Stitches West, Days 2 and 3

After collapsing on the hotel bed Friday night, I was up bright and early Saturday morning. I finally got that run in, and did a few rounds on a sock before venturing out.

I found my way to a Starbucks not far from the hotel. Freshly caffeinated, I was ready to tackle the Convention Center. I made my way to a nearly-full classroom for Sandi Rosner’s “Beyond the Rectangle”, a class on various shapings for shawls. My new favorite is the U-shaped shawl. And we made teeny-tiny Barbie-sized shawls to practice the increases.

Teeny-Tiny Barbie-size Shawls

The round one uses pinwheel-style YOs. I got a little overly creative with the bind-off.

During class, I got a call from home. “Our tax refund came, so if you want to spend a little extra in the Market, go for it!” So, I went in search of an ATM, then back to the Market for a few more goodies.

Abstract Fiber Arts, and a Button

I had already spent my Market budget before picking up the Knitmore Girls swag bag on Friday. In the bag was a coupon for $5 off at Abstract Fiber Arts. So, I headed straight to Abstract’s booth for a skein of their gorgeous Hepburn laceweight and some Targhee roving. I nabbed the purple button from the Button Lady – it’s for my Greenjeans sweater.

After wandering the Market, it was time for my afternoon class (so much for lunch!), so I dashed off to a classroom over in the hotel… only to discover that the class had been moved. To a ballroom near the Market.

I grabbed a seat. This was the spinning class with Merike Saarniit, and it was every bit as fantastic as I had hoped, despite my frustration with my attempts at spinning.


After class, I meandered through the Market again, tried spinning on a wheel at the Serendipity Spinners’ booth, and wandered outside, where I ran into one of the people who had been in the spinning class with me. She was waiting for a hotel shuttle that seemed like it was never going to arrive. It turned out that she was staying at the same hotel I was, so I gave her a ride back. We met up with some friends of hers and another Stitches Singleton they’d picked up along the way and went out for dinner.

And then, all too soon, it was Sunday. Time to pack up my goodies, check out, and head to my last class. It was Suitable Seams, the only class I’d had homework for. Judy Pascale showed us step-by-step how to seam stockinette, garter, ribbing, live stitches, bound-off stitches….

Suitable Seams Swatches

She also showed us a way to get that first stitch on the needle without a slip knot, making a nicer start to the cast-on row.

After class, it was time for me to head on home. I popped a CD of Neil Gaiman’s  Odd and the Frost Giants in and hit the freeway. Despite the traffic, I was home in time for a slightly late supper and to tuck Little Miss into bed.

Overall, I had a fantastic time at Stitches West. Can I register for next year yet?

Stitches West, Day One

Here was the plan: Wake up at 4:00 AM. Hit the road by 5:00. Reach Santa Clara Convention Center by 11:30. Get badge from the registration desk, ogle the pretty yarn in the Market, pop by Abstract’s booth for the Knitmore Girls Meet ‘n’ Greet, have lunch, enjoy first class, check in at hotel, hit the treadmill, have dinner, and go to bed.

I woke up at 3:00 AM. I considered going back to sleep, but I knew that I would just be groggy an hour later. So, I got up. I was in the car and on the road just before 4:00. It’s strange out there on the freeway at that hour. It was pretty much me and the truckers. And, since it was cloudy, it was very, very, very dark.

Around 6:00, I stopped for breakfast and a stretch. An hour later, I stopped again to top up the gas tank and get a bottle of soda. And then it was straight on through to Santa Clara. Well, except for the part where I got on the wrong freeway. Actually, it was the right freeway, but the wrong direction. It was okay – I got turned the right way within minutes. And spent the rest of the morning humming, “Do you know the way to San Jose?”

After two episodes of CogKnitive, one episode of Here’s to Ewe!, and four and a half episodes of the Knitmore Girls, I arrived at the Convention Center around 9:30. There was a crazy line for the Market Ticket booth. I found my way up to the registration table, where they inexplicably had one person working. One extremely patient person, I must say. I got my badge and headed back to the exhibit hall, arriving just a few minutes before the 10:00 opening.

And then I spent all my money.

I set myself a budget for the Market. I took it out in cash. When the cash was gone, I would be done. It took all of about an hour and a half. I browsed Blue Moon Fiber Arts, but didn’t find anything I absolutely had to have right away. I still have a $50 credit with them, which I’ll be using on the website sometime soon.

Next stop was Lisa Souza‘s booth. Two skeins of laceweight (2520 yards per skein, people. And fantastic colors.) and three bumps of roving hopped into my bag. Now I just need to learn to spin those.

I poked around quite a bit, getting turned around regularly. I eventually found my way to the booth shared by Little Red Bicycle and Femme Fatale Fibers. Really great colorways from both of those ladies! I picked up one skein of sock yarn from each, plus two packets of stitch markers from Lizard Toes. And then I stumbled into the Skaska Designs booth, where a skein of amethyst-colored merino/silk laceweight demanded to go home with me. I think it might grow up to be a Faux Russian Stole, or maybe Olga’s Indiski Shawl.

