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Knitters Connection was a lot of fun. I taught for three of the four days. It is always after TNNA, held in the Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio as well. It turns out I am Amy Detjen's FAVORITE KNITTER! I know because she gave me a cool pen (with a purple highlighter on the other end) that says so! Meg Swansen (Elizabeth Zimmermann's daughter) at Schoolhouse Press. Amy was one of the instructors at Knitters Connection, along with Sarah Peasley, Lorilee Beltman, Candace Eisner-Strick, Nicky Epstein, Debra Lee, Mary Beth Temple to name a few! JC Briar was also teaching...check out her new book Charts Made Simple! It is so concise and clearly written. On Saturday, the 30th annual Gay Pride Parade of Columbus was held. It went by the Convention Center during the lunch break so I got to see most of it. As I was walking across the street to go into the Convention Center, people were lined up on both sides waiting for the parade. I watched from behind a huge window in the Convention Center so didn't take any photos. : ( But the best part was the young man in 5" heels. He was so graceful. Imagine not only standing upright in them, which I cannot do, but walking the length of the parade in those shoes! He has my utmost admiration! It was a lot of fun to watch, but my classes were even more fun. Here is testimony to the great skill of my students in my Latvian Fingerless Mitts class: I look forward to next year. I will hopefully be teaching there again!If you are in the dark as to who Amy is, know that she LOVES purple and is always wearing it (and even has a purple motorcycle!) and is usually teaching with or helping
Sunday was another busy day of meeting with vendors, looking at yarns and other cool stuff and eating at the North Market. Oh, that Jeni's ice cream! Jeni\'s Splendid Ice Cream! Monday was a quiet day on the show floor as many people had already gone home. But it was a good time to be there because one could spend more time talking with others. Etiquette dictates that you don't schmooze with the business owner when a potential sale is happening in the booth. Everyone was really tired that last day and the vendors still had to pack up. I remember from my exhibiting days at Stitches how exhausting that is! After all the glitz and pagentry is over, it is a lot of hard work packing up to go home. And the hall is quiet and empty once more. Now I had a day to rest before Knitters Connection started!
Saturday, I wandered more, talking with people, renewing friendships, making connections, and seeing lots of cool things at TNNA. Every hour or so, I went back to the Up North booth to make sure I was available to speak with anyone who wanted to connect with me. At one point, I ran into Ragnhei∂ur Eiriksdottir, also known as Ragga, who is from Iceland and has created a DVD on knitting lopapeysa, what we know here in the US as Lopi sweaters. Ragga gave me a copy of her DVD, which I was thrilled to receive!
She is also conducting many knitting tours through Iceland. One that is upcoming is with Franklin Habit and will be in October, 2011 during the annual music festival in Reykjavik! That will be a lot of fun! Then Ragga hinted that she would love to build a tour with me as the teacher. I LOVE Iceland and hope that this tour will materialize. You'll hear all about it on this blog if it comes to be! Across the way, a booth called The Dolly-Mamas piqued my interest. Lisa and Darlene have created patterns for all sorts of KuKu dolls and work with Connect Africa in Uganda to help knitters there make money to fund schools and other needed projects. The dolls "are multicultural, knitted, felted dolls that are available as kits, patterns and finished dolls. Each KuKu Doll has its own name and personality and when you make one, you put a little touch of yourself in it as well." You can order many of these kits from this page on their website. These needle gauges caught my eye at the Puffin & Company booth. They are made of laser cut Alder and size needles from US 0 to 17. There are different styles, but you can order this one here.
Later in the day, I discovered a booth representing The Imperial Stock Ranch. This Oregon ranch has been operating since 1871 and is credited with the development of the Columbia breed of sheep. This family raises beef and lamb, and produces breed specific wool yarns and garments with sustainability in mind. Here is a small photo of one of their yarns. And speaking of breed-specific yarns...I had dinner with Deb Robson of Nomad Press and former editor of Spin-Off Magazine. We had a good time catching up and she told me about her new four pound baby The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook which she co-wrote with Carol Ekarius. Handspinning Rare Wools. I look forward to owning my own copy of this DVD.
