class. It really is one of my favorite things to teach as I have knit and designed so many toys at this point that I have gathered a lot of useful tips and tricks. I love sharing this information with other interested toy knitters.

What I didn't know since I was tucked into my classroom was that the weather on the east coast was playing a major role in the day for many of the VK Live participants at this point. Flights were being canceled and others were rearranging their flights early to try to get home.

Here is my top-down baby sweater class set-up. I made a basic top-down raglan pattern and then offered lots of design options. Even though the cardigans all started the same, in the end they could all look very different by making various choices along the way. 

I even designed and offered a mini-sweater or cardigan pattern option for the students in case someone wanted to knit a tiny cardigan just to be able to get all of the top-down cardigan concepts in during the class time. The mini cardigans/sweaters were ornament-size, maybe three inches long.

The mini-cardigan and sweater pattern will be available soon (after my mitten pattern and my new shawl pattern are done). 

No one opted for the mini-sweater or cardigan, they all started a regular size baby cardigan, which was fine. Most cast on for the 0-3 month size, a few cast on for the 6 month size, and all made good progress during class. I demonstrated picking up stitches for the button bands and neck edge, how to do the buttonholes and where to place them, placing the stitches for the sleeves back on the needles and picking up at the underarm and I included a quick trick for how to close up the gaps when picking up the stitches for the underarms. 

It was a fun and relaxing class.

Here is one side of my class for the Toy Workshop. They were amazing and chatty and fun. At times the group was so loud that it was hard to hear above the roar of the chatter. I loved that they were having a good time. They worked so hard, too. I ran demonstrations throughout the class, each demonstration I repeated three times to be sure everyone could come up to the front to see each technique.

Many in the toy class either finished the String-a-long toy or were close to finishing. I couldn't believe how fast they were. I have taught toys to lots of other groups and this one was by far the quickest group I have seen.

My work and demonstration table becomes messier and messier throughout the class. I always bring lots of toys for everyone to look at during the class. One thing that happened for the toy class is that I underestimated the amount of fiberfill the students would need. I didn't realize how many students would actually finish the toy or come close during the class so the supply of fiberfill was quickly dwindling down to nothing. 

I then started looking at the toys I brought for display and picked the Milk Cow to open up to steal the fiberfill out of so the students could keep working on their toys. I snipped the yarn at the front of the cow's body and pulled out the stuffing for everyone to use. The cow looked so sad and deflated.

After I got home I quickly re-stuffed and popped the stitches back on my dpns and reworked the front of the body. Here is the Milk Cow looking as good as new! I thought that was some quick on your feet thinking to solve our stuffing shortage problem.

Evelyn finished her String-a-Long Frog and put him in a very zen-like pose. Aren't they both cute?

At the front table sat three of my Itty-Bitty Knits (my group on Ravelry) buddies. Sheila (NUcat), Jessica (knitgineering), and Pat (plynn). It was so much fun to have them in class!

I had students from D.C., Arkansas, Canada, Illinois, Seattle, Los Angeles.... it was so fun to hear all of the places people came from for the event.

Pat made the mouse and nearly finished, and Jessica whipped up the monkey finishing every last stitch including the face embroidery. Jessica, by the way, has only been knitting for a year and a half. Her speed and agility with the needles amazed me to no end. She is a natural, no doubt.

(photo provided by plynn - she cropped the photo and couldn't get it back to the original size. :)

Pat, me and Jessica - intrepid Itty-Bitty Knitters! 

 After class I signed books, and got to look at photos of my toys with babies. I love it when people have photos. Pat took the photos for me! Thanks, Pat.

 I love chatting after class and getting photos with students.

Everyone was so fun! Thank you for coming to class with me.

 Here is Ashley from Arkansas. She was extra sweet. Hi, Ashley!

Here is my baby cardigan class. I have to laugh because this class was just as fun and sweet and hard working as the toy group but I could tell everyone was tired by the end of the day on Sunday, for this was the last class of the event. The students had already had 3 days of classes and shopping and fashion shows and dinners..... I also had one person drop out and then four students, who had paid and signed up for the class, didn't show up. I don't know for certain but I bet this had to do somewhat with the flight cancelations and scrambling to get home on Sunday. Many were stranded and still may be.

In the class was Brigitte, the owner of the Klose Knit Yarnshop in Urbana, Illinois. Paula of Knitting Pipeline just did an entire podcast featuring this yarn shop and her workshop with Stephen West at Klose Knit. Click here to see the blog post and/or listen to the show. I loved meeting Brigitte. She encouraged Stephen to write up his first pattern for publication as he worked at her shop as a teen in Urbana. It is really a fun story.

Brigitte's sweet husband patiently waited on some lounge chairs outside the classroom and Brigitte left a bit early to get on the road home. Her husband waved at the door as they left.

Also, in the cardigan class I had the privilege of having Jenee and Rebekah (whose flight was canceled to get back to D.C.) and Jessica again (speedy Jessica almost finished her baby cardigan during the class!). These three knit with me for the entire day. That was quite an honor. My friend Dianne of Sheep Dreams was there and it was great as always to see her.

My Madison friend, Ginger (front table on the left) made it to the class which was really fun. I really enjoy her. Brigitte was sitting right behind Ginger but had left before I snapped this photo.

It was a wonderful day full of knitting, teaching and meeting new people. I loved every minute of it. As quickly as I came, I packed up and met my husband and daughter at the front door of the hotel, and left. I didn't see the hotel much at all. Oh, and on the way out I got to chat briefly with Ysolda and Amy Detjen, who were both teaching and speaking at the event. That was a nice way to end the day.

I am not going to the VK Live in NYC in January, but I hope to be back again in the future. Vogue Knitting Live is one great event.

Click here for the Vogue Knitting Live website!

best, susie