Wait... what am I doing SEWING?! - you'll see... - just keep in mind I was doing this for a number of weekends.. secretly working on this project and not telling many folks...
It's all in the past now... but wow - STILL reveling in the fun we had preparing for (and experiencing "Kenny's Wicked Weekend!" - let's get one thing out of the way... no, I didn't spell the title wrong ... bear with me - you'll see why it's important in good time! haha
First, I'll tell you - I had traveled from Los Angeles to San Francisco each weekend for a month preparing with my best friend John for this weekend. Kenny Chua had mentioned that he wanted to see Wicked - he wanted the gang to join him in Houston to see the show for the 4th of July. No offense to those who live in TX, but have you ever BEEN to TX in the summer? eek. HOT. so... we started planning... some of that planning took lots of sewing (and surging and embroidering!) - we made magic happen. (John and I are also running - we're going to do a marathon; my 2nd, John's 1st! at some point this year!)... so we worked on our secret project, and ran at least once each weekend (except for one!)
Kenny, Gregg, Chuck and I flew to San Francisco for the 4th of July weekend - and among all the other fun things we got to do, we spent some time visiting yarn shops...
Here we are at A Verb for Keeping Warm - it was a true treat to meet the owner Kristine and see her shop - I never thought I would have the pleasure of seeing this space... it's worth visiting, and if you have ever pondered the idea of buying from her, I can't give you a higher recommendation. She was kind, informative and honest about all my questions relating to owning a fiber business (my dream!) - we were also lucky enough to be hosted to our tour of Berkeley by none other than wondermike of Fiber Beat ... he took photos of us, toured us around the town and shared lunch with him.. it was a real adventure!
We also visited the "T Cozy" - some knit taggers did this bit of public yarn bombing... on a public art installation of "HERE" and "THERE" referencing a famous poem.. "there is no 'there' there..."
We went to Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles - my favorite part of this place was it's overwhelming selection of gorgeous vintage (style) scissors!
OK OK... so now it's time for WICKED! - we dressed up in our black pants, white shirts, green argyle socks, official "Wicked" green glasses, top hats and CUSTOM MADE Opera Capes!
Here they are... hand made by John and me... black crepe, lined in black satin... the interior of each cape has the San Francisco skyline in green sequin fabric embroidered along the base - and on one side of the cape there's the Golden Gate Bridge with "Kenny's Wicked Weekend" and the details of the weekend memorialized under the roadway.
It was an incredible weekend - and the show is amazing - we were 5th row CENTER - we went around back and met some of the cast, got Kenny's grimmerie (souvenier book) signed by some of the actors... and in the end, everyone appreciated the capes - other patrons took our photos, the crew laughed and pointed us out as "crazy fans" and we all learned a valuable lesson - if you really LOVE something and dive in with all your heart, most people will be supportive...
We love Kenny - and now I'm pretty sure he's OK with the idea of parading downtown San Francisco in capes.. as long as he's with his friends.
For the actual 4th of July - we had a picnic in Dolores park... and unveiled the cake we had made for Kenny... the Asian bakery that made it for us (who also make the amazingly yummy pork buns I have to eat every morning when visiting) spelled "Wicked" wrong... but what were we going to do but laugh and take the cake... in the end, it was perfect... even if it wasn't.
Memories... these crazy life changing wacky weekends are some of the best type... and if there's a typo in them, then so be it - the cake was YUMMY.. the weekend perfect.... in every way - weather, friends, atmosphere... we are lucky boys to know each other... and it's all because of knitting.
Happy Birthday, Kenny (a few months late!)
Here are some of the photos from the weekend-- in no particular order (bear with them - lots of photos from the yarn shops, the Laci's museum, and our fun adventures with WonderMike... hang tight... there are fun photos of the cake... us in our capes...
What can I say that hasn't already been said? The Men's Knitting Retreats are a MUST for guys who are enthralled with all things fiber. I am proud to say this was my second trip to Easton, NY to the Spring MKR, and once again, it was overwhelming, inspiring, and empowering!
There were 44 men in attendance this year - about half of the attendees were returning members... and the only thing I might regret out of the entire trip was the inability to get to see and spend enough time with each person. I think of these retreats a lot like I do of going on vacation - I often pick one spot, and sit down and really REALLY try to get to know it - that way, when I am back in the real world, I am left with a strong understanding of at least one aspect... this makes for good memories, but there's always the tiny corner of the mind that wonders what other things were around that were missed!
I put my photos on flickr as a slideshow - to save space in the post and to be sure to offer a "view" of the retreat to those who want to re-visit as well as those who might want to attend in the future.
I am lucky to be strongly connected to 3 of the retreat attendees - Chuck, John and Kenny are my wonderful friends - my "fiber pals" - we are constantly in touch, emailing, texting and visiting each other... we are true friends and it's AMAZING to me that we get to share this passion of fiber (which is, admittedly, what brought us together!) - During the retreat, we spent a lot of time together - and as usual, this time means so much.
We all flew to Albany, NY the day before the retreat so that we could take a day trip to WEBS - in Northhampton, MA -
it's the MECCA for yarn junkies -- aisle after aisle of gorgeous yarn - we were greeted with smiles (and gift bags!), given a brief outline of the layout of the shop, and then sent off running through the aisles of gorgeous yarn! We were shown the stock area, and even the (secret) packing and shipping area! Everyone there was helpful, smart, and sensible with our money and ideas - I felt quite at home, and was thankful that we made the visit! Now, when I go to www.yarn.com, I will think of my friends at webs and know who's packing my orders! - I ended up with yarn for a sweater, and a pair of socks. I wanted to buy a LOT more but had to restrain myself... after all, we were just beginning!!
After lunch, we headed to Norhhampton Wools - owned by Linda Daniels - she was a treat to meet, and was really interested in the Men's Knitting Retreats. I spoke to her about a box I saw in her shop (there's actually 2 stores side by side!) and after a bit of coaxing, she allowed me to adopt it! - it's beautiful, amazing and HAND CARVED from South Africa! - I asked her if she had the possibility of getting more - if you would like to email her to express interest, do so HERE - and be sure to mention that I sent you!!
I LOVE this box (it's about 18" long x 8" deep x 5" high) - along with the memories and friendships created at the retreat, it's one of my prized posessions. I don't know if there will ever be another box available, but I did hint to Linda that people will probably be beating her door down to buy them! - feel free to let her know if you want one (or two!)
I will post later about what I was knitting at the retreat, and other patterns I plan to start... I could write all weekend and not have expressed all the fun and joy that results from these retreats!!
As far as the actual retreat, it was an incredible experience, and I look forward to the next time that I get to see all my fiber brothers - we are VERY lucky that Joe and Ted took the initiative to create such a nurturing and loving space - and through our repeated visits, the family is growing closer and closer; sharing knowledge, stories and love with their creative bretheren.
To those of you who just "wish" you could have attended - make the point to attend next year's retreat NOW - or go to the MFKR on the west coast - they are important to our creative development - and you'll be very glad you did.
For those of you who want to my photos - here you go - (not in any particular order!) -
So, in the end... more fun than we can put into words, or photos... it's a tradition (now) to share this time with friends... I know we just had the retreat - but I'm looking forward to next year's gathering again... who knows what we'll come up with for show and tell (my mind is already coming up with a knitalong!) - but one thing I do know - if it's possible, I'll be there!!!