26 September 2011

TGKA Fall Show, Part 1

I spent the weekend at the Knit and Crochet Show in Greensboro, NC. This is the show in which both The Knitting Guild Association and the Crochet Guild of America come together. Much like STITCHES, there are classes, a market, banquets, fashion shows, and lots of hanging out with other fiber-crafting enthusiasts!

First off, I must thank Jan Stephens for giving me a shove. I had put in a proposal to teach at this show, and hadn't gotten anything on the schedule. I didn't make the cut for STITCHES East either, so I was feeling discouraged. Jan told me to go anyway. Somehow Gro matched me up with Dana, who was going and needed a roommate. So it all worked out well. Thank you ladies!

I decided not to overload my schedule. I only took three classes. On Friday, I took "Tapas" with Candace Eisner-Strick. I've taken classes with Candace before, specifically “Strickmuster, The Beautiful Twisted Stitch Patterns of Austria” in October 2009 when she taught for AKG. "Tapas" was a fun technique class that was just a little of this and a little of that. I had already been introduced to many of these techniques, but it was nice to be reacquainted with them and to see someone else's viewpoint on when and how to use them. I particularly liked the Channel Island cast-on for 1x1 ribbing. And I had completely forgotten how entertaining Candace is. If you ever see her scheduled to teach something that interests you, please indulge yourself in the class. You won't be disappointed.

My other two classes were crochet. I thoroughly enjoyed the crochet at the show. In the market there was a wall of competition pieces. Some were well-done but familiar, others were well-done and quite inventive. Crochet has advantages including speed and sturdiness. And there really are some very lovely laces worked in crochet.

Using foundation stitches to add at end of row.
The first crochet class I took was "Foundation Stitches 101: The Basics" with Marty Miller. Not only is Marty a delightful teacher, but she even got us free cotton yarn, so we didn't have to use stash yarn for her class! One of the downsides of crochet is that it usually begins with a long chain, and then the first row of stitches is worked into the chain. This is a little tricky -- so tricky that when I was a child, my grandmother would work the foundation chain and the first row or two for me on my crochet projects. Marty showed us how to work the chain and the first stitches as you go. Genius! And once you get the hang of it, you can do this even with the fluffy novelty yarns that obscure your stitches. If I did more crochet, I would have taken the second class from Marty where she discusses more advanced foundation stitches. I doubt I'll ever start a crochet project the same way.

Left to Right: whip stitch, three versions of single crochet joins, zig-zag chain joins.
The other crochet class I took was "No Stress Motif Joining" with Mary Beth Temple. I was happily anticipating this one, as there are often knitting charity projects that involve many people knitting squares and few people assembling the blanket. Mary Beth was quite ill -- she had had an upper respiratory infection and the antibiotic to combat it had not sat well in her system. So it was admirable that she bravely soldiered onwards to teach us six ways to join motifs, as advertised. I have to admit, I was hoping for something totally brilliant and painless when it came to joining motifs. I did leave with a nice sampler of different methods, so I do have something I can use for comparison.
Slip-stitch joining granny squares.
The thing is, now that I'm sitting here at home looking at my great-grandmother's last afghan (detail at right) -- which is a bunch of granny squares I assembled without knowing what I was doing -- I like what I did on it better than any of the methods Mary Beth taught me. Because she was so ill, she had forgotten the handouts for the class. So, I am hoping that the handout will maybe give me some more insight. I wouldn't shy away from taking another class with her, as I don't think it's her fault I didn't experience the "Wow, this is awesome!" moment in her class. I suspect the brilliant, painless method for joining motifs just doesn't yet exist.

Tomorrow: Shopping!

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