Tag Archive | Knitting in the Heartland

Knitting in the Heartland, Part 2

I have not been a student for many years. Like, a lot. More than…ten. Maybe more than 15. So when I signed up for Franklin Habit’s Photographing Your Fiber class at Knitting in the Heartland, I was excited but also a little nervous. And with it being photography, something I’ve played around with but never officially studied, I was afraid I’d come across as the newbie I am. I didn’t know what to expect as I packed up my camera, manual, and sample projects. Would I be expected to take photos for his review?? And if so, would they suck?

Well, it turns out that all my worries were for naught. The class was wonderful, Franklin was delightful, and I learned SO MUCH. I even learned that I already knew stuff about photography–important concepts about lighting and composition. It’s more the technical side of it where I need the help, and that’s where this class helped the most. It was lecture-style, not enough time for hands-on work, but I kept the camera in front of me so that I could scroll through the menu and find all the settings as he explained them, and pulled out the manual during the short break to find out more. I was so excited to learn about the White Balance setting and aperture and shutter speeds and how all those things actually affect the photos! Part two of the 3-hour class touched on less technical things like props, tools, and models. He talked a lot about getting creative with what you’ve got on hand rather than buying expensive tools, since that takes money you could be spending on yarn. My favorite bit was the light box demonstration. I totally need to build my own now.

img_0252

Really, it was the perfect beginning photography course for me. It taught me just enough to start playing with my camera more, to experiment with all the different settings and just have fun with it. And then later on down the road, when I feel comfortable with those things, I can look into a next level course. I enjoyed it, and him, so much that when the class was over, I dashed to the vendor fair and grabbed a copy of his book, “It Itches”, so that I could have him sign it for me, which he did graciously.

img_0253

And then I accidentally stopped at another booth that was selling wrist rulers, because the black one I have is the tiniest bit too small and also it’s hard to read the black. Therefore I really needed the 17″ gray version. At least I didn’t buy more yarn!

 

Knitting in the Heartland

This weekend is Knitting in the Heartland, a weekend-long conference that happens every other year and is put on by the Sunflower Knitters’ Guilt. They usually have a big-name keynote speaker who also gives classes. This year they have two big instructors, Edie Eckman and Franklin Habit, and Franklin was the Keynote speaker. I had so much fun the last time around that I signed up immediately, and last night the Knitting SIL and I joined my work knitting buddy and her friends for the Keynote. Franklin did not disappoint!

img_0232.jpg

His speech centered on five important women in his life, and the shawls he designed in their honor, and his speech was funny, often in very dry way, but also touching and thought-provoking. It made me think about the people who have inspired my creative life, and whether I can be that person for someone else. I really enjoyed listening to him, but I also loved just being in a big room full of knitters! You can’t go wrong with a room full of knitters, am I right? You look around and see all these gorgeous handknit items and there’s no wondering if they made it themselves: you know they did! And we could knit while he talked and nobody was judging us or thinking we were being disrespectful or not paying attention because they all KNOW. They know that we knitters are so clever that we can use our hands and our ears and our brains all at the same time. Whew. Yeah. Good times. And that was just the appetizer, because honestly, as much as I loved Franklin’s talk, the vendor fair was the main course for me.

I beelined for Show Me Yarns immediately. I’d seen a couple of special show-only items on Instagram that I really wanted, and I’m proud to say I was the first one to their booth, where I immediately snatched up a gorgeous matching set of project bag and sock yarn, made especially for KITH. This booth was my favorite two years ago, and my favorite this year too. They had the yarns I wanted the most, gorgeous colors and the self-striping sock yarn that is my obsession right now. And they’re such delightful women too, so funny and happy to joke around and have a great time with their customers. I was more than happy to give them the bulk of my yarn money last night. Their Etsy shop is on a break right now, but you should totally check back with them. I love them. That’s all.

img_0237

Then I grabbed more yarn, and basically didn’t stop for about an hour. It was terrible, or do I mean wonderful? Yeah. Both. Mostly wonderful. And I saw fun fun stuff. Nerd Girls Yarns was awesome, as always. Not just the yarns, but her displays too.

img_0235

Isn’t that Captain America shield so cool?? And the Wonder Woman shawl is the crochet version, which I hadn’t seen in person. I still like my knit version better, but the crochet version was beautiful too, very drapey.

img_0234

And I saw these sock hangers, which I thought were SO COOL!! I mean, look at them! You could totally hang your socks in your closet! If I didn’t have such a small closet, I would be all over this idea. As it is, my socks will have to stay in a drawer.

img_0233

Whew, it was such a fun night. I just get such a high from being around so many neat people who understand why knitting is so important, people who love it as much as I do.

