Monday, September 26, 2011 was your weekend?

On Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, here's what I did: I staggered into my house, dumped all the stuff I was carrying on the floor, pulled off my shoes, and collapsed. First on the couch, then into a hot bath (which got stone-cold by the time I mustered the energy to climb out of it), then into bed. I never, ever sleep on my stomach, but still found myself lying with my face plunged between the pillow piles on Saturday night, thinking "Oh, this feels unusually niiiiiizzzzzzzzzzzzz...."

What wrecked me? Vogue Knitting Live. Between the pre-party at Unwind, which I attended with a new-knitter friend who then came over for (YUM!) chicken and dumplings, and the three looooonnng days of lectures, demos, classes, steel-willed resistance of the opportunity to purchase even yet still more yarn (I limited myself to some decadent silk ribbons and a handbag), and inter-knitter mingling that followed at VKL, I'm absolutely bushed. I also think I'll be digesting all the lessons, discoveries, and facts from this for several weeks to come. Here are some of my initial thoughts on the event, though:

1) I should not have to work this hard to sign up for something I'm paying this much to attend. The worst, and yet most fixable, problem was the online interface for class selection and signup--Vogue Knitting, I love you, I really do, but speaking as an information scientist, your usability could use some serious evaluation. No calendar view for classes and workshops, so you could actually SEE what's happening in which time slot and avoid conflicts when selecting things? The "schedule" printed on the back of my conference badge doesn't list events in day/time order? The conference-at-a-glance listing in the program booklet is organized by instructor...and they're alphabetical by first name, even though the badge "schedule" lists them as first initial, last name?? Whoever is doing this stuff for you is really bad at it, and it's probably costing you a lot of money in the form of failed registrations from frustrated, not-so-Web-savvy knitters. Please, please address these issues! We will all be grateful.

2) One jerk per thousand knitters...that's not half bad. Lots of folks were, shall we say, taken aback by the discovery that the parking garage at the Century Plaza Hyatt was unable to process credit card payments for most of the weekend. Yes, that was a bummer--but really, nothing to pitch a fit over. The fact that I only saw one person the whole time being kind of nasty about any of the difficulties we all coped with (never-ending lines at Starbucks, not enough staff in the bar and restaurant to manage the lunch rush, especially on the weekend, confusing signage and late-arriving speakers and really mediocre banquet food at the Gala Dinner) just goes to show you how great knitters in general are. I'm proud to be one of ya. Not only that, but the big stars of the knitting world that I met there (Nicky Epstein, Cookie A, Cirilia Rose, Amy Singer, Kristy Porter, and many more) were even nicer than the average knitter...not to mention funny, whip-smart, and generous with their time and considerable knowledge.

3) Thinking about knitting, talking about knitting, and actually knitting all day is frickin' intense. We all say we'd love to spend all of our days knitting, but now I'm not so sure. This program was eye-opening in so many ways, especially for me as a fledgling designer--I have a much better sense now of what this would be like as a full-time job, for one thing. As I was heading home after my last workshop (a really fun session on menswear design with Josh Bennett, aka boymeetspurl, who is a terrific teacher and made  us all feel like we were design geniuses), I realized why my chaotic state of mind felt so familiar. It was just like when I first went back to grad school for my PhD: I went in thinking I was really something special, with my awesome test scores and my generous fellowship funding, but then I got hit with this tidal wave of expert knowledge and high expectations and I just did NOT feel READY for it. It was really destabilizing for a few months there...but then the next time I gave a preservation workshop, I realized that what I'd learned in those few months had been a huge advance, and that I really did know my stuff even before that. The next time I teach a class or do a knitting demo myself, I bet I'll have that same feeling again, too...

VKL was absolutely worth the time and money and mind-bending effort for me, in short. I'm tired but happy. Pictures of all my fun acquisitions from the event to follow!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My startitis is flaring up.

The seasons must be changing--I can barely sit still, and I've got hourly urges to start on something entirely NEW and FUN and QUICK TO KNIT (and for that last one, read "Ha! Fat chance!"). I don't have startitis on a regular basis, but when it does hit, it wallops. There'll be a work in progress on every horizontal surface in the house, and our dinner will be served later and later every night, because I'm too busy casting on or ripping back to put the potatoes in the oven.

