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Ok now, I have to tell you that I am still reeling from fiber inspiration and energy and all the amazing experiences that were part of my first Vogue Knitting Live New York a few months ago. So when I heard about VKL Chicago I thought - why not carry that energy right along and keep the fiber magic swirling?
Plus it was my birthday weekend so I decided to make it a fiber celebration.
I actually didn't hear about Vogue Knit Chicago until after I got back from New York. I wondered why it was low key, but was still just as excited to attend. I later heard from a friend who owns a local yarn shop they planed it late, in December, and that could be why it was low key. Well, low key or not, it was still super fun.
They had a variety of classes and many were different from the class offerings in NYC. I appreciated that it was not a rinse and repeat of thr New York class schedule and there were lots that interested me. I signed up for finishing classes with Keith Leonard because um... finishing is where it's at right? It was fantastic.
The man is a WEALTH of knowledge and tips and tricks. In fact, I took two classes and learned so much. My knits are already showing improvement! Sometimes it is that one little thing, that Ah-Ha moment of "that is how yo do that" and it all clicks. Even though Keith's class was full to capacity, he took time to go around to EVERY student and review EVERY technique. It was lively and informative and I cant wait to go back for his advanced finishing course.
I had signed up for an Intarsia class but had to skip it to prep for my Knit @ Nite event. That was a real tough decision because Intarsia is on the tops of my list to learn and master. I kicked myself for the poor planning of thinking I could squeeze in that class before my Knit @ Nite event. Next time I am ALL ABOUT INTARSIA!
Saturday after class I hit the Marketplace. It was much smaller than the HUGE two full floors of shopping that is the VKL NYC Marketplace, but still full of wonderful vendors and fabulous fiber discoveries.
One vendor discovery was Knitcrate. Have you heard of them? I had not and was so excited to learn that they are a knit AND crochet based subscription box. They work with artisans, designers and really seem to have brought something new to the table of subscription services. Not to mention they are based in Miami so of course I took a trip down memory lane and chatted with them about all things sand, sun and beach. Ah... it was awesome. I expect I will be hearing a lot more from Knitcrate in the future!
There were a few other fiber discoveries and of course I had to stop by and see friends. I tried several times Saturday to visit and shop at my favorite Yarn Culture NY but truly could hardly get into the booth it was so busy. It seems the secret is out on how awesome the fibers they carry are. Yes, Rosy Green Wool is AMAZING!! Guess I will just have to order some. Across the way it was buzzing at Steven Be's booth also and it was nice to see so many shopping!
The fashion show was not as ramped up and energized as I expected, and in fact I almost missed it. I was really excited to see they brought crochet along with the knits and I saw some pieces I definitely plan to make.
Sunday came quickly and it was all over in a flash. I missed my morning class (sorry Patty Lyons) but before I darted off to support Jen Geigley at her book signing I took one more pass through the market. It seemed that several booths had already been picked clean or started packing early by the time 2pm rolled around. It was already getting those scarce load out and head home vibes.
But of course, just like Vogue Knit Live in New York the most amazing thing about it all were the fiber friends. It was so fun running into fiber friends and making new ones and reminds me that whether big or small, it is the fiber family that makes these events so special.
I have to say that even though it is a much smaller event than VKL New York, Chicago Vogue Knit Live was still a fantastic experience and the Vogue team is top notch. It is hard not to compare because I was just in NYC at Vogue... they are so different and on its own I really enjoyed the Chicago event. I will definitely go back if Vogue returns to Chicago though I hope they will plan more in advance and bring more offerings.
I also plan not to skip any more classes! (sorry Patty Lyons)
Oh what a night!
If you heard or read about my 7 Crazy Days in NYC earlier this year, then you know how much fun Knit @ Nite in NYC is and how much of a great time we had when we went. Hosted by knitwear designer Josh Bennett, it is a weekly gathering of knitters and revelers at Club Cumming in the East Village.
