Monday, May 7, 2007

Hamman it up.

One of the first things I learned this weekend is that Helen Hamann pronounces her last name "ham-in." As in, ham'n'cheese. I also found out she likes white wine and lobster bisque (if you order some, watch out for her spoon!), she LOVES alpacas (ok, I knew that already) and she is a positively brilliant designer. She kept us all enthralled through her day-long workshop with the stunning garments from her new book, "Andean Inspired Knits," and her ingenious techniques for everything from short-row shoulder shaping (no ugly stair-stepping!) to reverse knitting and much more.

Helen arrived early Friday, having not slept the night before (she had to get up at 3am, so why go to sleep?), and hung out at the store for awhile before going antiquing with Gina H. Then our group converged on Los Cabos for mega margaritas and Mexican munchies. Afterwards, it was a beautiful night to stroll down the Riverwalk. Here are Ellen and Gina H. with Helen:


And here's me with Helen:


The next day, in the middle of our workshop, along came Dave and Karen Galbraith from Walnut Creek Farms with some precious cargo in the back of their one-ton pickup:


Helen immediately connected with these guys from the camel family which Helen refers to as her Peruvian "cousins."


BB (the black one) and Angel (the white one), the two young, recently-shorn alpacas, were incredibly sweet, gentle and smart. Their quiet humming noise was so enchanting. Even surrounded by a crowd, they were calm and tame:


Dave and Karen even brought Angel's fleece, which was the softest cloud of fluff you ever felt! They have just connected with a spinning company, so we look forward to carrying some local alpaca in the near future!

And here's the funniest thing I learned about Helen. Let me set the scene: We had come home from the Riverwalk and settled onto my couch with our knitting and "Must Love Dogs" on the TV. I pulled out my black lace Tilli Tomas dress, the one I have wrestled with for many moons - both Gina H. and Kendall have consulted with me over a very complex pattern with occasionally mystifying instructions. As I started to work, I noticed that on the "V" neckline, the pattern had me decreasing on BOTH sides on the knit rows, but only ONE side on the purl row. I exclaimed to Helen, "Look at this! This is the WORST PATTERN I have ever seen!"

Helen took the pattern, then looked at me with a twinkle in her eye. "That's my pattern," she said.

Um......how about a glass of wine?

Let me add that Helen's patterns are terrific - it's the editing that is a tad lacking. Oh, and in the future, I'd like to request that Tilli Tomas give credit to their designers on the pattern. Preferably, in LARGE BOLD print.

- Shelley
shop online at loopsknitting.com

P.S. My dad wrote a little poem about the alpaca's visit:
Alpacas have the most exquisite hair,
And love the lawn ‘round Utica Square.
Here’s a toast to Mister Walt, and
Grass gnawed short near black asphalt.
The beasts are gone, but what remain
Are pleasant thoughts, the song’s refrain:
Happy days are here again!

P.P.S. Wouldn't it be great if Amy Singer of knitty.com, and author of "No Sheep for You!" would come to Loops? You can help "demand" that she come. Click here to join us!

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