Vogue Knitting LIVE Mpls: Explained to the Non-Fiber Obsessed
We’ve got snow on the ground here in Wisconsin and it looks like it’s here to stay. To stay sane right now, I am all about knitting. I’ve been working on some commissioned coffee cup cozies which I posted on Instagram last week. I have also been making progress on a never-ending hat which is a bit inspired by the children’s book Go Dog Go. (hint: do you like my hat?) There’s also a sweater idea floating around my head that I am looking forward to starting.
The sudden onslaught of winter and knitting season has been perfectly timed with a huge knitting event in the Twin Cities. Last weekend, Vogue Knitting Magazine sponsored a Vogue Knitting LIVE event in Minneapolis. Since my Faerie Sweater was a finalist at their San Francisco event, I had a free ticket.
Now, you may have guessed this about me, but walking around with people obsessed with fiber, sheep, and knitting for five hours is just my cup of tea. But I realize it is not everybody’s obsession. For this reason, I will break down the most interesting tidbits for you like I’m talking to my mom (who thinks I am a crazy person for how obsessed I am with this stuff).
SIDENOTE: This is basically me fan-girling all the stuff I found at VKL. Sorrynotsorry.
What is a Vogue Knitting LIVE?
It’s a big event where people obsessed with knitting get together to buy high-quality yarn, take high-quality knitting classes, and sit around and knit near each other. This is not a place to go for sales, in fact vendors are strongly discouraged from selling discounted or cheap yarn. This is where you go to get very fancy, deliciously squishy yarn and learn how to make very fancy items.
In fact, you have to pay just to get in so you can shop. As you may know, I hate paying money for things, so paying money to shop (without buying anything!) is a big ask for me. Luckily, I had a free ticket! I have paid to go to wool festivals before, and I recommend them to anyone who wants to up their knitting game.
This is the perfect shopping experience! Why? Because whenever you get a bit tired or bored, you can just go sit at the runway and watch a fashion show. (Did you know they make special bags for knitters? They are pretty cool and try to be very transparent and ethical in production.)
Or you can sit at a table, or on a comfy couch with a bunch of other people and knit! It’s amazing! And all the people there are just happy to be around other knitters, so it doesn’t matter that you don’t know anyone. All you have to do is ask them about the sweater they’re wearing and you will instantly have something to talk about for the next 10 minutes. Sitting by myself, I had several people come up just to ask me about my sweater and the pattern, and the yarn. People asked to feel it. People asked about the lace. Where I learned. etc etc etc.
You can talk about a sweater for 10 minutes?
A standard sweater takes about 60 hours for me to knit. So yeah. I can talk about one for 10 minutes.
So like, what do you shop for?
Mostly it’s yarn with some knitting needles and other basic supplies. Several booths have a nice range of fibers prepped for spinning as well. There are a few other vendors (think massage chairs) there and a couple of sewing and knitting nonprofits and guilds. There were also a couple of fantastic artists who use fiber as a medium. I am always enchanted by these little felt dolls. Anna Winette Repke had these littlefelt angels sitting at the front of her booth.
Did you buy anything?
As I was walking in, I was greeted by a vendor walking around with an enormous bag of free Hoooked tee-shirt yarn which she held out for me to pick a color. I took a beautiful red and am now wondering what to do with it. Don’t get me wrong, I love using recycled tees to knit with, but small skeins can be a bugger to find the perfect project for.
I didn’t just get freebies though. I actually bought a subscription to Taproot magazine. The tag for this says it’s the magazine for makers, doers, and dreamers. Sounds about perfect to me! It was a great price and I love the idea of a magazine focused on sustainable crafting in many forms. Leafing through the issues available at their booth, I found info on teaching little kids knife and whittling safety (which is awesome since I gave my five-year-old a knife for her birthday), mustard recipes, and simple but beautiful knitting patterns. I cannot wait to see what the next issue has in store.
