I spent the last week at TNNA. It’s The National Needle Arts Conference for the trade–yarn manufacturers, publishers, designers. It was a great time! Most of all because I got to meet some friends who I’d previously only known via e-mail: Kim Werker, the editor of CrochetMe, Cecily Keim crochet designer and author with Kim of Teach Yourself Visually: Crochetand Shannon Okey, knit designer and author of Knitgrrl and Knitgrrl2 reviews of all these cool new books will follow soon…

On Thursday morning, I took top-down raglan sweater construction–something I’d tried on winging my own, but had never learned the ins and outs. It was a good class–the project was a teddybear sweater. The class was taught by Mareen Mason-Jamieson. The little sweater I’d made on my own was a pull-over and in this class we were making a cardigan which turned out to be great because I learned a lot about fit, neck shaping and sleeves. As you can see I didn’t finish the sweater in the class (of course some of the faster knitters did), but I got through all the essential details. I’ll finish it up so Selma can use it on one of her dolls or bears.

Thursday evening, I took “Intarsia without Fear” — Intarsia is another skill in knitting I’d been wanting to tackle — from Edie Eckman. Edie and I met this fall on the Mall in DC when we both served as Crochet Doctors at Knit Out. It was fun to see her again. In the beginning of class, she said “I can’t promise you’re going to like intarsia, but you’ll leave class knowing how to do it.” Edie was right–she’s a great teacher and she got practically everyone to feel at ease with this challenging skill–about half-way through the class I thought–“I’ll probably never do Intarsia again.” but by the end of class, I could handle it just fine, and I don’t know if I’d do an intarsia project on my own, I’ve already used lots of the skills she taught in the class in other ways.

Edie is also the author of The Crochet Answer Book A great guide to just about every little technique question you might have. It seems like it would be accessible to beginners, but it also has lots of information to help the more advanced crocheter. It has clear illustrations and concise explanations. Also it’s a great size–perfect to fit in your project bag and travel everywhere with you.

After class Edie and I picked up Lorna Miser (knitwear designer extrordinaire and former owner of Lorna’s Laces) and went to a late dinner at the little Mexican restaurant in their hotel. The restaurant was getting ready to close, and when I asked what vegetables were in the vegetable quesadilla the waitress said “Oh, we ran out of vegetables yesterday.” We thought she was joking, but she wasn’t! After some clarification we found out that they did have some onions and mushrooms so I did end up having the quesadilla after all, and it was pretty good. We had a fun time knitting and chatting about designing and I found out a lot about the The Professional Knitwear Designers Guild, an organization I’ve wondered about in the past. Edie an Lorna both volunteer for PKDG, and they’ve convinced me to sign up for an associate membership and get to know the organization even better.

Edie was on the floor of the convention center on Saturday signing copies of The Crochet Answer Book, and her other new book Knit & Crochet Ponchos, Wraps, Capes & Shrugs!. Edie edited this great little collection which includes designs by Lorna Miser, Gwen-Blakley Kinsler, Jill Wilcott and more. It’s a well-designed book with lots of photos and clear instructions, charts and technique tips. There’s a comprehensive index, and an appendix about how to find the yarn in the book. Oh, and crocheters will be happy to know that not only is the cover pattern crocheted, but there’s lots of crochet in the book as well. I do wish that real models rather than mannequins had been wearing the garments in the photos. One other great feature is that some of the garments are actually shown twice in two different yarns.

Jill Willcot has my favorite knit pattern in the book–it’s barely a capelet–more like a cowl-neck that just happens to fall past the shoulders. It’s a beautiful, modern design done in fall colors and it looks fun and easy to make. Kathleen Power Johnson has a shrug that uses a cool, unusual stitch pattern–it’s a vertical zig-zag done using a crossed stitch pattern that gives great dimension to the piece.

Hmm… Well I’ve just covered Thursday but I think this post is long enough! Next up–Cat Bordhi’s amazing knitting techniques.

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TNNA: Top-Down Teddy-Bear Sweaters, Intarsia without Fear and More!