Hitting The High Seas with Knitter / Designer Mary Jane Mucklestone! Part 1

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November 21, 2014
I admit it.  I am a Mary Jane Mucklestone fan.  I first met her at KnitEast here in New Brunswick Canada.  I took stranded colour course and was blown away by the quality of her class and her wonderful, fun personality.  I then took another of her courses at Vogue Knitting Live New York and had a blast.  During break time, Mary Jane had mentioned she was thrilled to be doing an 18 day knitting cruise as an instructor for Craft Cruises in August 2014.  They'd be sailing to some of my favourite knitting hotspots:  Iceland, Shetland, Faroe Islands.  Plus, to some of my "bucket list" must- visit-before-I-get-too-old places were on the list.  Like Greenland.  Iceland.  Newfoundland.  So guess what I did?  Yup.  Signed up, at the risk of looking like a super-stocker fan.   
image Copywrited CraftCruises
But OH MY GOODNESS, what fun!

Okay, this trip was really a trip of a lifetime.  I did have to think hard on this one because it was a) so very expensive.  b)  I've never cruised before.  c)  I've never been outside of North America before.  d) I was doing it all by myself 'cos love ones and friends were like, "Whaaa?  A  knitting cruise?  Boring!"  (I tried to bribe Mom, a.k.a. Gram, to come with delicious yarn we would buy, but she is deathly afraid of water.  She'd rather lounge looking fabulous in her leopard print bathing suit beside the pool than get in.  I kid you not.)

Above it the Ms Eurodam, the pride of the HollandAmerica fleet, my cruise ship.  Huge, huh?  I was verryy happy to hear this was a big ship because the cruise I selected was an 18 day trans-Atlantic cruise.  Like as in open seas.  Like as in thoughts of plowing our way through huge, terrifying waves.  In the open seas. 

So, here is a map of our "ports of call."  Pardon my shrinking the Atlantic ocean!  LOL

My CraftCruises trip leader was Kim Schneilbolk, and I could not have asked for a more organized, fun, and caring trip leader.  She worked tirelessly the whole trip making sure all us knitters were happy and in the know of any unexpected glitches.  I witnessed this first hand because I had the best luck of being her cabin mate!  I adore Kim, and I will be watching for future cruises she will be heading in the future.

So, our itinerary looked like this:  Classes with MaryJane are highlighted.
Copenhagen, August 26, 2014
2pm-5pm Walking tour departing from the Strand Hotel and ending at the fab yarn shop Sommerflugen for a Trunk Show from 5pm-7pm with hand knitwear designer Bente Geil.  Her designs are so beautiful! 
Day 0:  August 27, 2014
Port of Copenhagen, Denmark.  Depart at 4pm
Day 1:  August 28, 2014
At Sea
Aug 28, 2014 from 9:00 AM - 12:00 Noon ...Two Color Knitting: Let's Begin!
Aug 28, 2014 from 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM... Scandinavian Stitch Patterns: Color and Texture

Day 2:  August 29, 2014
Port of Bergen, Norway.  Arrive at 8am, depart at 5pm
The Oleana Factory Tour.  I didn't go on this one.  Rented a bike and toured the local yarn shops!

Day3:   August 30, 2014
Port of Lerwick, Shetland Islands.  Arrive at 8am, depart at 7pm.
An exciting tour of Shetland Museum.  Cathy Hallett hosts the group on the Textile Treasures Tour, a special event that lasts approx 45min.  Due to the amount of knitters wanting to go, it had to be broken down into groups:  Here is mine...

0830A - Free time to shop and explore - can meet in Ocean Bar and walk to town
1030A - Arrive Jamieson for 30 minute tour and 30 minutes to shop -
1130A - Walk to the Shetland Museum. A rigorous 15 minute walk with time to spare (shopping, restroom etc) 1200N - Enjoy tour of Shetland Museum for 45 minute then from 1245P until sailing free time.  Super exited about this tour!!!
Day 4:  August 31, 2014
Port of Torshavn, Faroe Islands.  Arrive at 10am, depart at 5pm.
Tour of Navia Shop and Mill.  Again, due to the vast amount of knitters wanting to go, it was split into groups on a tight schedule.
Day 5:  September 1, 2014
At Sea
Sep 1, 2014 from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM w/ break for lunch
Color in Traditional Fair Isle Knitting 
This one I attended!  So much fun!

