Saturday, January 24, 2015

Inspiration plus

Last weekend was the fifth annual Vogue Knitting Live in Manhattan (VKL) and my daughter and I were there for our third time. Starting in October, I anticipate the show. One, I can spend time with my creative and interesting daughter away from the distractions that make up normal days in each of our households. Two, I can explore new techniques and learn new skills from world-class fiber artists. And three, I always come away inspired.

We take the train into Penn Station early Friday morning, stay one night in the hotel and return Saturday evening. It's a good formula for travel and maximizing time at the show.

Our first class on Friday was with Franklin Habit, a man of many talents who is also an excellent instructor. I love texture in knitting and twisted Bavarian stitches add one more way to achieve surface interest. Because the underlying structure is sturdy, I can envision a beautiful sweater jacket using the technique.

We carry our lunch so are able to take part in a lunchtime lecture and make it to an afternoon class without standing in line or running to a food truck. This year Arne and Carlos shared their experience building a fashion knit business by modernizing traditional Norwegian patterns and designs. Ironically, they report that Norwegian customers have been less inclined than others to purchase their wares.

We split up on Friday afternoon with K doing entrelac while I explored felting with Karin Skacel. What a fun afternoon playing with fiber! Felting using the ArtFelt product, which feels somewhat like Pellon but is soluble in hot water, offers a drastically simpler way of felting. A week later and the ideas are still bubbling through my brain.

All day Saturday was devoted to the fundamental math of sweater design. Unlike a prior year's course that claimed to provide insight (and failed), this one rocked. We knew there were standards, but have never found them all in one place. Patty Lyons pulled it all together. I think I finally get it. If you are ever offered this course and want to understand the underlying math and standards of sweater design, tI definitely recommend it!

The classes aren't the only sources of inspiration. The exhibits and the marketplace are two must-do's at VKL that continue to grow larger each year. An expanded marketplace is good for Vogue's bottom line, but it also means that suppliers are seeing the show as a place to be and be seen. Their numbers continue to grow. That's good insurance for a continuing show.

First, the marketplace. The fact that it was on two separate floors of the hotel didn't seem to deter visitors. Thankfully, we made the rounds on opening night (Friday) and although I didn't purchase much, K and L, my son's lovely partner, did enough to provide me with a satisfying and vicarious buying experience. I returned on Saturday between classes for another look-round, but bailed quickly as the crowd crush was excruciating.

A highlight of the show was the creative exhibits in the open spaces. These, too, have grown in number each year. This year's fiber exhibits were phenomenal ranging from Carol Milne's 'knit' glass structures to a kitchen, including a table and refrigerator stocked with all sorts of knitted food times (at top right), to Lion Brand Yarns' Seven Wonders of the World (at left and right). 

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