Monday, February 18, 2008

The Knit Out 2008

I’m back from the Mall of America and Minnesota. What a whirlwind, to say the least! Out to dinner Thursday evening with Karen from Needlework Unlimited and Karen, the former owner of Three Kittens. We've all known each other for a very long time so it was fun to catch up on each other's lives and "As the Yarn World Turns in Minneapolis." On Friday, I spent the day with Nancy Kleiber, the local Westminster Fibers sales rep. Nancy and I visited Amazing Threads in the morning where I did a booksigning and met some wonderful enthusiastic knitters who had already bought my Julia yarn which the store had received only the day before. Lovely shop with great selection of all different kinds of yarns.

After a quick lunch, we spent the afternoon at The Yarnery in St. Paul. What a great bunch of women – both employees and customers. We had quite a crowd – everyone oooohing and ahhhing over my samples from Kristin Knits. I’ve known one of the managers - Theresa Gaffey for over 20 years so it was fun to catch up with her and hear about her son Tommy. Then I was totally overwhelmed to see an old friend from my college exchange days at Oregon State University. Sandy Olson, who is a member of the Textile Center, saw my photo on the poster about the talk I was giving. She couldn’t come to the talk but she surprised me by showing up at the store. Hadn’t seen her in 30 years! Wow – what fun. The girls at The Yarnery gave me this lovely chicken kit designed by Marie Mayhew, a local designer who does some incredibly cute things like felted snowmen, Easter Eggs, and pumpkins. You can order them on their website here. How thoughtful they were – especially knowing that I raise chickens.

After a quick stop at the hotel, Nancy escorted fellow author Susan B. Anderson, Amy Greeman (Storey’s Director of Publicity) and me over to The Textile Center to set up for the evening talk. What a great space – the knitters, quilters, weavers, felters and fiber artists of Minnesota are so lucky. We had a bit of technical difficulty – the projector wasn’t compatible with my MacBook Pro. Luckily, Robin who reads this blog and who I met at The Yarnery was at The Textile Center early. She and her husband Daniel saved the day. She called him on his cell phone and he ran to his office to pick up his IBM-ish laptop, brought it on over and then configured it to work with the projector. I had my slides on a flashdrive and except for starting a little late, all was well. There were over 75 people there – isn’t that marvelous? Everyone was so sweet and friendly and seemed to have a good time. Thanks so much to the Textile Center for hosting the event and to all of you who came! And thanks to Robin and Daniel for saving the day with their technical abilities.

I met up with the rest of the Storey crew for breakfast – Pam Art - Publisher, Deborah Balmuth – Editorial Director, Amy, Susan B Anderson – Author of Itty Bitty Hats and Itty Bitty Nursery, Melissa Morgan-Oakes – Author of 2 Socks at One Time, and Edie Eckman – Author of The Crochet Answer Book. Off we all went to the Mall of America – none of us really knowing what to expect. The crowd of knitters and crocheters was overwhelmingly huge – long lines snaked past booths as people waited to pick up all the free stuff the different yarn companies and publishers were giving away. I did a couple demos on color and embellishing and participated in two author forums on the main stage hosted by Vickie Howell who I had never met before either.

My friend Candi introduced me to the most famous author at the place - Debbie Macomber of The Shop on Blossom Street fame along with zillions of other books. I signed a copy of my book for her – how cool – she is evidently very fond of my work – who would have known? I tried to be witty. She was there with her cousin and they were meeting and greeting all her fans. And boy does she have fans! What a totally lovely, gracious woman oozing sincerity. How awesome to meet her.

