Sunday, August 14, 2005

Stitches Midwest 2005

Stitches Midwest was an unqualified success. Here is a minute-by-minute review:

We started by meeting at Suzie's apartment around 2:30pm on Thursday. We packed up the trunk, reviewed the snack supply for future reference and hit the road. Our goal was to reach the convention center in time for the Thursday night preview of the Market for class registrants (thats us!)

Drive Suzie, Drive! Drive faster! Drive! Drive!:

My progress on the sock during the drive, and,
The automatic change collectors at the Chicago toll booths. Last year was our first exposure to this, and I'm not a big fan of throwing stuff, but Suzie handled it with panache. This year we had a big collection of change, and Gwen assembled the requisite funds, while Suzie tried to figure out what lane to get in. We were much more prepared for what I referred to as "Our toll road adventures".

We arrived at the market at about 8:00pm and had an hour to quickly scan the floor. Many of the vendors were old faithfuls, but many were new and wonderful. This is the sum of our Thursday night purchases
Gwen bought this Tess' Yarns sock yarn because it was the only skein in the colorway she wanted, and it was a "must-buy" on our list. After the market preview closed we headed to the hotel, checked in, and walked across the parking lot to Taco Bell. (Priority check: 1. yarn 2. shelter 3. food) All the while we were talking about one product that stood out to us, some laceweight cashmere from Just Our Yarn. It was amazingly soft, and so lovely. It was fun to watch people's faces as they touched it.

The three of us decided we would share a two-double-bed room for three nights because it was cheap, and a decent hotel with a free breakfast, Baymont. I volunteered to take the first night on the air-mattress, and in the morning it was flat. I didn't sleep well.

And here's why --> Duh.

This is Lily Chin on AM news television. She bragged a little on how she crocheted her dress in two days. I'm not sure the regular public is ready to be impressed by that.

We headed out early since Gwen and Suzie had class starting at 8:00 and we didn't know how traffic would be. It was fine, and they arrived at class in more than ample time. While they were in class, I sat quietly and worked on Madli's Shawl, and napped. You can't see any detail in this picture, but I'm nearly half-way done. And yes, aren't you diggin' on the carpet? That was the carpet in the meeting room area of the convention center. Very Wild.

At 10:00am the Market opened, and I hit the floor again. I covered the whole thing before 11:30 when Gwen and Suzie's class got out, and we had some lunch and shopped for a while. Suzie wore her newly-finished sweater from Stitch'n'Bitch Nation:

And later, she won that beautiful big basket in the door prize drawing! Go Suzie! Lucky girl. Talented girl.

At 1:30pm I had a class with Nancy Bush on steeks, which was fantastic. She was so knowledgable. She talked for about 45 minutes about the history of knitting in various countries and her studies of historical garments, and it was fascinating. She is the designer of Madli's Shawl and I showed it to her, though it was unfinished. I told her it was the first lace design I saw that I wanted to knit, and she took that as a big compliment, and said I was doing a good job on the nupps. She still showed me the "correct" way, though, of purling seven together. I promise to try.

After class I met with Gwen and Suzie who were listening to Lily Chin talk about how yarn is made, and got to see up close her new line of yarns and hear some of the reasoning behind them. It was very interesting. Lilly and I have different fashion tastes, but I do like her new line of yarns. They are lovely, have good colors, and I think are a reasonable price. We then shopped until 6:00pm when the market closed, and headed to Ikea. We ate first, then shopped. I purchased a set of bowls with lids, a hanging organizer for my sock yarns, and a bag of Swedish Fish candy. I would like to point out that the organizer and bowls together cost less than the bag of candy. However, it had been a very long day. By the time we finished at Ikea we were exhausted and slow-moving and then we got a little lost on the way back home. Oops. Oh well. We made it eventually.

This is the take from Friday, Day Two:
Suzie's basket, some yarn for Sandy, a bunch of sock yarn, both Koigu and Lorna's Laces, patterns, Interlacements, Cashmere laceweight, Ikea storage, Fixation, and I think that sums it up.

Saturday, Day Three, Suzie had a morning class, but Gwen and I didn't. We got Suzie to her room, and then headed out in search of caffeine because we both felt like we were made of sand. The "Expoteria" smelled bad. We wandered through many miles of hallways to one of the attached hotels looking for a Starbucks, but to no avail. We finally found a gift shop with a soda case in the Hyatt. We headed back to the class area and this was the scene:

We knitted a bit, and by the time classes started to break we were a bit more alert. We met Chris, saw SuperStar Bonne Marie, and met a woman who had never read a knitting blog. (I gave her a card with my blog address on it, and tried to remember her name, but caffeine only makes me look alert.)

10:00am hit, and Gwen and I hit the market again. We shopped and shopped, then met up with Suzie, and had lunch. At lunch we saw a woman with a set of blocking wires, and when she told us where to get them, I just couldn't wait; I left Suzie and Gwen to hold down the fort while I went to buy a set. They had a whole bucket of them, but I felt better to have them in my hot little hands. Then we shopped some more until Gwen had to go to class, at which time Suzie and I continued shopping.

Also over the lunch break we stopped by Pajolo Alpacas, site of much amusement last year. Linda remembered us right away and was definitely happy to see us, not ready to throw us out of her booth. It was so flattering and nice to know that she felt about us the way we felt about her. This time we got to meet her husband, and when I showed her the Madli's Shawl I made with her yarn, she said "Uff Da!" just like a good Minnesotan, which made me laugh. Throughout the rest of the show we ran into them periodically and always waved hello or stopped to chat for a moment. I look forward to seeing them next year. I made a point of purchasing something from them, but will cover that later.

