Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


How many great things can any of us say about Clara - you've done better than I could in describing how special she is. But, Miss Like-the-Queen, you've certainly been around KR from the beginning, and I can't imagine what it would be like without you, either!

By Blogger Shelia, at 8:24 AM  

Thanks for the tribute to Clara. KRF is a special place and I can't imagine life without it now.

I'm also coming out of the closet about how much I enjoy reading about the life of the Queen every day.

By Anonymous Mary Lou, at 9:08 AM  

What a terrific class you have!

And yes, Clara boggles my mind regularly, and I am honored to know her as I do.

I am equally honored to know you - Shelia was right - you are KR to me as well, and were a HUGE part in why I am the knitter I am now.

By Blogger Amie, at 9:35 AM  

My dear Miss Bess, you've made me one extremely teary bee. You've been there since almost the beginning, and the fact that I haven't managed to bore you (YET) or send you screaming to a quilting guild (YET) or crochet group (YET) or remedial auto repair and metalworking class (YET) is quite an honor. Thank you for this most heart-warming surprise, and for your continued friendship.

By Anonymous Clara, at 3:19 PM  

Thank you for saying it so beautifully, Bess. Will you be my official spokesperson (when I find myself speechless upon meeting Clara and all the rest of you) at the Retreat?

By Blogger Jane, at 7:51 PM  

Right on, Bess, w/your loving tribute to Clara! Who knew that the Queen Bee would help to change our lives? And in a good way, of course.
Thanks for the reminders of why we A-D-O-R-E her ^..^

By Blogger Martha, at 8:03 PM  

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Thursday, October 06, 2005  

My new students and a song of praise for someone special

I have a genuine Latvian knitting student. I’m so excited. L was born in Latvia, escaped the Soviets to make it to Germany, met her Illinois husband there and moved to the U.S. Her accent is just courtly American, ever so slightly southern, but if you listen carefully, a tiny pause will presage an utterance that has a whiff of the foreign to it. She owns real Latvian mittens and when I muttered Elizabeth Upitis, she laughed and said "OOOpeeeteees!"

She already knits, continental, taught by German schoolteachers, who failed to convince her to complete the requisite knee sock, but she holds the yarn like a crocheter and so her stitches are way too loose. I’ve shown her how to snug her fingers closer to the tips of her needles and I believe she is flexible enough to make the change. I know she’ll like her product better, and she admits to being a product crafter, so I believe she’ll make the effort. And she is thrilled with our beginner project - the stranded colorwork knit cap.

My other student is a process crafter and admitted that she was as happy making swatches as she was making a garment. She’s as cute as a button with blue eyes so vivid you could set them into jewelry. She has "knitted those scarves" and is ready for more. She also wants to learn how to spin.

Both of them were thrilled with the knitted on cast-on - which is my cast-on of choice for the first class. As time permits I introduce them to others, but neither of these women had ever heard of the KoCo. Both were delighted to eliminate that wretched loop that forms between the stitches of the backwards loop cast on. I’ve no doubt at all that they’ll be ready to start the cool part of the hat - the colorwork - next week.

And now a paean, to a special person, who performs a special benediction on my life every week.

Every Thursday I open up my e-mail box and there is one of the most precious treats: my Knitters Review Newsletter. If I wasn’t one of the very first subscribers, I have been so from the early days, back before Clara Parkes started the forum. Over 200 newsletters ago I was just discovering that I was more than a woman who knew how to knit, but was a real knitter - someone who could justify spending $100+ on the yarn for a sweater because I really would finish it and then wear it once it was done. And I was avid for information, for knitting news. At the time there were only two knitting stores in Richmond: an old shop that hadn't realized they were about to burst into chic fashionability and one that was only a year old. There still wasn’t one in Williamsburg or Fredericksburg. I still had the innocent ambition to visit every yarn shop in Virginia; all 12 of them. But most of all I wanted to learn about yarn, knitting, designs, places to go - the whole 9 yards.

And suddenly I discovered Knitters Review. Independent reviews of those expensive yarns I could only read about in Patternworks catalog. Does it hold up? Does it fade? What about pilling? Will it split, when I’m knitting, so badly I’ll scream? Clara did the homework, wrote the paper, and took the pictures. Always gracious, always honest, almost southern in her ability to say it kindly but never mislead, she laid out the facts about eyelash, cashmere blends, workhorse wools, glitter, ribbon, whatever a knitter might be curious about.

And she had more. She told me about shops I might uncover on a vacation. She was the first to apprise me of that Mecca of fiber fiends - Maryland Sheep and Wool. She had funny little polls about different preferences knitters have. She just brought that whole knitter’s world to me - at the end of my dirt lane, in the back of beyond, 40 miles back and plum outta sight. And then she started the Forums. I’m not sure if she had any idea it would grow to the tens of thousands of users it now has, nor if she could imagine the responsibility of keeping up with a class of 40,000 knitters. From spam to spats, she keeps the Knitters Review Forums calm and smooth. In spite of the occasional fracas that bubbles over, KRF is one of the most courteous on-line environments I’ve ever experienced. Only the heavily monitored, severely limited professional forums can equal what Clara does with Knitters Review. I admire and respect her skill and tact. No. I am in awe of it.

But still it’s the joy of each Thursday’s mini-Christmas morning, when I open up the e-mail and find the newsletter, that truly warms my heart. It’s another hello from Ms. Clause. It’s that sweet blessing that comes just before the weekend. It comes in time to remind me that I really want to get my work done so I can play on Saturday. It gives me a heads up about a book I may want to read, about a yarn I might want to try, about a place I always wanted to visit.

So. Hats off to you Missy Clara. Thank you 52 times a year for writing to me, sending me a newsletter that is always fresh, always interesting, and always eagerly awaited. You are truly the Queen Bee.

posted by Bess | 8:10 AM