Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Camp STITCHES 2014 Part 1

Its been a couple of weeks since I was last here. I have certainly intended to be far more of a regular blogger than I have been lately, for that I apologize! There is lots to share with you though so let me get to it!

This past weekend my Mom and I went to Camp STITCHES 2014 which was held right here in our backyard in Bernalillo, NM, about 20 minutes away at the swanky Tamaya Resort and Spa. I've known about this retreat since we signed up for it a few months ago. I will admit, I had no idea that it had anything to do STITCHES West, STITCHES East, STITCHES Midwest, etc. No clue. I guess its been a few years since they had Camp STITCHES. It wasn't until I made a Facebook post on my Group page, Claudia Donnelly Designs, that it hit me. I Googled it and added the link in to my posting so people could check it out if they wanted to. It was only then that I realized what it was. I got even more excited because I have never been to a STITCHES event before and this would be my first one. The class I originally signed up for was a class on twisted stitches to be taught by Candace Eisner Strick. About six weeks ago I got a phone call from someone at the Camp STITCHES HQ that I needed to choose another class because the one I originally chose had been cancelled. Apparently I was the only one who signed up for the class! At any rate, I signed up instead for Myra Woods class "Multi Directional Madness." After taking a look at the supplies that I was going to need to take with me to Camp, I had no idea at all what I was getting myself into. Mom had sort of explained it to me from the little knowledge she had of Myra Wood. Others who have taken classes from Myra in the past assured me that I would have a good time. I wasn't so sure. I mean, the only sweaters I have ever knit have been for babies and kids. I would probably be the only person in the class who had never made an adult sweater before. (turns out this was exactly the case!) Mom convinced me I would have a good time regardless and that, even if I didn't want to continue with anything in the class I would most certainly walk away with knitting information I didn't have before and that this was ALWAYS a good thing. Not to mention, we were going to the Tamaya Resort and Spa. We were going to have a good time! So I gathered up some yarn, a lot of yarn, and all my needles and notions, and 2 yards of muslin fabric courtesy of Sidney and packed for the long weekend. I over packed as usual, as I do for every trip I make anywhere. But I was ready. Since Sid and Gus were out of town, we stopped by their place to feed their cats. Before climbing into the car, we stopped for a selfie in their driveway. Our "heading to Camp STITCHES 2014" selfie...

 
With the sun starting to drop down, the light was good and this picture ended up being one of my favorites of the whole weekend. A short car ride later and we were pulling up to the door of the hotel. Mom had been out there before for a lunch thing at The Corn Maiden, the fine dining establishment on the property, so the ride was a bit familiar to her. I had never driven out to the property before so it was a first for me. The grounds are gorgeous. The light was beginning to shine on the mountains and it was so gorgeous. We checked in and Bryson helped us, and all our loads of stuff, to our room.  When we got there we had an incredible view facing the Sandia Mountains...


After we put everything away in our room Mom and I went into Bernalillo for dinner at The Range Cafe, one of our favorites. When we got to the restaurant, I had one of these...


This was a blood orange margarita. I don't often have them but as Mom and I were getting the car from valet to go to dinner, I received a phone call from my disability attorney. I don't know if I shared with you all that I applied for disability over two years ago. I have been through appeal after appeal after appeal. I had a hearing in July and received the news about 3 weeks ago that I lost my hearing too. That aside, my attorney called to tell me that she had gone over my case with her superior and they do not feel there are any grounds for another appeal and request for a second hearing. To say I am feeling very discouraged and defeated is an understatement. So I thought I'd have a margarita. I told my attorney I would get back to her after the weekend. Truthfully, I just couldn't think about it. I was there to have a good time and I couldn't bear to begin to think about it all. But I digress. Dinner was fabulous. I had a pistachio penne pasta dish with sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. It was incredible. The tequila didn't hurt either. We finished dinner and headed back to the hotel for the Welcome Gathering which was at 7:30. As we walked into the room where the Gathering was, it was clear the weekend had begun. There were bags of yarn on the table, one for everyone, and another skein with a matching pattern, one for everyone, and yet women were almost fighting for these bags! I thought it was hilarious. I didn't even know anyone yet but I did notice there were a few people that were checking the color of yarn in each bag either to be assured they had the best one or to see if there was another they could trade with. I got such a kick out of it! I peered into a bag, softly picked it up by its handles, took one of the packages with a skein of yarn and a pattern and Mom and I found seats on one of the sofas near the fireplace. Mom instantly noticed Rick Mondragon and re-introduced herself since it had been rather a long time since she had seen him. Rick used to live here in Albuquerque and used to be a member of our Guild. If you are not familiar with Rick, just Google him. Read. Learn. Then go take a class from him if you ever get a chance to either at STITCHES, or TNNA, of Vogue Live or where ever. He is wonderful. I enjoyed my time around him this weekend tremendously. Back to the Gathering. We all introduced ourselves and told where we were from and then the teachers for the weekend did the same. Mom was taking a spinning class from Janel Laidman and I was taking a class from Myra Wood. Patty Lyons was there teaching a class on Spectacular Sweater Success, and Deborah Jarchow was there teaching how to Double Your Fun on the Rigid Heddle Loom. They were all fantastic...