Day 6:  September 2, 2014
Port of Reykjavik, Iceland.  Arrive at 8am.

Álafoss Factory Shop tour.  Alafoss is the factory outlet for Lopi wool and is the site of the original mill.  A 15-20 drive from Reykjavik.  We had a private tour and an onsite traditional Icelandic lunch and of course, time to shop!
Day 7:  September 3, 2014
Port of Reykjavik, Iceland.  Ship departs at 6pm.
Free day to run around and shop. 

Day 8:  September 4, 2014
At Sea.

Day 9:  September 5, 2014
Cruising Prince Christian Sund.

Day 10:  September 6, 2014
Port of Nanortalik, Greenland.  Arrive 8am, departs 6pm.
Nanortalik means "Place of Polar Bears." Wander and enjoy the scenery.
Cruising Julianehabsfiord.

Day 11:  September 7, 2014
Port of Qaqortoq, Greenland.  Arrive at 7am, departs at 2pm.
Wander and enjoy the locals and scenery. 

Day 12:  September 8, 2014
At Sea.
Sep 8, 2014 from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM w/ break for lunch
Shawls of the North Atlantic
I attended this one too.  LOVED it!!

Day 13:  September 9, 2014
Port of St. Anthony, Newfoundland, Canada.  Arrive at 8am, departs at 3pm.

Wander and enjoy the locals and scenery. 
Day 14:  September 10, 2014
Port of St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.  Arrive at 12noon, departs at 8pm.
Wander and enjoy the locals and scenery.  Visit Wool Trends and other little wool shops.

Day 15:  September 11, 2014
At Sea.
Sep 11, 2014 from 9:00 AM - 12:00 noon... Icelandic Lopapeysa
Sep 11, 2014 from 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM... Mittens of the North Atlantic

Day 16:  September 12, 2014
Port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  Arrive at 8am, departs at 4pm.
Visiting the Fleece Artist in her home studio and shop.  Visit Lucy Neatby at Trandwinds Knits, her home studio and shop. 

Day 17:  September 13, 2014
At Sea.
Sep 13, 2014 from 9:00 AM - 12:00 Noon... A Morning with Mary Jane Mucklestone

Day 18:  September 14, 2014
Port of New York, New York, United States.  Arrive at 7am.  Leave ship!

Looks like fun, huh?  And it was, EXCEPT for some... unexpected challenges.  More about that later.

This being my first time to Europe, I wanted to have a few days before the cruise to take in Copenhagen.  I flew from Halifax International Airport on Iceland Air to Reykjavik International Airport, had a brief layover and then Iceland Air to Copenhagen.  By the way, Iceland Air is awesome.  So much better than the flights I've had on Air Canada and United Airlines.  The stewardesses looked like they were wearing chic Parisian outfits instead of uniforms.  Hair and makeup was stunning.  And one of them was wearing at least  4 inch heels!  They take beauty to the extreme!

It was hard saying goodbye to Canada and to Tim Hortons (my favourite coffee shop), but I had one last iced green tea and was ready to leave.  I was so very tired in this pic.  No makeup, no sleep for the past 24hrs.  Nervous, I guess. 
Stay tuned for my next post on Copenhagen, Denmark!

Knitting Pattern Review: Tamarack Cowl by Sarah Arnold

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November 16, 2014
Here is something new that I want to do, every now and then a hand knitwear pattern review.  (Okay, did that sound a little Dr. Seuss-y to you too?)  I had the good fortune to hear that a local designer wanted a few people to test knit a couple of new cowl patterns she designed.

Testing is something I enjoy doing.  It gives me a chance to see the another designer's pattern in the rough, and sometimes, the thought process behind the design.  Fun!

Meet Sarah Arnold: 
 Photo from therealhotcheese.wordpress.com

Sarah is "hotcheese" on Ravelry and one of the Group Administrators for the Ravelry group

 Image:  Copywrited Sarah Arnold, a.k.a. hotcheese
Pattern Description:
A cowl knit in the round.  Uses some of Sarah's favorite knit fisherman cables and textured panels. 
Pattern starts with a deep knit two, purl two rib that flows neatly into the main pattern and transitions back to the the rib.   The recommended yarn weight is DK, with a gauge of 20 stitches in 10 cm (4 inches) in stockinette stitch on 4.5 mm (7US) needles.  Finished dimensions are approx. 26 cm (10 1/4 “) wide and 27 cm (10 1/2 “) tall after blocking, but the height is truly up to the knitter's taste and yarn yardage.
Written instructions and charts included, with a chart/abbreviations key.
One size.

