A Bookworm Life for Me!

When I signed up for Vogue Knitting Live in NYC, I decided to go with the big package. When I went to Chicago I got a smaller package and three extra classes by themselves. This time, I wanted the tickets to the Gala and Cocktail Reception. Something else that came along with this package in particular was a $200 gift card to the Vogue Knitting website, which I quickly spent the moment it was in my hands. It will surprise none of you when I tell you that I bought books. That’s right ladies and gents, $200 worth of knitting books and it was spectacular!

VKL Books

The sparkles might be a little over the top, but when books come in the mail. That’s what it looks like to me!

I ended up getting Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volumes 1, 2, 3 and 6 (I did not see 4 and 5 on the website or else I would have bagged them as well), Nicky Epstein’s Knitting on the Edge and Knitting Beyond the Edge (to go with my copy of Knitting Over the Edge) and last, but not least, Vogue Knittting The Ultimate Sock Book and The Ultimate Hat Book. Over the next few weeks I am going to review these books and give you my musings on them.

The first one up is Vogue Knitting The Ultimate Hat Book.

VK Ultimate Hat Book

One of my first problems with buying these books online was, how do you know if you’re going to like them or not? It’s not as though you can simply flip through them, look at the photos and decide if you like the patterns shown there. Not to be deterred in my book-buying experience, I went to Ravelry and looked up the books there. Not only can you see which patterns the book includes, but projects others have completed and shared with the community. I think this really gives an advantage to buying any pattern online or in print, because you can see how others have modified it or how lighting and colour change the look. A hat or sweater you previously didn’t enjoy the look of may be much more flattering when seen on a different model.

This book begins with a word from the author and a brief history of hats. I never really thought much about where knitting came from and how it evolved from a means of making clothing and generating income to a pastime of the middle class. The entire history is only two pages, but interesting in it’s general overview. There is also the ‘anatomy of a hat,’ to clarify terms used in the book, and ‘types of hats’ with illustrational diagrams. In the pages designating the different types of hats, there is a small blurb about the style origin, typical look and special construction information.

I am going to glaze over the ‘basic techniques’ page and move right on through to patterns. They are divided into five categories; basic shapes, cables, lace, colour and embellishments.

My favourite category is basic shapes. Most of the hats in this section are relatively simple, but really showing off the different styles that were covered in the ‘types of hats’ section. One in particular that I like is the Pillbox Hat. It is a unique shape that would suit a smaller facial structure, like mine. The intricate colour work in the photo really drew my eye, as well as the beautiful blue yarn.

Without giving you the whole book, I will say that I am really happy with content. Hats are one of the best gifts to knit, along with scarves, and there are a lot of interesting ideas I had not thought existed before. I guess we know what everyone is going to be getting for Christmas this year…

I will be reviewing The Ultimate Sock Book next Friday so drop in to check it out. I have high hopes for the sock patterns included there. I am also curious about the history of knitted socks. What is now a luxury was once a necessity, can you imagine having to hand-knit all the socks in your sock drawer? I guess I really shouldn’t say that since I KNOW there are people who do that. Respect to you sock knitters, respect.

Hand Spun with Care

When I was at Vogue Knitting Live New York I managed to see Carol Milne’s work. She was positioned outside the marketplace; I usually don’t stop too long outside the marketplace, but these works of art are well worth the time.
Carol was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work.

 

Where did you come up with the idea for knitted glass?
I was working with round wax that looks like licorice.  It reminded me of yarn and knitting.  So I thought to myself, “I wonder if I could knit with that?”   I worked on knitting with it and experimented with casting it in glass.  It took a while to make it work, but I’m persistent.

 

Knitted Glass

Beyond Measure
12″H x 16″ x 4″, 2013 kiln cast lead crystal and a pipette

 

Was there a lot of trial and error coming up with the process?
Yes.  Glass in its most molten stage has the consistency of thick honey.  It doesn’t want to do what I want it to do.  It took me several years to perfect the process, and even now it doesn’t always work.

 

How long does it take to create one piece?
Difficult to say since it takes about 5 different processes to make each piece.  I’d say a minimum of two weeks, but up to a month or more.  In a good month I can complete 4-6 pieces in a range of sizes.

 

How long have you been creating knitted glass?
Since about 2006

 

Knitted Glass 3

Continuous
10.5″H x 22″ x 7″, 2013, kiln cast lead crystal

 

How long have you been knitting?
Since I was 10.  (in 2006 … HA HA HA)

 

What are your favourite things to knit? In yarn? In glass?
In yarn and in glass, my favourite pieces are the most complex ones.  In yarn I love detailed cables and stranded colorwork.  In glass, I like detailed pieces like Handmade (photo attached).  In this piece, two hands are knitting themselves.

