While vendors set up their Marketplace booths and the finishing touches are put on the main stage for the fashion shows, classes went into full swing on the first day of Vogue Knitting LIVE in New York on Friday. Knitters at the Marriott New York Marquis were also treated to a series of lectures in the Manhattan Ballroom; as if the event was not already a Who's Who in the knitting world, the Manhattan Ballroom played host to some of the most well-known in the industry.
The morning started with Icelandic designer and historian Ragga Eiriksdottir, who spoke on the topic of Icelandic knitting history, including the materials, designs, and the knitters themselves. An array of traditional Icelandic sweaters, made with lopi, were on display. The students were entertained with stories of Eiriksdottir's partnership with designer Stephen West, and how their inspirations are more the culture of a musician instead of a designer. "Stephen would make a swatch, and of course it would be this long (Eiriksdottir stretches her arms from top to bottom), and then he would put it down," says Eiriksdottir. "Then of course, he would go off with another idea, and meanwhile, I would walk over to the swatch (from the first idea) and pick it up and say, 'Ooh! The bottom of a sweater!' And that's how it is!"
The next lecture in the room was by designer Debbie Bliss, who wanted to help everyday knitters to find their inner designer by giving them ideas on what works with babies and children. In addition to talking about choices of yarns needing to be soft and washable, and shapes working or not working based on their level of practicality, Bliss kept her audience laughing by joking about her years in the industry. "When I refer to 'vintage,' I am referring to the '30's and '40's. Of course, nowadays the kids that hear the word 'vintage' think of the '70's and '80's." With over forty years of design experience under her belt, Bliss had a slideshow presentation which included both modern and timeless elements in their design and construction.
Designer Lily Chin was the next speaker in the Manhattan Ballroom, wearing a one-piece dress she designed and using visual aids from simple Microsoft programs to show that inspiration for design is everywhere. Her audience drew tips on how to use the inspiration in everyday life to translate to their knitting and crochet. Reiterating that the possibilities are endless when you apply inspiration using the Rorschact principle, Chin joked, "There are so many ways to 'skein' a cat. Oh, you know what I mean; I have yarn on the brain!" Her lecture also included a list of resources to find items such as gauge graph paper and themed motifs to help the students build their repertoire of tools.
Sally Melville, author of "Warm Knits, Cool Gifts," was the next lecturer in the room. She talked about making the most of your yarn collection, and incorporating smaller quantities than what is commonly referred to as "sweater quantity" to make a full-size garment, using tools like the color wheel and organization techniques. "Sometimes, you have 'dog's breakfast' yarn. What can you do with it?" says Melville, referring to those leftover balls of yarn which may be unattractive on their own, but may find their way into a truly attractive garment when paired with other yarns.
As the fiber-medium artists finish erecting their displays, and the last of the yarn and notions are put on the shelves at the Marketplace, two more lectures in the Manhattan Room: Debbie Bliss makes a return to speak about shaping for a flattering silhouette, and June Hemmons Hiatt will be discussing her landmark book, The Principles of Knitting, and what went into writing it. By Saturday, Vogue Knitting LIVE will be as lively as its location, with the Times-Square-style lights, crowds, and a little bit of everything to keep knitters and shoppers happy.
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