Knitting, Nicky, and New

In keeping with the theme of “new possibilities” at this time of rebirth, aka retirement, I am excited to say there is more to report!  Actually, a few new things.  Odd as it may seem, I have never belonged to an established knitting group.  I felt what little time I had for knitting during the child-rearing and employment years could best be spent with actual knitting rather than traveling to do the same.  There are a few exceptions as I recall a year or two where a few of us colleagues met about 1x/month, rotated to each other’s homes and attempted to knit.  Attempted, I say because we were so busy chatting about school life as school life doesn’t allow time for such chit chat, the knitting needles barely came out.  And, then there were the sessions with the lovely neighbor who, to this day, I credit for my inspiration to knit.  Her beautiful stockinette suits with picot raglan sleeves and straight skirts sent me into a love affair I still have today.  Aside from these two experiences, it’s been a quiet existence creating my hand knits.

Well, times are a-changing as I have officially become a member of the Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo.  I couldn’t wait for the Fall at its onset and I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for the year.   Little did I know about the membership of about 300 or the organized meetings with focus and purpose, the mini classes to be a teacher or to be taught, positions of leadership one could hold or the twice a year guest speaker series!  And, it was the latter that officially kicked off this year’s season… with none other than world renowned knitwear designer, Nicky Epstein!

Nicky Epstein is to knitting as Lucy Calkins is to Literacy or Tom Brady is to good looks… I mean, football.  Here is a great quote describing her credentials:  “Nicky Epstein is a world renowned knitwear designer, teacher and author of 28 bestselling books. Her knitting and crochet books range from highly original resource books, to historical books, to travel books, to Barbie Doll books, to amazingly creative design fashion/pattern books. Her books are “must haves” in the libraries of designers and knitters alike, and she has won the National Independent Book Publisher’s Award for Best Craft Book Of The Year…three times!  Her innovative, fashionable, whimsical and award winning designs have appeared in every major knitwear magazine, in museums and on television, and she has taught classes to knitters around the world and hosted many Vogue Knitting Tours overseas as well as others.”  And, all I could think of … she is coming to Buffalo?  Are you kidding me?  I have admired the works and creative genius of Nicky Epstein since the time I first picked up my knitting needles!  So, during week two of my brand new membership, I found myself in her seminar AND taking my very FIRST knitting class EVER!!

I was soon to find out that there were busloads of enthusiasts from neighboring states as well as Canada who would be joining us.

I believe this bus load of people came from Pa.

The seminar was a slide show presentation of a micro-fraction of her body of work, stemming from a few of her books.  Just look!  Her 29th is literally being published as I write this.

She smartly brought along the actual pieces she was talking about and had members voluntarily model them so we could get the full impact of these show-stoppers.  If you hadn’t heard of Nicky before, you quickly noticed her aesthetic of embellishments, embroidery, and appliqué she adds on top of knitted fabric making for whimsical, dreamy, original sought-after looks.

Here is a lovely audience member modeling one such creation.
Here is a lovely audience member modeling one such creation. Nicky is explaining technique.

Considering design work, myself I left the seminar full of ideas thinking how incredibly lucky I was to have Nicky, herself as a source of inspiration.  And, knowing I would see her, again at one of her classes was almost daunting.

She taught four classes, Block Party, Embroidery, Knitting Embellishment-Edgings, Knitting Embellishment-Appliques.  I attended the last.  Here are some of my fellow knitters who attended some of the other sessions taking on her “assignments”.

Check out fellow knitter Ann’s work from the Block Party class!

sewn blocks of knitting
sewn blocks of knitting

Ann prepared herself for the Embroidery Class by taking baby items she recently knitted knowing that with Nicky’s guidance would turn one look into another!

knitted as per pattern
knitted as per pattern
now, beautifully embellished with personal touch
now, beautifully embellished with personal touch

Here are fellow knitters taking the class I did.  I was sitting at the very back right next to the last woman photographed here.

And, we were all taken with this young college student enrolled in Fiber Design at a local college.

Here is Jarod, a young college student enrolled in the Art Dept. at local university. We were all taken with his interest in knitting.

I was motivated with this project, Nicky’s design that made the front cover of Vogue Knitting’s Anniversary issue.

These flowers were knitted in the Embellishment Class along with these other little leaf doodads and such.  I will likely continue to complete the “anniversary scarf” using scraps from stash.  It will be my keepsake to recall the wonderful time I had with Nicky and the others.

And, as in life, we all know how one thing leads to another. So, this is the perfect time to announce that I have accepted one of those leadership roles I mentioned earlier in the post as Publication Chairperson for this upcoming season for the Guild.  How awesome to have found a job that gives me a purpose in my new retirement life with a focus that aligns with my goals,  combining two of my favorite things in life… knitting and writing!  Write about knitting… write while I knit?  Right on!