Thursday, January 26, 2012

Vogue Knitting Live

I really wanted to write this right after VKL, but a nice upper respiratory infection had other plans for my time and energy. >:( If you have not read my previous post yet, go read it now. It will give you a better understanding of the stress level.

So I left work that Friday evening and hailed a cab (Did you ever try hailing a cab on 10th avenue around 6:00 PM? There's a zillion cabs around and they're all off duty), got to the hotel and checked in. I went to turn on the light on the nightstand and clink - the band finally broke on my cheap watch. Ok, so I have no watch for the weekend. My iPhone still has the time.

Friday night was the kickoff party at The Yarn Company - the yarn store uptown where I teach.
I met Debbie Bliss and her daughters immediately as I walked in the door - very lovely people!

Me with Debbie Bliss:
Jayne spinning something uber-fine:

It was a great kickoff party! Great food, great company, great drinks, although I didn't have any because I was nervous about teaching the next morning. As I went to leave, I got out my Ikea bag I brought to bring my supplies for the classes. I thought it was one box - turns out it was THREE boxes, each the size that would have filled the bag. How am I going to get all this back to the hotel? The Amazing Johnathan (not the stand-up comic, but a guy who works at The Yarn Company and is AMAZING) helped me carry all the boxes downstairs and hail a cab. He loaded them in the cab and I was off.

Back at the hotel, I did a series of shuffling maneuvers to get everything up to my room. I spent the rest of the evening packing everything for Saturday's class, ironing my clothes, etc. Saturday 7:00 teachers meeting was SOOOO early! But there was coffee, so I was cool with it. They said in the meeting that we had to be in our classrooms 25 minutes before the start of class. The meeting adjourned at 7:34 - class starts at 8:00. 0.o

I went straight to my classroom thinking it's super early and I'll have time to set up when I walked in and there was a student already sitting there. I immediately started setting up as students started coming in. It was like being caught in a whirlwind of introductions, setting up and students purchasing the spindle kits. There was some confusion with the kits - the original course description said students could bring their own spindle and fiber, then I thought I had to sell the kits. And then I had my first student complain to the Vogue Knitting Live staff. We worked everything out and I proceeded with the class.

Class was awesome! I was nervous teaching such a large group at first (there were 15 students - I normally teach 6 at a time) - but as things started rolling it got more comfortable. And my students were fantastic! I love hearing someone say "I tried this before and I couldn't get it, now I got it! Thank you!" I got a lot of positive feedback.

I called Scott after class - he was pissed. Here I was, so happy I just taught my first class and he's mad that I waited until now to call. So much for feeling awesome.

I walked around the marketplace with my friend Melissa for a little while before she had to meet a friend. I was admiring some balls of fiber in this great booth with a felted llama chair, when I ran into a former student. She had quit her job in the garment center, bought a llama farm on Long Island and she looked happier than ever. It was very inspiring.

I spent a while doing a spindle demo at The Yarn Company's booth, then ran some errands and got ready for the next party - Gryphon (formerly of Sanguine Gryphon) was there - sorry I did not get any pictures, but she had a great Victorian outfit with a bustle and top hat. Again, great food, great company, great drinks, and I didn't have to bring anything back to the hotel!

I found the Mac Daddy of Duane Reade's on the way back to the hotel - 52nd and 7th - they even had self-serve frozen yogurt and slurpees. I got a slurpee and a bagel for the morning and went back to the hotel to finish knitting my red handspun moebius scarf. Got everything packed and ready, finished the scarf, set the alarm and went to sleep. Or so I thought.

I woke up and looked at the clock - 7:18! WTF?? I set the alarm on my phone - that stupid, annoying thing goes off every morning - WHY NOT TODAY??? Oh, because I never hit "Save" when I was done editing. Oops.

I raced through my morning ritual shaking like a leaf in a hurricane - called the bellman who loaded everything on the cart, checked all the closets and drawers and we were out, downstairs and in my classroom in 20 minutes - a personal record - one I hope to never break.

There were more people waiting than yesterday, but something was different - my table was gone. I quickly ran to the Vogue staff and they quickly got me another table, but the students were eager to get their kits, so I ended up just handing them out straight out of my Ikea bag. Even more of a whirlwind today of introductions, setting up and selling the kits, but I kept in the back of my head this is all just a series of little problems - each one will get solved one at a time. The Vogue staff was able to arrange a late check-out for me and the awesome staff person outside my classroom even ran to Starbucks to get coffee for me! Class went well again and I got more great reviews.

After class I had 30 minutes to set up for my demo on the main stage at 11:30. After everyone left I grabbed my bag with the multitude of spindles I brought for the demo, locked the classroom and headed for the main stage.

Now this is the part that really made me nervous. Talking to 15 people I've now handled. But doing a demo in front of LOTS of people, on a stage with bright lights, cameras and a microphone? That's a whole new ballgame. I got to the stage just as the fashion show was ending. The sound guy helped me set up as some of the crowd got settled in. Ignore the people - just focus on setting up. It'll all be over soon. So, as I was setting up, I realized one of my spindles is still in the classroom completely at the other end of the hotel! I checked my phone for the time - 11:18. I sprinted the entire length of the hotel, grabbed the spindle and sprinted back just in time to start the demo.