Pattern Layout:
I liked it.  Very professional and for me, is reminiscent of Jarod Flood's pattern layout with its simple elegance.  Tamarack is three pages long and the page orientation is horizontal, which means you can hole punch it for a binder and view it length wise with ease.

Did finished object look like the photo/drawing in the pattern:
Yes, for the most part because I did only 10 repeats of the main patterns vertically, instead of the 13 shown in the pattern photo.

Were the instructions easy to follow:

Yes.  I knit from the chart and it was very clear, plus a good size.  Very easy on the eyesThe written instructions are listed row by row.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern:
(Remember, this is my own personal spin!) 
I liked the layout in general, although I felt it could have been compressed easily into a two page pattern.  I LOVED how the chart was presented.  Very professionally drawn and large enough to find where you are at a glance.
When I first started Tamarack, the quirky placement of cables and textured panels gave me a pause.  It's not the typical "Let's make everything a mirror image" kind of cowl.  As I knit, I discovered I really liked that.  It reminds me of my impression of Sarah herself:  quirky, confident, unique and, well, just plain fun.   I LOVED the choice of cables and textures.  Totally squishy and totally perfect for winter wear.  I can see me grabbing this cowl to shovel snow, to play with the kids outside, or to go walking downtown, shopping, in a crisp winter wind.
There wasn't anything that I disliked about the pattern.  Sure, I'm not a huge fan of written instructions that do not utilize the "( _, _) x amount of times" type of format.  I tend to get lost in a lot of wording.  But that's just me.  I think there are a lot of knitters that prefer the "everything written out" format.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
The pattern does not specified the particular cast-on and bind-off to use, so I went with my favorites.  The Ysolda Teague long-tail variation cast-on and the sewn bind-off.  I feel they give a really polished look to projects knit in the round that start/end in ribbing.
Since mine was a test knit, I knit exactly to the chart, only changing the amount of vertical repeats.
I did go with a worsted weight yarn from my stash, but I'm REALLY glad I took the time to swatch in the round.  I ended up going up to a size 5mm (8US) needle for the ribbing and a 5.5mm (9US) needle for the pattern at gauge.

Would you knit it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I will be knitting this cowl again!!!!
This cowl is a fast, fun knit.  I would even recommend it to a beginning knitter that wants to take the plunge into cabling.  Though I'd recommend learning to knit without a cabling needle for speed.

Tamarack is a fast, fun cowl to knit and is definitely worth paying for.  You will make more than one, and the finished object, design-wise, is of gift giving quality.   

Sweater Fever! It all started with an American Girl pattern...

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March 14, 2014
I think I've got it.  Sweater fever.  I'm thinking about them constantly!  And it's been over 20 years since I knit my awkward first attempt.  That awkward drop shoulder Alice Strathmore design, which was beautiful on the model but made me look like an underfed linebacker, was the reason I turned my attention to accessory design when I picked up my needles back in 2008.  Itchy, bulky seams were not my thing. 

And then Tressa wanted a new clothing piece for her Journey Girl.  They are the Canadian cousins (so to speak) of the American Girl dollies.  Being the frugal and intrepid mom that I am, (okay, let's lay it out on the table.  I'm just plain cheep, as Tressa will complain.) I decided to stash dive and look on Ravelry for a sweater pattern.  I wanted something that was knit seamlessly (refer to above statement) and very pretty.  And I found it in "Dolly Olearia" by Georgie Hallam.  A.K.A. tikkiknits. 

This little shrug and cardigan is sized to fit Australian Girl and American Girl sized dolls, which are 18" dollies.  Now Journey Girl dolls are 18", but not as husky as the AG dolls.  So, I stashed dived and came up with a pretty Debbie Bliss "baby cashmerino" in a dusty rose colour.  Now this yarn is not a DK weight that the pattern calls for, but a sport weight.  I figured that would be just fine due to the slimmer build of the Journey Girl.  And I was right!  It turned out beautiful.

I did use the stated needle size in the pattern, just to make sure the drape was nice.  The pattern calls for a longtail cast on at the neck, and I used my favourite Ysolda Teague Long-tail variation.  Nice and stretchy but holds it's snappy shape.  Gorgeous!  The increases to make the details of the bodice were fun and it was really neat how the pattern split to make the arms.  I think I will make the cropped version next with a short puffed sleeve.  

