KDTV, take 2

I'm not even going to try to make this entirely coherent. That's not how life is right now.


Last week I flew to Cleveland again to be a guest for three segments of KDTV series 800. KDTV is Knitting Daily TV, a program that is available for broadcast on public television stations (PBS). A year ago I took this trip and appeared in two segments. I had the pleasure then of working both with Shay Pendray, an amazing woman who established a place for needle arts on public television, and with Eunny Jang, editor of Interweave Knits.

This time, I missed seeing and working with Shay; she had already completed her scheduled appearances and returned home. The trade-off was that because Eunny and I did all three segments together, we were able to get a little better acquainted and as a result could carry the positive energy from one segment to the next. In addition to the segments she did with me, Eunny was also taping introductions and finales and some technique concentrations, so she was busy changing clothes, getting the right demonstration materials ready, and talking to the cameras. Kristin Omdahl, who hosts the crochet sections, had finished her work early but wasn't scheduled to fly out yet, so we were able to visit in odd moments, and that was a treat.

Kristin's recent blog post shows the studio set-up and talks about the TV makeup, plus preparation, suitcases, and wardrobe issues. She's a pro at this and can show you the environment, while I'm just working hard not to trip over my own feet or end up stammering on camera: not much time or energy to document my surroundings or the process. Kristin's post also shows the amazing Annie Bakken, who last year and this managed to be in half a dozen places at once (or so it appeared), doing unobtrusive tasks that kept the process running smoothly, got us where we needed to be, and so on.

The segments are about 5 minutes long, and are timed to the second. The host—in this case, Eunny—keeps track of the timing. In addition to her microphone, which records the audio for the show, she has an earphone and has to listen and respond to information coming in from the production area. I just need to stay on my toes, follow her lead on the general timing, and be ready to let her wrap up when they call time. I imagine tightrope walking would be similar.

One of the segments was on using yak fiber. I talked about the basic qualities, and about using yak either on its own or blended, as well as why yak is a relatively new presence in knitting yarns. Eunny presented a neat hat pattern made with a yak-bamboo blend that features an intricate, but not so hard to work, cable running around its brim.

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Back up two months, because it took me about that long to get all the swatches ready for the demonstrations of the segments that I did. For a 40-hour trip, I packed two suitcases and a large backpack. In the backpack and my carry-on suitcase were the absolute essentials: if the check-through bag had gone astray, we could have managed the segments, although not with the ideal array of supplies.

In addition to swatches, yarns, raw and washed fibers, and a bunch of sweaters to use as examples, the suitcases contained about a dozen different shirts and blouses. The garments all needed to be in specific colors, and had to be able to go on and off without messing up the makeup, which is done first and just once. I took the two shirts I wore last year, because I know they worked. I wore one of them again for the DVD I made for Interweave last fall. My daughter said I really shouldn't wear the same thing all the time, so I took along two other new tops I found on sale and a bunch of appropriate knits that I'd found at local resale shops. It's hard to tell in advance what will work best, so it's good to have alternatives.

Fortunately, one pair of black slacks, which I already owned, sufficed for the rest of what I needed.

We ran into a little glitch while filming the segment on why yarns pill. The numbering on one form was off, so Eunny wore the wrong sweater for our first take.

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So we got to do it again. This was where it started getting nice that Eunny and I were working together repeatedly. The retake went smoothly. Here's the right sweater, and our smiles embody our confidence that we will hit the revised segment length. These photos are taken in advance of the taping of each segment. In addition to being useful for publicity, they are tacked up on the door to the green room, where everything gets prepared, to help everyone keep track of who wore what, and when. In general, they work really well.

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By the way, the sweaters on the stands behind me are thirty and forty years old and have not pilled. In this segment, I talked about fiber content, processing damage, yarn construction, durability, and maintenance, and why and when we make trade-offs that result in pilling. (There is, by the way, an absolutely fantastic article by Erica Heftmann in an old issue of Spin-Off magazine on why yarns pill. Although I worked with other sources, if you want a one-stop overview, Erica did a fantastic job. Summer 1999, pages 70 to 77.)

