Fling ended four days ago and I’m still trying to wrap my head around how awesome it was. So here are the top 5 things about Fling (in no particular order).
1. Learning knitting techniques from actual real life humans.
I’m a completely self-taught knitter up to this point. YouTube video tutorials, blog posts, books, and the occasional knitting television show have been my teachers. To have the opportunity to sit in a room with an actual person providing instruction, who could look at my work and make corrections or give hands on advice was more amazing than I can even describe.
2. Learning two-handed Fair Isle.
As a follow-up to number 1, one of the specific things I learned was two-handed Fair Isle knitting. The class was taught by Susan B. Anderson, who I admit, I didn’t really know much about before Fling, but she is awesome! Such a patient, kind, enthusiastic instructor – and her patterns, particularly her toys are adorable (check out the giraffe, elephant and dragon! She taught a class on making the dragon during Fling as well). I might need to cast on some of them as Christmas gifts for the kids… but I digress, Fair Isle, right. The class taught us the general technique of two-handed Fair Isle and more specifically how to apply this to a set of fingerless mitts. Susan gave us the general pattern for the mitts and then plenty of options for corrugated ribbing, Latvian braids, and various Fair Isle charts that we could combine in any combination we wished. Now I have not done a lot of designing when it comes to knitwear – ok, I haven’t done any – and I didn’t think I would be someone who would enjoy working without a defined pattern – but you know what? I loved it! It was so freeing to just decide what I wanted to do next and then see how it turned out. Let’s just say that I am now officially hooked on Fair Isle – which is great because now I can tackle all of those lovely projects I have saved to my Ravelry favorites and queue (I’m talking to you Britta Cowl. I got yarn for this while at Fling, so stay tuned 🙂 ). I also think I might have awoken a bit of a designer in myself, so we’ll have to see what that leads to. Here is a picture of my mitt in progress during class and then another of the finished product. Only one done so far, but the second will be cast on and finished this weekend so I can complete the pair.
3. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Need I say anymore? Not really, but I will. I have been reading Stephanie’s blog for maybe 8 years now and have loved it, and her, from the very beginning. The chance to get to hear one of her talks, take her class, and generally just breathe the same air as her – priceless. Her talk on Thursday evening was about your brain on knitting. She discussed the neurological changes that occur when we knit or even just think about knitting. Fascinating stuff! There is some really interesting research being done on this topic. Makes me want to go find some of the studies and read up on it myself.
The class I took with her was her famous Knitting for Speed and Efficiency. In this class, Stephanie provides a history of knitting, discusses some methods for improving your knitting speed in your own style, and then introduces you to lever knitting. Lever knitting is the style that she knits and the style of knitting that was used for production knitting in Ireland, Scotland and elsewhere when people had to knit for a living. The class definitely lives up to its hype. Using the techniques she taught us to improve our speed in our own knitting style, I was able to increase my speed from 33 stitches per minute to 40 stitches per minute during the 3 hour class! I’m looking forward to trying out the lever knitting some more.
4. Sheri, The Loopy Elves and Shopping at The Loopy Ewe in person
As someone who has been a loyal Loopy Groupie since 2008, the chance to visit the shop in person was a dream come true. I have visited quite a few yarn shops in my time as a knitter, and Loopy has the best selection and is the most well-organized one by far. Now part of this, I’m sure, is because they’re mainly an online shop, so they have to make it easy for the Elves to run to the shelves, grab stock for the orders, and pack them up to send them all over the world to us. But Sheri has done a wonderful job of not making it feel like a warehouse. It is warm and welcoming. The shelves are packed with gorgeous colors, organized by weight and then by dyer. Very easy to find what you’re looking for – and even some things you’re not. I may have spent a little bit of money while I was there – perhaps I checked out twice – but anyways, moving on …
Sheri and her staff also did an exceptional job at organizing and running the Fling itself. Everything ran smoothly, the accommodations were lovely. We had a dessert reception on Thursday evening, lunch was provided on Friday and Saturday, and there were snacks every afternoon that stayed out until the knitting lounge closed at midnight. Everyone was given a goody bag with free yarn (!), which we all had fun trading to get colors that we liked (still need to get a picture of this – will post to the blog later). And then there were door prizes on Saturday evening. I was lucky enough to win a skein of Fable Fibers Story in a one of a kind colorway (also don’t have a picture of this yet – promise to post it soon).
I can’t say enough good things about the customer service that I receive from Loopy with regards to my regular online orders – and they kicked it up another notch to show the 140 Fling attendees a fabulous time over the weekend.
5. Spending 4 days with people who “get me.”
I don’t really have that many people around me who knit, so it’s often a solitary activity for me. Many of the people that I spent time with and talk to on a daily basis don’t know the difference between a knit stitch and a purl stitch and could care less about the fact that Wollmeise has added a new yarn base to their line up (oh, yeah, did I forget to mention that Claudia from Wollmeise was at Fling!! with her new yarn!!). So getting the opportunity to spend such a large chunk of time with other knitters who “get me” was probably the best part of Fling. From the time I arrived on Wednesday evening until I left the Denver airport on Sunday, I was surrounded by knitters. We didn’t spend our entire time talking about knitting – we talked about life and our families, our favorite television shows, and just general chatter and jokes. But through it all we had a common passion, a common vocabulary and experience that tied us together and made us instant friends. The knitting lounge was always full of laughter and “ooohhhh what pattern is that? That’s gorgeous!” I don’t think I remember the last time I was in a gathering of people that big where everyone felt supportive of everyone else and was just there to have a good time and share our love of sticks and string. Knitters are good people and I’m proud to be one!