Stitches West Goodies

And that was that.  I had spent all my cash except for $8, and tomorrow’s spinning class has a $7 fee for materials. So, I headed for a table to eat my lunch… and discovered that I had left my canned chicken salad and crackers in my car. Whoops. I rested for a bit, then heard a familiar voice behind me asking, “Where’s my mother?” A glimpse of fuchsia curls, and I knew it was Jasmine. I got to meet Jasmine and Gigi, who are just as adorable in person as they sound on their podcast, and they were giving out goodie bags!

Knitmore Girls Goodies!

I can’t speak for anyone else, of course, but they couldn’t have picked better colors in that Regia for me if they’d tried.

After that, I went out to my car to drop off my goodies and retrieve my lunch, and then it was time for Tradition! with Candace Eisner-Strick, where I learned to make this:

Swatch from Tradition! Class

Check out those Latvian braids! Candace is a highly energetic, spirited, fun teacher, and class was a blast. I’m going to have to try that Channel Island cast-on for a pair of cuff-down socks sometime.

After class, I headed for the car and found my way to the hotel. Despite sending me a reservation confirmation email last week, they had lost my reservation. But they had a room open, and I had the print-out of my original reservation, which gave the room rate. Since the convention center’s Internet is not free, I was off-line all day, but my hotel has free wifi for guests, so I’ve been catching up on Facebook and Twitter and blogs (and finishing that episode of Knitmore Girls). Tomorrow is another full day, but at least I’m not planning for it to start at 3:00 AM.

At Least I Got *Something* Done

I finished off my homework for Stitches West while watching Big Love last night. That is some good television right there, I tell you. Although, a couple of weeks back, I thought there was an interesting compare/contrast thing developing with the young people on the Reservation turning to drugs and the “lost boys” of the UEB compound turning to crime, but it seems to have been dropped in favor of the insanity of La Familia Green.

I meant to get a few rows in on Mr. Greenjeans, but he just sat in my bag while I finished up the last three sets of swatches for Judy Pascale‘s Suitable Seams class. The swatches aren’t difficult in any way; I just seem to have some sort of issue with following instructions. It’s a good thing I didn’t have any homework for any of my other classes to do, too, is all I can say.

Once I finished my swatches, I went in search of a bag. Thanks to last year’s Tempted @ 3AM club shipments (and a few purchases on my own), I have a whole bunch of lovely project bags. One of the box-bags turned out to be just right for my swatches, the remainder of the ball of yarn, and the size US8 needles I used.

Stitches Homework

While I was at it, I cleared a languishing project out of another bag to make way for my drop spindle for Merike Saarniit‘s Spinning for Knitting class.

Spindle for Stitches Class

Here’s hoping I can spin something a little nicer after the class! I’m planning to visit Lisa Souza‘s booth for some of her gorgeous fibers, and I don’t want to end up having them sit around until I think I’m “good enough” to spin them. Franklin (you know Franklin, right?) took Merike’s class in 2006, and it sounds like it’s going to be absolutely fantastic. I’m hoping to get a chance to try a wheel sometime, too, either in that class or somewhere in the market.

I still need to pack up my bag of “Basics” (while looking for a bag for my swatches, I ran across the bag I bought in 2005 to carry my “Basics” to my first Stitches) as well as my clothes and such. Just a few more days!

Just Stitchin’

I still haven’t cast on for the third Zig Zag Diamonds sock. I have been knitting, but it’s one of the Sooper Seekrit projects that I can’t share yet.

I’ve also been reading my knitterly mailing list email, where I found out about the Stitch n Beach knitting cruise. It sounds fantastic, except for the fact that it departs from the east coast on Friday, February 26 – the same weekend as Stitches West. Think there’ll be one departing from Long Beach the same weekend as Stitches East?

In any case, I’ll be in Santa Clara that weekend, at my second-ever Stitches. (The first one was five years ago!) I signed up for four classes:

  • Tradition! with Candace Eisner-Strick
  • Beyond the Rectangle: Fun Shapes for Shawls and Wraps with Sandi Rosner
  • Spinning for Knitting with Merike Saarniit
  • Suitable Seams with Judy Pascale

I was heavily tempted by the Swedish North Halland Pullover class with Beth Brown-Reinsel, but I’m not staying through Sunday afternoon. I’m planning to drive up on Friday morning, and then back down on Sunday afternoon. The last time I went to Stitches, I did something similar, driving up early Thursday morning to make it to the Opening Day events. While I’m sad to miss the Market Preview on Thursday evening, it’s a fair trade-off for not paying for a third night in the hotel.

I am ridiculously excited about the whole thing. I’ve been catching up on back episodes of Cogknitive, and I just listened to her 4-part outtakes on her trip to last year’s event. I was still such a brand-new knitter the last time I went, and I didn’t have any knitting friends yet. Now, I’m looking forward to meeting people from Ravelry and podcasts and blogs. I can hardly wait.