Report from Vogue Knitting LIVE! in Pasadena

The weekend befpre last I attended two classes and two lectures at Vogue Knitting LIVE! in Pasadena.

I had discovered several months ago that it was going to return to the Los Angeles area, but I was disappointed because I didn’t think that I would be able to go due to prior commitments. Not really knowing why, I made a note in my weekly planner anyway, then forgot all about it.

Flash forward to two weeks ago when I turned the page on my planner and saw the note. Imagine my joy when I realized that the things I had planned to do on Friday and Sunday had fallen through and I was now free to go! I immediately went to the website and signed up.

On Friday I attended a lecture on “Knit to Flatter” by Amy Herzog. Wow! Even though I have to confess that I have already taken her Craftsy class and own her book on this very subject, she is such an enthusiastic and engaging speaker that the hour flew by and left me wishing for more.

Photo of front of vertically stranded cable swatch
Front of vertically stranded cable swatch. This is a one-stitch cable pattern.
Photo of the back of the vertically stranded cable swatch
Back of vertically stranded cable. Notice the absence of horizontal floats.
Photo of front of vertically stranded cable swatch
Another cable pattern with vertical stranding.
Photo of the back of the vertically stranded cable swatch
Back of another cable pattern. No horizontal floats!

On Sunday morning I took a class on vertically stranded colorwork cables with Lorilee Beltman. She adapted this unusual technique for adding color several years ago after trying to knit a Rovaniemi mitten pattern from Piecework magazine that used a traditional Finnish technique. She found it kind of awkward and fiddly, so she came up with her own variation on the technique. It’s a bit like a one- or two-stitch wide intarsia, except the twisting rules are different. What you end up with is a hit of color without the restrictive floats of Fair Isle or the bobbins of intarsia.

Here are the swatches we did in class. They give you a clue about how this is done, but essentially you are carrying a single strand of yarn up and working it into the stitch pattern as you go. As you can see from the first swatch, variegated yarns yield very interesting effects. Please overlook the wonky tension on the swatches–this is definitely a technique that improves with practice. Devotees of the Master Hand Knitting program may recognize the yarn I brought to class. It was leftover from my Level 3 work. It filled the criteria of being smooth, light colored, worsted weight yarn, so I thought it would be perfect. And it was. However, as I was binding off the second swatch, it suddenly occurred to me that I have not officially passed that level yet, and therefore should not be assuming that this yarn is leftover! I felt like Linus in the pumpkin patch when he was caught saying “if the Great Pumpkin arrives.” Note to any committee members who may be currently reviewing my Level 3 binder: I solemnly swear that I am not assuming I will not need to re-knit swatches with this yarn. Should I need to re-knit any swatches, there is still plenty left. (Whew!).

I plan to explore this technique in my own work very soon. If you are interested in learning about it, Lorilee has more information on her website.

After class I had a very few minutes to dash across the convention center and peep into the marketplace. They were having a fascinating panel discussion with some well-known designers who were talking about their design inspirations, but I couldn’t linger because I was off to my next lecture. It was called “10 Mistakes Designers Make—And How to Avoid Them!” by Trisha Malcom, Vice President and Editorial Director of Vogue Knitting magazine. Talk about getting it straight from the horse’s mouth! It was an enlightening hour hearing about the design submission process from the other side of the inbox.

Photo of buttonhole swatch
Buttonhole practice! The lower two rows are one-row buttonhole variations. The third row is a three-row buttonhole and the top row is a four-row buttonhole. Notice the bigger they are, the messier they look.

Following the lecture, I had to rush off to my last class, which was called “Buttoning It Up” with Catherine Lowe. Yes, an entire class just about buttons and buttonholes! I know that probably sounds terribly dull, but I had studied buttonholes for Level 2 of the Master Hand Knitting program, and I had picked up her book, The Ravell’d Sleeve, during my studies. I knew from reading her book that she was a very exacting and technical knitter. Her aesthetic is summed up by her name for her business, which is Couture Knitting Workshop. Her work is elegant, refined, and so precise that she developed her own line of unique yarn that is custom made to the customer’s order.

Catherine began the class by telling us her thoughts on buttons and buttonholes. She told us how she hates traditional buttonholes because they are always ugly. She told us that she never makes them. She told us that she never sews buttons directly onto a knitted item. She told us that she makes two sets of tiny buttonholes on each edge of the garment, then sews her fashion button to a backer button using a thread shank so that they function similarly to a cufflink, with the backer button doing all of the work of being pushed through both layers from the outside in, while the fashion button just sits on the outside and looks pretty. No need to make huge, gaping, ugly buttonholes to fit buttons that are never going to pass through a hole.

All. Minds. Officially. Blown.

She then showed us how to make the most elegant buttonholes that are so small, you might have trouble finding them, but work just fine with a small backer button. The technique is not very difficult, and all along each table, as people finished their buttonholes, there were gasps and exclamations of “Love this!” and “Amazing!”

She imparted much more wisdom to us, but I will leave you with one other gem from Catherine: never use polyester thread because it will eventually cut through the yarn fibers. Always use cotton or silk to protect your projects.

I came home from the convention with my head full of new ideas. As I was glancing through my copies of the latest knitting magazines, I felt très au courant when I saw that there is an interview with Catherine Lowe and a pattern in the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of knit.purl and a featured page and pattern from Lorilee Beltman in the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of Vogue Knitting. Not bad for a last minute sign-up!