So when I heard about Vogue Knit Live Chicago, and knowing how much fun we have at Stitch Up Chicago I thought why not bring Knit@Nite to Chicago!
I teamed up with my fave Chicago Yarn Shop - Nina Chicago and reached out to Josh to make the magic happen - and boy did we ever!
We took over the Two-Zero-Three cafe at the Virgin Hotel and turned into a social, evening knit hang haven. Cocktails, laughs, knits, and yarn ... it was a fantastic evening.
We were lucky enough to have so many gracious vendors contribute to over $1000 in prizes! YES!!! OVER $1000 IN PRIZES!
It was so much fun pulling raffle tickets and seeing people get excited about all the amazing yarn and prizes. We even did a "Yarn for a question" version of the yarn toss! The Grand Prize for the night was quite the catch and the winner needed a tote to carry it all home.
Thank you to each of our sponsors who contributed (and I encourage you to check them out):
I think Knit@Nite needs to come to Chicago way more often and I am on a mission to make that happen. Though the venue had capacity limitations, we had a blast and if (WHEN) we do it again I know we will go bigger so more people can join the fun!I know I will definitely be there as host or just to attend!
And a special thank yo to our event sponsor Nina Chicago
Ah yes - I am still sort of taking it all in... and that is why it has taken me so long to blog about. That whirlwind trip home was more than enough fiber food to feed my soul for many moons. And it has been non-stop since, causing a delay in even time to share it all with you. But I am here to say Vogue Knit Live (VKL) NYC 2018 was by far one of the best things I have ever done in my life.
I was already on fiber cloud nine from a week full of pre-game fiber fabulousness but that was nothing compared to the next 3 days.
I had never been to VKL before and truly did not know what to expect. I was a little hesitant when I first registered because I was going a lone. Sure, I am a natural loner, but it can be intimidating to go to these big events solo. And this felt HUGE to me. This is VOGUE. I was there for myself to learn but also offered a press pass for my blog. I felt an unspoken pressure to measure up to that honor. The pressure wasn't real. It is what we do to ourselves right?
So I just dig deep, pray and be brave.
Well, from the minute I stepped off the elevator, for the first time in my life, that weight was lifted. I truly did not worry about being there "alone" or by myself. I was home. I was with MY people. It all felt just right. I felt confident and welcomed all at once by thousands of fellow fiber enthusiasts. It's funny how we build things up to fear then when we do them it is like.. wait... THIS IS AMAZING... why was I scared?
I had nothing to worry about - It was like instant knit happiness the minute I walked in. The energy in the whole building, heck on the block entering the hotel was tangible. It was elevated and incredible. I knew I was in for a fab few days.
I kicked things off with an all day designer intensive course with Josh Bennett. It was great to have already met him and connected so I felt a bit more at ease. It was truly something special to be in a solid full class with other designers, sharing ideas, talking about ways to elevate. Learning from Josh on how to grow and improve in our own design path. He also took time to meet with EVERY STUDENT one on one about our work. I did not see that coming and it was quite impressive to have an opportunity for that kind of feedback and learning. I can tell you that I left that class with so much gained and so much to think about.
I truly think of all the workshops or classes I took, that one left the biggest impact to my design work. Not just because of the lessons taught. But also the thinking that class inspired me to start doing about my work and my approach to designing is a game changer. Josh's class is what I would call disruptive AF and in the best way. It is a big part of why I changed my plan for 2018 and decided to take a 6 month step back and slow down April - September. To feed my soul and grow and enjoy every stitch and design with intention. AH SO GOOD!!!!!
After class I hit the marketplace with my new BFF Kristy Glass for a bit. That was quite the scene I tell you. The market was a bit of sensory overload. ALL the people, ALL the fiber, ALL the color, and that was just the entrance! We did our first perusal but barely made any headway because we had to keep stopping to touch all the yarn lol. Like ALL. THE. YARN.
