25 April 2009

Day 3 of STITCHES South 2009

Saturday started off early again, but this time I found a better parking space on the top deck. And I remembered to bring my lunch. On the downside, I only had about five hours of sleep. I am not used to being sleep deprived. But, heh, I figured I would keep myself going off the excitement and adrenaline.

For Saturday I had signed up for Joan Schrouder's Set-in Sleeves Simplified class. This was based on recommendations from Benjamin Levisay, Rick Mondragon, and Whit Robbins. When Benjamin and Rick had been out here in October, I had mentioned my fondness for Lucy Neatby and other knitting technicians. I was told in that case, I should definitely take a class with Joan. I already felt pretty comfortable with Elizabeth Zimmermann's and Barbara Walker's approaches to seamless knitting, so I wasn't sure how much I was going to learn in the class. But I have found that you almost always learn something, even if it wasn't what you expected.

First off, Joan brought her Kauni sweater. This is the one she sometimes uses as her avatar on Ravelry. It was like walking into a museum and seeing a painting you recognize. I saw the sweater sitting over on a table and went over to look at it. Then I exclaimed something about, "Wait a minute. I know this sweater." That's when Joan said it was on her Ravelry account. Seeing that sweater makes me 1. Want to knit with Kauni and 2. Want to try a steeked sweater.

Joan's class was as good as advertised. We started with a discussion of how to shape armholes, including how to adjust for plus sizes. The homework was basically to knit a small sweater up to the armhole. So in class, we started with knitting back and forth for the front and back. In the afternoon, we dealt with how to pick up stitches around the armhole. Craftmonkey, who had been in the Thursday Japanese stitches class, sat next to me for this class. So it was nice to be making a new friend.

During one of the breaks, I did meet local celebrity Betty Monroe. Betty is a member of Atlanta Knitting Guild and has given programs and workshops, although she lives up near Lake Hartwell at the South Carolina border. It was so nice to finally put a face with her name, as I've heard so many guild members say nice things about her.

This time I was smart enough to sit in the classroom and eat my lunch before I went out to the market. If I was going to be sleep-deprived, at least I could be smart enough not to be undernourished, too. Because one of my goals for the weekend was to find a substitute yarn for the Scheherazade Prismatic shawl, I was wearing the shawl. I also planned to show it off in the Student Fashion Show. Someone in the market told me she had seen the shawl elsewhere that day. I thought that was odd, as the pattern is not yet published. What I had forgotten is that I've taught this pattern once as a workshop. There are no more than half a dozen people in the Atlanta area who have this pattern. As I would find out later, Pam Cornutt was wearing her shawl. My design was being worn by someone else. Glee!

I missed the Style Show Preview but I did manage to make the Margaret Fisher book signing at The Whole Nine Yarns booth. Margaret's recent book, Seven Things That Can Make or Break a Sweater is based on a class she teaches. It is also an essential book if you plan to take the TKGA Master Knitter certification. It was nice to meet Margaret in person and to get an autograph in my book.

I did my best to take it easy during the afternoon portion of the class. I knit. I didn't talk too much. I did duck out at 2 PM to check on some guild business, and then ducked back in. I think that may have been when I met Carl Strobe and Gordon Robbins. Carl, who is retired from a successful career in graphic design and advertising, very kindly donated his time and talents to revising the guild brochure this year. It was nice to meet him in person and shake his hand. Gordon is Whit's husband. He was very tolerant this spring of giant flower pieces all over their home.

As soon as class was over, Lisa from XRX was there to lead me off to the interview with Alexis in his suite on the 14th floor of the Renaissance Waverly. I know that some of the other guild members who worked on the flowers skipped their afternoon classes in order to be interviewed. So I am very grateful that I got to enjoy Joan's class. In my original plan there were two hours between the end of class and the beginning of the student banquet. That would have been plenty of time to rest a bit, put things in my car, and change into the Alice costume. But that schedule was about to change.

