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


Bess, as usual, your descriptions of the essence of the event are wonderful and help me to "be there". Can't wait to read tomorrow's installment to see what else you purchased.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:58 AM  

Oh! Speechless! Drooling over luscious yarn colours and textures that come right through the screen from your photos...



By Anonymous Marg in Calgary, at 9:20 AM  

My spies are everywhere! ;-)

Hey - why didn't you tell me there was a woman-tumor growing out of my head? ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 11:32 AM  

Budget? You had a budget for Stitches. For shame. At least your husband wasn't holding the cash.

By Blogger Alice, at 4:30 PM  

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007  

Stitches Day 2

Click on photos to make them bigger

I awoke on Saturday at my usual 5 a.m., but I stayed quiet till I heard B begin to stir, a little before 6. She's a country girl too. Breakfast began downstairs at 6:30 and we were down there before 7. So were a good dozen runners, in town for the Baltimore runners convention. You can tell runners by the lack of flesh around their shoulders and neck. The physical contrasts between knitters and runners were the stuff of comedians but we all fit into the hotel nicely. B&I ate heartily at breakfast, with the plan that we'd skip lunch. It worked pretty well too. I made it through the day on a diet Pepsi and a cup of coffee.

I thoroughly loved being in Fiona Ellis' class. I loved being around her and being inspired by her and I loved the way her eyes glowed as she invited us to fly with our minds and our yarns. Her class was so 100% exactly what I was yearning for it was as if it had been designed for me alone. What was fun was how differently we all followed the path from image to idea to object. Everyone in the class came up with something pretty or interesting, via different pathways – some folk colored out charts, some folk just winged it, some were a combination of experiment and engineering.

It was interesting to me that B had worried that I wouldn't like the class. It was listed as a beginner class – but I reminded her – it was a beginning designer class, not a class in beginner techniques. It didn't leave out technical growth. It was just focusing on the next step.

B&I, met at noon to wander again through the marketplace and talk about our classes. She as delighted with her class on closures – taught by Margaret Fischer - including inserting zippers and making buttons. Though she is a true fiber artist, she's done less knitting and this was a real confidence booster for her.

We had a few must see/must purchase from sites to visit. We both signed up for the Cashmere Afghan Square of the (Every Other) Month club at Hunt Valley Cashmere. I'd intended to do this already – I'd actually gotten the form via e-mail. ( I just hadn't gotten around to it. I'm so so glad they were at the marketplace because I would have ordered the medium weight and it would have been way too hot and heavy for my winters. B purchased one of Decadent Fibers fabulous shawl kits – they were flying out of the booth like birds – and she was wise enough to make her purchase early. I wasn't quite yet ready to put down my $ but eventually that $42 price got to me – that and the magnificent bonfire colors. Here it is on the swift – and here it is already on the needles.

B had also bought a clever shrug pattern that called for a double needle cast-on. The directions were in the pattern, but I couldn't follow them. Not because they weren't clear, but because, in spite of any surface calm, inside I was wild with excitement to be around so much fiber stimulation. Artists, yarn, tools, companions ... there was a constant hum going on inside me that made swift comprehension a little wobbly. I went back to the booth after 2 o'clock and the owner/designer taught me how to do it. It's a lace cast-on that remains stretchy and has some heft to it too.

Back at Not Just Plain Jane Knits I snapped up two patterns. I know somewhere I've seen this Painted Trillium sweater design before, but I didn't have time to ask if it had been featured in a magazine. Jane was wearing it on Saturday and it was drop dead gorgeous, but I'd already decided to buy it based on the plain Jane version - solid color, that is - hanging on the display. I'd thought about it all night and realized it was exactly the sweater I wanted to knit all those many different skeins of golden yarn into. It had the two things I really wanted, bias knitted stripes and a variety of textured stitches. All in all I picked up these books and patterns:

When B went to her afternoon class I went back to my room to empty out my bag. I wanted to travel lightly through the marketplace. I didn't have any idea of what I might want to buy other than one of Gita Maria's buttons. I even knew the button I wanted. Oh, I would have liked to purchase a shawl pin too, but since she had multiples of “my” button, I didn't feel I had to hustle after it. I did go get it, at the last. Here it is

and doesn't it make you think of an herbary in some midevil garden? Something out of the Unicorn Tapestries? Yeah. Me too.

But I did want something to knit into a Stitches Sweater and I was having the dickens of a time choosing. I saw so many beautiful yarns. I didn't see very many inexpensive ones, but I did see some at Webbs. I pawed over their selection several times and still couldn't make a decision. I had ruled out all sock yarn because I have way tons of it and I'm working so much with socks these days anyway. Maybe next year.