 

Knitted Glass 4

Handmade
Two hands knitting themselves:  a contemplation on becoming my own mentor.
16.5″H x 9″ x 9″, 2013, kiln cast lead crystal and knitting needles

Is it much more difficult to knit the moulds for glass than regular yarn?
I knit WAX and make mould around the wax.  The wax cannot be knit on needles.  It is all intertwined by hand, somewhat like finger knitting.  It is more challenging than yarn, because the wax breaks if stretched too far.  It is also messier.

 

What are examples of things that turned out extremely well?
You’ll have to look on my website and decide for yourself.  Mostly I don’t show work that doesn’t turn out well.  I destroy it or rebuild it.

 

Knitted Glass 5

Strike a Balance
13″H x 21″ x 9″, 2013, kiln cast lead crystal

Have you had any catastrophic disasters?
Yes.  I’ve had molds break and glass flow all over the bottom of the kiln.  I’ve broken pieces removing them from the kiln.  I’ve removed pieces from the kiln after several days, only to find that the molds hadn’t filled completely.  Disasters are actually part of the fun.

 

The best customer reactions you have had?
Vogue Knitting LIVE events have been great.  One woman in New York got a partial view of my work.  She was ooing and Ahhing.  Then the person blocking her view moved out of the way so she could see my whole display.  Her eyes nearly popped out of her head and she exclaimed loudly, “JESUS CHRIST!”  My favourite quote!!

 

Knitted Glass 2

Made to Measure
12″H x 9″ x 6″, 2013 kiln cast lead crystal and a pipette

 

Funny anecdotes from any part of your process?
No funny anecdotes come to mind.  Although my daughters think I’m funny.  I always come away from making molds with bits of plaster in my hair and on my face and in my hair and on my arms.  I never notice until they’re laughing at me.

 

You can see more of Carol’s work on her website!

 

 

Final Day for NYC

This morning we slept in until 9:30AM!! It really didn’t feel like a sleep in, but it was a lot better than getting up in time for classes again.

For breakfast we did the buffet in the hotel. It was really good! There was an omelet station and every other breakfast food under the sun. There were doughnut holes, or timbits to Canadians, and I watched an eight or nine year old girl pile her plate with them. The look on her mother’s face was priceless. Paul and I managed to squeeze some fruit and veggies in.
We drove by the Museum of Natural History, you know, where Ross Geller works.

We drove by the Museum of Natural History, you know, where Ross Geller works.

After a HUGE breakfast, Paul and I checked out of the hotel and headed down to the MET. I am not going to go into everything we looked at because A) there was a lot of it and B) I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t gone yet. I’ll just say; it’s worth a visit.
You've heard of the world's tiniest violin, playing for you? Paul and I found it at the MET.

You’ve heard of the world’s tiniest violin, playing for you?
Paul and I found it at the MET.

By the time we got through the MET, it was time to head back to the hotel and grab our stuff. We took a taxi to meet the air port transport, took the air transport to the air port and started getting checked in.
While Paul and I were waiting in the security line, I noticed a woman in the adjacent line with a short-sleeved cardigan. I was looking at it and I thought it looked handmade. I caught her eye and asked if she made it herself, when she answered in the affirmative, I asked if the ladies were coming from Vogue Knitting Live? As it turns out we were both coming from the Marriot Marquis. They were really friendly and even though we only talked for a couple minutes, it was really nice to connect with new knitters. I love it when you meet a co-knitter in a random place. I feel like we are part of a secret club. I really hope they add me to Ravelry, I find it really interesting to link up with people on the other side of the country. Everyone always has different ideas about yarns, patterns and techniques, depending on where they’re from.
The plane ride was uneventful; I got quite a bit of sock knitting done while we were waiting, and on the flight. I actually had to rip out a few rows because I decreased way too much. I guess I went on auto pilot for a while, so I had to puck up 64 teeny tiny sock stitches on a plane; while in flight. I’ve been listening to the Knit More Girls podcasts lately and they always have a segment entitled, ‘When Knitting Attacks’. This was my knitting attacking.
Paul’s brother was waiting to pick us up from the airport.
NOW! Paul and I have a colleague at work, who was telling us about Mighty Taco in the weeks preceding our departure. Dino, mission completed. On the way home form the airport, we stopped at a Mighty Taco. I didn’t manage to get any before photos, but here is the aftermath.
We all made a pit stop at the washroom in Mighty Taco, and on the way home, Paul’s brother said, “Man, I bet the people that work there see some TRULY horrible things in that washroom.” After which, there was a slight pause, and we all exploded with laughter. I would suppose a fast food taco place would rank in the top ten washrooms you should be very careful visiting.
The border was a breeze and we were able to get to Paul’s parent’s place in St. Catharines. Of course, the instant we walked in, we were fed. Paul’s mom had put together enough Vietnamese food to feed a family much larger than Paul and I. We got to catch up with them while Paul and I ate.