The final segment involved some information on scouring and washing wools. Recognize Eunny's sweater? It belonged on this segment. I wasn't as happy with the content on this final bit. We did it twice as well, for reasons of the producer's, and I preferred the first version.

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Still, Eunny and I managed to do two takes on two segments and keep them fresh-feeling each time. On one of them (and I forget which one), somebody mis-read the timing notes so Eunny was given the "wrap it up" signal at either 20 or 30 seconds too short or too long. I don't remember which. I think we needed to fill an extra 30 seconds on the second take. My job is to speak in ways that are conversational but that I can cut off at any time and sound like I meant to end there.

Then I packed up my suitcases and Kristin and I shared a cab to the airport. I heard she had a delay in getting home, including an extra overnight.

For me, this is what the day looked like, with all times indicated for Mountain Daylight Time, even though Cleveland is on Eastern Daylight.

  • 3:45 a.m. Wake up
  • 3:45 to 5:15 a.m. Yoga, wash and blow-dry hair, dress, breakfast, pack suitcases, check out of hotel, and be in lobby for ride to studio. I wanted to walk to the studio to see if I could stretch out my back some more, but it was raining and I needed not to show up with wet hair. I am so not a TV-ready person in everyday life!
  • 5:15 to 7 a.m. Unpack show materials and begin arranging them on working trays; professional makeup (an hour).
  • 7 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Tape all three segments, two of them twice.
  • 10:15 to 10:45 a.m. Lunch.
  • 10:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Repack all suitcases, then catch up on e-mail and a little work.
  • 1:45 to 4 p.m. Cab to airport, check-in, and security. Buy a salad to take with me because the availability of future food is not at all certain. (Yes, I carry Luna Bars, apples, and other compact, security-friendly emergency fuel.)
  • 4 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Fly home, changing planes at one airport or another, very glad that I have the salad (run from first gate to second, and make it on board as one of the final four passengers).
  • 8:45 to 9:50 p.m. Disembark and reclaim the one checked bag. Miss the 9 p.m. shuttle by about 8 minutes. Grab a chai as the airport concessions are closing their accordion barriers for the night. Drink chai and do some reading while awaiting the shuttle.
  • 9:50 to 11:45 p.m. Shuttle ride home.
  • 11:45 p.m. to 1 a.m. Dinner, shower, bed.

Next day: in bed with a cold! Likely the result of not being able to dodge secondhand smoke (to which I'm allergic) while in the shuttle areas outside airports. I need to get rid of the congestion and start packing for SOAR, in addition to doing enough work at my desk that the office won't collapse while I'm gone again.

Packing for events other than KDTV involves a lot more fiber, but much easier clothing options: t-shirts, jeans, whatever sweaters I want to wear. And no makeup at all!



8 thoughts on “KDTV, take 2”

  1. Thanks for the good SOAR wishes, Laura! I’ve already shipped off a box of materials and am planning how to get the rest there (suitcase logistics).

    Susan, I think the days at SOAR will be long, but NOT 21 hours. If so, by Wednesday (day 3 of 6), I’ll be teaching from a horizontal position on the floor. Not the plan.

    Yak is amazing stuff, Cheryl. It comes in a lot of breeds and colors, as do fibers from other animals. Most of what we spin is the down, rather than the hair, although I have fun with the hair, too. Of the down, some feels more like alpaca than not, although most of what we get in North America feels like cashmere or qiviut.

  2. Have fun at SOAR….again you’ll be dealing with time zone changes when you start out. Rest up!

    Just got back from Scotland. Our trip to Kirkwall in Orkney scored me some North Ronaldsay roving from the Donnelly’s. I couldn’t talk the people into selling me some moorit raw N.R. fleece…they kept telling me I wouldn’t get it through customs, but I think it was because they only had about 8 oz. and didn’t want to part with it.

  3. Oh, what a wonderful trip, Valerie! I had hoped to get to Orkney last year when I was in Scotland to teach, but I had to fly back for photography on the book. If I had only about 8 ounces of moorit North Ronaldsay, I wouldn't want to part with it, either. Enjoy your roving!

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