Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Very delayed recap: Unwind Brighton!!

I finally have some time to write here about Unwind Brighton!  It might be a long post, but I don't want to forget what a fantastic time July was because of this Festival, so I'd better make it as long as it deserves.

Let's begin by saying that this was a Knitting and Fiber event held in Brighton (south coast of England) during the weekend of July 12-13th.
Well, for starters, all the comments I'll make will be written from an attendee perspective, since I did not work while I was there.  I had never been in a event of this kind, or taken any classes of any sort, so I decided to treat myself and come to England for my first time.  I believed I needed to know why people loved these events so much... After all I work full time in the knitting industry now, and I needed to do some research, right? ;)

Well, even though just before leaving life seemed to be conspiring against my departure (I swear, so many things happened at home, like being without electricity and water for a week!), once I was on the plane, it all started to work out perfectly.
I had planned a project to travel with me.  I had started it 2 weeks before leaving, which would have been enough to finish the upper half of the sweater, and just bring with me the "mindless" part of the knitting...

Japan Sleeves, working with Tosh Merino Light in colorways "Astrid Gray" and "Dirty Panther"
However, this is how far I had gotten by the time I had to jump on the plane.  I was certain I was not going to be able to do all the knitting and note-taking required to design-as-you-go on the plane.  But amazingly, the couple next to me were adorable, they just shut their eyes as soon as they got on, and I could enjoy countless hours of uninterrupted knitting...  In fact, I think I had never been so focused in work!  Needless to say, the travelling project didn't get any attention during my weekend in the UK, and it was finished 2 weeks later during yet another trip... But that's another story.

I arrived very happily awaited by my friend and hostess Julie (a.k.a. evieandlily on Ravelry),and we took an afternoon to relax and knit before driving to Brighton.  I always say this, but I am really blessed to have so many friends around the world.  And the weather was splendid!

On the way to Brighton, we picked up Veera, and we were all set for a long drive full of stories and laughter.  We arrived late at night to our accommodation, a super chic apartment we found via airbnb, in a very trendy and playful street in the North Laine of Brighton.  We met our other roommate Sarah who made us laugh at her enthusiasm all weekend!

So Friday arrived.  I had considered jumping on the Brighton wheel and sitting on the beach knitting all morning... But the weather had not contemplated my plans and it was cloudy and overcast.
It probably made it a magical morning all the same.  Just being there, standing on that beach, contemplating the sea... Thinking how far I had travelled the day before, and yet it always felt like Brighton was so close to home.  I am sure we all feel this way, the world has become so small.
I looked down, I couldn't believe it was really all the way across the ocean from my family.  My friends were there, the language was not unfamiliar... And then I see this little pebbles below my feet.  Yes, I was away from home indeed!  (we don't have pebble beaches here)

After visiting the incredible Royal Pavilion, we went for Lunch, and it was quite a shock because... Well, people started arriving! 

I met a group of amazing women, including Ysolda, probably my all time knitting idol.  I have knit only a bunch of her patterns (although probably more than from any other designer), but what I admire the most is her way of transmitting an idea and standing up for what she does.  -This is where my English fails me... I know I can communicate very well in English, but I lack the creativity I have when writing in my mother tongue.  I wish I could express this better!- I strongly believe that Ysolda's work has changed the way knitters perceive a knitwear designer's work during the last few (or not so few!) years.  I think her example and hard work has inspired lot of admiration and I know for a fact she was the first designer I kept looking at, wondering what new projects she was going to come up with.  I do remember waiting for the next issue of a magazine, or a book to come out, but Ysolda was the first independent designer I remember admiring.
I know she has inspired a lot of knitters like myself to work hard to become designers...
It was a very big table, and it was a very busy weekend.  I wish I could have said this to her! (Though I have a feeling she's been told this lots of times)

Sarah and Julie (my roommates), lovely Tiina from Titityy, Ragga, Bex, Bristol Ivy, Ysolda, that little head behind me is Veera, but in my defense she said she knew she was not in the photo, Ce from The Uncommon Thread, and Emma, one of Unwind's organizers.
As you can see, it was a table full of awesomeness, and I got to meet the über-adorable Bristol Ivy, who looks super cool, and is even cooler.  I just loved that I had time to hang out with her so much!