We popped over to the cocktail party the Dover Publishing was having to celebrate the launch of the new book Glamourie. Yummy food, unwinding after a crazy first day and hanging out with fellow fiber folk. Yeah - that was my kind of evening. Not quite sure what time I left or it ended but I know I was looking at my watch thinking, whoa nelly better get some sleep for tomorrow.
Woke up super early for day two because I was taking Brioche 101 with Nancy Marchant. You know, only the queen of Brioche Knitting herself. It was one of those things where you want to learn and soak in as much as you can of both the person AND the lesson. She is the real deal y'all. It is a beautiful and magical stitch so I can why it is hot and on trend and everywhere right now, but, as a fairly new knitter, brioche scared the bleepers out of me. Nancy made it so simple. So easy to follow along. I was able to SEE how to do the stitches. I learned also that I learn better that way. I am primarily self taught and this type of instruction was incredible to have someone, a pro, THE pro, sit and show you stitch by stitch is quite something. Now I want to make all the brioche things. Can I? Please?
I even got myself somehow inducted into Team Brioche with Nancy, Stephen West and Lavanya Patricella, so it is official now y'all.
Having done my first walkabout and Marketplace preview Friday, Saturday was my day to shop and truly dive in. I had noted a few booths I definitely wanted to come back and spend time at and get yarn from. I mean, even now I think back and I am certain I only got to half of the booths. Check my Haul recap for more on the Marketplace of awesome.
I took a market break for the Fashion Show but have to tell you that it was hard to get a good spot. Definitely making note to get a seat early next year. Though at the same time, if you don't mind missing the show, that is prime time to shop as booth traffic is light in that area.
I had every intention of going to the VKL Gala Saturday Night, in fact I paid a hefty ticket price to be there. But I didn't feel like getting gussied up to go solo to a dinner. Because the truth is that I wasn't solo anymore. I had made fiber friends and was with my peeps and that was a far better choice than hitting up a fancy dinner solo.
So I hung with Stephanie from Asylum Fibers (you MUST check her out) and her fab group of indie dyers for dinner then spent the rest of the evening knitting and chatting away with my new bestie Chantal, also known as The Flying Yak. We sat, we had snacks and beverages, we knit, we chatted, we sat in silence at times.. it was in fact my idea of a perfect Saturday night. Eventually the bar closed and we were forced to face the fact that while yes it is NYC and we could relocate, we should probably sleep to prep for that one last day of VKL.
And the most hilarious part is how almost at every turn Kristy and I would run into each other. As if by design this was meant to be our VKL experience. Even when we closed the place down on Day TWO!
Day 3 started with more of a workout than I had planned. The elevator at the hotel broke and that gave me a 32 flight climb and descend just before class. OYE! I was worried I would be late to class (and I was) but all in good fun and plus it was some extra cardio for the day for the win right? This class was interactive, exciting, fun and truly unexpected. You can read more about the amazing Yarn Bomb class here.
One last post class Marketplace perusal, a bit of time with new friends who are like family already and then it was time to say goodby. It was a whirlwind. I am glossing over a few things because I would have to write a book to cover it all thoroughly.
All in all, my first Vogue Knit Live was superb. Lots of things I will do different next year, and some I will only hope and pray are total repeats of awesome. This event is worth every minute and every penny. Knocked me to a new level and could not be more grateful. I do want to leave you with some solid takeaways from my first VKL. So here we go:
1. DO IT! If you have never done it but always wanted to - GO!!! It is worth it.
2. Watch out for the over registration. It all looks good and makes sense on paper so I spent money I did not need to registering for things I never went to. So when you are planning your VKL experience, be intentional with what you sign up for. I signed up for 3 lectures and a Gala dinner I never went to. That money could have bought YARN!
3. Wear comfortable shoes. Good gravy please wear comfortable shoes.
4. It is A LOT. Give yourself grace to miss it all. I will definitely slow down next year and spend more time taking it all in rather than trying to fit it all in. Those are distinctly different and I beleive makes for different experiences.
