Tuesday, April 25, 2006

TKGA review

Since most of us were still in post-Stitches yarn comas, I don't know that many people who attended TKGA (it was in July last year, when we were ready for more; this year it just came too early.) This led to smaller classes (nice for students, bad news for teachers being paid by the student), and a very relaxed, uncrowded marketplace. I did see some friends (Jocelyn, Ada, and Patt from Meet-up, plus Spinnity, Jen, and Bogie), but most of them were just at the market. My classes were primarily populated by guild members from Arizona and Oregon.

My first class was Saturday afternoon: "Celtic Cables" with Melissa Leapman. I have avoided Melissa since Stitches 2005, when she seemed much too self-promoting for my tastes. Still, I have several friends who like her a lot, and the information she gives is excellent, so I decided to give her a second chance.

I went in steeling myself to not get annoyed at the inevitable book sales, and I succeeded -- it was a full class of about 30 people, and she did the full spiel. I *was* interested to hear about her new cable books, because, after all, that's what we were there to learn. She showed some samples from the books, then got down to the meat of the class -- making those cables!

Melissa always assigns a lot of homework, which I don't mind because it means you'll really get to do some serious knitting in class. This class was no exception. One problem: too many beginners. The whole row behind me literally seemed to have started knitting last week, so Melissa had to cover a lot of basics. This was frustrating for the rest of us, who moved quickly through the exercises and were ready for more. Sadly, we never got to the design portion of the class, or to knitting the final, most difficult, swatch. Not Melissa's fault -- she was well-organized as always. I blame TKGA. Can't there be some sort of prerequisite for so-called intermediate classes -- like you have to know how to read a chart, do basic increases and decreases, etc.? I had never done cables before, but I had enough skills to pick up that part quickly based on charts and instructions.

At any rate, I love Celtic cables, and the DH saw my samples and immediately ordered a sweater in charcoal grey with a celtic motif. That's a successful class, if it can get the DH to want to wear a sweater.

Second class: Sunday morning, "Going in Circles" with Edie Eckman. Edie taught me to crochet at Stitches 2005, so I figured I'd be comfortable in a crochet class with her, especially one labeled as "beginning." It was a tiny class, about 5 people, mostly crocheters, a couple of people who do both. I was probably the second least-experienced crocheter, but with a small class I tackled what I could and ended up with some nice motifs, including a square and a triangle. It was nice to have so much individual attention.

We also stole peeks at Edie's amazing collection of Japanese crochet books. This class inspired me to go down to the market and get Edie's "Crochet Answer Book," a handy little guide for those of us who crochet rarely and need to understand the basics.

Third class: Back to Melissa for "Perfect Pleats." With my interest in design, this was the class I was most excited about. As it was Sunday afternoon, a lot of people had left, and there were only 6 of us in this class, mostly very experienced. We got through the whole lesson and had time to chat. Melissa taught us a number of different and interesting ways to make gathers and pleats and flares, in order to add couture shaping to garments. I love this stuff. Even better, because most of us had taken classes from her before, Melissa kept the sales pitch to a super-minimum, and we focused on the knitting. There was a problem with the way TKGA had posted the homework on-line, and although I had seen it after they'd corrected it, a couple of people had done the wrong thing, and one woman hadn't done it at all. She was quite behind and a little difficult, since she didn't know some basics and was a slow knitter. In a small class, this didn't affect us nearly as much as it had in the large class -- Melissa could see that she was in the minority, and moved on with the rest of us. I know that small classes are a bummer for teachers, but this one was a blast. One of my favorite classes ever! Definitely take it next time she offers it.

I guess my biggest accomplishment for TKGA was learning to like a teacher I hadn't cared for before. I can also do cables now, and read cable charts.

On the shopping front, I focused on the sock yarns -- a couple of men's colors from Village Spinning and Weaving, some Lorna's Laces (on sale, couldn't resist), and a little Koigu project. Not much at all compared to Stitches -- came in well under $100.

Knitting progress: Still on the fab DH sock! Also the birthday project.


mel said...

Sounds like you had fun! I worked the show on Saturday at Stitch Diva, but then did not make it back Sunday to shop as I had hoped to.

I totally suggest the Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran for your DH sweater. I made Mariah out of it and it really shows the cables quite nicely. Also, after the first wash, it becomes soft as butter (not that it wasn't soft to begin with, but wow). It comes in some nice shades of grey and Creative Hands carries it.

spinnity said...

WHAT?? Adam will wear a sweater???

I had a good time at the marketplace on Saturday and was really disappoinited to give up on my plan to take an all-day class on Thursday, but I agree. The timing was not good. July would have been better. And what is with the complete beginners?? Can be very frustrating, especially if they aren't calm. All hail the self-winding knitter, who seems rare in class.