One thing I did do was steam block the hem of the sweater.  It had a tendency to curl upwards and you know I just couldn't stand that.  The steam was just the thing, and it hangs great.

And, of course, I couldn't find a pair of pants that coordinated for Tressa's dolly for the photo shoot, so out came the sewing machine.  Sigh.  But a new outfit delighted Tress, and my pocket book because if I bought a Journey Girl outfit in the stores, they are a minimum of $25.00 CND.  This sweater cost $8.95 CND for the yarn, which was in my stash for about 3 years, and the buttons were off a ratty old shirt of my husband's that I've been meaning to junk when he wasn't looking.  The jeans were a thrift store find at $3.50 CND and they had been worn to death.  I have enough material from them to make at least another 2 more pairs of dolly jeans.  Or a tiered ruffled skirt.  So, not bad in price!

See, I told you I was thrifty. 

Now, I've got sweaters on the brain.  I think a few more Journey Girl sweaters will be made so I can try out some techniques I've never done before in minature before I commit to a larger garment.  Tressa is impatient.  She loves cardigans and wants one NOW.  I even started looking on Ravelry for a pattern that would fit her and taste, but the designer in me keeps saying, "that's nice, but what if..." 

Sigh.  I think the drawing board is calling me and poor Tressa will have to wait a while to get that cardigan.  But on the upside, she can help me design it!

Nin Takes New York! Well, Takes in Vogue Knitting Live NYC

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February 14, 2014
Warning!  Super long post ahead!

Okay, it's a crazy pic of me, but it was one crazy weekend!

Have you ever been to New York City?  I haven't.  It was on the "bucket list" for later, but when I heard that Vogue Knitting Live was to be in NYC over my birthday weekend, well, I simply could not resist.  It was the best birthday gift I ever gave myself!  Almost heart-stoppingly expensive, but worth every penny.

I flew into JFK via Air Canada.  Being the savvy traveler that I am, (ha!) I decided to "do NY" extremely light.  Me, a carry-on, and a large purse.  No suitcase to bog me down.  My wonderful sister-in-law and partner in crime for this journey, Krista, had just one backpack and a purse.  We decided to skip taking a taxi or a costly shuttle bus from JFK to the Edison Hotel and take the Skytrain to Jamaica Station, then hop on the E subway train to Times Square.  According to Google, the hotel was only a 10 minute walk from the stop.  Being the hearty Canadian girls that we are, a little walk in temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius is nothing.  It would cost us a mere $7.50US each.  While we were taking in the sights of the subway (okay, I was gawking like a slack-jawed country bumpkin, I'll admit it) and congratulating ourselves on our thriftiness, on jumps 2 young men that shout "Alright, we want to see everybody hands and your wallets!"  The reaction was rather funny.  Most of the people on the train ignored them, some looked irritated, some concerned, and two vivacious travelers almost peed their pants with fear.  But, it turned out to be a team of "Subway preformers" getting ready to give us a show.  It's sort of like busking, or preforming on the street for change, but in the subway.  Anyway, gave me a shock at first, but was very entertaining.   Here is a short clip I was able to catch:

                                                So cool!  And so glad it wasn't a robbery.

Walking down 8th Avenue to get to the hotel was exhilarating!  So much to see, so many people.  We got a little turned about and ended up walking along Times Square.  The huge tv billboards on the buildings were sensational!  Really, I literally stopped and stared.  My gorgeous Krista was totally in her element.  Here she is dancing along on the sidewalk. :)

We eventually got to the Edison Hotel, tired and really looking forward to a little sit down.  Luck was with us and the check in agent let us have our room even though it was just after noon and we were not due to check in until 3pm.  What a sweetie!!!  We collected our scan keys and headed up to the fifth floor.

Now, I must admit, I knew when I booked the room that the fantastic rate might mean there would be surprises for us when we saw the room, but it truly was laugh out loud funny at how tiny this room was.  The closest was so shallow, the hangers had to be angled to fit in, the tub so short, I marveled at where they could have ever found such a compact treasure, and the window looked out onto another hotel room window.  In other words, it was perfect.  Two twin beds and being spic and span tidy, right next door to the Marriot Hotel where Vogue Knitting Live was held, minutes from both Broadway and Times Square, what more could we want?  Oh, a mini refrigerator.  A quick call to the front desk and we were granted our wish.   We continuously filled it with delicious New York cheese cake all weekend long.

