Julia Farwell-Clay


San Francisco Vogue Knitting Live


I’m back from teaching at Vogue Knitting Live in San Francisco and mulling over the rush of the weekend. I don’t sleep in hotels. I lie there, bolt awake regardless of when I stopped drinking coffee and how little sugar I ate. I pack my own pillow, I turn off all devices, and yet I lie there, all night long thinking . . . thoughts. Thinking loud obnoxious thoughts. There’s an awesome menagerie of wild thing THOUGHTS marching across my brain, and every one of them refuses to leave me in peace for a few hours of rest. So there they are, keeping me company, hour after hour, and in the morning I splash cold water on my face, and trek down to the lobby for coffee and eggs and warm buttered toast.

But the students are always fun, and 100% why I do this to myself and my constitution. They come to my class looking for a new skill. I begin class by introducing myself, mentioning a few highlights of my knitting public life, and see if any lightbulbs go on in their faces. On Saturday morning, 100 minutes into class, one student looked at me quizzically, and suddenly burst out “The sheep sweater! You knit the sheep sweater!” then turned to her sister to share the memory of where she had heard my name before. Yes, I said, before adjusting her left hand tension ever so slightly. She seemed more willing to believe me beyond that point. Everyone left smiling. Back out into the world went 27 knitters who now knew how to manage two colors at once in a row. There’s no better feeling.


My Eddy Redmayne Sweater class was especially fun, tucked away in the corner of a far hotel tower on Sunday afternoon when much of the show’s attendees had already headed home. These were the dedicated and curious fellow knitters who like me had torn the Prada advertisement out of Vogue or the Sunday fashion supplement and promised themselves someday they would figure it out. There we all were, short rowing away with our candy colored yarn collections, making amazing fabric together.

On Sunday morning, I took a fifteen minutes walk to get to the SFMOMA before the doors opened at 10 am to make sure I could get a full hour in the museum, absorbing some beautiful Matisse fauve canvases, a Frida Kahlo self-portrait, a Ruth Asawa sculpture, the intense experience of standing among Louise Bourgeois’ Spiders, and to stand yet again in front of a favorite Richard Diebenkorn paining, Recollections of Leningrad.


It’s so much to cram into one little weekend, 200 students, a lecture on a cherished topic, the best Thai food ever at Kin Khao (twice), and of course, endless waking hours when all I try to do is just rest, rest, rest, if not sleep. There’s nothing better than a good meal after a long day without food, except of course your own bed after four days without sleep.

Julia Farwell-Clay