Thursday, September 23, 2010

My KnitCamp: the good, the bad and the ugly

     About now I think enough has been said about Knit Camp UK.   But I will write a summary of what I actually did and the highlights of other camp events.  First the was very,very good.  Then the was mostly inconvenience and disorganization.  But it went down the tubes quickly and  many people had serious problems.  I was lucky.  The Ugly... what happened after the whole thing was over.  Ugly, criminal and unconscionable.  Really naughty.
Our home at Stirling University
     We arrived at Knit Camp on a Monday afternoon, and found the Stirling Management Center which is a hotel-ish building on the campus of Stirling University.  After checking into our room, which was a lovely double room, I headed over to the pub in the Student Union for the Clap-o-Tea.   To enter the Clap-o-Tea one had to have knit the Clapotis shawl, and one also needed to wear it to the Tea.  I dutifully knit a new Clap, my second in three years, and wore it to the Tea, despite the fact that it was the warmest weather we encountered in Scotland.  By the time I got there most folks had met up with friends and had a couple of drinks, so I wandered a bit and sat with a lovely woman and her husband from Texas.  It was at this Tea that we heard of the first really bad thing happening; the lack of work visas for the 6 American Tutors as well as the fact that two of the tutors had been deported, one back to the US and another to Holland (I think).  This pretty dramatically affected many students as Tuesday class schedule had all 8 tutors classes fully booked . (say about students18 per class).  A meeting was called for 7:45 the following morning to see what was going to happen.  Since I had a Scottish teacher the following day I was not impacted, but Cindy, the woman I sat with was certainly affected as her tutor was not even in attendance at all. A number of tutors had pulled out due to contract issues, but the Knit Camp Director neglected to contact anyone about this!!!!  Since it was out of our hands  we went out to dinner in Stirling and had a lovely time.
Signboard outside restaurant in Stirling, we ate elsewhere!

     The following morning there was a big meeting to tell everyone what was happening.  I didn't go to the meeting, but I doubt that it was a happy event.  Students were told that the Non EU tutors had to leave the country ( fly to Dublin) and re-enter with new visas or some such folderol and that people had the choice of taking the class of their choice of getting a full refund.  Well, that created a more than mild pandemonium.  Again, I was not effected as I had a Fair Isle Knitting class with Liz Lovick .    Many folks took the option to take an existing class, despite the fact that most of the classes were already fully booked.  Classrooms were too small to fit extra students.  Tutors did not have enough materials or handouts, tempers flared. As a matter of fact NONE of the handouts had been prepared by the administration of camp for any classes, despite the fact that tutors had sent the prepared handouts and patterns weeks earlier and expected them to be copied and ready in their classrooms. So various "classroom assistants" had to run around like mad women trying to xerox class notes, come up with materials and sort out computer glitches.  These classroom assistants should all receive medals and lots of praise for all the work they did.  And there was not an assistant  in every class.  Lots of tutors had to just drop back 10 yards and punt. My class was totally wonderful.  Liz is extraordinarily knowledgeable and prepared tons of class notes and a CD of the PowerPoint directions she gave in class. Somehow she had enough for everyone even with extra students.  However the room was VERY crowded and became unbearably hot in the afternoon. We learned a lot about the history of Fair Isle and Shetland Knitting and started a small hat with yarn supplied by Jameson and Smith.  After I got home I decided to rip out the little hat and make a pair of Fair Isle Gloves, someday.  Story of my life!
     More to come later.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Knit Camp UK

  When I decided to attend Knit Camp UK in Scotland I really scrutinized the class list.  There were originally something like 49 instructors (called tutors in the UK) and each had about 4 classes.  For some odd reason I printed out that original class list and poured over it for days choosing the perfect classes.  There were several American teachers from whom I had taken classes in the past, so I eliminated those folks; there are techniques that I have tried and don't enjoy ( intarsia, modular knitting) , so I eliminated those classes. Although I am a die hard spinner I knew that my wheel, even my lovely Majacraft Little Gem, would not be making the trip. Out with the spinning. And there are a couple of things that I am really good at, like gloves, that I do not need to take a class in.  That narrowed it down a bit, but I still found 8 or 10 classes that I knew I would thoroughly enjoy.  I HAD to take a class with Liz Lovick.  I was  lucky enough to do a swap with her a couple of years ago on the Traditional Knitters Yahoo group and we have casually corresponded over the years.  I really wanted to take a class from Gudrun Johnston as I admire her work, and though she lives not too far from me, I have not been able to take a class from her.  Plus she is a an authentic Shetland Knitter. I really wanted to take a photography class, to improve my blog, because I am, in all honesty, a crap photographer.  And a couple of other classes intrigued me.  I kind of cast fate to the wind, signed up for  four classes, received a receipt and went about my life.
   A couple of months later, maybe March, I checked the Knit CampUK website and noticed that one of my instructors was no longer listed.  I got out my original list and found that several other tutors names were missing.  My naive  thought was that those classes were full, no longer available,  these were pretty famous knitters after all.  Then, several weeks later, I decided that I just HAD to take a class with Jared Flood. I bought a book by the instructor for my Wednesday class and decided that perhaps we would not be a great match. So I requested a change to Jared's Baby Surprise Jacket class.  I received no reply.  Tried again, no response, used a different email address, nada.  That is when I joined the Knit Camp UK Ravelry group and became aware of rumblings about the administration of the event.  I admit, I then sent a pretty surly email, demanding that I at least be notified whether it would be possible to change the class.  Canned email that the person was on vacation... Well, I got a bit hot under the collar and eventually, after several exchanges, received an email from a new person, hired to " put out  fires".  Class changed, all was well.
   {As an aside, I really had no interest in the baby surprise jacket.  I have made several.  It is not a pattern that I enjoy, and I think it looks kinda dopey on babies.  It was Jared Flood I was interested in.  Not him, personally, just taking a class from him, and it fit in my schedule.  Never did take the class, but I got to sit next to him at breakfast one day}.
     Time went by, I faithfully watched the Rav boards and became curiouser and curiouser about what was to come.  Things were hoppin'.  People were up in arms, classes were canceled willy-nilly.  And communication from the powers-to-be at Knit camp UK ground to a halt.  But there was this other person who did put out fires.  She seemed lovely.  In fact she was lovely. I met her.  Weeks passed.  Then one day in July I received an email  that my photography class instructor would not be attending.  Double sorry, but we have this other person, Mary Jane Mucklestone, well qualified, who can teach you class.  I googled her, I already read her blog.  I was happy.  And well I should be... she was absolutely brilliant.  In fact I had considered one of the classes that she was supposed to teach, but now she was switched to do the photography.  Photography class settled.
   Just before I went to Scotland I checked the website for Knit Camp UK and noticed far fewer tutors.  The numbers changed almost daily from 49 originally down to 29, a low of 24 and up to 29 again.  I had to stop looking as I had made a not small investment in this trip, and I was planning on getting the most out of it.  At this point I was signed up for 4 classes, three of them neither the original class or the original teacher that I signed up for.  But I was still pretty happy, and optimistic that the whole thing would be world class.
  Part two to follow... the actual Knit UK Camp.  Dum-de-dum-dum-dummmmm