5. The best thing about VKL Live are the people. Period. Instructors, staff and attendees all included. THESE are my people. And I can say without hesitation or doubt that it felt like home. I made lifelong friends and was inspired by human connection through love of fiber and nothing, NOTHING, is better than that.
This post is a bit of a scrapbook entry and homage to an amazing week. A bit of a humble and deeply grateful "I cannot believe that happened" and a bit of wow... I AM DOING THIS! For the 5 Minute recap version, watch this Episode on my YouTube Channel here.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a proud New Yorker. Born and bred. NYC to the core. I remember when Times Square was where you went to get a fake ID and hope you didn't get caught, not where you went to get a picture with Elmo! My city and I have both been through a lot of changes over the years. So this trip was extra special. This is the first time, since leaving New York that I was going home on my terms. Not for a contract, or a show, or a job. I was going home for my passion - yarn.
Sure I had been back many times over the years since I left in 2002, but that was for work in my former job or social visits. Something about this trip, going for MY FIBER JOURNEY was so special. That my fiber love and work has brought me home, well it is something I am having a hard time describing in words so I hope I am explaining it well as I get a little choked up just typing this.
I had wanted to go to Vogue Knitting Live in New York for a few years now. Previously I didn't go because I was only a crocheter and couldn't knit so I was so super intimidated and also my career and small business wasn't in a place to go to a yarn party in NYC for a weekend. Until now. So as I was planning to head home for Vogue Knitting Live (VKL), I decided to head to town a few days early to see friends, check out the NYC yarn scene and take it all in.
It just so happened that Lion Brand Yarn, who I have had the incredible honor of working with, was hosting a blogger bash the same week of VKL so many of my fellow blogger friends were going to be in town as well. Bonus! So we teamed up to take on Knit Night at Club Cumming hosted by Josh Bennett (yes, I fan-girled a bit). It was a pre- VKL extravaganza of knitters and yarn and awesome and so much fun.
We staked our claim to some road cases for the DJ over by the coat check area and made ourselves what we dubbed Hookerville. Oh yeah - a corner of hookers at Knit Night at Club Cumming in NYC. It was a blast. What a great way to get this trip started!
Since we were all in town we decided to host a Sip & Stitch to bring our online community together offline for a little yarn fun at the Flatiron Hall. I encourage you to read Stephanie's incredible documentary style recap of her trip here and Alexi of Two Of Wands here. It was an incredible honor to spend time with them and host our event. Connecting through stitching is something so special. Since I live in a very rural area and am a total introvert it was awesome to have this opportunity to connect offline with so many of our community. I was kind of blown away by how many came out for this get together and it gave me all the warm fuzzies. I got to meet people I truly felt like I already had known for years.
On our way back to the Airbnb Jess had us stop and we just took in the architecture and the Flatiron Building lit up. It was one of those special moments and the perfect way to end the evening. I was also so excited that I was not the only who loved and am inspired by architecture. You will be hearing more about the Flatiron soon. I promise. Anyways...
Side note - as I am writing this post and looking at all of our fabulous photos I am realizing...I had worn my new Mammoth Poncho that was hot off the hook in so many of the pics - because yes I pretty much lived in it lol. I really do love it. Back to the trip...
It was such a gift that our trips overlapped and I got to spend time with my fellow bloggers. We often speak a language all our own and being part of a group of gals who so inspire me is just so special. I have to say that some of my favorite moments from the trip were those late nights back at the airbnb with the gals.
Another pretty amazing part of this trip was getting to spend time with Brandi of PurlBKnit. She is such a source of constant inspiration for me and her vibe is infectious with joy and light. She was being featured on an Etsy segment for NBC and invited me to join her.
Etsy HQ is so full of light and color and inspiration and creativity. Being there to support her was a real treat and they didn't mind my natural inclination to goof off a bit and bring the laughs.