It went well. I showed several different kinds of spindles. Kept walking away from the mike and then realizing I'd have to go back so people could hear me. But again, it was not as scary as I had anticipated.

I went back to the classroom and got everything ready for my afternoon class before heading upstairs to grab lunch. I thought I'd try Starbucks again, but the line was even more ridiculous than yesterday. I figured I'd go to the deli across the street, but I didn't have my coat. So I ran
to the deli across the street. As I looked around trying to figure out what I wanted I saw Tavy from The Yarn Company. I sat with her and chatted for a few minutes while she said how well I did and how great the demo was. She left to go back to the booth and I got a cup of coffee. As I looked around to see what I wanted for lunch I realized that all my money was locked in the classroom! Why couldn't I have remembered this five minutes ago when I could have said "Hey, Tavy can you spot me a few bucks?" - probably the same reason I can't set an alarm properly.
I dug through the change pocket in my purse and scrounged up enough to pay for the coffee. I went back to the classroom, dug out the no longer soft bagel I had never gotten the chance to eat for breakfast and sat down and had lunch? Breakfast? Whatever.

I now had about 45 minutes to shop or say hi to vendors before my class started, and since the market was closing before the end of class, I had better do it now.

I went back to the llama booth and bought a ball of the softest Cotswold/Bamboo roving ever. I said goodbye to Lexi at the booth and went over to Loop where Christina insisted on taking me to meet Yellowfarm Fiber. But we had to stop at the $10/oz. cashmere booth on the way. They mostly had yarn, but they had some spinning fiber. We told them we wanted an ounce, but when they couldn't get the scale to work they told me to just take it. 0.o Only with Christina would I be able to get something like cashmere for free.

I then stopped at The Yarn Company before we headed to Yellowfarm. A nice group with awesome spinning fiber - they had no more dyed locks for sale, but they still had gorgeous balls of roving. They told me to offer my afternoon students a discount at their booth. I thanked them and ran off to teach my last class.

Once again, there were students there ahead of me. But this was going to be a smaller class and I was more relaxed now that the demo was over. Yet again, something wasn't right. I looked at two of the students and asked "Did you bring a wheel?" to which they answered no. I said it was in the course description that student must bring a wheel, a lazy kate and 3 bobbins. About half the class said it wasn't in the description. I went to the Vogue staff again and let them know the students weren't aware of what to bring. They assured me it in fact was in the description and asked what they could do to help. I remembered that Yellowfarm had a couple wheels in their booth, so I asked the staff if they could ask Yellowfarm to borrow the wheels for class.

In the meantime, I sold the leftover spindle kits to the students who didn't have wheels so they could at least learn to draft. I started the class the same as I had the spindle classes and figured they could take turns on the few wheels we had later. Pretty soon the Vogue staff came back with the awesome people from Yellowfarm toting a couple of Louets for us to use for the class. The whole experience ended up reinforcing the need for students to learn the spindle first - every one of them said they were really happy they learned to draft on the spindle before trying the wheel. I think it makes it much easier.

Everyone enjoyed the class and again, I got some really positive feedback. As the last student was leaving the classroom with her wheel in tow, she turned around and said "And it did say to bring a wheel."

On to the next - I had to bring EVERYTHING out of the classroom and put it SOMEWHERE while I went to the cocktail reception. Except that I realized after everything was packed I couldn't move it all myself. All the bellhops were busy and there were no carts available, so I did the stop and drag a few feet down the hallway when a nice little Chasidic man asked if he could help. I wasn't quite sure where I was going with all of it yet, so he sat in one of the classrooms with my stuff while I ran the box of supplies up to Tavy, who was having a similar crisis of how she was going to get all her stuff back to the store. I then met up with Steph from Loop who said she could take 2 of my bags home for me - I could easily check the other 4 at the coat check at the reception, so I ran back to the room and grabbed the rest of my bags, thanked the nice little man, and met Steph at the corner. She took my wheel bag and my spindle bag and loaded the rest of her things in before she left.

I went to get on the bus to the reception, when the Vogue staff person asked me for my ticket. I was frantically searching through my remaining bags when another staffer saw me and asked if I was getting on the bus. I said I couldn't find my ticket and she said "You're an instructor - you don't need a ticket." So I was on the bus headed down to Tribeca.

The reception and charity auction was really nice - gorgeous view of, uh, New Jersey. I got to meet more fabulous knitterati, including Lily Chin, Nicky Epstein, the lovely ladies from the farm in New Zealand with the super soft merino, the Vogue Knitting Live and Soho Publishing staff, but my favorite was Shannon Oakey. We met in the elevator and she asked what I was teaching. When I told her spinning, she said she owned a publishing company and was looking for someone to write a spinning book. 0.o I told her I kind of started one and she said we have to talk, gave me her card and introduced me to some of her colleagues. AWESOMESAUCE!!!!

I spent the rest of the evening dancing with Tavy and the rest of the crew from The Yarn Company including Debbie Bliss and her daughters.

Fortunately, we were off Monday, so I had a chance to catch up on some sleep. On Wednesday, Kaffe Fasset and Brandon Mably did a book signing at The Yarn Company. It was great to meet them and hear them speak about their fantastic colorwork. Of course I got their book and two skeins of their awesome yarn!

Love the hat!

Despite all the challenges, Vogue Knitting Live was an awesome and incredibly fun experience! One I definitely hope to have again, but with fewer challenges.

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