Whirlwind

It’s been an incredibly exciting week, one of those weeks where your brain hits the “full” mark way too early and you just can’t absorb anything else. Here’s the scoop: I went to Austin for SXSW Interactive, where I was giving a talk on niche publishing. I used what we’re doing at Cooperative Press with knit-related publishing as a jumping-off point, and people had some really great questions, which was exciting for me.

I really have to offer many, many thanks to Rachael Herron, who shared some publishing money-related numbers from her own experience with me to make the presentation a little less nonfiction-centric. She also provided me with a very cool example for my talk of what’s possible these days: her short story didn’t get used elsewhere, so she published it to Kindle herself, thus providing people with a lower-cost introduction to her characters and their world which, hopefully, will lead to them checking out her other books. Clever, no?

Then, I came home to this article about me and Cooperative Press in our local paper. That was the journalist-with-a-clue I was talking about on Facebook a little while ago — he really got what we’re trying to do. (Even if they did spell Anezka wrong. Oh well. Minor quibble! That’s what I get for naming my born-in-the-Czech-Republic-dog after a Czech saint…)

While in Austin, when I wasn’t having Important Business Meetings with my ace assistant Elizabeth (recently hired, and worth one million times the pay, believe me), I was eating tacos. Sometimes both at the same time!

No, really.

I was eating tacos like it was my job. Final total over 5.25 days = I think 28, but I might have lost track. I’m pretty sure I had tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. What can I say? The tacos are awesome in Austin. I took a lot of taco photos for my own amusement, most of them are over on Instagram or Facebook. This pretty much sums it up:

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE YARN?! MY GOD, WOMAN. TELL US ABOUT THE YARN!

Stacy at the Knitting Nest was kind enough to throw an event in my honor — hey, tell me there will be Shiner Bock and I’m there. This is a fiber art piece by Seann McKeel which is on loan to the shop at the moment. It’s hundreds of knitted, felted cranes, and it is beyond gorgeous. I fear I could not capture its utter gorgeousness with the iPhone camera, so check out more about it at Knit Not War.

I also got the chance to stop by Hill Country Weavers, where I taught last year. They’re a Shelter store and I have a crazy addiction to that yarn, so of course I had to go poke at their inventory.

In the same general vicinity (and close to my FAVORITE tacos at Torchy’s — deep fried avocado tacos? yes please) is Stitch Lab.

If you think this is cute, you should have seen the giant jars full of vintage buttons at the back of the store. I walked out with some Kaffe Fassett fabric and an idea for the magazine, as well as some fabric with adorable vintage-style typewriters on it. Possible Kindle case? I’m still deciding. OH. The magazine! Did I not mention it yet? Yes, this month has been crazy.

Here’s the scoop — Cooperative Press is publishing a new magazine that hopefully will fill a void I see in the knit-and-fiber mag market in terms of not only knitting patterns (let’s be brutally honest, there are a ton of places to get patterns), but also really high quality content, with an emphasis on the kinds of topics CP does best, from fiber art art to the business of craft, in-depth articles about designers and things that crafty people care about, etc.

Let’s call it a cross between the (late and lamented) FiberArts magazine and Yarn Market News, with some Adorn, KnitKnit, knit.1 and CRAFT magazines thrown in.

If you’re not on the CP and/or Knitgrrl mailing lists, get on them — you’ll be receiving a comp copy of the premiere issue in the next few months.

Ok! more yarn at SXSW! Speaking of fiber art, Magda Sayeg of Knitta Please did this amazing display for one of the French company booths:

Looking at them from the other direction, it spelled out the French city’s name.

I get stupidly excited when I see my own name or something I’m presenting on a sign. Like here:

Or here (this was in the green room before I went on):

But one of the most exciting things at SXSW for me, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Firefly/etc nerd was seeing Joss Whedon’s hour long panel.

He really is that funny in person, not to mention cool. (Some guy was doing — I don’t know, some kind of scavenger hunt quest thingy — where he had to high five Whedon as part of his task list, and he DID IT. Hilarious).

So it was a fun-yet-productive week, and I am full of new ideas that I am itching to implement for Knitgrrl and for Cooperative Press.

Sign up now for my Maine knitting retreat!