Lisa and Alexis got me set up. Lisa had something else she needed to go do, so everything was set, the camera was turned on, Lisa left, and we started the interview. It took about half an hour. Towards the end, Shannon Dunbabin from Cascade Yarns came up. There was some video that she needed to shoot. My interview appeared to be done. Alexis went to look at the recording. Oops! The video ran out about two minutes into the interview. We agreed Alexis should shoot Shannon's video while I went down to my car to get my costume.

So I rode the elevator from the 14th floor down to the 2nd floor. I walked across the Renaissance Waverly, then across the Galleria concourse, then out to my car. And, of course, all the way back. I don't recall who I ran into on this sortie, but I know I bumped into somebody. By the time I got back, Shannon was done and gone. So we set everything up and shot the interview again. The nice thing was that on this take, I remembered to say something about the flowers as art and art being transformational. So I think I contributed something worthwhile to the endeavor. Then Alexis had to dash off. I went and changed into my Alice costume. And Lisa and I headed down to the banquet, all the way on the other side of Cobb Galleria Center.

As was becoming my unfortunate habit, I was nearly the last person in. By the time we got down there, Alexis was ready with his camera. So there was a quick photo shoot out in the concourse. Whit was very pleased, which was good, since the costume was her idea. The nice XRX staff pointed me to my proper seat, between Elise Duvekot and Diana Baber. Whit Robbins and Linda Fetter were also at the table. Of course, as soon as I sat down, I realized I did not have my travel mug with me. I have a Starbucks travel mug and it is my grown-up sippy cup. If you want me to be sedate and gentle, do not get between me and the hot tea or the knitting. I realized in my haste on the costume change that I had left my mug in Alexis' suite. At least I had put the bright green Neighborhood Knit Shop rubber bracelet on my mug. I mentioned to Lisa that I was going to need my mug before I left for the night. My car does not go without the mug.

The food was already set out and the company was good. Elise and I struck up a conversation. I complimented her on her presentation -- how I had made some knit one below socks for the contest but would now need to revisit the book after her Thursday presentation. At some point she asked me about my knitting, and I pulled out the Uninterrupted Flamingo Ouroboros, which I was planning to show off in the student fashion show. We were looking at the double-knitting when teacher Barbara Kerr came up. I had brought my Cat Bordhi Jester Tentacles Bag along with my Alice costume. I needed a bag, and I figured the blue bag went well enough with the blue dress and the visual silliness. I had tossed it over the back of my chair, and Barbara came over to find out what it was. So the three of us got chatting. Elise told the tale of her experience with Andrew the too-hunky model. It was a delight to here it recounted from her perspective. Barbara asked me about the Jester Tentacles Bag. And I complimented Barbara on the Lynne Barr Circles scarf she was wearing -- the one that looks like calimari. We talked about double-knitting and how much fun it is to teach it. Really. People think double-knitting is a cross between rocket science and brain surgery. Part of the fun of teaching it is watching people discover that they really can do it. And then you feel like a knitting genius, or possibly knitting goddess. By the end of the conversation, Barbara had given me her business card. So I made another friend!

Alexis got the proceedings started for the evening. Linda and Megan got up on stage and did a very nice job of talking about the flowers. They mentioned not only the many people who worked on them, but also the process. So much was made out of recycled materials. All the yarn and embellishments were donated. Some of the flowers and leaves were made from felted sweaters, purchased from local thrift stores. The orange tiger lily was a felted cashmere sweater that even had a couple moth holes in it. Many of the containers were old beat-up pots or tea kettles that Megan spray-painted in whatever colors were needed to match the flowers.