What? You want to see the yarn? Well. Okay. I mean, I’m not going to do individual photos because that would be too many and too long and I’m almost embarrassed as it is to do a group shot of it all. But since you insist, here you go.

img_0240

I KNOW. It’s a lot. And it’s all seriously gorgeous. Most of it (top row) is from Show Me Yarns. The purple/gray and blue/purple are from Nerd Girl Yarns, and the orange/pink/green and purple project bag are from Supernatural Yarns.

And now I just want to wind yarn and knit all day long and all day tomorrow and all day for the rest of forever. That’s not unreasonable, is it?

To Market: All the Yarn

Okay, are you ready for this? Maybe you are. Maybe you’ve been to markets at knitting events before. But this was my first, so I was a bit overwhelmed. Walking into the room, I saw yarn everywhere. Knitters were swarming certain booths, so I avoided those. Nerd Girl Yarns was the first booth I saw, but it was packed. I just walked for a while, absorbing and touching and admiring. The yarns were all gorgeous, hanging in long hanks or piled in neat skeins. Plus there was fiber for spinning (is that called roving? I’m not up on all my fiber vocabulary yet.) and there were project bags galore. There were shawl pins and tool kits and a few stitch markers, and one booth had a long table of books too. It was just SO MUCH.

Going into it, I’d thought I’d just buy a project bag, maybe stitch markers. I really didn’t think I’d buy yarn, or if I did, it would just be one skein. I know, I know. Are you done laughing now? I’m telling you, I didn’t know what I was getting into! The first time I got in trouble was at a fantastic booth called Supernatural Yarns. They had a long table with piles of project bags in all sorts of nerdy fabrics, like Doctor Who and Harry Potter and superheroes. I liked the Harry Potter ones; they were pretty tempting. But I was really on the lookout for Wonder Woman. Lo and behold, guess what I found: IMG_5674I admired her yarns too, which were gorgeous colors with fun pop culture names like Voldemort and Elsa and You Go, Glen Coco. IMG_5658All the pretties! All the happy knitters!IMG_5659But it was still early in the game, so I resisted. I needed to see what else was out there.

Around and around I went, and there was so much yarn calling my name. One booth had piles of bright primary-color skeins, deep reds and blues and vivid yellows and oranges, but the crowd at that table was so thick I couldn’t get close. I admired other project bags, touched more yarn, tried to make some sense out of it all. A couple of yarn stores were there, but I really wanted to support the indie dyers. By this point, I knew I’d be buying yarn, and I knew I wanted some Nerd Girl yarn, so I circled back to her booth. IMG_5660The crowd had thinned, thank goodness. I poked around and knew I’d found a winner when I saw this blue/white/gold skein named Take the Crown. A souvenir both of the event AND my Royals winning the World Series last year! Perfect! IMG_5667Wandering around more, I found myself going back to the TreasureGoddess Yarn booth a second time. She had a ton of pretty yarns, but I couldn’t get this one out of my mind. It had to go home with me too. It’s called Avast, Ye Wildcats, which I think has something to do with some Kansas university, but I don’t care about that. It’s purple, gorgeous purple.IMG_5670That was all I needed. That was plenty. One bag and two skeins? Sure, that was enough. But I couldn’t make myself leave. I kept circling the market, and realized I was still thinking about another project bag I’d spotted at Supernatural Yarns. It had classic Disney villains on it and was dark and purply. I found myself in that strange fugue that probably happens to most knitters in times like this: “Oh yes you NEED that it’s okay it’s a souvenir it’s a special event go ahead it’s all right just BUY IT.” And I had no one to talk me out of any of it! So yes, I bought the darn bag. IMG_5672As if that weren’t enough, here’s the other side: IMG_5671I mean, come ON! Perfect, right? Right. Sigh. Somehow, en route to pay for this, I ended up with another skein of yarn in my hand. IMG_5668It’s merino DK called Don’t Call Me Nymphadora! Love it. Love the colors, love the name, love the feel.

After that, I had to be done, right? I’d done more damage than I thought I would, definitely more than I should have done. But on my way out, I had to go by that one booth, that one with the rainbow skeins and thick crowd. And wouldn’t you know it, the crowd had thinned at that booth too. This was Show Me YarnIMG_5657Soon, even these people left, and it was just me petting all the yarns, the pretty pretty yarns. IMG_5661I wanted the pink, and the green. I liked the rainbows, but they were sock yarns. There was a lovely purple I was eyeing, but I kept coming back to this red, a color way called Purdy. Then somehow I was caressing a black and white skein called Elephant Rocks, and man, these girls were good. “Oh, those look gorgeous together!” they said. (They did.) “They’d make this gorgeous hat, let me show you the sample!” (Hat? My ears perked up. I do love hats. And having a reason to buy the yarn? I love that too.) They couldn’t find the sample but showed me the pattern on Ravelry, and it was indeed something I think I would like making. While they were writing up the sale, I found myself playing with the purple again, and one of the girls pointed out a cowl/mitten set on display, said I’d get one of the patterns for free with the purchase of the yarn. Gosh darn it. I asked if I could call her a bad name, and she said yes, if I bought the yarn. I bought the yarn. (But no, I didn’t call her a bad name…out loud. Seriously, all three ladies at that booth were marvelous. I had a great time chatting and joking with them.) So there I was, adding three more skeins to my KITH shopping bag. IMG_5666Sighhhh. Can you blame me? I was alone and defenseless.

