This post is for fellow fiber event teachers who are continually trying to figure out how to best serve our students.
Giving students individual attention is really important, and I will continue to do this, but recently I’ve discovered the joys of teaching with live video projection. Students really like it. At the same time, everyone in the classroom can see my hands moving, demonstrating something in particular.
Teachers need to ask for their host venue to have a projector and screen, or, for smaller rooms, a large flatscreen ready for them. A video-camera, smartphone, or ipad (anything with quality video taping ability) + proper device-to-projector connecting cords + tripod + black background = all you need.
I wish I had a smartphone, but I don’t. So I tote my small Canon video camera with me to events. With it are a black shirt that serves as my background, one cord to output video (no sound needed) to the projector, and my makeshift tripod.
You’ll need to set it up at home first to be certain you have what you need. The advantage to my camera is that it has a remote zoom and a light, so I can get really close! Students can see individual stitches even in a large room. The tripod was going to be an issue for me financially, so I used something I already owned. I used the stand to my dress-maker’s form. It has a stable base. It collapses somewhat for travel. And, importantly, it has an “arm” to which I can attach the camera directly overhead my hands, about 24 inches above the table top.
Here are some photos from recent events. I used it at Vogue Live in Chicago in a huge room, the Empire Room.
And I used it in a more typical event classroom setting at Interweave Knitting Lab in San Mateo. I plan to use it at future Stitches events, and wherever I go. I just love this teaching tool.
Here is a student, Martine (spelling?) helping me out.
Just set the camera to record, without taping anything. I keep the camera plugged in, as opposed to relying on battery life, and I bring an Ott-light in case conditions require it. One could use a web-camera or a document projector as well, but I think those of you already owning and iPad or iPhone will be ready to try this.
If your workspace is portable, work can be pleasant, especially if you plunk yourself down in the middle of some awesome. I’m smelling sweet autumn clematis, watching and listening to the bees and the birds, and sticking my bare toes in the pile of leaf mold. (Don’t worry, I’ll shower later.)
I got me some Plucky Knitter Traveler in the color Lounge Lizard, and my “I’m Amy Detjen’s Favorite Knitter” pen for editing a pattern. This morning I removed my beloved tape measure from the cover of my laptop and replaced it with this skin. I keep flipping it shut to check for inches to centimeter conversions, but that lamb doesn’t know squat.
If you want one of lose laptop skins, click the image above. You can also find underwear, shower curtains, and shot glasses if you are so inclined.
Have a good day, wherever you’ve plunked yourself down.
I rarely ever knit here, but this is my knitting room. I’ve been doing some organizing lately. Since knitters are nosy about other people’s stash, I though I would share mine here.
To organize my needles, I have a bar and hooks system (IKEA) mounted on the wall. I keep like sizes together, and that’s about it. When traveling, I pack my Addi Click set and maybe just a few spares off this wall. What’s obvious is that I love my 0′s, 2′s, 4′s and 8′s. What’s not obvious is that I have to use my 0′s for socks, my 2′s for dk, my 4′s for worsted, and my 8′s for bulky. (I know!)
How big is my stash? Well, you can see all of it right here. The left 12 bins, and the top half of the right 12 bins are my yarn stash. The other bins contain completed projects for samples for classes and the like, or works in progress. Is that about what you have? More than you expected? Less than you expected? I suspect most of you have a bigger stash!
I organize it by weight.
And I keep all my yarn in plastic. I bought an item from U-Line that was quite helpful here. It’s plastic bag in continuous tubing that you can cut to length and seal. I find its circumference is hank-sized.
And I seal the ends with these clamps from IKEA.
Elsewhere, I have this thing called a bulletin board where I pin things I like. (I don’t do Pinterest.)
Here is a score sheet from a game of Knitler, the knitting version of Quiddler,
a reminder to mend Charley’s sweater,
a cute photo of a cute guy wearing cute socks,
my library card from that fateful day in Scotland where I needed the internet really badly,
and my customer-signed knitting bag. I like that Patrick the UPS man signed it and distinguished himself from the other shop Patrick. Both were well-loved.
I have banks of windows on south and west walls and lots of room. Generally it’s quite a mess, especially after returning from a trip, but it is useful and bright, and I am grateful for it. There’s a big bed in there, too, for whenever I need to take a think/nap. Now I just need that 22-year old not to return home, and lately, that’s looking pretty likely.