Friday was a parade of knitting celebrities, and I felt like such a fan girl all the time... I met so many designers, dyers, and all kinds of makers of the knitting industry!  I was so so excited that I had completely forgotten that I was jet-lagged, and suddenly crashed in the sofa before getting ready for dinner...  I was lucky to have my roommates, who took care of me as if I was a teenager with 2 mothers.

I was invited to a Designer/teacher meet-up the night before the festival actually began, (even though I was not supposed to be there! It was only for people working!) and I totally freaked out.  I arrived to this restaurant, which took me ages to find, hidden among the mysterious and playful South Lanes, and was directed to the upper floor.  As I climbed up the stairs, I started spotting Ravelry celebrities all around: Added to the same stars I had met at lunch, Carol Feller was there, Amy from Madelinetosh!, Felicia from Sweetgeorgia, the sweet ladies from L'OisiveThé, Susie Myers, Karie Westermann!  I am probably forgetting so many people that I really loved meeting... And I felt like such an intruder.  The shy person took over, and I sat quietly at the end of a table, to sip wine with my recently acquired friend Tiina.  I thought so many things during those moments... I wondered whether I belonged in that dinner, everyone else seemed to know each other so well... and they looked so comfortable talking about their life and work.  I was coming from so far away, my country was so different! (For starters, don't freak out, but everyone would have given me a hug and a kiss in Argentina, even if they had never met me before)...
I wanted to meet people but I kept thinking whether I should just say hi and sit next to them, or shake hands (which we never do at home)?  Probably as soon as the glass of wine kicked in, I was able to speak to the lovely lady sitting right in front of me, discovering she was no less than Sharry, the creator of Buttonalia.  Amazing woman, she told me the story of her life, moving around the globe and how she came to create such special little treasures.

I only have phone pics of that dinner... This is me, totally freaking out in the corner. :D
After a while, I took courage and went to meet a few people I really wanted to say hi to and I shook hands with all of them.  I wonder if that was as awkward to them as it was to me, trying to restrain myself from kissing everyone (you MUST know I am very latina!)...
It was an amazing evening...  Just the perfect prelude for what about to come on Saturday.

On Saturday, the marketplace opened early, and we were all allowed into the Brighton Dome, a magnificent venue!
Oh my goodness... Just imagine.  Just imagine!  You know how crazy I am about yarn, right?  You've seen me take luscious pictures of skeins of wool, silk in every color... I adore independent dyers, I live for them!  Just imagine this little girl in a massive candy store!
I forgot to change the lens in my camera (stupid!), so my photos were very artistic, but not really descriptive...  Good luck the phone is quite good at replacing the big old camera sometimes... ;)

I won't bother you with the details of who I found there, but there were many favorites, and I discovered many new ones too!  Just check out this amazing list.  I got lots of beautiful skeins and inspiration for new patterns to work (after I am done with the things I needed to finish even BEFORE coming here!).

As always, one of the best parts was to hang out with my loved ones.  I met one of the knitters I admire the most in Ravelry, my dear Anne... And also my dear Vera who I had already met in February.  I think we made a beautiful bunch, the 3 of us.  We just couldn't stop crying!  I bet people could tell we were long time friends...

I was upset at first that this photo was out of focus, but then I really liked the way our skin looks perfect with the blur ;)
And, one of the happiest times was spent also with Ce and Veera, when we did a small meet and greet to show everyone our samples from our collection Interpretations, in The Uncommon Thread's booth.  LOTS of people came over to see the garments, and I felt really overwhelmed.  It was a good thing Veera was by my side.  I feel much more confident when she's around!

There was a theme going on with our patterned tops, apparently...
The afternoon had even more good stuff: I took the Color Theory class with Amy Hendrix, creator of Madelinetosh yarns!!