Gwen got out of class, and the shopping continued. We learned a lot on the floor on Day Three. Suzie and I saw a demonstration of spinning with a drop spindle, and we all three spent a bit of time at a booth selling spindles and fiber during the lunch time. Gwen was on the brink of succumbing to the temptation, but after her class, she proudly announced that she had indeed decided to buy a spindle. I reassured her that if she bought a nice spindle and decided she didn't like it, she could probably sell it. More teaching ensued after purchase of new hobby, and we all three went to another demonstration about spinning with both drop spindles and wheels. So informative. Suzie and I also learned how to spin silk from these "hanky" things.

We left the market (not a minute before we had to, naturally) and proceeded to a nearby pizza restaurant and then to Baskin-Robbins for dessert. Then it was back to the hotel room for some spinning practice.

Here is a pictorial of Suzie trying spinning with the silk hanky for the first time:

First, she reads the instructions. Then, she peels off the top layer of silk; in the third picture, she's holding that layer up for the camera. Then, she makes a hole in the center, and pulls it into a big ring. Then, she rips it so it's a long strip, then pulls on it to make it thinner. The yarn will be rolled onto the free "designer tube" given us by the demonstrator/booth owner. She affixes one end into the little rip, and then moistens her fingers and gets the yarn wet while she twists it and wraps it onto the tube. When it's dry, she'll knit it into a scarf. The last picture is the kit I bought to do the same thing. Here are some pictures of my first try, and our first finished yarns:

Very time-consuming, but very fun.

Here is Gwen trying to spin. I was also taking pictures with her camera, so they're not completely sequential, but they'll give you a taste.

And her first "yarn":I'm so proud. I'm living vicariously through her, and can't wait to see her become more comfortable, and improve her skills. If you'd like to support a new spinner and contribute some experimental fiber, visit her at her blog.

I can't forget to mention that in the middle of all this fiber-spinning goodness, a strange buzzing noise started coming from the door. I investigated, and found that it was coming from the hallway, and it was a fire alarm. I got some shoes, the other two thought to grab our purses, and Gwen asked "should we take our yarn?" We did not take the time to pack up the plunder, but instead retreated quickly and safely to the outdoors and walked around to the front of the hotel, where a firetruck and ambulance showed up in mere minutes. After we got the All Clear (still don't know what the deal was) we went back up to our rooms and, of course, tried to take pictures so we could blog about it.

We did not take a picture of the collective haul (it was getting a little large), but I did take a picture of mine after a complete Day Three:

Today we woke up around 8:00am, had breakfast, stopped at Dunkin'Donuts for donut holes and coffee beverages and headed to the market for one last jaunt. We went our own ways, and I picked up a few last-minute-decision items. We hit the road around 11:00am and had a rainy trip home. I completed the first ball of three on my Clapotis, and dropped three stitches. It's going to be lovely. I can't wait. But I will because it'll be months before I can wear it in St. Louis. I was getting a little car-sick, so I didn't pull out the sock.

And then, when I had everything loaded and was ready for the drive home, my car wouldn't start. I was in some sort of caffeine/exhaustion-induced haze and didn't think that it was the battery, and just had Gwen drive me home. In hindsight and after a discussion with my father, I'm sure it's the battery, and Gwen could have just given me a jump, and I could have driven home. Thank goodness Gwen is taking tomorrow off, and can drive me back up to where my car is, so I can drive home and investigate the situation more thoroughly. Plus, I left the blocking wires in the trunk.

Now I'm tired, and just want to go to sleep, and I'm so used to the whole High-Energy-Fiber-Intensity of Stitches, it's a little surreal to be home. It was like a dream. A fabulous, miraculous dream. I could live there. The angels sang.

Tomorrow: detailed pictures and descriptions of the yummy goodness plunder.

And nobody recognized me or my Devil Sheep. But I did get a lot of compliments on the T-shirt and the Cardigan Raye, and the Cabaret Raglan.


Amy said...

I looked for you Beth- but never saw you :(. I saw Bonne Marie too, though!

Holly said...

I looked for you, too! Even had Amazing Husband keeping an eye out. :-)

Emily said...

Muchly envious! Great reporting! I predict spinning turns into another fiber addiction, yes?

Heather said...

sounds like a great time! Can't wait to see more pics!!

Monica said...

I saw someone wearing Cardi Raye and then realized too late that it was you! I'm sorry I missed you. I think we bought the same color in Socks that Rock the pink/purple colorway. And I loved that Lace booth but I didn't get any. I have Stitches remorse now.

Kristin said...

Wish I could have gone! Sounds like you had a great time.

Anonymous said...

Oh my! Did you have Cardi Raye on at the market on Saturday? I saw it across the room but didn't venture close to look at it. It was gorgeous! It was great to meet you and Gwen and talk for a bit.

Bonne Marie said...

Hey Beth! I thought that was you around coffee time on Saturday but my head was spinning from the sleeve class I was taking so I was too dorked out to speak in a coherent sentence. I pity the poor woman (Erma, HI!) in your picture because, I think I was prattling on about sleeve cap ratios or something equally compelling...

Next year, if you go back, let's get a blog KnitIn going somewhere on the premises. I would so enjoy talking to you and meeting your buds! CHEERS! b-Marie

erica said...

Oh, Stitches MW. I have missed it the last two years but at least I can vicariously live through all of the bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Are you starting to grow your hair out some?