The Edison Hotel was built in 1931 in the grand Art Deco style and it is lovely.  Here is a few iphone shots walking into the hotel from the entrance across from the Mariot Hotel.

Here is a few shots of the lounge area across from the check in desk.  Gorgeous, to say the least.  I loved that the chairs, side tables and the accessories were all authentic, with the little nick and dings to prove it.  For me, that just added to the charm.  The hotel is in the process of renovating the rooms, but Krista and I got one that was not renovated.  That was alright with me.  At check out, I casually mentioned I would be back on my next birthday weekend for Vogue Knitting Live and the clerk said had he known it was my birthday, he would have upgraded us to the newly renovated rooms!  Oh well, I might mention it next time.

I thought the murals were stunning.  I especially loved the one depicting the builders and workmen.  Very neat.

At 6pm was my first class, and I really just crashed on the bed until it was time.  Krista, however, was ready to roam, so with her iphone in hand, off she went to explore.   Krista's moto for the weekend:  "Nin, we can sleep when we are dead!  We're in New York, darling!"  Oh to be as young and full of pep as my Krista.  I don't know how my brother can keep up with her!  LOL

I picked through my yarn skeins and started winding them into balls in preparation for my evening class.  Three hours later, Krista was back with authentic New York pizza (You've gotta try this, Nin!) and we munched away while I packed my knitting bag.

Let me show you my schedule for Vogue Knitting Live New York.  I bought the heinously expensive "5th Avenue Getaway" package for a mere $699.00US with 2 extra classes added for a grand total of $849.95US.  Why would I pay for the premium package?  Well, coming all the way from East Coast Canada, I wanted to make sure I got into the classes I wanted the most.  And I was promised a $200.00 gift card to purchase Vogue books online, so it really was worth it to me.

Thursday, January 16, 2014 @ 6pm-9pm
Colour Confidence with MaryJane Mucklestone. 

I adore Mary Jane Mucklestone.  She is the best at stranded colour work and she is a fun, fabulous teacher.  Though I do have a Bachelors of Fine Arts, colour was never my strong suit.  It was awesome to go over the theories again in relation to fiber and see the amazing results by shifting a colour from one spot to another.   Mary Jane had beautiful professionally printed handouts with all the colour wheels and her pretty pattern "Sebasco Cowl." I cannot wait to finish this cowl!

She brought with her a suitcase full of her samples she knitted for her book "150 Scandinavian Motifs: The Knitter's Directory" and they were all gorgeous!  I loved the background info she gave us about the knitting and the printing of this book.  So cool.  If you are interested in colour work, the link above is to Canadian Amazon, but if you are American, you can find it here: "150 Scandinavian Motifs: The Knitter's Directory."  I could have kicked myself for not bringing my copy.  Getting Mary Jane to sign it would have been fab.  I'll save that for the next time I take one of her classes.

I got back to the hotel with my mind whirling with potential colour combinations and a really great chat with Mary Jane about the Craft Cruise she will be teaching on in late August 2014.  Tired as I was, I couldn't resist wolfing down some delicious cheese cake from "Crave" that Krista brought back.  What a doll she is!  We chatted into the wee hours of the morning, talking about everything she had seen so far.  How I wish I could have come with her, but knitting is knitting, and that is paramount!

Friday, January 17, 2014 @ 9am-12pm
Who's Afraid of the Set-In Sleeve? with Lily Chin

This was one of the most eye opening classes I took all weekend.  Since picking up knitting again, I have never knitted a sweater.  To knit a sweater, plus to design at least one, is on my 2014 knitting goals list.  Lily Chin is the ultimate knitting instructor.  She is a fountain of garment construction information.  Literally.   She told us she had the best schooling ever:  working as child labour in China Town, deconstructing top designer wear to make knock offs.  And they had to be done fast.  Her combination of common sense fabric construction in relation to hand knit wear is amazing. 

Here is a shot of my half sleeve set.  Horrible seaming, I'm afraid.  That's the next class on the list.

Lily called me her "sweater virgin" and gave me a big hug for my efforts.  I didn't do too bad and I'm definitely going to make another such piece for practice.  Loads of fun!