The next day I made zipper pulls for my new project bags. IMG_5677IMG_5678And I wound two skeins of yarn. Today is opening day for the Royals, so in their honor, the Take The Crown yarn was the first to be cast on. IMG_5682I’m using my favorite cowl pattern, River Deep Mountain High, and it will be for me.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out which child I need to sell to pay for all this yarn!

The Yarn Harlot Speaks

Have you ever had an experience that was so fantastic, so true and honest, that it speaks to you right at your core? That it leaves you feeling high afterward? Maybe the word verklempt applies here. That was me last night, after spending the evening at the Knitting in the Heartland event. It was AMAZING. No other word for it. I can’t believe I even considered not going. It was my first knitting conference and now I know how wondrous it is to be in a big room filled with people who speak your language, who understand what knitting means, that it’s not just an idle hobby. It’s so much more.

I mean, I walked into the hotel and there were people in the lobby just hanging out, knitting. Not one, but several. I got in line with all these other nice women who were friendly and helpful, and they were knitting! Or if they weren’t, I could see the yarn in the project bags they were carrying. I think they said there were 300 attendees. IMG_5653As I waited, a nice knitter sat next to me and we chatted about our knitting and friended each other on Ravelry. Then the magic truly began: Stephanie began her speech.IMG_5654

If you ever have the chance to hear her, GO. She is hysterical, so down-to-earth and casual and then she’ll drop these lines and have the whole room laughing. Plus she’s Canadian so she says things like “arse” and “eh” and it’s not an act, it’s just her and it’s delightful. She had me in tears at one point from laughing so hard. But it was more than just the funny stuff. It was about the “more”: How generous knitters are. How smart and persistent and creative we are. How knitting does wonderful things for our health, particularly our mental and emotional health. It was about self-esteem. She talked about how we need to own our power as knitters, embrace our talent and skill. We need to stop belittling ourselves before we can expect others to stop belittling us.

One of my favorite parts was when she pointed out often we deflect compliments of our knitting by saying “it was easy”, or “I just followed a a pattern”. Yep. I do that. No, she said, just say “Thank you.” Because it wasn’t easy. It took time to learn the skills, to practice to a point to where you can correctly follow the pattern to create that piece of art. To take it further, it takes creativity to match yarns with patterns, to put together color schemes and stripe sequences. It’s NOT easy, but we sometimes think it is because we love doing it so much. Like Stephanie, like so many other women, I am guilty of low self-esteem much of the time. There are a lot of things I don’t do well. It’s hard to be a mom–I mean, it’s great, but you don’t get a lot of validation that you’re doing a good job on a daily basis. It’s hard to be a writer–the writing is great but sharing it and being rejected sucks. So for her to tell me that yes, my knitting is beautiful, that it speaks to my talent and skill, well. I needed to hear that. Maybe we all did, because after the speech, I had women stopping me to tell me how gorgeous my Hitchhiker was (I wore this one. Loved it, except it gave me a rash where it touched my neck. Oops.) and I practiced saying, “Thank you!”

Okay, so the talk (which lasted an hour and a half, including questions) was fantastic, but then she signed books, and I’d brought one with me, of course. When I got up there, I mentioned that she’d tweeted me and told me I should come, and that I was so glad I had, and I could actually see her face light up with recognition! And then she was gracious enough to allow me to take a selfie with her. IMG_5656See? Amazing. Sighhhh. I want to move to Canada and live next door and be her best friend. (Except that’s really hard, apparently, moving to Canada. They don’t let just anybody in.) Heck, I want to BE her.

That would have been enough. That experience made the long drive in heavy traffic and construction worth it. But there was MORE: the market! However, this post is long enough, and that one will be equally long because OMG the market! Yes, I bought stuff. Probably too much. Tune in tomorrow to see what I got!

