Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Northern Virginia Seminar Report

Wow!  This was a great one.  And, here's the blow-by-blow, which hopefully won't bore y'all.  I guess I'm so excited about the experience that I just need to debrief.

We flew to Baltimore Thursday evening.  We drove around a while in Baltimore figuring out the one-way streets and how to enter the hotel, which John had found and was only a block from the inner harbor area.  A friend told me to be sure and visit the waterfront and get some seafood.

On Friday morning, we wandered down to the visitors' center on the waterfront and asked what would be fun on our one-day check-out-Baltimore project.  They suggested a guided trolley tour and a speedboat ride in the bay.  On the tour, a nice, long route with lots of fascinating history and highlights of the town, we were lucky to have an excellent guide.  The speedboat, on the other hand, was all about making us laugh and getting us wet!

We drove to Diana's house (our hostess) pretty well drenched, bedraggled and happy, and John and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with them that evening.  The Guenthers have three terrific teenagers, Richard is our kind of guy (a Scoutmaster getting ready for camp), and their adorable but rather humongous dog Anna was a treat, too.  Diana fed us a wonderful meal and put us up in comfort. 

On Saturday, we made a good, early start, but when we arrived at the museum where the seminar was going to be held, we encountered a delay getting into the building.  We started just a little late, and I simply started teaching while my John and a couple club members finished setting up.  In typical knit seminar fashion, we had an incredible potluck lunch and then dove in again.  On Saturday, I did everything on a bulky machine with a camera and projector rig so folks could see.  I had a big handout book and was determined to finish all the demos I planned for Saturday so we could get through everything Sunday.  I taught some cast-ons, cast-offs, increases, decreases, gauge adjustments, garter bar flips and stitches, fancy garter bar work, edgings, floatless vertical fair isle, laid cables, and some cute projects.

In addition to having lots of demos to work through, we also had a dealer offering many of the essential machine knitting supplies on Saturday.  This was quite a blessing for folks who came a long way and needed sponge bars, hand tools, mylar sheets, and the like. 

Saturday night, we  consumed some amazing chicken that I believe Georgia prepared.  We had been  able to leave things in the museum room for Sunday morning. 

I felt nervous Sunday morning about whether I could work through all the more complicated stuff effectively in a single day.  We had a standard gauge with ribber set up, and started with scalloped lace edgings, mirror image lace, Enchanted Edgings, and then went on to ribber cast-ons and bind-offs, mitered ribbing, tucked ribbing, quilted ribbing, release stitch lace, bubble wrap stitch, ribber circular sock techniques, vertical buttonholes, set in sleeve technique, and other fun miscellany.  I actually got the sense that our group enjoyed the more difficult stuff on the second day and were rather energized.  Everyone was very appreciative of my stuffing gobs of information into the seminar.

I like putting the beginners right up front - behind me, if they want - and getting volunteers from the audience to try things.  This was a rather advanced group, as was San Diego, and I picked up some great ideas just listening to their discussion.

At seminars, you meet people who do many other interesting fiber arts like weaving and dyeing.  Knitters, generally, are "kindred spirits" and every group is a treat.  The Maryland/Virginia/DC area has some incredibly dynamic fiber lover groups. I got a tip to visit a local yarn shop on Monday before we caught our plane.

Diana G. took John and I out to an Irish pub Sunday evening, where we consumed Fred Flinstone-sized platters of food and then took packages of desserts home.  After we got back to her house, she gave me a spinning lesson and a drop spindle and fleece care package.  Fun!  I seem quite clumsy with spinning, but the colors, textures, and the fascination of what happens to give us yarn captivated me.

We were sad to leave Diana's house Monday morning.  We drove to the yarn shop I'd wanted to visit, though, where John actually encouraged me to fill the empty spaces in my luggage, so I purchased some gorgeous mink-colored mohair, which I plan to use for a certain gift item, some lively teal mohair for me, and some really fun, bright sock yarn. 

After that, we toured Fort McHenry, where US soldiers in the War of 1812 held off the British navy, who bombarded the fort for 25 hours.  The sight of the stars and stripes the next morning inspired Frances Scott Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner."   Next, off to the waterfront for more yummy seafood, and finally, we used our remaining time we visited a lighthouse museum.

I'll say it again:  if you get the chance to attend a machine knitting seminar, you ought to try to go!  Ladies carpool to these things, stay with friends, find fun things to do, and leave inspired. 

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