April 01, 2005


Wednesday was the day of wrong hotels.

My flight from Seattle to Philadelphia was -- aside from the 10 minutes of turbulence while we went through a lightning storm over Chicago -- uneventful.

Unlike my cab ride from the Philadelphia airport. I white-knuckled through a cab ride to Hotel #1. My instincts told me, the entire ride, that this non-native English-speaking cabbie wasn't understanding which hotel that I wanted to go to; my instinct told me, this is not the right way. At one point I even asked the driver, Do you know where you're going? To which he replied, I take you to the convention. Getting there is half the fun, I repeated to myself over and over, as I watched the cabbie nearly sideswipe a car once while merging left, another time while merging right, while he ran a red light, while he speeded through the streets of downtown Philadelphia, leaving me on the doorstep of a beautiful hotel. I knew full well that this hotel was not hosting a convention of knitters, but I was not about to get back in the cab with that same driver and head for another destination.

The bell captain at Hotel #1 was thoroughly accommodating, and summoned for me a taxi and helped make it very clear that I wanted a hotel at the Valley Forge Convention Center, a good thirty minutes outside of downtown Philaldelphia. This cabbie was a hundred years old if he was a day, but he knew how to get me to Hotel #2, the hotel at which Knit-bud Anne and I had reservations. Both the bell hop at the cabbie were very kind and considerate to a woman traveling alone at night in the big city. Since it was already 11 PM, this cabbie was kind enough to wait at the doors of Hotel #2 while I checked with the front desk, just to make sure that if this wasn't the right hotel, he could take me to the next one down the road. "Just give me the hi sign," he said, "I won't leave until then."

Well, the lady at the front desk was on a phone call at first. I got nervous about making the cabbie wait. When the receptionist finished the phone call, she scrolled through her computer screen, and said, "Oh, your reservation's been cancelled. But, no matter, I can give you a room."

I waved the cabbie on, and proceeded to check in, find my room, and unpack. I kept waiting for Anne to arrive. She'd had a later flight than mine, and I wasn't suprised to arrive first, even with the detour to Hotel #1, although, as the hours passed, I became more and more concerned. Had something happened to her -- or was I not in the right place? Finally, at 1:00 AM Philaldelphia time, I called the front desk and asked if they'd seen Anne, it just seemed so strange that she'd be so late. No, the front desk lady said, she hadn't seen Anne. I hung up. Ten minutes later, the front desk called to say that Anne had checked into Hotel #3, "our sister hotel," and would I like the receptionist to ring her room?

Anne had checked in just a few minutes earlier. We agreed that it was too late, and we didn't know where the other one of us was, to try to change rooms in the middle of the night.

Next morning, I checked out of Hotel #2 and into Hotel #3, to share a room with Anne. Even the right hotel that the second cabbie took me to turned out to be the wrong hotel. (We actually did have reservations at Hotel #2, but the hotel had, for the sake of its bureaucratic convenience, transferred us to Hotel #3.)

Thursday was the Lily Chin Show.

A class with Lily Chin is like having a class taught by a knitting stand-up comedian. Never a dull moment. The topic of this class was Designing. I very much appreciated her teaching style: Education through Entertainment; how quickly and easily she improvised with the various objects that my classmates had brought as "things that inspire us."

Lily talked us through translating our inspiration by way of technique. (Does this work best as a crocheted item? Entrelac? Fair Isle garment?) Lily talked to us about considerations of functionality. She held up a darling little gray cotton cardi that had little pink "band-aid stitch" roses on it. The "band-aid" stitch roses she liked so well, that she'd made a column of them down the buttonband, where they functioned as buttons. Then she seemingly went off on a tangent, telling us about an art group that puts out items that "transcend functionality." She described how beautiful these pieces of art work are -- but, because they "transcend functionality," that means: The pot is pretty but it can't hold water. With Lily, you know to just hold on and see where she's taking you, but like a good cab ride, you arrive at a meaningful destination. While telling this story, she held up a little black cardi, just like the gray one, only the pink roses were, this time, white and made of silk. "The pot is pretty but it can't hold water -- I can't wear this cardigan in public," she said, and one tug on the buttonband showed why: the entire thing fell open. The silk rosette buttons were too slick to stay in the buttonholes.