31 August-5 September, on an island off the coast of Maine. Click for more details. A brief summary of the retreat:

Instructor Shannon Okey has developed a curriculum that begins with establishing proper measuring techniques. Course participants will learn how to measure themselves and their knitting for optimal fit and precision, examine sizing schematics and how to select appropriate pattern sizes, plus discuss gauge and how patterns really work. This class is best suited for adventurous beginning knitters through intermediate knitters.

Amidst wild roses and towering spruce, with unobstructed views of Penobscot Bay, course participants will explore dyeing techniques to create custom-dyed yarn and then create their own dream sweater or other knitted project. We will spend at least one full day dyeing if not more, and students are welcome to bring as much of their own yarn as they like to dye for a winter’s worth of knitting. Patterns will begin to transform into art as students cast on, discuss design challenges, and play with some advanced knitting techniques (such as steeks) and other ways to make knits that are truly one of a kind couture.

We had SO much fun last year, you just don’t even know. See here for some of the photos. Maine is my FAVORITE, and if you haven’t been yet, trust me, it will be yours, too.

It only rained the one day so immediately we had to run out and stage this photo:

Is that not the cutest thing ever?

Happy anniversary…here’s a present for YOU!

Today is our 8th anniversary — not wedding, we haven’t bothered to get around to that yet, but when you’ve known someone this long (20 years and counting), and went to his school’s prom together, and have lived together for 7 years, it’s inevitable, no? So, happy anniversary, my dear — good job putting up with me and all the yarn thus far.

What present, you say? (Admit it, your ears perked up!)

I’m teaching at Vogue Knitting Live in September, and some of my fellow teachers and I are doing a one-week blog tour to tell you more about our classes AND let you win a class! (Yay — thanks, VKL!) All you need to do is leave a comment on this post by the 9th. You have more additional chances to win at the other participating teachers’ blogs, too:

4 July — Go Knit in Your Hat
5 July — Knitgrrl
6 July — Lorna’s Laces
7 July — Knittyblog
8 July — Indigirl
9 July — Bricoleur Knits

Better still, I’ll sweeten the pot a little and also offer up a copy of the Knitgrrl Guide, signed, to the winner!

My classes are on my sweater map technique — that is ALWAYS a fun one — and on different felting techniques. We’ll compress about a week’s worth of felting lessons into 3 hours, it’ll be great. I’m also doing a few one-hour lectures for aspiring designers. Check out the descriptions here.

Comment away, and good luck!

I resisted. (For a little while, anyway).

I think I deserve a little credit for resisting these boots and this belt on my recent trip to Austin, don’t you? I mean, COME ON. Turquoise leopard print? My enormous feet often rescue me from my deep love of shoes. However, I did score brand new Fluevogs for $19 on their website this weekend, even without proper internet access. Imagine a frantic series of texts to my boyfriend which impresses upon him the absolute necessity he drop what he’s doing right now and order me a kicky pair of these. Uh-huh.

And here’s the belt I almost bought — the revolver actually spins!

However, my restraint did not save me from the vintage belt buckles at uncommon OBJECTS, one of which has a faux scrimshaw moose on it. So now I’m looking for someone who is really good at leather tooling to make me a custom belt to go with it, Maine-themed, with pinecones and delightful swirly bits. Anyone know a really talented leatherworker?

Speaking of Maine — there are still spots left in my autumn island retreat. And since I was just in Maine this weekend, I’m fairly confident when I say it is going to be amazing. I am constantly astounded at how beautiful that entire state is… see? This is on the coast near York on Monday as we were going to lunch:

Next week: I’m fairly certain there are also spots left in my April Brooklyn General classhere’s the direct link.

While my aunt’s drawing group in session on Sunday, I was knitting. Imperial Stock Ranch Sock in Thistle. I look like such a slacker in comparison (all those watercolors are hers)!

The reason I was in New England this weekend was business-related (and that went beautifully as well), but it’s always fun to see family and friends while you’re on a work-related trip. I feel so recharged after I go to Maine or Massachusetts, they’re my “happy places.”

What’s the thistle-colored knit, you ask? I’m still working it out in my head and onto the needles…patience, grasshoppers.