Friday morning I was up early to give my presentation on my Long Distance Gansey Knit Along series. I was pleased with the turn out of yarn shop owners and of their response. If you read this blog, but don't subscribe to my newsletter, you probably don't know what the heck I am talking about. In a nutshell, I have devised a learning program that integrates my DVD chapters as lessons with some of my gansey patterns so that shop owners can teach the necessary skills within the context of a 10 to 12 week Knit Along. I supply a syllabus and other supporting materials and I Skype in a couple times during the class. Anyway, after I checked in with the Up North Fiber Art Supply booth, I went wandering and came across a vendor who was selling a new DVD featuring none other than Barbara G. Walker, author of all those incredible books full of knitting stitches (scroll partway down to the bottom of that web page to see her books)! I asked a couple questions, and the vendor said, "Would you like to talk with Barbara?" And there she was! I felt a stupid expression creep onto my face and I was a goofy awe-struck knitter in Her Presence. I got her autograph, but didn't think to ask anyone to take a photograph of us together. Fortunately, my friend JoLene Treace, designer extraordinaire wearing one of her lovely lace designs, was thinking more clearly and got a photo of herself and BGW. The DVD is available from Stitch Heaven and is called (I think) StitchHeaven salutes Barbara G. Walker. It is 3.5 hours long! Here are some other things I saw on my wanderings around the show floor... Knit Outta the Box offers some really interesting yarns. One in particular is called Cotton Sifa and is 95% Turkish cotton, 5% silver. Yes, silver. It feels so cushy and I can't wait to swatch it! The yarn is almost braided. I also stopped by the O-wool booth. I love to use their yarn especially when I am knitting a baby gift, because all their yarns are organic. They have six different yarns. Here is one of them... Next, I met the woman who invented Fix-a-Stitch. This tool is really clever and she told me she thought it up when she was 12 years old. Now in her 60's, she is finally getting a patent on it. If you visit her website, you will see videos on how to use the tool. It comes in a package of 3 sizes. You can see one of the videos below. Fix-A-Stitch Instructional Video Moving on, I came to the booth of the Fiber &Fabric Mania Travel Guide. This book is compiled anew each year to list all the shops that carry yarn, quilting, needlepoint, weaving, spinning, and/or cross stitch/embroidery. Mr. Merin, who helps his wife to put the book together generously gave me the new 2011-2012 edition. You can get this book at your LYS or order it here. I was excited to find a wool mill that makes WORSTED spun yarn! Stonehedge Fiber Mill in East Jordan, MI has lovely yarns! It is a full service mill that cards, spins, and skeins wool, alpaca, and other fibers. I was impressed with the Shepherds Wool yarn they are now creating. The website shows their worsted weight, but I was told they are expanding the line to other weights. I love worsted spun yarns because they tend to resist pilling and last longer than woolen spun yarns.
I passed the TKGA booth (The Knitting Guild Association) and saw Arenda Holiday there. Arenda is very active in the guild, particularly the Master Knitters program, and responsible for raising the bar for knitters everywhere. If you see her knitting, you know what I mean. Here is her design she calls Winter. I think she said it was knitted at 12 stitches to the inch out of the same lovely silk wool yarn from RedFish Dyeworks that I used for my Sunnhordaland Set I blogged about several months ago.
After the show on Friday, I gathered my things to set up an exhibit of my litttle sweaters for the Teacher Meet and Greet. That was fun, talking with all sorts of people–former students as well as yarn shop owners who had never heard of my work.
It was a full day and I slept very well that night!
Tags: Barbara G. Walker
Thursday, I flew into Columbus, Ohio for my annual pilgrimage to TNNA–The National Needlearts Association. This is a show for the needle arts industry where manufacturers come together to show their wares to retailers (yarn shop owners). In addition, there are the designer and teacher contingencies, of which I am apart. We wander around on the immense show floor, showing our wares or teaching classes to yarn shop owners, and reaffirming friendships and acquaintences. It is a giant schmooze party in the best sense, because at the heart of it all, human connection is what makes it all work. I met up with friends for dinner on Thursday night, and talked about my slide presentation for the next day. As much as I have taught rooms full of students, I was pretty nervous about presenting my KAL program in front of yarn shop owners. For those of you who read my blog but not my newsletter, I have developed a series of workshops for yarn shop owners to teach, based on several of my gansey patterns, aided by my DVD. These classes span 10 to 12 weeks and I will Skype in to the class twice during the period. In its inaugural debut at Cornall Yarn Shop in Cornwall, NY, it met with great success and some of the knitters who completed their first gansey had never knitted sweaters before! Anyway, I digress!
The Columbus Convention Center is enormous and is thankfully surrounded by all sorts of wonderful restaurants. So while I walked my tail off during the day, losing weight and gaining muscle, I gained it all back at night tasting all sorts of wonderful things. If you ever come to Columbus, don't miss Jenny's ice cream in the North Market! Friday morning at the ungodly hour of 8am (you know I am a tried and true night owl) I gave my slide presentation to my class of LYS owners. They were very interested and receptive and I felt really good about it! (I was so glad I had, as an afterthought a few days before, created a slide show by downloading KeyNote, learning the software, and making up a slide show, rather than just relying on my speaking.) My friend Gail who owns Cornwall Yarn Shop was there as well to give her perspective and give credence to the effectiveness of my program. After that, I helped set up the Up North Fiber Art Supply booth with Barb Catani who owns that business and distributes my DVD, book, and patterns. It is a lot of hard work, unpacking, arranging, hanging, re-arranging all the things that go into a booth. Before I started vending at Stitches in the '90s, I had no idea that people had to plan for and bring and set up FIXTURES, the stuff that displays everything. They can be very costly themselves, besides the cost of the booth, which can be exceed $1,000, the airfare, the hotel and meals (another $1,000). It is a huge risk to commit to a show, and success depends on garnering enough sales to cover all the costs and your time and the wholesale money you put out for your products, plus making MORE! If you don't make a profit you are not in business for long. It takes courage in an economy like this one to put out that money and effort. I registered and got my badge that would let me into the show, along with a map of the show floor. I spent the rest of the evening pouring over the map, planning who I would see and talk to and which booths I would investigate the following days.