Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In which I go to VK Live, meet Alice Starmore, kiss a bald head with lipstick on, and ride in a clown car limousine of awesomeness

Last night, my train pulled in at around 7:30 p.m. and my family was waiting to pick me up. It was wonderful to see them and I missed them so much. Yet I had such an incredibly fun time in New York at VK Live. I have said it before and I'll undoubtedly say it again: nothing beats spending a weekend with your tribe. Catching up with old friends, making new ones, teaching classes to eager and enthusiastic students, getting a small taste of New York, coming home with a few goodies to play with?  Could. Not. Be. Better.

 I put the kids on the bus Friday morning, and then Mr. Go-Knit-In-Your-Hat drove me to 30th Street Station. (All hail, Mr. Go-Knit-In-Your-Hat who worked from home Friday so he could drive me and tend the kids.) Quick train ride, with extra pleasure of listening to the woman two rows in front of me tell the whole train car about her near-death experience. I am a nervous traveller so was not amused.  (FYI:  She saw her deceased mother and St. Therese, who asked her if she was ready to die or wanted to go back. This caused me to spend the rest of the trip wondering how she recognized St. Therese. Was she wearing a nametag? Did she have sweatpants that said "St. Terry" instead of "JUICY" across the bum?) My reverie was interrupted by the bomb-sniffing dog. Okay, for a minute I was a little freaked out wondering if there was some reason the dog was in our train car, but in the end, the doggie laid down in the front of the train car and just sat there looking extremely cute, which was kind of sweet.

Once off the train, I cabbed it to the Hilton and was able to check into my room even though it was technically earlier than check-in time (yay). I debated what to do with my precious few hours in NYC and although I was tempted to find some of the Manhattan knitting shops I'd never been to, or take the subway to the Lion Brand Studio, I decided to forgo shopping temptation and try the American Folk Art Museum (which also was a walkable distance away).

Central Park

The museum was closed so that they could install an installation.  Cue the sad trombone. (That's what I get for trying to avoid buying yarn.  You know what I'll do next time.....)

Central Park

I walked around a little bit, but headed back to the hotel to chill for a while. Now that I am no longer a newbie at teaching, I have come to understand how exhausting it is, and how you need to grab those hours here and there when you can rest up. It was a good thing I did, because that night was a teacher's cocktail party (a brilliant idea, since it allows us all to catch up with each other before the morning that classes start).

The first time I met people whose patterns and articles and books I'd admired for a long time, I could not get past the fact that I was actually face-to-face with, say, Amy Detjen.  But after I started to get to know them, and spend time with them at shows, my reaction went from fangirl to "Amy Detjen is fun and funny and wicked cool and I can't wait to catch up with her." Thus my genuine pleasure at seeing people in the industry that I hadn't seen for a while. It's also fun when you get to meet new people and realize that they, too, are extremely fun and cool and wonderful.  At the cocktail party I got to meet Patty Lyons, of Lion Brand Yarn Studio, who was absolutely lovely, and Fiona Ellis, whose worked I have admired for a long time but never met before.  Fiona and I got on like a house on fire. Fiona, if you are reading this, you are now an official Friend of Go Knit In Your Hat, with all the privileges, perquisites and responsibilities that entails.  (Basically which means you have to hang out with me whenever we see each other and I will flatter you unctuously in my blog.  Deal?)

I spent some time hanging with Rosemary Drysdale, the Empress of Entrelac, and she is an absolute delight. We closed the party down, along with Brooke Nico (Our Lady of Lace) and Doreen Connors.....although we are still trying to figure out what happened to an entire bottle of Glenlivet that went missing.  (If I had thought of it sooner, I would have volunteered to strip-search Fiona Ellis....)

I was extremely fortunate to not have class until 2 pm the next afternoon, so I just wore my jammies to the teachers' meeting (AT SEVEN A.M. thank you very much!) and then went back to bed.

I was too excited to sleep really late, though, and ended up getting up to check out the marketplace. (I have to apologize for how lousy most of my photographs are. I didn't take a camera, since I already was hauling a lot of stuff and didn't want to lose or break it, so these were all taken with my cell phone. It also happens that I had to replace my cell phone the day before I left for NY, so I really had no idea how to work it.)

While at the marketplace, I browsed and browsed; made a special attempt to visit some of my homies, like Linda Pratt (God bless her, she has knit more ruffle scarves in the last six months than you can imagine!) and Ron and Theresa Miskin, and I popped by to see some of the Koigu samples from Magazine No. 2, which were at the String booth:

I know, I know, pretty crappy photo.  My bad.
While I was there, I couldn't stop myself from picking up the new book by Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably, which was premiering at the show.  (I'm going to do a book review of it very soon but it's really wonderful!)