Still spaces left in my Maine retreat!

2-7 September, on an island off the coast of Maine. Click here for more details. A brief summary of Knitting From the Yarn Up:

Knitting From the Yarn Up is a design and technique-intensive retreat focused on understanding fundamentals such as measuring, sizing, and gauge, as well as exploring advanced knitting techniques and creating custom patterns and hand-dyed yarn. Developed for knitters with at least modest experience, this course will be enjoyed by all who strive to enhance their knitting skills and deepen their understanding of pattern development.

In short, we’re going to dye and design and learn a LOT of stuff, and when we’re not knitting and watching the sea pound the rocky coast, we’ll be eating tasty food and having fun. Maine is one of my favorite places on Earth — really — and if you’ve never been, well, you need to go!

I might have even talked Amy of Spunky Eclectic fame into climbing Katahdin with me afterward. We’ll see. Meanwhile, you’re definitely going to want to get yourself stranded on the island with me. Nothing goes better with yarn than fresh lobster and pine trees, my friends.

“Driver? Driver? What’s this on my hand?”

My studiomate and best friend Arabella went to TNNA with me. As someone who used to live in Los Angeles, she finds Rachel Zoe hilarious. We’ve got a long-running joke about the RZ parody below, and referenced it frequently while we were in town.

I thought it was that bird again.

So imagine our surprise when we happened upon RZ’s apartment building on our way from a friend’s house to something else! Then the “what’s this on my hand?” jokes just kept on going…

What a week. I can’t sum it up any other way!

Jedimom took this photo of my birthday cake. You see, the lovely lovelies of Unwind in Burbank got me a cake for my birthday since it happened to be the same day as their Ravelry party. The cake was from Porto’s, an out-of-this-world bakery with deep-fried potato balls in addition to dangerously delicious cakes. Imagine something tasty. Now wrap that something in mashed potatoes. Now deep-fry it. You’ve got potato balls from Porto’s.

Right around 4:40 in this video you get to see Stephanie, the owner of Unwind, announce my birthday — and yes, everyone sang. It was awesome. Thank you all. The classes I taught there were so incredibly fun, and everyone did an amazing job. I am waiting to see how all the yarn from the dyeing classes turned out, because there were a few skeins that just blew me away while they were still damp.

I had over thirty students in my social media class at TNNA, and a sizeable number in my publishing class, too (but not too big to really dig deep and discuss things in detail, which I always love to do). I managed to cover the entire showfloor in one day, a small miracle in itself, and catch up with a lot of friends and colleagues, the best part of any show.

What else did we do while we were in town? A short list of food and drink: Saints & Sinners, The Bigfoot Lodge, Good Luck Bar, La Provence, a restaurant located in infamous actor Fatty Arbuckle‘s former house, the crow bar in Corona del Mar (glorious food there!), Pepe’s with former Yarn Forward colleague Alex, Chronic Tacos in Dana Point, Canaletto at Fashion Island, and In-and-Out Burger, the most glorious burger of all.

We also went looking for David Lynch on Mulholland Drive, found Crispin Glover’s house in Silverlake (with ridiculous photos to prove it, and countless references to this and this, and singing “Clowny Clown Clown” to each other).

One of the last times I was in Los Angeles for TNNA, I specifically stayed in Torrance so I could find the exteriors they used to shoot Buffy’s house and school in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (yes, I am a nerd), and this time we got to see the exterior of the building used for Angel’s hotel (double nerd).

On my birthday we ended up in Thai Town late at night — so late we nearly talked ourselves into getting tattoos (don’t worry, we didn’t). We also went to a great gallery show at La Luz de Jesus. I came home to a new garbage disposal and faucet (yay!) and a lot of snow (boo!), and that was that.

Let’s put it this way, I was glad to have a day to recuperate at Arabella’s mom’s house after the show without having to teach. I was totally zonked! Given that I taught classes 8-10, 1-4 and 5-8 on Sunday, you can hardly blame me…

2011 teaching schedule filling up fast!

Come hang out with me on an island in Maine next September! (Talk about amazing — the islands off the coast there are uniformly gorgeous, PLUS we get to knit all day, too? Yes, please).