Thursday evening, after much fuss, and with the help of the hotel's troubleshooter/handyman named Bismarck, my computer got connected to the internet at long last. Funny stuff, this new technology. My laptop does not have a wireless card in it, but there now exists a little wireless translator box that can transmit and receive a wireless signal to a computer such as mine. It can do this, if you have someone as computer-savvy as Bismarck who can help you to hook it up properly.

While I was seeking inspiration and having a laugh-a-minute in Lily Chin's class, Anne was knitting her little heart out in a class on entrelac bags:
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Now it awaits a handle and a run through the washer to felt it, and it'll be darling! Not bad for a day's work, Anne.

For kicks, here are some close-ups of some of Anne's other projects. Mossbank, with grafted sleeves, and short-rowed-shoulders-shaped-in-the-round, following Janine's directions.
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Mossbank's companion piece is Saga Rose:
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Truly a fearless Fair Isle knitter, Anne substituted Black for the Dark Navy, Old Rose instead of Chestnut, Gentian instead of Admiral Navy, and Twilight instead of Old Gold. Only Maroon stayed the same. And it still looks great.

I discovered that I could avoid knitting all of those nasty homework swatches, by transferring out of those classes and instead taking the Triangular Trilogy class with Galina Khmeleva. We learned two different techniques for making traditional, triangular, Orenburg lace shawls. (I think time constraints prevented us from learning the third technique that would have competed the trilogy.) I fell in love with several of Galina's patterns, and a cone of laceweight cashmere will be coming home with me. Here's how far I got on the sample of the first triangle shawl constructon technique that we learned today:
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This involved knitting the first border (you see it at the bottom of the photo), then picking up and knitting the body of the shawl along with the second border. Eventually, the third border is knitted upwards as a strip from the second border, and attached across the top of the shawl via Russian grafting. Anne and I both have done a fair amount of lace knitting, but we both found this a day chock-full of new information. I would take another class from Galina in a heartbeat.

Galina herself was delightful and personable, and could tell a joke. I struggled to remember any of the Russian I learned in two quarters of undergraduate study, and managed a little "please and thank you" by the end of the afternoon.

Other knitting updates: I got quite comfortable and cozy knitting on the plane ride here, and accomplished many rounds on Sandness, putting it aside only when I had to because the next needed color wasn't in my carry-on. (All the colors came with me this trip -- I am not repeating the mistake I made on my vacation to Mexico, where this project got stalled for want of a color.)

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And now that I'm past the charted border on the Prince Caspian sweater, the remainder, that I'm doing all in broken rib, is an easy, mindless, carry-along knitting project:
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That's more like it!

Posted by Karen at April 1, 2005 05:43 PM

Fabulous, funny posting, Karen! I hope the rest of your trip continues to go more smoothly than your hotel-hunt did!

Posted by: Ryan at April 4, 2005 04:27 PM

Whew! I'm going back to bed, this just tired me out reading about it. Your classes sound very interesting--Lily Chin has some pretty amazing technical and design insights, and Galina Khemelova's shawls are a wonder.

Thanks for posting about Anne's use of the shoulder in the round shaping! It just makes me so happy to hear that someone else is using this technique.

Posted by: Janine at April 4, 2005 04:43 PM

Oops I was a 'bit' late on packing advice in my comment on your last post, wasn't I, LOL.

I received the book this afternoon in the mail. I have been having such great luck this year (knock wood).
Thank you! I was tickled to see that the sweater you are making, the Prince Caspian, is in there. I think I will start off with one of the scarves first. There are at least three projects in there that I genuinely plan to do. Lots of 'want to do' but three firm.

It was good to see you got the hotel situation straightened out. I really enjoyed seeing the knitting. Texture and color always makes my heart glad. Those classes seem like such fun.

Thanks again

Posted by: Aarlene at April 5, 2005 10:22 PM