from left to right: Janel, Deborah, Patty and Myra

The next morning started our classes after breakfast. First let me say, Myra is so fun! She is wonderfully casual and so enthusiastic about her knitting. She is so crazy talented. When we arrived in class each of us had a swag bag full of goodies including a pencil, pen and pad of paper, a pair of scissors, a package of colored pencils, and a folder of handouts along with some important stuff like Twizzlers and Tootsie Rolls! We started to learn a bit about what we were going to be doing while there. There were 8 of us in class which was AWESOME because it was so intimate and personal and allowed her the chance to, at times, be one on one with all of us. I was absolutely the only there who had never made an adult sweater. Anyone who knows me knows my fear with sweaters which is this: I am terribly afraid of sinking good money for good yarn into something that I either wont like in the end or wont fit me. I am a sister of plenty and many patterns out there, while looking awesome on a model, would look um....not so good on me. No matter how big I made it. It may just not flatter me. What I discovered that this class I was taking was all about not only making a sweater that was tailor made to fit my body with choices I make about its style, but making fabric I liked to do it with. It all starts with design inspiration. We cut out a mini template and then walked around the hotel a bit placing the template on the floor looking for inspiration about design, lines, texture, color, etc...


Next was using the mini template on paper to sketch out some design concepts of what we think we might like to do with our knitting. Then it was time to take all our measurements with a partner and get it all transferred to Pellon. Once we had our Pellon measured and cut out we used that to trace it onto our muslin fabric which would become our own personal sweater templates. The rest of it is all about making the fabric to fill in the spaces. The kinds of shapes that translate best for what we are doing is modular knitting. There are so many different things you can do its crazy. The STITCHES team brought all of Myra's sweaters that usually tour with STITCHES so we could see them all and she could use them to teach. Here are a few pictures of the sweaters that Myra referred to the most...


This sweater is in her new book "Knit In New Directions" which was out this year. Myra had a bunch of slides that she shared with us wherein she had documented almost the entire process of making this sweater. All the way from a sketch to a template completely filled in with this wonderful fabric. I encourage you to buy her book and get inspired the way I was! 


This was another sweater that, through slides, we saw from conception through to completion. It was amazing. I couldn't possible relay everything I learned in a blog post but Myra is amazing and a true artist...


Once we had our muslin cut out, front and back, the next step was to translate one of the designs we came up with onto the muslin, or come up with a new one, or, like me, wing it all together and start knitting. I started with mitered squares in one of the neutrals that I brought that I new I had a few more skeins of at home. Chances were pretty good that, of the yarn I brought, none of it was going into a sweater. I would want to carefully handpick my yarns for that. But if it were going into a sweater I knew it could. That was the important part. The rest of it was all about making the fabric and the in's and out's and the tricks of the trade. If you're going to do this, having her book is critical.

Each morning and afternoon we had breaks. Friday and Sunday the afternoon snack was an entire Make Your Own Trail Mix bar. It was incredible....


That evening my class homework was to knit my mitered square. Which I did successfully...


The next day we got a chance to use the Rowenta Ultrasteam which is what Myra uses to steam block her pieces as she goes. See, if you steam block as you go, then put your pieces together as you go, then you're filling in your template with the correct size. There is no need to block in the end or anything. This making fabric thing...I had it down. I knew the drill and was so excited to get going with making more pieces. For this neutral I was working with I had in mind more of a free form thing than a sweater. Although I will make a sweater with this method. I will. I will. To do the steam blocking we used the Rowenta and a Quilters Cut N Press...like this...


I bought these the day I came home. Not that I was in a hurry or anything. I have to stress though, if you are getting the Rowenta for the purposes of steam blocking you'll want to get the white one with the temperature gauge on it, NOT the blue one which does not have a temperature gauge on it. The steam just doesn't get hot enough. So, I started making my pieces. Then we learned how Myra joined them together with what she called the 'modified mattress stitch.' I had this down...


It really was an incredible class. I came out of it completely inspired. Here is me and Myra...


...and Patty Lyons...


Mom and I sat at the same table as Patty several times and let me tell you, this is one funny lady. She is from Brooklyn and there is no mistaking it. The jokes, the conversation, the stories, the laughter, the everything that was shared between the teachers and all us students was really something special. It was so special in fact, that there is a chance the Camp STITCHES 2015 may be held at the Tamaya against next year. The resort was amazing, the food, the staff, the everything. It was amazing. And everyone seemed to really, really like Albuquerque.

Camp STITCHES could not have come together as successfully as it did without the efforts of Mavis Smith. Mavis sat next to me in class with Myra and let me tell you, she had one of the most infectious laughs I have ever heard in my life. When you hear Mavis laughing, you laugh right along with her whether you know whats going on or not. This is Mavis and Myra...


I have but only skimmed the surface of what happened this past weekend. I have more pictures and stuff to share tomorrow. I am going to close for now. I had no idea this post would be as long as it is! Mavis, if you're out there reading this...THANK YOU. Thank you for creating an amazing event for so many ladies this weekend. I really appreciate all your effort and hard work that went into making this the success that it was. Myra and Patty...if anything ever happened to your knitting the two of you could go on the road together and a comedy team. Thanks for the laughs! Rick...it wouldn't have been the same without you. Period. Janel...THANK YOU for holding up a sign & signing a book for my BFF in the whole wide world who is your biggest fan. And thanks for giving Mom such a great weekend. She is already starting to pass the gospel around! I cannot wait for my next STITCHES event. I somehow feel like I'm an old friend now but I suspect there are thousands that feel this same way.

Please check back with me tomorrow as I fill in some gaps and share some more pictures from the weekend. Until then...Knit On!

3 comments:

  1. I can't wait to see your first finished sweater!

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  2. So very glad you had such a wonderful time!

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  3. I'm envious of the whole thing - eating at the Range (my favorite), comedic new friends, learning something new and the possibility of making a sweater that actually fits. All I can say is "Yay!"

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