February 19, 2006

Stitches and beyond

After yesterday I have decided that the very best way to go to Stitches West is by train. Because those Amtrak people, they know how to treat knitters, even if we overwhelmed them and pretty much took over the entire train and created small panic amid the conductors who apparently had not been warned we were coming and were not entirely sure they had enough tickets to cover us all.

I got to bed pretty late because I'd been trying to finish that sweater but realized I needed sleep far more than a new sweater, and then I kept waking up at hourly intervals because whenever I have to get up early to get to something that has a set time, like to catch a plane or a train, my brain insists that surely I must have overslept and didn't hear the alarm and then keeps waking me up just to make sure. I could hire an entire brass band to stand by my bed and wake me up, with explicit directions to crash the cymbals directly on my head if necessary, and my brain would *still* insist that surely I slept through the alarm and hadn't we ought to wake up to be sure.

So by the time I finally dragged myself out of bed I was feeling pretty dead. That lasted only until I picked up my knitting mom in Vacaville and we headed off to the train station in Suisun, where we met up with the rest of our group, plus about half a dozen or so other knitters who were all heading down to the convention too. And we knew as soon as we got onto the train that we were in for some fun, because even though the train had started in Sacramento and only made one stop before ours, the one car reserved for knitters was already overflowing, and we weren't the only ones who had to scrounge for seats at the other end of the train.

Luckily the two women who were running the knitting-related activities were very accomodating and since more and more knitters kept getting on at every stop, they got used to zipping through all the cars until they found the matching raffle ticket. Plus they somehow had more than enough free goodie bags for everyone - and there were lots of free goodies in those bags. Cute little stitch holders, whole skeins of yarn and tiny little samples of silk and angora, pattern cards, sticky notes, and coupons galore for various vendors at Stitches. And the raffle prizes were pretty nice too - in fact one of the knitters in our car won an absolutely gorgeous Jordana knitting bag in black leather, and my knitting mom won an autographed book of patterns for scarves and shawls.

They had shuttle busses at the train station in Santa Clara, but the convention center was such a short distance away (and the line for the busses so very long) that our group decided to just walk. We'd all bought our tickets online so we could just cruise on by the extra long line to buy them at the door (my knitting mom and I were in that line last year - we learned our lesson!). Then we all made sure we had each others' cell phone numbers and we briefly discussed lunch plans, and then we all separated to do what we'd come to do - go shopping.

I decided to do a stroll through the whole hall to see everything that was available before I would buy anything. Since I've been working on the sweater and the shawl, I actually didn't have any good reason to buy yarn and the only thing I really wanted to get while I was there was the Sensational Socks book - and I'll admit that as soon as I found the big book vendor in the milddle of the hall, I tracked that book down, snatched up a copy, and held on to it tightly until it had been bought and safely stowed away into my little collapsible wheeled bag. I bought this bag last year at Stitches, since carrying bags around on your arm all day is just no fun, and I was so very glad I brought it with me this time too. I kept on wandering, and while there was some lovely stuff available, nothing jumped out and grabbed me, not even from the Tess Designer Yarns booth (although I must admit that I didn't even allow myself to do more than gaze at their yarn from a distance because I know my weaknesses and their yarn definitely qualifies).

I was doing really good in the 'buy no new yarn' mode until after lunch, when we all decided to do a tour of the market again. And then, as I was heading aimlessly down an aisle, I spied the booth for Black Water Abbey, and I was lost. I kept trying to leave, I swear I did, but the gravitational pull of the Iris colorway was too strong. I've already been a bit antsy about the fact that my yarn was back-ordered for the Follow-the-Leader Aran Along, and even though they'll still have to ship this yarn to me and it might take a week or so, I simply couldn't resist. The color is exactly what I was looking for and it's the type of yarn that simply screams out for cables. Plus I found the perfect buttons for the cardigan I intend to make out of my newly purchased yarn, and they gave me a little ball of it (the last they had in the booth) to take home so I can at least start swatching before the rest of it arrives.

And then I stumbled on another booth and there was a sign next to a heap of Lorna's Laces that said 'sale', and my coworker is having a little girl in May and they just happened to have three skeins in the perfect colors, so that had to come home with me too (along with two more skeins just for me because it was sock yarn and it was On Sale!). And after that I realized that I was heading down a very slippery slope, and besides the aforementioned lack of sleep was starting to really catch up to me, so I volunteered to camp out at one of the lunch tables while the rest of the group kept on shopping, so there'd be someone there to watch their stuff. Plus, it gave me a great opportunity to plow through a few more rows on the shawl, since I will take any knitting time I can get, in the name of the Knitting Olympics.

By the time the market closed we were all tired and shopped out, and also it was pretty cold outside so we wimped out and took the shuttle bus to the train station. Several busses of knitters all piled onto the train, again overwhelming the conductors (you think someone might have warned them) and we found spots and pulled out our knitting and let the train carry us home.

I think I can speak for all of us when I say that I had a wonderful time. I am so excited about finding the perfect yarn for my aran cardigan, and the Sensational Socks book looks like it is going to be an amazing resource, and best of all, because I got to sit on a train instead of behind a steering wheel, I managed to get 12 whole rows done on the shawl, bringing me to just under 50% of the way done.

(Most of) our group, posing in front of the booth for what is very quickly becoming my very favorite LYS - Fiber Elements. Notice that we are all very tired, but very happy (which explains why some of us are hugging the display of Opal sock yarn).

Posted by Jenipurr at February 19, 2006 04:14 PM