SIDENOTE: Although I don’t maintain more than one magazine subscription a year, I love magazines. (Not like People magazine, if that’s what you’re picturing, you’re doing magazines wrong. There are a bevy of super relevant craft magazines.) Receiving a magazine is like getting a gift in your mailbox. You get so much knowledge from experts for a great price! Actually, I find leafing through a magazine more relaxing and mentally absorbing than watching a tv show. If I watch a tv show I am almost always keeping my hands busy on a project like knitting or spinning or sewing. However, reading a magazine, I will absorb knowledge for the craft, but be relaxing in other ways. I also love magazines because receiving them gives the thrill of a new thing, but it’s not something that will sit around uselessly. It’s true, I save a lot of magazines (how can you recycle back copies that have patterns in them?), but they take up very little space for the amusement and knowledge they provide. Also, they are completely recyclable. In short. Give people (i.e., me) magazine subscriptions as gifts.
I talked extensively with Tabbethia of Long Island Yarn & Farm who is a shearer and farmer. She works closely with a mill and her palette of yarns is just gorgeous. They were all these subtle hues with an earthy tone to them. They also sell a number of great lanolin-based skin products and I got the low-down on lanolin from her.
Didn’t you buy any yarn?
I really didn’t need to in order to have a good time. If you get one take-home message from me on this, I want you to know that these events are great for learning. You really can enjoy yourself without spending and arm and a leg and coming home with huge bags of stuff. Admittedly, I was awfully tempted. The yarn fumes almost got me! But I didn’t purchase any fiber. Almost everything there was lovely, and the prices were great for the quality, but I have a pretty decent stash at home and the projects I’m planning to start are going to be with my own handspun yarn.
What kind of people are there?
It’s a big age range. There were a few young mothers with babies in tow. Then you have your women of a certain age and means who come wearing a lovely sweater or shawl they made. My favorite brand of knitter is the ultra-nerd. These ladies are usually between 25 and 45 and are usually wearing slouchy beanies or skull caps of a fabulous, colorful knit nature (kniture?). These ladies can talk to you at length about yarn brands, sheep, great podcasts, Harry Potter, and Dungeons and Dragons. These, ladies and gentemen, are my people.
I was sitting at a table knitting for a bit when I was approached by a pair of ladies from this last culture. They asked me about my Faerie Sweater and we talked about mohair, designing, and fiber love. When I gave them a card for my blog, they in turn gave me a card for their knitting podcast! To say I was excited is an understatement. In fact, I immediately started following them on Instagram and subscribed to their podcast.
Fuck This Knit is a podcast for knitters who are a bit tired of the overly sweet and composed nature of some crafty podcasts. They put gratuitous swearing in the title of the podcast so that you are sure to know what you’re getting into. I am bingeing my way through episodes and I would say this is the perfect knitting podcast for an evening alone with the needles and a beer. If you search for them on your podcast player, search for F*** This Knit.
You said you went to a lecture on sweater fitting?
I certainly did! I went to a lecture by Amy Herzog who takes sweaters very seriously. I have read a couple of her books (available at your local library) and I gleaned a lot from each. She spent an hour talking over major points of sweater fitting and the lies we knitters tell ourselves about making them.
People around me were definitely taking notes and, I kid you not, taking pictures of the slides for this lecture. I wasn’t, I was foolishly and feverishly working away on the neverending hat. So if you want to know what true obsession looks like. It looks like a room full of women (plus maybe like two dudes) wearing sweaters they made taking notes about how to make sweaters. I’m not saying this out of a negative judgement. I realize now that I wish I had taken notes!
What was the most interesting part of the day for you?
The person who stands out to me the most is someone I didn’t even talk to. She came into the sweater lecture wearing a sparkly plastic tiara over her knit cap. She was toting several large bags, no doubt filled brimming with lovely skeins of yarn. Someone asked her if it was her birthday and she grinned and so “No, I’m celebrating my divorce!” I immediately looked up to see this lady who was going through the same thing as me but able to celebrate. Her direct audience obviously didn’t react well, and her mask faltered to a look of pain. If I hadn’t promised to watch my neighbor’s purse, I would have jumped up and gone to sit with her.
Y’all, divorce sucks. If someone looks like they are being strong, it doesn’t mean they let go of their marriage on a whim. Respect the choice and know that the process is hell. If they tell you they’re going through divorce and they look like they aren’t going to cry in the next five minutes, give them a high five for surviving. Don’t look ashen when they tell you.
So here’s to you tiara lady! I’m right with you! We’ll knit through the pain and maybe have one less husband but several new great-fitting sweaters. Cheers.