My 2011 teaching schedule is filling up fast, which is funny, because I hadn’t necessarily intended to teach a lot this year and yet here we are. Unwind and TNNA in January, and then three shops in three days this February:

March? Hill Country Weavers in Austin, TX (during SXSW Interactive — wish I could afford a pass for that!)

April: think I’ll be heading the Toronto for Frolic, but otherwise unbooked. Ditto May, nothing there yet.

June: stay tuned for an amazing announcement in the new year. Long story short, you’re going to WANT to be in Cleveland the weekend of 4 June. Trust me on this. If you’re within a reasonable drive of Ohio, block off your calendar that weekend. Then I think I’m teaching at TNNA again the weekend after that.

July: nothing yet, but who knows what’ll crop up? I’ve been talking to some shops in the Pacific Northwest, that’d be nice to get out of the heat, eh? Ditto August.

September: MAINE! yay!

October: Rhinebeck. Fingers crossed we get a booth this year. And no doubt Felt School, as per usual.

November at the Spinning Loft in Michigan.

And then we’re back to December again. Ack!

If you have a yarn shop or event happening in 2011 during not-the-times-above and want me to come, email admin [at] knitgrrl [dot] com and we’ll talk!

Live near Los Angeles? Come take a class with me!

There are still some spots left in the (trade-only, sorry) classes I’m teaching at TNNA in January on social media and getting published. I just got my student list from TNNA and it’s a great mix of people, I’m very excited, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t sign up!

Not a TNNA member? Fear not! I am also teaching at Unwind in Burbank while I’m in town, and doing a book signing for The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design during the anniversary party, too. Their party is going to be on my birthday, so I think cake must surely be involved no matter what, right? Right? Come have fun with us!

Here’s a link for the dyeing class I’m teaching at Unwind. I’m told it’s nearly sold out already, so we’re discussing adding a second class that day, probably 5-8:00 p.m.

In semi-related news, one of my dearest friends is going to be in Vegas for work right after TNNA and has invited us to come out and stay in her hotel room. Turning 36 has got to come with some perks, and maybe those perks involve going to Las Vegas on the cheap when it’s snowing buckets here in Cleveland! Studiomate + best pal Arabella is also coming to California with me — we’re staying with her mom while I teach. Kicking cancer’s ass (Arabella) and getting older (me) = mental environment ripe for hijinks. I’m envisioning some sort of Hunter S. Thompson-style drive across the desert. It’s a pity she won’t be able to bring the supremely fancy cane we bought her (would you risk TSA taking this away? hell no), it just seems so appropriate.

I was wondering what else was going on that week in Vegas, so I looked up all the conventions on a big online calendar. Adult Entertainment Expo 2011, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. Global Franchise Meeting or the National Potato Council 2011 Potato Expo? Me, I’d sneak into any one of those for laughs. And can you imagine the samples?

Hello, Keene, New Hampshire!

I noticed that the Kids Knitting program at the Keene Public Library in New Hampshire is recommending the Knitgrrl books — cool. (I love librarians).

Other excitement: the preorder page for Silk Road Socks is going up at Cooperative Press soon. I had a really difficult time finding fonts for the book that fit the overall theme but weren’t too weird or illegible. It’s a work in progress. As am I: I’ve been really getting into a groove with this new (exhausting) exercise routine. Hardcore weights with a trainer, treadmill stuff with friends working my way up on a couch-to-5K regimen, and even more on top of that. The older I get, and the more friends I have with medical problems, the more it scares me…this year has gone above and beyond with the scary medical stuff among my friends and family. Ok, universe, I heard you. Sheesh. Stop killing and incapacitating my loved ones. Message received loud and clear. Now STOP!

(Speaking of the treadmill, anyone out there also using Nike+? We were thinking of putting up a 300-mile challenge on the Nike+ site that would equate to the distance between Maryland and Rhinebeck, because knitters are nothing if not geeky, and it would be fun).

One more bit of news: I’ll soon be announcing details for an AMAZING retreat next year on an island off the coast of Maine with me. If you’ve ever said to yourself “I would like to hide out on an island for almost an entire week and knit and look at the ocean and stuff”, you will be very pleased. This is definitely holiday-wish-list worthy / start the vacation fund now, I promise.