Monday, July 25, 2005

TKGA in Oakland

[Editor's note: As of July 27th, both knuknitter and I have confirmed that we were NOT charged twice. The confirmation email we recieved & printed as reciepts was not actually attached to any financial transactions. That means I was not charged at all by their thoughtful online registration process and did owe them the money. So it wasn't robbery... just vexing! - spinnity]

Wow, that was a busy no-sleep weekend - a play Thursday night (Lorca in a Green Dress by at the Renegade Theater Experience), a late night at work Friday and then two solid days of commuting, knitting classes & shopping at The Knitting Guild Association regional conference in Oakland.

About the conference
TKGA, even combined with CGOA, is much, much smaller than Stitches. They ran 6 (not 36) knitting classes at a time. Vendors in the marketplace tended to be based in the West - White Lies, Skein Lane, Hand Jive Knits, Foxy Knits - not the entire country. I was hoping Jordana Paige would have the new Knitter's Messenger Bag, but I had to be content with a very intriguing picture postcard for now. The marketplace filled about half of the vendor hall in the Oakland Convention Center with very wide aisles. I think the marketplace is a nice, manageable size. Worth the trip to get that much variety in one place, but 70 vendors is doable, unlike the onslaught that was Stitches marketplace.

I took 3 classes: Continental Knitting, Color in Shortrows, and Slim Stash Reduction Plan. I'll just show you the swatches I made in class for now..

tkga-swatch1    tkga-swatch7    tkga-swatch5

tkga-swatch3    tkga-swatch2    tkga-swatch4

Organizationally and person-to-person wise, this conference was terrible. My evidence:
  • Online registration didn't work Both knuknitter and I registered on the internet. We received confirmation email. We got charged on our credit cards. But when we arrived at the conference, they'd never heard of us. We both had to pay a second time to get into the classes we'd already paid for. So I'm out $140 until I can prove to them that they already charged me. That's crap. Knuknitter was smart enough to bring her email confirmation letter with her, but they wouldn't even accept that as proof she'd paid. Unbelievable.
  • No TKGA representatives were visible anywhere There was a little area next to registration with flyers, but not a single person. What? We should join a guild so as to collect more flyers? I expected a hospitality something. Somewhere. I expected some hustle from TKGA to get new members. I saw nada.
  • Complaints about instructors This was not my experience, but others were talking so I gotta pass this on. knuknitter and others had rotten experiences, especially with a 6 hour class on finishing which covered essentially only grafting and mattress stitch. Zzzzzz. I'm sure knuknitter will tell us all about it. Personally, I enjoyed both my classes and appreciated the time Nancie Wiseman and Maureen Mason-Jamieson put into thinking about teaching as well as their knitting expertise.

Bottom line: it was OK.
Personally.. I had a very successful conference. I loved my 3 classes, I shopped a bunch, but not too much, and I got to hang out with friends - including lunch and shopping with Janice on Saturday afternoon and meeting Ada from the San Mateo County knitting meetup. But I was not connected to the wider world of TKGA and I was totally not impressed with their customer service or money management. And I'm way pissed off for those who had to sit through 6 hours of not-so-useful instruction, hoping it would get better. This is not how we make the craft better.


Anonymous Joanne said...

Hey! Sorry I didn't know to introduce myself to you. I took BART home with Ada - we should have made that connection right after class, eh?

Nancie Wiseman is a great teacher. I had knitting with beads at Stitches last February, and my mom took a finishing class with her about 10-15 years ago.

I hope we can have a joint meetup - something that would accommodate kids on a weekend, or an evening perhaps in Palo Alto or something?

Anyway... you can email me at

July 26, 2005 1:04 PM  
Blogger Wiz Knitter said...

Ooo, I like the idea of a weekend event with kids! It would be fun to meet people's kids. And Palo Alto is a nice middle ground.

Thanks for being so outraged on my behalf about the Finishing class. But I'm pretty sure my credit card never got charged, although I haven't received the definitive statement -- should arrive any day now. I just entered it into Quicken which is why I remembered the money leaving my account. Not that that excuses the registration site not working and still sending out confirmation emails, though.

July 26, 2005 4:46 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Bummer that TKGA didn't have their act together, but I'm glad you liked your classes. I wish I could have gone. (I came down with Pink Eye on Wednesday.) Maybe next year!

~ Christina

July 26, 2005 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Mel said...

Guess I'm not so sad I missed out... Welcome to the dark side of knitting continental! I'm totally up for a joint meet-up in Palo Alto or Menlo Park, just keep me posted.

July 26, 2005 7:13 PM  
Blogger Abigail said...

Wow, that sucks that they made you pay twice! It's really unprofessional of them too. Blech!

I am also very intrigued by the new messanger bag. I think I might need one for my birthday.

July 26, 2005 10:32 PM  

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