Then Whit and I were called up on stage. Normally, public speaking doesn't bother me. I was on the forensics team in high school, and I'm used to leading guild meetings with 100 people. I didn't realize how bright the lights really would be. Truly blinding. And because of the interview, I hadn't really had the moments to sit and prepare as I had hoped. Whit took the lead, which was good. When it was my turn, I said something humorous about not being in on the meeting and not knowing that costumes would be involved. Then I was able to say the thank yous that needed to be said -- calling out the names of the rest of the core committee members on the centerpiece project (Marian Rose, Diana Baber, Elizabeth Clause), the name of the metal artist who made the stems (Kathy Walton), mentioning our sister North Georgia Knitting Guild (founder Jenny Lee and president Cheryl Hood), and mentioning the developing project of a fiber arts center. And then I thanked Alexis with a kiss on the cheek and headed back to my seat.

After some more proceedings, Whit leaned over and asked if I had the certificate for Rick. Of course I didn't. It was in my car. In my haste to switch out stuff and grab my costume, I completely forgot about it. When Rick started to call all the teachers up on stage, I figured that was my chance to go. I scurried out the back, ran down the concourse, out the door, past the queue of cars at the valet stand, and over to my zippy sippy. Unlock. Grab bag. Lock. Then it was back across the lot, up the stairs, down the concourse, into the banquet hall, and back to my seat. Diana made some comment about how fast that was and how I was hardly winded. Not true, but I'm glad I covered it up well. I was thinking how out of shape I really am. When Rick and Beth Whiteside were about to start the student fashion show, I went over to the stage. Beth was very helpful as I got out the framed certificate. I managed to say something kind about men and knitting and Rick being "A Real Knitter."

Then the Student Fashion Show started. Yes, I was planning on showing off my stuff. But I also love these sorts of knitterly events for the chance to see what other people are doing. Artists often work well in an environment where they are exposed to each other's work and ideas but can develop in individual ways. Somewhere up in the first group was Linda Fetter, wearing her second Chris Bylsma crayon box jacket. (In fact, Chris had come over earlier in the evening and complimented Linda. Is that awesome or what?) There were many wonderful pieces of lace. Carole Fanning, host of the Purly Gates Remains knitting group, showed off lace shawl after lace shawl after lace shawl. Carole is a very fast knitter and very proficient to boot. Beautiful work. There was Phyllis from Mississippi. She had on a fantastic sideways-knit jacket in a variety of novelty yarns. The jacket was in the colors of a sunset -- purples, golds, and a few deep reds. And she was wearing shoes she had had made in Italy specifically to match the jacket. Wow! And for me another highlight of the evening was my friend Scenter showing off his purple Corntastic lace. Scenter has a fondness for Herbert Niebling lace patterns. Scenter had knit a doily but with the larger Corntastic yarn. There was a problem in the center when he went to block it out, but he needed more yarn. So he brought it to the Kollage booth on Saturday. Susan and Mark helped him out, and then his shawl spent the day being shown off in the market.

After the banquet and fashion show, I just needed to get my mug and go home. Alexis and Lisa were busy shooting photographs of the centerpieces. I said I'd be happy to just sit quietly and wait. I truly would have been happy to do so. Just sitting quietly would have been a very good thing at this point. And I did have my hardly-used-all-weekend camera. I pulled it out and took one photograph of one centerpiece. Then someone said Natalie was taking some items back upstairs. So I helped Natalie schlep camera equipment. Over in the hotel we came across an attendee who was using a wheelchair. Alas, I don't recall her name now, but she helped schlep too, and we helped get her to her room. She wasn't even the walking wounded but rather the wheeling wounded, yet she wasn't going to let that stop her from attending the first STITCHES South. And Natalie let me in the suite so I could get my mug. By now, you could tell everyone was both tired yet exhilarated. On my way back down the concourse to my car, I passed Alexis. He was waiting outside the exhibition hall while Benjamin helped supervise the transfer of centerpieces from the banquet hall to the exhibition hall. He was heading out in the morning, so I said my thank-you and my good-byes to him. He is a wonderful man and a truly talented photographer.

I was glad to take off the wig. Several people said I look better as a brunette, and I completely agree. At least I learned this before doing something ill-considered with my hair. I drove home tired but very, very happy.

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