As if this wasn't already yarn awesome overload I had to remember, I had only been in town 2 days! Things were just getting started!!!! I took some time to visit some old dear friends and have a mini glam sesh of pampering. I cannot even tell you how much fun that was. These are friends I have known for 20 years! People who have been there for the good the bad and all the many stages of life in between. Such a special and important part of the trip and also a great way to regroup in the midst of all the yarn happenings.
I hit up Knitty City for a quick shopping minute (more on that later) and then if was off for dinner with Kristy Glass and the fiber fam. Kristy pulled a few of her knitty fiber friends together for a super yummy dinner at Max Brennar Chocolate.
Now I have to pause for minute and tell you that when I got the invitation I had to check twice. I am a new knitter and still knew as a blogger and designer. Could this invitation really be for me? These gals really want to get to know me? I was humbled. Overwhelmed. Grateful. Blown away. All the feelings. In fact this face Kristy made when I said something outrageous was pretty much the same face I made when I was invited.
Max Brennar was pretty awesome and the gals at dinner were the real deal. All the yummy fiber feels being in the company of gals who get it. As an outsider most of my life this feeling of "family" was so special and I will never forget it. It made me not even mind that they forgot to bring us our chocolate pizza.
Full hearts. Full bellies. Full fiber feels. We then hightailed it ove rthe the mYak launch party for the Michele Wang capsule collection. Michele Wang is the real deal and her designs always inspire me and blow me away. This was super cool because we got a chance to learn more about mYak Fibers, hear Paola Vanzo (co-owner of mYak) talk about their new NYC space and the history of the fibers and what the company is working towards and to hear Michele talk about her design process. I was taking as many mental notes as possible while celebrating this beautiful collection.
I have photos of me talking with Michele Wang and you can literally see on my face I am hanging on her every word. I don't mind admitting that I was both a fan and a student in that moment. It is so incredible to work in an industry where the designers and people who inspire us (me) are not only real but available and welcoming. Knitting is truly the only place I know that is like that. I have yet to encounter someone who has inspired me or who is super successful who has not taken the time to share, encourage and empower my own journey. Michele is just another example of the awesomeness knitwear designers represent.
And I digress. Back to the trip...
And if you can believe it, the VKL Pre-Game festivities were still going so Kristy & I hightailed it uptown to the Love Knitting blogger party. Though we arrived late, I could tell the festivities were still in full swing and we joined right in. I loved how the entire space was decorated in British Themes and meeting the Love Knitting & Love Crochet team was so awesome.
I got to meet several bloggers I had not known as well as hang with my gals. One blogger I got to meet who really made an impression is Wilma Westenberg. She came all the way from Netherlands and is such a doll. Her NYC recap is also really fabulous and you can check it out here. And that is what is so special about these events. It goes way beyond the cool swag and free stuff (though we all know that is super awesome and fun), but it is about really making those connections with fellow fiber folk. Love Knitting party and team was pretty fantastic and since I have only recently started working with them, I was very humbled when they invited me to their party... And I got to learn about their new yarn programs! Winning!
This was truly the most perfect way to cap off all of the VKL Week Pre-Game Festivities.
I was incredibly inspired by every minute. In fact - wait until you see the new collection coming later this year inspired by this trip and my NYC roots! But I barely had a minute to rest up because Vogue Knitting Live started in just a few hours!
Stay tuned... Part 2 coming soon
When I was packing for my first Vogue Knitting Live, I had that sudden crisis moment every knitter probably has: yarn or clothes? I wanted to keep my luggage manageable since I was going to be in New York for a whole week and transferring between Airbnb locations, but still needed my best knits. So in the end, I opted for a small duffle that easily popped up on my back and a small carry on with a few wips. I was so proud of myself for minimal packing and streamlining. I brought only the two projects I planned to work on and no extras.
And yet this was an epic fail. Why you ask?
Well, because when I devised my master packing plan I had fully intended NOT to buy anything at VKL. Yes, you read correctly. I had told myself I was going to make this an exploratory trip, take it all in and go for the lessons, classes and people. With the best intentions I set myself up for an epic failure that may have resulted in an extra suitcase purchase to ship a box of yarn home. Live and learn.