In one way, having multiple projects in the works is a good thing. I have loads of yarn in my stash. The only way I'm going to get through this stuff is if I actually make a thousand different things with it. I'm also fairly organized about the business; for instance, I keep decent notes about needle size and gauge and where a given project is generally headed, so if I put something down I have a way of re-orienting when I pick it back up.

There are only so many needles in my collection, though, and right now my circulars case looks like the Popular Fiction New Hardcovers shelf at the public library on Memorial Day weekend. All the good stuff is checked out, man! I swear by interchangeable tips (with all the lace and cable knitting I do, I LOVE my pointy pointy Knit Picks Harmony Wood Options*) but don't want to get in the habit of having piles of projects with capped cables lying around, so I only have two pairs each of my favorite sizes of needle tips. (OK, I might have three pairs of US #4s. And I'm not counting the fixed circulars. Also, all my spare cables and caps may possibly be attached to WIPs. But whatever.)

Last night I had another frenzy of sketching and scribbling before I went to bed, in the little "Daydreams and Nightmares" notebook my friend Katie gave me for Xmas last year. (Thanks, Katie!) I don't think you can get the notebooks anymore, but check out the hot Weimar-era fashions these ladies on the cover of the exhibition catalog are wearing...there's yet another potential new project in there somewhere, don't you think?

I daydream about these Weimar-era outfits, I tell you what!
This really can't go on, though. Vogue Knitting Live is coming up at the end of the week, and I'm counting on being able to work on a few things while I listen to brilliant folks like Nicky Epstein and Cirilia Rose drop science on needlework (Cirilia made a really nice comment on a project of mine on Ravelry loooooong ago, and I have had a pathetically intense knitter-girl-crush on her ever since, which I hope I will not get tipsy enough to confess to her during the gala dinner. Because I requested to sit at her table for the gala dinner. Is that stalkerish? It seems a little stalkerish of me. Geez, I hope she's not reading this...). At some point the startitis has GOT to turn into a fever of finishing, because my holiday knitting should probably get underway, um, well, last week...?

*Full disclosure: I'm not endorsing a product I got for free--these needles are my personal favorites. Although I do sell patterns through Knit Picks, and sometimes receive yarn support from them for new designs, I want to be clear that I buy ALL my own needles and knitting tools. Especially when there's a sale on.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bearing with the Dog Days

The Book of Common Prayer puts the end of the Dog Days of summer anywhere from August 17 to September 5, and most other calendrical references have them running from sometime in early-to-mid July to August-ish, so strictly speaking, the Dog Days are already behind us. But if you're using the phrase loosely, to mean "it's extra-hot out and I don't seem able to make myself finish anything I start," well, we're still in the thick of THOSE. I'm grateful to be avoiding the Texas heat, to be sure, but the San Fernando Valley heat is giving it a run for its money this year. We've been having triple-digit temperatures, under clear blue skies with those huge cottony towers of cloud that never settle down where we are here between the mountain ridges. Summer's making its last gasp now, and the silvery light of LA is wearing down to brass a little bit more each day. There's not lots to report on the new-projects-and-patterns front, I'm afraid; my nose is to the grindstone, but you won't be seeing the results of all that work for a while yet. Think of me as still being on summer vacation for now, if you will.

The Peabey the Polar Bear pattern, however, is up and ready for download in my Ravelry Shop or on Knit Picks (where you can order the yarn at the same time--one skein of their sport-weight organic cotton is enough to make two cute little bears!), if you want to get started on your holiday knitting. Who isn't dreaming about white Xmases at a time like this? And who wouldn't want a fuzzy wee polar bear peeping out of their stocking, or prowling around the menorah? Peabey's also a great baby gift for any new Virgos you may know--it's soft and doesn't have any small parts to choke on. Yay for no choking hazards!

Just FYI, 50% of the proceeds from individual Peabey pattern sales will be donated to Polar Bears International and the International Association for Bear if you really hate polar bears, and supporting bear research and conservation, I guess you shouldn't buy a copy. Maybe you're more of a dog person?

 P.S. Check out the poll I just added at the top of the page...let me know what you'd like to see from me next!