Friday, January 17, 2014 @ 12pm-1pm
Lecture:  10 Tips & Tricks For Fabulous Photography

I rushed up the escalators with knitting bag flying to get to the lecture on time, but I was a little late.  I hate that.  This lecture was excellent, and I learned a lot of different poses to shoot my own pattern designs.  There was tips on staging the shot that where very cool.  The main thrust of the lecture was "the photographer is the boss."  I can see how it is difficult to look with a photographic eye and not a knitwear designers' eye.  What may not be the most flattering portrait shot of my model but is a fab shot of the knitted garment will be a challenge to keep in mind.   I'm so used to doing portrait shots.  And now I must look with a "story" in mind for the perfect location.  Strong lines that lead the eye are crucial too.  My only complaint: it was a lecture and not a 3 or 6 hour class!

Friday, January 17, 2014 @ 2pm-5pm
A Joy Ride With Brioche Stitches with Nancy Marchant

A joy ride indeed!  Actually, more like a rush.  I've never brioche stitched before and it really was like learning to knit all over again.  Nancy is a very patient teacher and was very kind to stay a few minutes after class to demonstrate the principles of increasing and decreasing in brioche again for me.  Honestly, it took me the whole class to just get the fundamentals into my mind and muscle memory.  I'm not sure if I will design something in brioche.  I'd like to, but I cannot see that happening any time soon.  But I will play with it!  I don't usually knit from patterns, but I can see myself buying Nancy's book and giving it a go.  Brioche is fun.  And frustrating.

Friday, January 17, 2014 @ 6pm-9pm
Tapas with Candace Eisner Strick

"Tapas" is Spanish for a style of eating where you get to sample many different dishes in small portions and this class was exactly that.  Candace is so funny and animated.  She has an unique way of demonstrating really complicated techniques with so much energy while being so laid back, it is hysterical and enlightening at the same time.  I gave away my ticket to the gala cocktail party to do this class, and I am very glad I did!  Some of the techniques were very basic for me, but I learned some new tricks.  And it was fun.

That's my Friday in a nutshell.  I was exhausted when I slumped out of the Marriot, but the cold air revived me enough to want to wander around and take in all the bright lights.  Times Square and Broadway are magical at night.  The billboards are spectacular!  And there was loads of people walking around.  One of the locals told me that NY is a city that never sleeps.  I believe it!  As for me, I stumbled into my hotel room around 11:30pm.  Krista was there, and she told me all about her cool day getting her curly hair cut and learning from Curly Girl Method stylists at Devashan Salon.  Krista is a brilliant hair stylist and as smart of a whip.  She adsorbed so much and was scheming out loud as to how she will apply what she learned to her home studio.  By the way, check out her website!  Amazing tips for all you curly haired girls and guys.  And the before and after shots are out of this world!

On to the next day.  My birthday!

Saturday 18, 2014 @9am-12pm
Tips & Tricks:  Making Your Garment Look More Professional with Josh Bennett

This class was with Josh Bennett and he is meticulous with his craft.  His tips and tricks were eye-opening and inspiring.  I learned several new cast-ons, increases and decreases, how to join in the round without that irritating little messy stitch at the start, and an excellent way to change colours with a smart, savvy join that eliminates weaving in ends.  LOVE that.  Can't wait to try that one out in the colour work I'm planning to do from Mary Jane's books.

Saturday 18, 2014 @ 12pm-1pm
Lecture:  Pattern Stitch Development and Design Possibilities with Norah Gaughan

Great lecture!   Norah Gaughan is so creative.  In fact, so creative, Vogue Knitting International did a feature article on her.  You can read it here.  I love how she uses previous stitches she developed and pushes them to make another stitch for a pattern.  Sorry for the nasty iPhone pics, but you get to see her point.

I love the tank in the last shot!

