Report from the
2011 Vogue Knitting Live
September 23-25, 2011
Los Angeles—city of dreams and illusions, palm trees and Hollywood stars, glitz and glamour. Living alongside the illusion is a more real place where regular people go about their daily lives. And last weekend, a bit of both came together for the first-ever Vogue Knitting Live Los Angeles.
We gathered at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in West Los Angeles, a stone's throw from Bloomingdale's, Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, and Rolex. A line of Ferraris snaked around the front of the building. From my balcony I watched row upon row of tanned bodies glistening in the sun by the swimming pool.
The lobby of polished marble and glass sported one of the busiest Starbucks I've ever seen. Watching other guests come and go, I spotted several women whose heels were higher than most buildings in my town. And in the hotel's restaurant one night a soprano suddenly burst out into the most beautiful aria. A waiter came by and explained, "Don't worry, they do this every week."
And yet that evening when I went back to my room, I passed a man delivering plain old pizza to one of the guest rooms upstairs. As I said, the city of dreams and illusions.
Vogue Knitting has always put fashion trends first, showcasing the works of such design icons as Perry Ellis, Calvin Klein, and Missoni. On Saturday night, a gorgeous gala dinner took place under a tent only Hollywood could produce. The evening featured a presentation by Kaffe Fassett followed by a fashion show.
More fashion shows took place throughout the weekend, showcasing yarns and designs from different companies.
The heart of any event is its attendees. I saw charming, passionate, curious people who were completely thrilled to be there and eager to learn everything I had to teach. Other instructors said the same thing—the students were a dream.
Classes varied in size and scope, and some, including the one shown here, took place in converted classrooms with balconies overlooking the palm trees and sparkling city.
Pulling the event together was a marketplace that ran from Friday night through Saturday and Sunday. The vendor list was a broad mix of yarn stores, many of which brought projects in kits. But several yarn companies, gadget-makers, and smaller indie designers were also present.
A happy find was Sylvia Olsen, author of Working with Wool: A Coast Salish Legacy and the Cowichan Sweater and an expert in Cowichan sweater design and tradition. She was representing West Saanich Woolworks, a Vancouver Island-based company that works with Coast Salish knitters to produce traditional and more progressive "fusion" designs. This was her first real venture into the knitting-event marketplace.
Another happy find was Randi, a Norwegian knitwear designer currently living in Texas and selling her patterns and kits online as Randi K Design. She specializes in gorgeous traditional colorwork, most of which manifests itself in the form of mittens or hats. She also had a few baby sweaters and shawls, all of which were knit in a pleasantly crunchy Norwegian wool.
I also met Kelie and Wendy, the two creative forces behind The Knitter's Brewing Company and Sock-aholic. They dye all their own yarns, they design patterns for those yarns, and they pull it all together in wildly successful knitalongs on Ravelry. Wendy's Bridge of Roses sock is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen.
This is Michelle Miller, better known as Fickle Knitter. She was launching her much-anticipated pattern book called Leaves, Fickle Knitter Design Vol. 1. The book contains eight original designs—four small shawls and four small accessories—each of which uses 395 yards or less of luxury yarn. The premise itself is already strong, but Michelle's designs and execution combine to make this an excellent pattern collection.
And I finally got a chance to see what Darlene Hayes has been doing since she dropped Hand Jive Knits to focus exclusively on knitwear design. Her new company is called Knit Cook, and it's built on the notion of a good life encompassing not only knitting but also good cooking and wholesome gardening.
Her designs have an aesthetic that is both tailored and extremely simple, a knitterly take on Eileen Fisher silhouettes. Her designs make heavy use of Habu Textiles yarn, furthering a creative relationship that Darlene and Habu owner Takako have carried on for many years now.
Each pattern also comes with a recipe from Darlene, ranging from roast pork loin with sherry and onions to brandied cherry ice cream.
Far too much of the event remained unexplored as the clock struck 4:30pm on Sunday and the show was officially over. We slowly streamed up the elevator, bags in hand, giving one final thanks to the people and companies who helped make the event happen.
Back in daylight, the glitter and glamour quickly evaporated and reality returned as we packed our bags and boxes and waited for our rides home.
But not without being treated to one last California sunset.
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