Fiber Fest!

Today started at 5 AM. When my alarm went off, I just wanted to throw my alarm against the wall and go back to sleep. The fact that I didn’t shows how much I knew that it was going to be a great day.

I had packed my stuff for the day last night, so all I had to do was get up, shower, get dressed, grab my stuff and go. Along with my knitting bag, I dragged along Scotty MonCreery and my trusty red 35mm camera.

I stopped at Starbucks (thank God that the location along the way opens at 5 even on the weekends) and traveled on to my friend Angele’s. Soon Micki arrived, and we all piled into Angele’s car to travel up to the DFW Fiber Fest in Grapevine.

I was SO thankful that I opted to travel with these two ladies. Angele was a fearless (and, at times, colorful) driver, and chatting with Micki and Angele as we dodged stopped trains, police blockades, road construction, and bad (and likely half-asleep) drivers made the trip go quickly.

Our next stop was “The Original Pancake House”, where we met even more of our fiber friends. Angele had suggested it, and she was right. They have a variety of standard breakfast fare, and some pretty original offerings as well. I chose the bacon pancakes… Pancakes made with a sourdough batter with bacon bits mixed in. It was unusual but yummy. The company was even better. There’s something about these people that makes me laugh all the time. They were all very tolerant… no… encouraging of my taking lots of silly monkey pictures.

Then it was a short job to Fiber Fest. We had about a half hour to browse the vendor stalls before class. I immediately spotted a necklace that was screaming for me to buy it for my pal the art teacher. Then I darted from stall to stall taking monkey pictures until I was halted in my tracks by the Madeleine Tosh booth. Such loveliness! I couldn’t wait until after the class to grab some selections. I spent more in that one booth than I’d planned on spending the whole day, but I don’t regret it a bit!

The class started at 9 with Ann Hanson. The class was entitled “Advanced Lace Knitting” and it turned out to be not what I expected. The class description was as followed:

An intermediate/advanced class which covers knitted lace (motifs with lace knitting on RS and WS of fabric), chart reading, working with incorporated edgings and knit-on edgings, shaping for shawls of various types, and fielding specific lace knitting questions from students. Students will work through a mini triangle sampler shawl as a class project (pattern provided)

In the parts of the class where she was sharing her knowledge about knitting lace in general, she was amazingly knowledgeable. She had a huge pile of knitted swatches in all sorts of yarns and blends that I’d never heard of before. They were beautiful, and I was impressed at the amount of patience and discipline that it must have taken to knit them. I learned from those portions of the class.

I didn’t really learn that much from the rest. It was an Advanced Lace Knitting class, and the only technique that she truly taught (crochet provisional cast-on) was something that I already knew. The rest of the class time was spent working on Ann Hanson’s Baby Bee Shawl pattern (a shawl for an American Girl sized doll) and hearing “Did you read the pattern?”

I don’t know as much about Ann Hanson as many who were there did, so I didn’t know what to expect of her. She seemed very businesslike… matter-of-fact, brief in her answers, with just occasional pithy remarks. Some of her answers came out in ways that I don’t think she really intended the way that they came out. After about a hour of actual teaching, she went over, sat down, and started knitting after saying, “I’ll be over here if anyone has any questions.”

Don’t get me wrong… It was neat watching such a noted knitter actually knitting, but that’s not exactly what I paid for! What happened to the talk about reading charts? Most of the questions from the students received non-answers. Example: a question from a student about how to solve a problem received the answer, “I’ve never had that problem.” and a shrug.

It was disappointing, but I suspect that the quality of the class was greatly impacted by the number of attendees (over 20) and by the fact that she had already taught two long days of classes prior to this one. I’ve been a technical trainer before, so I’ve experienced the energy drain before. I’ve been away from home, sleeping in a hotel, not sleeping well, getting up at odd hours, etc. So I can understand that Ann Hanson may not have been at her best or up to such a crowded room of knitters with varying skill levels. It was just a let-down, especially since I’m such a slow knitter that I didn’t even get to the point of starting the Baby Bee shawl.

Ann Hanson was gracious enough to pose for a picture with Scotty…
04.09.2011 Scotty MonCreery with Ann Hanson at DFW Fiber Fest

I was cheered up by returning to the vendor hall. Props to the Fiber Fest planners for getting so many vendors. I remember back to the first Fiber Fest, and there were so few. Granted, it’s not as big as many shows, but I think it can get there. Judging from the number of customers, I think the business is there.

I could have spent a couple more hours there, but alas… Everyone else was hungry and ready to go. So we left and went to La Madeleine’s for lunch. That was awesome too. Those of us who had gone to the class compared notes and reactions to it, and I was gratified to hear that my reaction was not unique.

Then we headed home. Micki surprised us by pulling the most awesome oatmeal raisin cookies from her bag. The cookies were soft and perfect after the salad I’d had at Le Madeleine’s.

I picked up my car at Angele’s and then headed home. On the way, I saw that the art teacher was at the school, so I stopped in to give her the necklace. She was so delighted and agreed that it was perfect for her. I showed her all of my purchases, and she approved of each and every one. (What a good friend!)

When I got home, I was so tired. I unloaded the pictures from the camera and talked through them with Little Grump. I can’t wait to put them together… Stay tuned for “Scotty Goes to Fiber Fest”!

2 thoughts on “Fiber Fest!

  1. Min

    Interesting. I took a class from Anne before, and I was warned by someone else (who had taken a class from her a few years prior) that it would be awful. Dreadful. I would HATE it. She was militant in her teaching style.

    I didn’t find it that way it all, and I wondered if she had perhaps adjusted some things after hearing some feedback from prior students. Granted, this was a one-day class day when she was at my LYS for a weekend teaching, so not quite the same as teaching at a festival in a marathon-type of atmosphere.

    The only thing that left a bad taste in my mouth was that she told me I was using the wrong type of yarn, and she wouldn’t STOP telling me. Over and over and over. I finally wanted to be “YES, I GET IT! I’m not a moron! I got it the fifth time you said it! I even understood the first time you said it!” In front of about fifteen people, it was rather mortifying.

  2. Lynn

    Well then, I’m glad that I didn’t find out she would be here until that class had already filled up. I thoroughly enjoyed her lecture/trunk show at the Shabby Sheep on Wednesday. It was exactly what I had hoped for.

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