Brooklyn Tweed taught me cabling without a cable needle.
That's right, I said b r o o k l y n t w e e d taught me to cable without a cable needle!
Let me explain: Yesterday Himmelbjerget and I travelled to Coventry for the very first Ravelry Day UK.
We got up at oh-god-thirty in the morning and drove to the Midlands (into the most confusing City Centre ever; even the sat-nav couldn't figure out where we were supposed to be!) to the Coventry Central Hall and workshops and market stalls for the day.
Our first workshop was a complete and total dud. We went to the Liz Lovick "Introduction to Fair Isle" workshop. I paid actual money to sit in a room (in which two other workshops were being conducted simultaneously) for someone to tell me to "wing it," "fudge it" and "tug it." Seriously. I wish I could say it was dirtier than it sounds. It wasn't. Then she told us to go ahead and add in the second color. Uh, if I knew how to add in a second color, I wouldn't have taken the frickin' workshop. It was a ridiculous waste of my time.
In lieu of eating, the two of us hit the stalls. Oh, how I loved the Old Maiden Aunt booth! It was wonderful to see the colors of her homecoming collection in person. They were absolutely gorgeous. I limited myself to three skeins, but I did buy a project bag and a needle book from her that was made by an artist who has a studio near her. We also got to see a friend who was selling there, to stroke the cashmere and alpaca at the Knitting Goddess stall and I shelled out an absurd amount of money for one of the Toft Alpaca bag kits, but I simply couldn't resist. Sigh. I've already wound the skeins from the kit into center-pull cakes.
Back in the hall, we took seats in the back row of the auditorium for the Meg Swansen talk (it was billed as a talk with her and her sister Lloie, but I never saw or heard the sister during the talk). Meg read a passage from The Opinionated Knitter by her mother, Elizabeth Zimmerman, and then asked if there were any questions. About what, precisely? I scored well in verbal comprehension on the SATs, so I was good. She read a another passage that was equally self-explanatory and then opened the floor to questions for the second time. Himmelbjerget had made us lunches and at first I was conscious of the noise I was making munching on the deliciously crunchy gem lettuce in my sandwich. As soon as I realized what the "talk" was going to consist of, I thought, "screw that" and ate at my leisure. The girl next to me knitted and took notes on her knitting and the girl next to her surfed the web and her email on her iPhone. Apparently, it wasn't just us. Meg Swansen also kept referring to Elizabeth Zimmerman as Elizabeth and not 'mom' or 'mum' and I found it weirdly disturbing. Apparently it's done for professional reasons, but why bill yourself as Elizabeth Zimmerman's Daughter and then call her by her first name the entire time you're talking? It was just so odd.
To break the uncomfortable silence, audience members started asking questions - inane, desperate questions: "in a fire, what knitting would you take with you?" and "you told us about the sweater room, where do you keep your stash?" I wanted to channel that moment in National Treasure and shout, "Snorkel! See I can do it, too."
My last workshop of the day was the Jared Flood, aka BrooklynTweed, "Plan Your Own Aran" workshop. It was fantastic! He taught the group to cable without a cable needle and explained it in a clear and concise way - so much so that my brain made a click sound when it happened. He even crawled along the floor on his knees to be at our eye level to demo the technique. Awesome! Mind you, I'm surprised any of us learned a thing; we all sat there crushing on him a little bit. He's soooo sweet and genuine, you just can't seem to help it.
His was one of the very few workshops I've attended in which the instructor gave an assignment that could actually be completed during the workshop. He made sure that we could all see what was happening when he demo'd and he ensured that all of our questions were answered - no matter how many times he had to repeat himself. He was patient, articulate and a talented teacher. I geeked out and asked for his autograph. I left with both the feeling that I had the tools and information I needed to create my own Aran pattern and a big, fat, stupid grin on my face!
Despite the fact that my first workshop and the Meg Swansen talk were disappointing - and the fact that minister of the church was skulking about and reminded me of a creepy, serial killer-esque version of Where's Waldo - the day was an overall, overwhelming success for me.
It was great to see the wares from all of the wonderful vendors. Best of all, it it was fantastic to buy and to see people buying yarn from small, independent, British artists.