Obviously the best part was getting to see Paul’s youngest brother Patrick, HI PAT!!! I am currently writing this post in the car on the way home from their house. I haven’t completely decided if I am going to post the photo I snapped of Pat before we left. I think I will wait to see if it is a good quality photo. I do hate posting blurry photos.

Oh Pat, you're lucky enough that I needed one more photo to round the layout of the page.

Oh Pat, you’re lucky enough that I needed one more photo to round the layout of the page.

I am looking forward to being home and seeing the cats. Hopefully they’re happy to see us and don’t give any attitude. No one gives the cold shoulder like a Siamese. I am just going to pet the cats and go to bed. There will be no semblance of unpacking tonight; just sleep. I’ll get to those bits tomorrow after work.
I may wait until Friday to post again. It really depends on my progress of the Coolbreeze Cardigan. I am actually thinking about doing it with elbow length sleeves. After attending Amy Hurzog’s lecture about knitting to flatter, it might look best on me. I think I will poll the ladies at my LYS and see what the general consensus is. Anyone who has an opinion, please comment and let me know what you think!

Day Four NYC

Vogue Knitting Live NYC 2014 is officially concluded! Today was long and exhausting, but it was still worth it. I am really not sure how I am going to fare at work on Tuesday… lots of caffeine perhaps….

Time Square

This morning I had a class that taught us to design patterns using variegated yarns. The instructor was Louisa Harding, and the course was geared more towards long colour shifts and creating symmetrical garments. I did pick out a few things from her samples that I can’t wait to knit. This would, of course, involve finishing off my current queue entirely… said no knitter ever. Happy thoughts though; I may be able to get it down to a reasonable amount, if I don’t eat, sleep or work for the next couple months, or years.

After class Paul and I went for lunch at the Olive Garden. Those who know me are rolling their eyes, because they know my love of bread sticks, and pasta. I returned to the hotel in a carb infused haze, and fought the itis to learn short rows. I had to run up to the coffee shop at break to make it through.

 

Short Row Saavy was with Laura Bryant, again. It was a much bigger class, but she was just as charming, if a little more stressed. I caught onto short rows fairly quickly and plan on making many a bust dart in the future. I am sure this will be one of those skills you kick yourself for not getting into sooner.

After my last class, I went back to the room and stared blankly into space for a little bit. After that I managed to compose myself enough to start this post, and picked up my socks again. The socks I am knitting with the hand dyed yarn from Chicago. I managed to turn the heel and start on the gusset. I didn’t really think the stripes through. All these classes on designing with variegated yarns and I didn’t realize that I would have much thicker stripes on the heel since I was only working back and forth. I am going to play my extreme fatigue card on that one. I brought this sock around with me for mindless knitting while I was waiting for classes to start, or in the airport.
Around 7pm Paul and I went for dinner. We decided to go to Virgil’s just off Broadway and 44th Street. I heard someone in one of my classes recommending it, but I couldn’t remember what it was called. When I googled ‘best places to eat in time square’ it was on the list and I recognized the name. This was by far the best BBQ joint I have ever been to. First of all, it took about 10 minutes for our food to come out. I wish I had timed it because I KNOW we spent longer deciding what to have than waiting for it.

 

Paul ordered oh so eloquently named ‘Pig Out’ which consisted of a little bit of ribs, pulled pork, BBQ chicken and brisket with two sides. I ordered the grilled chicken salad. I was a little apprehensive about getting a salad. Not only because there is the potential of being mocked for all eternity, but sometimes restaurants specializing in grilled meats don’t have the best salad. I fretted and worried that I was going to get a plate of iceberg lettuce with some sad looking bagged bacon bits. I was very VERY pleasantly surprised! Not only was it a mixed green salad with romaine and baby spinach, but it was huge. I actually feel quite comfortable calling it a ‘man’s’ salad. The bacon bits were square inch CHUNKS of bacon, the chicken was grilled to perfection and seasoned. There was fresh avocado, cucumber, tomatoes and grilled onion. At first I thought the grilled onion would be strange, but they were at the perfect point of not too soft and not too crunchy. Paul and I shared his platter and my salad, so I got to try all the meat. It was perfect! The ribs were char grilled, which is different from what I am used to, but amazing nonetheless. I got to try brisket, which was a first for me, and I liked it. I would highly recommend this place to anyone visiting the city.
Left: Paul and I at the M&M Store with Red Right: Swarovski encrusted leather jacket... for real.