For my first published pattern, I waited for two skeins of stashed Noro ‘Iro’ to speak to me. Thinking this self-striper would look nifty knit as concentric squares, I set out to make simple squares in garter stitch, worked from the outside inward. The darn thing was only about three feet long! Happily, by accident, I could not find more of that color. I was forced to reknit a few squares of two different sizes, recalculating for a five-foot scarf, which was still too skimpy. By not knitting the centers, I figured I’d have a lengthy scarf. What I ended up with was something that garnered far more compliments that my original plan would have. I eventually submitted it to Interweave Knits, and it was included in a lighter weight and a summer yarn for the spring 2008 issue as ‘Chameleon Scarf‘. Since then I have released it on Ravelry with instructions for fingering, worsted, and bulky yarns, and with it’s original title- ‘Holey Squares Scarf’. (photo below- Sandi Gunnett)
Meanwhile, I kept playing with squares. For instance, when seamed, a simple hand-warmer could be made from one of these squares.
When Judy Becker’s Magic Cast On came on the scene in the spring of 2006 via Knitty.com, the lights went on for me. That simple handwarmer could be made more difficult, but seamless, by using a combination of long tail and magic cast ons. Aha!
More lights go on.
The same handwarmer, using magic cast on on steroids, could be used for a mitered square mitten, again, without seams and all worked in the round. Now it was getting fun for me because I believed I was in a new territory of knitting geometry. I mean, I don’t think there’s another pattern out there where you cast on provisionally, work six directions from there, and join twice on the first round. The resulting ‘Bobsled Mittens’ are found in Judy Becker’s book Beyond Toes, which is a collection of designs from folks similarly turned on by the magic. When I teach, I try to work JMCO into as many classes as possible.
The next self-imposed challenge was to work the bobsled architecture into a sock by turning the thumb into a heel. In spite of my worries over its wacky construction, I submitted it to Twist Collective where it appears in the current Spring/Summer 2012 issue. A few Lingonberry socks have now been showing up on Ravelry, and so far, I am relieved no one has had a heart attack. Some pretty, well-fitted socks have been made. (photo below- Twist Collective)
For the curious, here is a link to the support video on Youtube.
Squares, who knew they could be so entertaining?
Hold on to your knitting needles – have we got something fun for you!
We have been (very!) excitedly planning a weekend of learning new knitting tricks and techniques for spirited and adventurous knitters also known as Plucky knitters!
Your Friendly Vendors ~
Sarah Dimond, owner of The Plucky Knitter, has been dyeing like a madwoman since 2007. Her love of color and her obsession with all shades of gray keeps her very busy and highly entertained. http://www.thepluckyknitter.com and http://www.ravelry.com/groups/the-plucky-knitters
Hayley – Sarah, along with her sister, Hayley, will be your point person(s) and hostesses for the weekend. You will see Hayley’s smiling face upon arrival and if you need anything at all, she is your gal!
Your Teachers ~
Sivia Harding learned how to knit in 2000 and has been churning out patterns since 2003. Her work has appeared in publication under her own name, plus being featured in online magazines Twist Collective and Knitty, various subscription clubs, and in many knitting books. Sivia is known for her work with exceptional beaded knits. She joins us from Portland, Oregon. Read more about Sivia at http://www.siviaharding.com.
Lorilee Beltman happily sees no end to where one’s knitting curiosity can take them, so she enjoys helping knitters make new discoveries. Although she considers herself primarily a teacher, 2012 will see her designs popping up in a few public places. When not traveling to teach at national knitting events, she has enjoyed tent camping at nearly twenty National Parks with her all-boy family. She joins us from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more about Lorilee at http://www.city-knitting.com.
Your Location ~
Downtown Holland, Michigan is a lively and lovely area for shopping, dining and strolling. Enjoy the fresh spring landscape and perhaps some early tulips before the rush of visitors arrive in early May for the largest tulip festival in the U.S.
City Flats Hotel, the first LEED Gold Certified Hotel in the Midwest, will host our group for two nights. Consider coming a day early or staying a day late to enjoy more of what Holland has to offer, including miles of sandy Lake Michigan beaches. Read more at http://cityflatshotel.com/holland, but please do not book your room just yet. A block of rooms is already reserved, and you will want to use the registration code provided later in order to get the block discount. What you can do is make plans to pair up with a friend to share a room, so that you can be ready when registration opens.
Your Schedule: Friday-Sunday, April 13-15, 2012 ~
Sarah will start a thread on the Ravelry group where you can feel free to chat. Stay tuned!