Oh yes, so totally worth it!
I have long time felt that my color choices are, well... Too comfortable.  I have my favorite palette, and I always tend to choose the same stuff.  Why? I thought that it was because I was afraid of color... Because I wasn't brave enough to try something different and that I was missing stuff!
Well, Amy's class was an introduction to color, which was amazing for someone like me who had never studied this before... I learnt how to combine colors, how to pair them up... and also how to choose colors that are good for me.  And guess what? I was not too mistaken ;)
So now I feel more confident, and I will try a different palette if I feel like, but I know I'll stick to my grays and blues and purples.  Apparently, I choose them cause they're good for me!
It was an amazing, amazing class, and Amy was a warm and stellar teacher.  I had a total fan girl moment at the end of the class and we took a photo of all of us together.

On Saturday night we went to the Pompom party, in a very cool pub near the beach.  Awesome times!  We hang out with friends, visited the pier at night and saw people dancing on the streets.  It was a long great day!

Sunday was more relaxed... And that's when I completely left the camera at the apartment... It looked like all the highlights of the event had already happened, so I took the opportunity to finally sit down and knit (and eat!) while talking to Anne and Vera.  I was getting ready for the FIFA World Cup finals, which took place that night, and which we sadly lost (although the whole country was very proud that Argentina took the second place!).

The whole feeling about the festival was that it was fabulous... We kept meeting people everywhere saying 'can you believe this? or that?'.  Everything was close there, just a few steps away from wherever you might be.  So we could be having lunch and someone said: 'Have you seen this or that yarn? or needles? or patterns?'... You could just get off your seat, run back to the Marketplace and get it... And that's what happened to me (too many times to admit!).  What a fantastic weekend it was, oh God!  I'd give anything to be able to do this again!

Right after the game, Veera and I took the last train to London.  
We spent the most amazing couple of days there.  Visiting museums, walking bridges, drinking coffee and wine and making plans for the future (hint!)...  We were too busy to bring the camera around, so we only took snapshots with the phone, but really cool ones ;)

So, I just checked the clock and I've been writing this post for the last 2.5 hours... I'd love to tell even more (cause honestly, there's so much to tell!), but my boys will be here any minute and they will want tea and cookies...

Hope you enjoyed the recap, and stay tuned for  more news... For starters, the travelling sweater is finished (and it's SO AMAZING!), full of travelling memories, and will be published in a couple of weeks...  And many more exciting things to come!

Have a great week!


thea said...

Thanks for the great update! I want to go to this next year if they have it, and it sounds lovely!! And when I meet you in person (wherever that may be...) I will both hug you and give you a big kiss!

Sonia Paz said...

Qué fantástico viaje y experiencias.

Sara Maternini said...

You are forgetting your own fans Joji! Like me, your Italian fan that ambushed you from behind at Eden Cottage Yarn boot ;)

It was a wonderful weekend!

And if I knew you before Argentinas kiss and hug everybody I would have hugged right away, the Italian way :)

Jenn [knittybaker] said...

Joji, what a wonderful post and recap. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, your feelings, and photos! I wish I live closer to you and if I ever see you, will definitely give you LOTS of hugs and a kiss! (even though I am not latina :)). I think you write very well and your description of how you feel about Ysolda and her pattern - is exactly how I feel about your designs. Really!!! I learn so much from your pattern! xoxo, Jenn

Miss Bimbamboum said...

It was so nice meeting you there! Actually that's funny because I'm also writting my post about Unwind since 3 hours and it's still not finish !! :-(
Have a nice day!

linda gaylord said...

You are so cute,Joji...Your name is now synonymous with Vera since your work together was published.your patterns are some of the most popular on ravelry.to all of us "little guys",you are one of "the big names"! You are JOJI!!!! And we love you and your work!!!

Katinka said...

First, you and Veera are the cutest things ever. Second, I'm sure just as many knitters and designers were starstruck at meeting YOU! :)

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