Left: Paul and I at the M&M Store with Red
Right: Swarovski encrusted leather jacket… for real.

After dinner we walked around and picked up some souvenirs for family, stopped at starbucks and headed back to the hotel. I started hitting that impenetrable wall of tiredness in the hallway leading to our room. Paul was walking ahead of me and just kept getting further and further ahead. Either he was deliberately messing with me, or I am ready for bedtime. Without further ado, I wish to you. Goodnight!

Day Three NYC

Things are winding down here in NYC, I must admit that I am a little glad. I am starting to run out of steam! I am excessively tired tonight, lets hope this blog post doesn’t really reflect that…

Today I had one class split into two, three-hour segments. It was a really interesting technique taught by Laura Bryant. Everyone has had variegated yarn turn out badly, I don’t care who you are, if you’ve knitted with yarn that changes colour, it’s happened. Even if you decided to rip it out, it still counts. Laura uses gauge and tension (very VERY simply put) to make hand dyed yarn pool into specific patterns! We learned how to create an argyle pattern, stacking, chevron and this interesting watercolour style gathering. It wasn’t specifically a pattern, but the colours gathered and still looked much more attractive than if the garment had been knit without the forethought Laura’s technique provokes.

This is one of the samples Laura brought to class, being modelled by my friend Kim Orlando

She has a book out called Artful Color and Mindful Knits, with pattern exploring this technique. I looked through someone else’s copy at the beginning of class, it didn’t take me long to decide that I needed this book. I also wanted her to sign it, since she was in the immediate vicinity. I quickly texted Paul to see if he would be able to pop down to the marketplace and purchase a copy, but he was at the hotel gym and wouldn’t be able to go until later. Impatient to own this book, I ran down during the 1.5 hour break in the class and grabbed it. Man am I glad I did; they were sold out by lunch time, which is when I would have ended up buying it had I not been so impatient.

This is the swatch I made during class, do you see the diamond pattern?

At noon I had a lecture, that was based on creating patterns, but I wasn’t really interested. I thought it would be about figuring out what stitches to use when you have an idea for something. Instead, the lecture was mainly about places this designer found inspiration. I have no end of inspiration, really! It is just a matter of putting those ideas down onto paper. I carry two to three notebooks around with me and always write down ideas that strike me. I draw diagrams and everything, but I’ve still not gone into the software and put cursor to screen.
Lunch had to be quick, since I had less than an hour, so Paul and I jumped over to the McDonalds across the street. This had to have been the biggest McDonalds I’ve ever seen in my entire life. There seven tills and they were all busy! It was two floors for crying out loud!!
After the quickie lunch, I finished off my class with Laura Bryant, and the second half was just as good as the first half.
I had an hour and a half before the marketplace closed and I had to go into the VKL Gala. I searched for my buttons! I had actually found buttons on my first day in the marketplace; the first visit actually. Something about them just felt right, I looked at them and thought, “Those would be perfect.” Seeing as I had not checked out the rest of the marketplace, I didn’t feel right about buying them then and there, so I kept walking. Earlier today I went to visit them again and asked about the price. I had a little bit of sticker shock from them, I won’t lie to you. I immediately decided NOT to get them, especially when I thought the price was WILDLY outrageous.

This is a picture of the 6th floor marketplace ceiling.

I toured around the 5th floor, which I had not explored so far, and looked for alternatives. I found some cool glass buttons; they were blue, sparkly and just as expensive as the first ones. I thought I would more than likely break glass buttons and decided against them. I couldn’t stop thinking about those first ones, so I put it to the ultimate test. Did Paul think it is worth it? He ended up agreeing that I would more than likely regret not purchasing them and now my Coolbreeze Cardigan has buttons!! Side note: they’re not actually on the cardigan yet… just ready for when I finish it.
I dropped my shopping, and Paul, off at the room and headed down to get in line for the Gala. There was swag from the sponsors on all the chairs when we entered; this means they GAVE ME Malabrigo and Rowan yarn. Just GAVE IT TO ME!! The Malabrigo will actually match a hat I am going to make, when I get the time.
For the foodies reading this, the dinner was great! The starter was yellow beats, with goat cheese, walnuts and spinach. The main entrée was roasted chicken on a bed of mashed potatoes with gravy and diced roasted brussel sprouts. It was really good and if the wait staff had a sense of humour I would have asked them for another plate.
Dessert was flan… which I have discovered I do not like. There were actually several people with dietary restrictions at our table and they got chocolate covered strawberries instead of the strange, and creepy flan. However, my new New Yorker friend wasn’t able to partake, since the chocolate probably contained nuts, and let me have hers.
The keynote speaker was an amazing author, knitter and farmer by the name of Barbara Kingsolver. She gave an excellent slideshow and talk about her life on the farm and as a knitter, it made me want to go buy a sheep farm… right now. Perhaps I could go into angora bunnies, if you haven’t ever seen one it is worth the time to google an image.
That is pretty much the sum of the day. There were smaller things, but I covered all the really important bits. I’ll probably save the odd little anecdote for future uses. With that said… good night.