This is too bad, though, because if you buy sock yarns, you can sample several vendors without breaking the bank at any one place. At JoJoland International I saw several yarns that I really lusted for. All of them were fine merino. All of them had soft colorways with long runs. Like Noro, without its dark side. And beautiful lace scarf samples and luxurious sock samples. Exquisite yarn that I walked by again and again, stroking, wanting, yet holding to my No Sock Yarn decision.

Still undecided I just strolled about and at the Interweave Press booth I saw Eunney Jang sitting behind a desk and busily talking. Later she passed me in the Webbs booth (yes. I was there again!) and I stopped and introduced myself. I asked her how she pronounced her name and she said “it's pronounced Oooney” She's so tiny. And so young. And so nice. And I dropped the only name I dropped all weekend when I said “well, I'm a friend of Clara Parkes.”

Lawsee. You'd of thought I'd said “I'm a friend of Queen Elizabeth. We queens all run with the pack, you know.” I don't usually do that – make myself sound important by sticking a famous person to my sweater and puffing out my chest. But it's helpful for people to have a frame of reference. Besides, it's Southern to say who you're kin to when you introduce yourself and I'm sure that, in spite of her Maine footings, Miss C has a Southern Root somewhere. The only other groupie-esque thing I did the rest of the day was to stop Lily Chin in the middle of the aisle to tell her how much I still value the one class I took with her, several years ago; and to introduce her to my friend B. This was later in the day and she looked as tired as we were beginning to feel, but she's a pro. She was gracious. And besides, even famous important people like to be told they are memorable and had done a great job.

I hadn't thought anybody would pay attention to what anybody else was doing in that crowd, but evidently there were wittinesses to my goofiness. eh. There. Like Popeye, I yam who I yam.

The other Important Person I ran into was dear M, who is in the postcard from Stitches picture with me. I was getting a very thorough demonstration of the Garment Designer and Stitch Painter software – and wishing I had a spare $360 to just snap them up – because they look like the world's best computer games – when I heard a voice at the same time that voice's ears heard mine. It was such a treat for us to bump into each other. We went off to Starbucks and had coffee and pulled out treasures. Here she is again, across the table.

Doesn't she look cute with her new straight haircut? And bangs!?

As for purchases, though, well – after the umpteenth time strolling back to that JoJoland Booth, it struck me that this was the yarn that was calling me to take it home. It's so ordinary in the ball, even more so in a plastic bag.

But I saw what it did as a fabric. I saw it hanging on the wall, in all it's fluid brownness, as a mitered square coat with solid chocolate brown sleeves. I bet you don't even see any brown in this yarn, but it's going to brown up for you sometime next year – sometime when I am knitting it with the Valley Yarns superwash 100% merino yarn in colorway #920 that I will have ordered from Webbs – because they had only one ball left. Because I bought that bag of Jojoland Rhythm in it's coordinating colorways and took it back with me to Webbs to find a match.

You betcha. I'm gonna have me a Stitches Sweater, I am.

It was while I was at the Webbs booth for the last time that I made my momentous discovery. It is so big – such a big deal to me, that is – that it deserves its own story, which I promise to tell tomorrow. It was my final fiber purchase – and I am still sort of shocked and amazed about it. But, as I said, it is too big a deal to talk more about today. You'll just have to come back tomorrow.

Sometime in the late afternoon, but before 5 o'clock, B showed up and we poked about a bit more. It really was at that point that I actually bought my shawl yarn. I'd already gone over budget, but I'm still glad I brought one of those shawl kits home. I am very much in the mood to be knitting with bigger needles for a while.

As we wandered about, but after the LC gushing session, we suddenly realized that we were done. We had had Enough. We were Perfectly Happy, Perfectly Taught, Perfectly Satisfied, and Perfectly Shopped Out. One more minute would be one minute too much. In perfect accord we left the marketplace, walked back to our room, dropped everything but wallets and cameras on the bed and went for a stroll about town. It was a golden sunshine afternoon, all clear skies and fresh air. We wandered down to the Inner Harbor and watched people for an hour. Here were more tall buildings,

people whose faces I do not know,

ancient ships

and modern art.
And here my camera's batteries died.

In the early evening dusk we walked back to another dinner at the hotel and an evening with Borat. B hadn't seen the movie. Her reaction was pretty much the same as mine. I'm still undecided about that movie – in the main it's hilarious, but it's also gross and horrible and does the southern joke a little too often. And yet it can still make me howl with laughter.

In the morning we knew we were done. A leisurely breakfast, unhurried packing, an easy drive out of town and we were on our way home. We diddled a little at a Borders bookstore in St. Charles, but I was home by 1 o'clock and photographing my haul out on the front lawn.

What a weekend. Stitches really was everything I hoped it would be. I'm so glad I went. I hope you've enjoyed hearing about it.

posted by Bess | 6:56 AM