Saturday, January 18, 2014 @ 2pm-5pm
Seventh Avenue Secrets with Josh Bennett

Back with Josh!  This class was a mind opening blast.  Josh talked about fashion forecasting, how to apply upcoming trends and colours into our designs.  Best of all?  He had us do a fashion line using inspiration we brought with us from magazines, music and such.  All in 15 minutes.  With an in front of a class critique!  I LOVED this.  To make this easier, Josh gave us some fashion model illustrations which we used under our tracing paper to keep proportions in check.  I chose to do the plus size model and the male model.  It is very important for me to understand designing knitwear for men.  This was one of the main reasons I took this class with Josh.  The male designer has an edge.  We women design for the woman that knits what she wants to see on her man.  But do they really want it?  I did not find the book "Knits Men Want" by Bruce Weinstein very inspirational.  The photography by Jarod Flood is beautiful, of course, but I have seen the chest stripped hoodie, the basic pullover and the basic cardigan before.  The Ski Sweater is nice, but looks like a boring knit.  In fact, they all kinda look like a boring knit.  That's why I wanted to pick Josh's brains.   I did get to see some of the garments he has on file for pitches and some were truly amazing.  As in, I'd knit that amazing, and I don't usually knit from others patterns unless they are very thought provoking or striking.  (I'm too busy trying to hone my designing skills, so knitting time is reserved for my sample knits.  Now I DO read other peoples' patterns and I love how inspiring that is.)  So, all in all, Josh is now on my "favourite" designer list.

Saturday night, I did not go out to party.  I was bushed!  Krista bought me tickets to a broadway show.  It was horridly expensive and she was only able to get one cos it sold out.  I felt pretty bad turning it down, but it turned out that Krista really wanted to see it and was bummed she could only get the one.  Re-gifted!  Off Krista went to see the show, looking gorgeous in a new outfit she bought.  I hunkered down to get some knitting done for my next class and organize my notes from the day.   Even the ton of cheese cake I woofed back as supper didn't keep me awake.  I woke up in a little drool, laying face down on my knitting and notes when Krista came in.  Krista was a little upset; turns out that she missed one of the acts because she fell asleep!  As in head back, mouth wide open, snoring.  Must have been all that crisp fresh air and sight-seing that did her in.  Poor Krista!  At least there was no drool for her to deal with.  Just seriously annoyed Broadway patrons.  LOL!  Ah, the effects of time on us beauties.

Sunday, January 19, 2014 @ 9am-12:00pm
Designing with Cables EXCLUSIVE 

Sorry, I can't remember the name of the instructor, but this was a great class.  We worked with swatches that we brought as pre-class homework to see how we could push and change cables.  Very fun!  And the classroom was by far the most beautiful one the Mariot offered.  The ceiling and one side was mostly glass.  Sorta like being in a greenhouse.   Bright sunshine, delicious Starbucks coffee and knitting... The best way to start a day!

Sunday, January 19, 2014 @ 2pm-5pm
Draping A Pattern - NEW! with Lily Chin

This was the class I really was waiting for and Lily knocked it out of the park!  She showed us how to make a knitting pattern from sewing patterns and how to drape knit fabric to make a "mock up" to convert into something like a sewing pattern, then into a knitting pattern.  We had 2 models get draped, one with a more "traditional, classical" design and the other with a more modern approach.  Every second of this class was GOLD.  My huge complaint?  Why the heck wasn't this class at LEAST a 6hr class????  It was basically a condensed version of a 3 day workshop Lily teaches.  Though there was a ton of information whipping at us, I managed to get it all with the help of my trusty iPhone.  I promised Lily I would not share any of the video or the audio I took, but here is a snap of one of the models getting draped.
Looks sort of like a poncho.   And then the magic!

Here is Lily showing us how to pin and mark the shaped fit-in sleeve.  Carol, our model, was awesome to allow us to all learn from her being poked and prodded.  But she did not walk away totally empty handed!  She got a fabric template of her EXACT body shape to customize any sweater design she wishes to knit.  That is amazing.  I cannot wait to give it a try myself.

And speaking for doing it for myself, I had to buy what Lily calls her "magic wand" or the BEST tool ever gifted to the hand knit designers: 
Staedtler 24" 60cm Mars Flexible Curve Ruler Graduated
Basically, it can help you get the curve for sleeve caps and other shaping elements with ease.   I had a very hard time trying to get one locally and ended up buying one off of Ebay.   Haven't played with it yet.  I'm heading towards the homestretch on a new cowl design.  Once that's done, I'll give drafting a pattern sleeve cap a go!

So, that was my Vogue Knitting Live trip in a nutshell!  Want to hear something really weird?  I didn't buy any fiber at all in the Market Place.  I went through it, with wallet at ready, but nothing really spoke to me.   I did buy a fun and bizarre knitting kit that has a good cause behind it, but I'll save that for another day.  Krista and I flew home to Canada and parted ways in Toronto.  We were both exhausted but thrilled at our NYC getaway.  Can't wait to do it again in January 2015!