Day Two NYC

Day two of New York City knitting adventure complete!

This morning I had the class Hand-Painted Yarn: Customizing a Palette with Natural and Botanical Dyes with Rhonda Fargnoli. It was really REALLY interesting. You can make dye out of just about any plant! Rose pedals, violets, goldenrod, all flowers with natural colour! I’ve decided that is what I am going to do with any flowers Paul buys me in the future.
I actually took my first step into the realm of dyeing and bought a dye sample kit. They’re going to ship it home to me, but it has the five key plants that make the vivid colours. You may look forward to seeing hand painted yarn here in the future!
Lunch was at the Hard Rock Café, sorry to all the foodies reading, but Paul needed to get his collector glass.
After lunch was my class looking good coming and going; creating fabric with two attractive sides. I’ve never done a cable scarf because one side would be lovely and amazing, while the other side would be very ugly. However, Melissa Leapman taught us several stitches that may not be the same on both sides, but are very attractive on both sides. I also learned the basics of double knitting, which is very close to the linen stitch pattern; you just don’t do the wrong side purl-wise. I was dying for more of these stitches so I ran down to the marketplace and bought her Stitchionary. I think it will make a particularly good addition to my library.
I checked out the 6th floor market place for the little bit of time I had, and found someone who created… knitted glass! Apparently the process includes, knitting with wax, creating a mould, melting out the wax and piping glass into said mould. They are AMAZING! If I didn’t have a wedding to pay for, I would be headed home with a lot of knitted glass. There is a link to her work here.
My next engagement was Amy Herzog’s lecture, Knit to Flatter. The content was very interesting and mostly regarding what aspects of garments look best on what body types. It was a very captivating lecture and Amy did a great job of making it fun, not just a one sided lecture. She was hilarious and obviously didn’t stand on a figurative soapbox to tell you exactly how things should be. I usually go into a class or lecture and take everything with a grain of salt. Some teachers and speakers are really set in their ways and cannot imagine how their way would not be the best way for someone else. While I go into all lectures with a very flexible headspace and prepared to drill through a class or lecture to the core of what they’re trying to teach me. I didn’t have to do that with this lecture. Amy openly admits that you need to adjust things for your own purposes. She handed out bare bones tools and let you decide how to use them and how they would best benefit you. I really REALLY enjoyed her lecture and was completely captivated by her.
Immediately after Amy Hurzog’s lecture I went to the cocktail reception party. There were some hors d’oeuvres and wine. I wandered and found a few people I had seen from my classes earlier in the day. I also met a few new people whilst there! We made plans to sit together during the Gala tomorrow night. I suggested someone send up a flare when they found a seat, but I think the hotel personnel would frown upon that.
Dinner was much better than the Hard Rock Café. Some of the ladies in my second class were talking about food and where to eat nearby. The mentioned that 8th and 9th avenue have smaller restaurants that were less touristy, twice as good and half as expensive. Paul and I decided to just walk down there until we found something that either smelled really good or specifically heard something calling our name. As luck would have it, I noticed Chelsea Grill by Hell’s Kitchen. I had heard several people talking about Hell’s Kitchen and how mind-blowing the food was; so we stopped in there.
I cannot say enough about this place. The food was amazing, the service was great! It wasn’t a huge restaurant with an impersonal staff; everyone worked as part of a team. I think there were 5-6 employees working in the seating/bar area, and they all tag teamed off everyone else. A waiter picked up some dishes from our table before our waitress got there, and another waitress processed our payment while the waitress who helped us most of the time was helping another table.
Paul ordered chicken wings to start, and I got the blacked chicken Caesar salad. Both of these were incredible; my chicken was seasoned and cooked to perfection, while Paul’s wings were straddling the line between flavour vs. sauciness.
For the main entrée we shared bacon wrapped meatloaf with smashed potatoes and fried spinach. I don’t even know how to describe how good this meatloaf was, but if a picture is worth a thousand words… here is the rest of my post.