My first class was "Yarn Substitution Made Easy," which may be my favorite class to teach, and as per usual for VK Live events, I had a fantastic crop of students. They were eager, enthusiastic and full of energy.  It was a blast!  One thing that absolutely blew my mind was that one of my students came to class wearing a sweater that I designed for Vogue about a year or two ago:

This photo simply does not do justice to the beautiful job she did. The handpaint yarn looked terrific, and she also did an outstanding job on fit -- unlike the model, who was shown wearing it as a slightly oversized tunic, she had made it a more fitted size, and it was absolutely wonderful. You have no idea how thrilling it is when you run into someone who has made one of your patterns.  Thank you so much, dear one, for being so thoughtful as to wear it to class!!!!

After class, I'd arranged to meet my sweet Cockney rose Sarah Hatton for drinks at the hotel bar. I have said before that Sarah Hatton is made of win, and we are totally sympatico.

We were extremely fortunate to find seats in the bar area (since Nicky Epstein, as many of you know, had callously run over my foot with her rolling travel bag.  She'll pay for that.  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next month, but I hope she looks over her shoulder for the rest of her life because ONE DAY SHE WILL PAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

Here's the part where I had to strap on my Depends adult undergarment, for who did we end up sitting with but Debbie Bliss (!), her charming daughter and spokesmodel Nell (!), Martin Storey (!), with cameo appearances from Carla Scott and Linda Pratt and Josh Bennett. It was truly lovely and fun.  (I'm also waving to the lovely Barbara and to Theresa, Nell's BFF....)  As a Rowan/Debbie Bliss fan from way, way back, this was absolutely a dream come true for me to be hanging out with such amazing talent.

The VK banquet was that night and due to a snafu with my ticket, and my complete exhaustion from having spent an hour or so in the company of some of my favorite Brits, I had to take to my bed.  Yes, I was asleep before 9 p.m. on a Saturday night whilst in New York City.  Sad, innit?

The bright side to my early bedtime was that I was very well-rested for Sunday, which was a darn good thing, because it was another busy and fun day. I think I may have neglected to mention that while at the bar Saturday night, I slipped my extra hotel room key to a buff, handsome young gentleman about 20 years my junior.  So he woke me up early Sunday morning, if you know what I mean....

Hah!  It was merely Josh "The Knituation" Bennett, bon vivant hipster designer man.  He didn't want to schlepp his teaching materials back and forth to his apartment so I let him store his stuff in my room.  (A girl can dream, can't she?)

Another terrific class on Sunday afternoon, and some more time in the marketplace -- I managed to snap up a copy of the sold-out-but-being-reprinted Deborah Newton book that is getting such rave reviews

as well as Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen's new book on color knitting:

and I decided to try out a couple of balls of Marion Foale wool, in fingering weight:

Thank goodness I didn't miss Franklin Habit showing off his glorious gams in his kilt.

Thanks, Brooke, for taking the photo! That's crochet and knitting
designer Mary Beth Temple, of LSG fame, with us.

At this point, I felt I was suffering from a Koigu deficit, so after finding some exquisite Buffalo Fiber yarn dyed by ... Kersti???? ....

 I received a text from Taiu Landra that read: "Ready to party?"  Yes!   Yes, I was.

VK was participating in a wonderful effort to raise awareness of heart disease, and fundraise for research to fight it, called Stitch Red. There was a cocktail party and silent auction benefiting this fine cause, and it was there that I was able to spend some more time with Taiu and Kersti:

VK had arranged for the cocktail party to be held at a really fabulous warehouse/loft kind of space in Tribeca. They arranged for buses to drive us over, and we were literally met at the door by hunky waiters carrying trays of drinks. The room itself had huge windows lining the walls that showed off the New York skyline to perfection. The food was fabulous, too -- including little spoons filled with macaroni and cheese with lobster on top, crab cakes, satay, egg rolls and all sorts of delicious things. We guzzled sipped champagne and then they brought around trays with teeny tiny cheesecakes and chocolate mouses and pecan pies.  Nom, nom, nom.

While all of this was going on, the silent auction was taking place. Designers, yarn companies and others had donated great prizes, including a needle set owned and used by Elizabeth Zimmerman:

and a painting by Nicky "Reckless Suitcase Roller" Epstein:

(I had no idea Nicky painted!  If I had any spare cash, I would have totally bid on the painting....)