I have to say that it was still a small modest hall by my normal show standards. Anyone who has seen my standard Stitches Midwest hauls knows I don't play. So even though I broke the "no buying and no accepting yarn" pledge, I did stay within reason and made what I think are some smart decisions, which was not easy.
The Market Place was sensory overload. I have to admit I had to take it in doses because there was just SO MUCH happening. And though I tried, I did not even cover 2 thirds of it! But that didn't stop me from making some amazing finds. So let's check the haul:
One of the cooler aspects of the VKL Marketplace was how much space they dedicated to education. Books, teachers - it really was as much about feeding the knit soul and mind as stocking up on good finds. I grabbed an advance copy of the Vogue Knitting Ultimate Guide along with a copy of Knit New York which is a curated collection of New York inspired patterns published by One More Row Press. I am so excited for both of these. The patterns in Knit New York are perfect for the theme and I cannot wait to work them up.
One booth I was beyond excited to visit was The Third Piece. You may or may not know that I sort of stalk them on instalk-gram. They are such an empowered women's knitwear brand and they just opened their flagship store in Boston. I have been dying to get my hands on their chunky fiber and as soon as I did I was NOT disappointed. I also got to spend some time with Kristen & Jin (Owner / founder & designer respectively) and fell in love with them. I got enough Lavender to make their New Yorker scarf and the pink to make the boyfriend cardigan.
What is really awesome is that they offer both finished goods to help grow the handmade knitwear industry as well as materials, kits, fibers and host classes. They truly are bringing knitwear to the people of Boston and I love it! And now I will KNIT IT!!!!
The fine folks at Love knitting dot com hosted a pre-VKL party for lots of us bloggers and it was SO MUCH FUN and they loaded us up with all kinds of British themed swag and some of their yummy in house fibers Willow & Lark! I arrived late (more on that later) so I made sure to visit their booth and get the low down on all they are offering. The colors they are offering are so vibrant and fun I am totally keeping them in mind for some fall projects.
One super happy awesome discovery at the Marketplace was Clinton Hill Cashmere. It was instant love. For real I could have just called it a day because I found my divine inspiration fiber. Now I don't typically like cashmere because is typically a finer fiber an I do not like anything under DK weight. BUT... this is worsted weight and so squishy soft. I barely made it out of the market place before I had the first ball cast on my needles to make a hat. It is simply amazing. Yes it is a bit spendy so I will be saving up to do the shawl kit, but it is worth EVERY PENNY I tell you!!! Meet Becky the founder and Learn more about them here.
I had so much fun hanging out and romping about the Stephen & Penelope booth. They are such a bright happy place and group of fiber peeps! I had such fun meeting and hanging out with Petra from Undercover Otter. Her fibers were for sale at Stephen & Penelope and well, I may have left with 15 skeins. Hey now... I got plans for them skeins. They will become a beautiful shawl, a marled sweater and something else I haven't thought up yet. Her colors are SO VIBRANT and she is so rad. These will be my spring reward waiting for me when I get through the season.
My last big yarn splurge was with Northside Knit Co. What a hidden gem they were! I was knitting with my friend Chantal Saturday night (instead of going to the gala and I think I made the right call!) and she had this cotton that was simply insane. The color was incredible but the feel of this for a chunky cotton was actually something I have not felt before. They dye it naturally and so the next morning Chantal and I met up to visit the gals of Northside Knit Co. so I can get my hands on this yummy awesomeness. If I was gonna go broke it was going to be in this booth. This fiber just called me. I got 5 skeins of their bulkier cotton. It is an aran weight but really a thick thick Aran. I have some ideas of what I will be making and cannot wait.
So all in all not a bad trip to the Marketplace. Even though I originally planned not to buy at all, I still kept it modest (especially in comparison to the damage I usually do). I certainly made only thoughtful purchases or accepted yarn I would truly use. To get the full recap watch below.