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!