The highlight of my day – the thing I had heard about and was most excited about seeing on my trip – was the big contest for the World’s Fastest Knitter! This was just wild – I can’t remember all the names of the contestants (sorry guys – I missed the introductions). There were six women – all from other countries, including Lisa Gentry from Germany, Wanneitta Precord from Canada, Miriam Tegel from Holland, and Hazel Tindall from the Shetland Islands off of Scotland. It was quite something – they had 3 minutes to knit as many stitches as they could. They all used straight needles and the same yarn. Before they began, they pulled the yarn out to check for breaks and knots. Then they were off – knitting away. It was fun to watch each knitter’s techniques. Wanneitta from Canada was a “crotch knitter” holding one needle between her legs. Miriam and Hazel were “pit knitters” holding one of their needles in their armpit. It was the best out of 3 timed trials. Hazel won each trial with Miriam just behind her. Each knitter’s speed increased with each round. Hazel was the victor and won the crown of “World’s Fastest Knitter” once again knitting 262 Stitches in 3 minutes! – she had won previously at the big stitching festival at Alexandra’s Palace in London in 2004. As I watched Hazel I was amazed – her fingers barely moved – the yarn just seemed to knit itself.

Sunday there was more of the same – meeting and greeting and teaching and talking and signing books. I met so many friendly appreciative knitters who have enjoyed and knit my designs over the years. I also got to meet so many of my blog readers in person face to face. Spending time with my fellow authors was a blast – sharing stories and getting to know one another. Working so solitarily as we all do is a challenge and now at least we can catch up via email and by reading each other’s blogs.

Sunday afternoon, Susan, Melissa and I were waiting in the lobby for our ride to the airport (that's the three of us below). On my way to the restroom, who did I almost run into but Hazel Tindall – the newly crowned “world’s Fastest Knitter.” As I turned the corner, there she was wearing a little Fair Isle bolero with a bobbled edging. I couldn’t help but introduce myself and make a fool of myself which I think she found quite amusing. Melissa, Susan and I got to spend some time asking her questions about how she learned to knit. It was a lovely end to a fast and furious, knitting packed trip which I will remember for years to come. Here's a fun article about her win.

I want to thank Storey Publishing for asking me to participate, Amy Greeman for taking such good care of me and The Craft Yarn Council for organizing and sponsoring this fabulous event. Thanks to Nancy for driving me and the girls from Storey around and helping to organize the booksignings at the stores. Thanks to Kare for giving me the lead on the venue for the talk at The Textile Center and to Margaret Mitchell for believing knitters would come.

I bet I’m one of the only people who has spent the entire weekend at the Mall of America and didn’t buy a thing except a few cups of coffee, some lunch, and a kids knitting book called
Knitting with Gigi which is by the way a very cute how to knit book for kids written by Karen Thalaker who was also there with her husband and four kids.

Who would have thought that learning to knit at the age of eight would have taken me to this fun weekend – how amazing. Thanks Mom for putting those needles and yarn in to my hands.


Dianne said...

What a fabulous weekend---all the right ingredients for a fun time. Wish it all wasn't so far from Kentucky! There are many, many more of us out here who admire you and your work, but, alas, will never have the opportunity to actually meet you. Thanks for having a great blog that gives us a little observation window from afar.

Wannietta said...

I'm sorry that I didn't get a chance to meet you (and I forgot to pack my books for signing - argh!!) but I enjoyed your panel discussions. Hopefully next year ...

Annie said...

I'm glad you returned home safely. It was fun to meet you. I'm just drooling over your book. I think I'm going to start the fingerless flower gloves. I think I need to head on over to Amazing Threads to see the Julia :)

Willow said...

How wonderful for you to be there! It sounds like a great weekend.

coffeechris said...

Thank you for the great re-cap for those of us that (boo-hoo) could not be there. If this is going to be an annual event for you, I'll start planning for 2009, now. So glad to see you had a great time and got to spend time with fellow authors, knitters and fans.

Deb said...

Kristen, congratulations on a great "knitting" weekend, and thank you for the link to the article about Hazel Tindall.I am looking forward to making some socks from your new book.
Your hair looks great in all your pictures.

Mary Lou said...

Sorry to have missed seeing you at the Yarnery, but when I went in to teach there were lots of comments about how nice you were, how much people enjoyed meeting you, etc. and soon there will be Julia.