Your Event Planners
Melissa at Craft Cruises put together a great itinerary for our outstanding bunch. Just back from our Alaska Cruise, I can easily say I’d love to do another some time.
We were joined by knitters from Massachusetts, Maryland, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, New York, Michigan, British Columbia, New Zealand and more. Our group was made up of about forty knitters, plus some of their most charming non-knitting friends and family. Students ranged from beginner to expert, and I wish to thank and congratulate all of them for being so game to try some new things, and so patient when reviewing.
Knitters gathered for class and for evening knitting time when we wished. We also enjoyed the sit-down dinner time to get to know each other. Excuse me for not having more photos of knitters, but I am usually more comfy pointing the camera at a scene.
So let me share some. While the ship sailed northward to Glacier Bay, we had two days for classes before reaching Glacier Bay National Park:
Charley and I are on the bow deck:
A close-up of the unusual blue color of the glacier. This is the Johns Hopkins Glacier.
Our first port was Juneau, where we selected a kayak tour for our shore excursion. We paddled right over and amongst so many salmon that the water appeared to be boiling.
In Sitka, before our organized tour, Sian and I made our way over to the Bishop’s House, part of the Park system now, but formerly the residence of the Bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church. Here are Sian and Kim, one of our patient herders.
And some of the interior at the Bishop’s house:
Then we had a knitting group fiber tour. I did not take photos of our group leader Bobbie Daniels in her Raven Frog Fiber studio, but I did snap some when she took us to the Fortress of the Bear, a facility that cares for orphaned cubs destined for zoos. This is the high school senior portrait pose.
This one, I swear, is just a guy wearing a bear suit.
In Ketchikan, a couple of hardy knitters joined me and Charley to go snorkeling. The thick wetsuit, beside making you feel like a tube of toothpaste the way your face get squished out the top of the mask, keeps you toasty warm. This is recently-engaged Shelby on the left, and Jill on the right.
There were more classes, and many chances to visit yarn shops. Our last stop was an evening visit to Victoria.
There Jared and I were elated to discover two shops loaded with authentic Cowichan sweaters. Charley should have taken this one home.
Once it was all over and we said our goodbyes, we had one day to kill in Seattle where we found the bubblegum alley near Pike Street Market, then joined Jeny Staiman (of bind off fame) and her daughter for lunch and a quick yarn shop hop.
The scenes were great, but the people made the trip. Thanks, Melissa, and thanks, Kim and Karen for managing all of us straying sheep all week. Knitters, you were all wonderful.
This weekend I decided to escape knitting brain to do some yard work. These days the kids usually mow the lawn, but I really like to do it, so I grabbed the mower while the grass was long and the kids were gone.
I mow weird.
The backyard gets mowed in a big circle. It’s basically a square, so I figure I save gas and turning time by just making a big bullseye, like this, before tidying up the corners:
Today I realized I could save time in the front yard, a big capital “L” shape with lots of obsticles, or more fondly worded, trees. I used to work back and forth, mitering the corners. But just now I employed the knitting technique of short row shaping to knock off those corners.
Instead of working back and forth, I could work this in the round, too. After all, if I am honest with myself, I prefer working in the round.
If I am really honest with myself, I see knitting brain and mowing brain are the same brain. I can’t escape. Help me.
Actually, leave me be. See the pretty things around me:
What’s on your calendar for early September? On Saturday, September 3 I fly out to Seattle and prepare to board Holland America line’s S.S. Oosterdam for a weeklong cruise to Alaska, September 4 – 11. This is my first cruise, and I get to travel with my husband who’ll be reading and relaxing between shore excursions. For me, that between time will be filled with knitting classes. Jared Flood and I are each teaching classes on this tour organized by Melissa of Craft Cruises.
Also joining us will be a host or two assigned to help us learn the ropes and find the yarn and fiber shops along the way. We have a nice bunch of knitters already signed up to join us, but there may be room for just a couple more of you. Read about the details in this recent newsletter, or at the Craft Cruises website, where you can sign up.
Join your cruising mates at Churchmouse Yarns & Teas, The Weaving Works, and Tricoter the day before sailing. Special events and discounts are planned.
I’ll be guiding you along in your learning in the following workshops:
Magic Loop Toe Up Socks
Cast Ons for Castaways
Holey Squares Scarf
Convert to Continental Knitting
Continental Knitting- Going Farther Faster, a continuation to solidify your skills and learn more knitting maneuvers.
And, Our Favorite Things, an information-packed class of tips and discoveries taught by both Jared and me.
I can’t wait.