In the end, over $18,000 was raised for a good cause -- and more to the point, we had such a fun time doing it.  I actually got to meet and chat with Alice Starmore, and I even got to bring her a glass of champagne. She was lovely. (I didn't tell her that I used to be a lawyer, though.....)

By the end of the night there was dancing and lipstick kisses planted on the top of bald heads (yup, I did), and so much laughing....

from left, Nell Bliss, Debbie Bliss, Shawn (sp?), Theresa
When the party place began turning up the lights and playing Cee-Lo (oh yes they did), we reclaimed our coats and went to find cabs. Outside on the street was a man with a stretch limo. He told us he'd drive us to the hotel for five bucks a head, which seemed like a good deal, since we'd have had to take several cabs anyway.

Somehow we managed to cram over 15 people in this limousine, including Alice Starmore, Josh Bennett (who was wearing a very Hef-like smoking jacket), Sarah Hatton, Trisha Malcolm,  two hilarious Kiwi ladies who came to the show to promote their lovely yarn, and many more amazing knitting folks.  It must have been an absolutely hilarious sight watching this limo roll up to the Hilton, and then seeing all these knitting people come pouring out like clowns in a Volkswagen at the circus....

I had carefully alternated club soda with my champagne, so I was not too tired the next morning.... good thing, because I had class at 8 a.m. and again at 2 p.m.  My students really seemed to enjoy the morning "Sockknitter's Seminar," and I even had some repeat students who stuck around for the afternoon "Yarn Substitution" class, which was great.  Again, I can't say enough about how fun the students were; we all enjoyed ourselves and I hope they learned a lot.

In between classes I managed to get in a little bit of MMO stalking (I had been painfully deficient in this regard):

I also got to stop by Liza Lucy's patchwork class, which was really wonderful. Seeing her students creating gorgeous quilts out of Kaffe's fabric was such a pleasure.

Alas, after my second class on Monday, I had to pack up my things and zip back down to the train. (Cue the sad violin....)  By that point, I was in zombie mode. Mr. Go-Knit-In-Your-Hat and the kids were kind enough to meet me at the train station, and I got home, took a quick shower and went to bed.

So there you have it:  VK Live New York, 2012 version. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I'll get to teach in Chicago in October (where I can show you all the book, which is scheduled for release on October 2d).

It was a wonderful event. Kudos to Trisha Malcolm and the rest of the VK staff (including all the lovely volunteers who help things run so smoothly)!  If you get a chance to attend one of the VK Live shows, you really ought to take advantage of it.  Great classes, lovely people, fashion shows, a fun marketplace......it's a knitter's dream come true.


Anonymous said...

Carol, it wouldn't have been fun without you. You are the joy. Linda

Cathy said...

I wonder if I can get myself to the east coast next year so I can go all gaga over YOU? I promise I won't run you over with my suitcase but I don't promise I won't stalk you. In a nice, knitterly, way of course.

Marie said...

So glad you had such a grand time--and you're right about that sweater your student wore on Sunday's class. When I popped in to say hi to you, I stared almost to the point where one shouldn't stare (even at a knitting event) because it was so perfect and looked great on her. Who knew you were the mastermind behind the design??

Anonymous said...

Namedropper! Damn, I would be, too! What's that Marian Foale stuff -- looks gorgeous! Sounds like a huge ball of fun all weekend!

Patty: Lion Brand Yarn Studio said...

It was fab to meet you too. NOBODY rocks pjs quite like you do!

Here's hoping we see each other in Chicago (fingers crossed)

Fiona Ellis said...

Great post my new bosom pal....can't wait to hang out with you again next time around!!! Fi xxx

Loren said...

Wish I had attended the event...will not miss it in 2013!! Sounds like a lot of fun and learning.

Wanda C said...

I was in your last class on Monday and it was great. I have to agree it's an exhausting weekend for the attendees also. Hope to be at VKL next year too.

Anonymous said...

I'm mostly a lurker, but I just had to compliment your use of the word "unctiously".

katrog said...

I am so glad that you posted about VK live. It was a real treat to experience it vicariously.

I think the cell phone pix captured the ambiance of the event:)


Liz Washburn said...

I'm a bit of a newby knitter, but I'm obssessed, so I had a great time, too. I enjoyed seeing highlights of your experience.

Julie said...

Aw shucks for all your kind words about my version of your beautiful basketweave pullover. I hope to knit more of your designs in the future. Good fun reliving the event via your blog entry.

Christine said...

Awesome Carol! It sounds amazing...I have one weird question...what's LSG? It seems like an inside joke or something?

Carol said...

Christine, if I tell you what it is, I'll have to kill you. (Check out the Lazy Stupid and Godless group on Ravelry -- if you dare.)