A Break for Beads

So many things to share today! Nope, I didn’t cast on for that green and purple shawl yet. The right stripe sequence hasn’t come to me so I’m pondering it. Instead, I took some time yesterday to drive out to Half Price Books. I realized I only have one Stephanie Pearl-McPhee book in my library (the rest I’ve read from the library) and I thought it might be fun to have a couple to take with me, to get signed. And what do you know? I found a lovely hardback copy of Free-Range Knitter that looks unread! (I also bought a DVD of Sweet Home Alabama and a signed copy of Room. Bookstores are dangerous.)

And then, since I was near a Joann store, I had to stop by at least, right? I mean, I don’t get over there that often, and I had two good coupons, so I had to go. Any good crafter would have done the same. But the amazing thing is: I didn’t buy any yarn!! None of it called my name. I’m afraid I’m becoming more of a yarn snob, in that I enjoy the softness of fiber and the richness of color in premium yarns. I still like acrylic for some projects, but it’s definitely a lot easier to resist. So what to use my coupons on? I looked at needles; there weren’t any I needed. Knitting books? Eh. I found myself in the beading section and remembered I’d wanted to try using split rings for stitch markers. I only found one kind that looked big enough to fit on a knitting needle so I grabbed those, a bag of headpins, and then the beads were all 50% off so I had to get a cute string of beads too. I had fun!IMG_5646I think my favorites might be the baseballs with the blue for my Kansas City Royals! But no, I love them all. I did end up with a minor injury from using a letter opener to try to open a split ring, but we must suffer for our art, right?

Last night I needed knitting for American Idol, and I’m a little bored with my Hitchhiker, so I grabbed some gray Berroco Fiora to cast on for a scarf, called the Float Flutter Fly Scarf. Go on and look, it’s fine. Pretty, right? I discovered that ridge in the middle is created by slipping 5 stitches every other row, so this is what the back looks like. IMG_5645It’s just kind of…weird. The pattern does say to pull the stitches tight after the slipped stitches, and I’m trying, but maybe not enough? I don’t like the way the bottom slipped stitch hangs down. IMG_5644I put it down and ended up working on the Hitchhiker after all. Maybe frog and start over? I’m not that far in and now that I understand what the pattern is doing, maybe I could get that part snugger. I do like the feel of the yarn, and it is a lovely pattern…ok, fine. I won’t give up just yet.

Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend, and if anyone else is at the Knitting in the Heartland keynote tonight, find me and say hello!

The Yarn Harlot Commands

Well, that was an unintentional break from blogging I took this week! I’d been enjoying my habit of almost-every day, but Monday and Tuesday I fell into revising my novel. I was at the end and it was going really well and I just couldn’t pull myself away. Plus, there’s not much to say about that. I was writing, it was fun. But I made it to the end, and the first draft is complete and now it’s been set aside to simmer for a little while.

Tuesday night I got another rejection, the 5th. I also pulled out the manuscript I sent to agents a few years ago, and found all the query letters and responses. I got two requests for fulls, as well as some personal feedback from sample chapters, and the overwhelming theme was “It’s good, but not good enough.” So yesterday I didn’t feel like blogging. Instead I moped and knitted, finding comfort in my yarn. And I finished my Color Block wrap and it’s so marvelous. The tails are even woven in; it just needs blocking.IMG_5630And I know, at least I’ve submitted the books. And the fact that I got the requests, not to mention actual thoughtful notes from agents, should be encouraging. That’s what I’m trying to focus on today. I’d like to think I’m a better writer than I was ten years ago. So that’s the manuscript coming up next. I still love that story. I still think it has potential. Let’s see if I can get it to better than “good enough”.

Here’s something my knitting friends will appreciate: this weekend is the Knitting in the Heartland conference, and the keynote speaker is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. SQUEEE, right?? I bought tickets for me and my Knitting SIL months ago. Then she and her family planned a vacation…the SAME weekend! Whatever. Poor planning, if you ask me, but she didn’t. Anyway, I was thinking about having to drive 45 minutes each way on crazy highways with construction and in the dark (I’m not a fan of those things), and going by myself, and starting to talk myself out of going. I tweeted about it, and this morning, the Yarn Harlot herself had replied to my tweet! IMG_5634There you have it. I have no choice. When the Yarn Harlot says you should go, you should go. So I will go and I will take my knitting and there will be lovely friendly knitters there AND those of us attending the keynote address get to shop from the vendors afterward! I will have plenty to blog about this weekend, that’s for sure.

I’ll probably take my Hitchhiker with me. It’s going more slowly than the previous ones. Maybe I’m finally getting a little tired of the pattern. But yesterday, instead of getting retail therapy at a yarn store, I shopped my stash and found my next project: IMG_5635It’s going to become a Tailwind Shawl; I just need to work out the sequence of the striping before I cast on. With any luck, I’ll have progress to show you tomorrow!