I drove over to San Mateo last Saturday to catch a bit of Interweave's first Knitting Lab! So lucky to live nearby....
Stefanie Japel taught a short class on teaching online classes. I was curious about how, exactly, one set such a thing up, and Stefanie walked us through the process with the kind of detail I needed. I've been curious about online teaching because this is one way to solve the two main problems that I run into a lot: 1) stranded knitting is SLOW so it is hard to get much accompished in a day's class and 2) it is expensive to travel to teach. I'm going to explore online teaching some more—I'm very excited about the possibilities. If you have any experience taking an online class or teaching one, please let me know about it!
I roamed the market place several times. It was not large but there was a good selection of vendors. I was mesmerized by the beautiful handwoven, naturally dyed textiles from the Centro de Textilos Traditionales del Cusco. The artistry and craftsmanship were amazing, and each finely woven piece was tagged with a photo of the weaver along with her name and birthday. The prices were not inexpensive but they were reasonable in the sense that the weaver was going to receive a good wage for her work: fair trade. I purchased a long scarf that graces our dining room table (see photo above).
In the yarn company alcove I met Biggan of Biggan Design in Australia. Biggan, who is Swedish, has a wonderful design sense—she told me that she was raised with Marimekko fabrics and that has influenced her design every since. What attracted me to her booth was the range of some 65 colors in fingering weight wool ("4 ply") that she had. The wool, a fairly smoothly spun yarn, was 75% merino and 25% border leicester, which gave the yarn some body but left it gently machine washable. The colors are pure and vibrant; the yarn is slightly heavier than Jamieson Spindrift. I think this would make excellent clothes for babies!
The high point of the day was getting the chance to hear Alice Starmore talk! Yes, indeed: Alice Starmore. I was so excited when I saw her name added to the schedule of the Knitting Lab. Starmore's business relationships in America had undergone a huge (and negative) change right when I began learning how to knit stranded designs, and I had just figured that I would not have the opportunity to hear her. Her talk, accompanied by many photos, covered many topics—but the thread throughout was her deep love of the physical and cultural landscape of the Isle of Lewis, where she has lived all her life. She is active in movements to protect and restore areas of the island; she lives and works on a small croft, and I smiled as she spoke about how valuable it is to have animals because they force you to go outside, even when you might not want to go outside. And "outside" is where Starmore gathers inspiration for her knitting and needlepoint designs as well as her other artwork (primarily photography enhanced by painting). She ended the talk by promising that more new designs are on their way!
I was surprised that Interweave didn't have more of a presence at the event, though. Although many Interweave people were on hand and the events planning group was efficient and friendly, I expected to find a booth with information about Interweave publications. Of course, the people behind the scenes of the books, magazines and DVDs we enjoy so much may have introduced themselves at other times during this 4-day event—I was there for only one day.
Interweave Knitting Lab has announced that they will be having two Knitting Labs next year, one in Manchester, New Hampshire the first weekend of October, and one in San Mateo, California, the first weekend of November. I'm glad that this was so successful—I heard nothing but good things about the classes that people had taken.