Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stitches West News and Other Crap

I know what you're thinking.

She's dropped off the face of the earth again.

Unfortunately for those of you who have to listen to me drone on and on about inane shit, it's not true.

In any event, I was waiting until I went to Stitches West this past weekend to post. That, and there was absolutely nothing going on prior to it, so I would have had to tell jokes or something. Since I don't remember any good jokes...

Anyway, this past weekend was Stitches West (I already said that, I know). I was going to go on Friday, but Hubster was so tired from the week's commuting that I took pity on him and decided to brave the crowds over the weekend. Then Saturday came, and I just didn't feel like dragging my lard ass out of the chair. So Sunday it was, come hell or high water.

Since we're not getting any rain, and since I don't believe in hell, I sort of had to go.

Hubster rented me a scooter for the occasion. It was one of those three-wheeled dealies that maneuvers on a dime. Well, it does if you know how to steer the thing. More on that later.

Because Hubster is who he is, he drove me to the Convention Center, got me all set up in the moving people mower, and drove down the street to the office to work while I spent money and played. He's such a good guy. After 21 years, I love him more than the moment we laid eyes on each other. (Handing out Kleenex so you can discretely go "eww" and wipe off whatever surface got covered with goo from coughing loudly.)

The scooter was a godsend. There was no way I could deal with hundreds of vendors and all those aisles even with the walker. So I set it on low speed and entered the place. Nirvana. Those of you who go/have gone know what I'm talking about.

I took a look at the program to see if there was anywhere I had to visit first and, since I wanted to see several vendors, decided to work my way up and down the aisles. That worked just fine until I hit the back section; then that plan fell apart, and I found myself drifting around aimlessly. That was okay, though, because it gave me time to figure out what I wanted to buy.

Since I have enough yarn to build a mountain range, I was looking for gadgets, patterns, books, or anything else unusual and/or different. If there was a yarn I couldn't live without, though, I wasn't going to let the fact that I could knit every minute of every day for the rest of my life and still have a respectable stash stop me.

What surprised me was how empty the place was. Yes, there were a lot of people. Yes, there were a lot of vendors. But I guess because it was the last day, a lot of people had already come and gone, and some of the vendors had already left. I was also surprised that some of the big names weren't there, like Signature Needle Arts. I've already got a set of their DPN's, so I wasn't looking to buy anything from them, but I was still surprised at their absence. It made it a lot easier to drive around, that's for sure. And that went well until I decided to go fondle at Windy Valley Musk Ox's booth.

They had their usual corner booth(s) in the same location as always, so it was simple to find them. Everything was spaced out for easy driving. But I learned a really valuable lesson in that booth.

No matter how large the space looks, it's never large enough to back up in if you're right next to a tall steel display stand holding baskets and baskets of quiviut.

Yes, ladies... yours truly hooked the edge of the stand with the back wheel and pulled the whole fucker down.

Balls of quiviut went bouncing across the floor. Balls of guanaco went shooting under tables. Balls of vicuna went rolling into the aisle. I was horrified, not to mention firmly hooked onto the stand. Fortunately, the lady manning the booth was laughing. She came over, picked up all the balls, and told me that it was great advertising. It was her hope that people would stop, pick up the yarn, fondle it, and have to buy it. It was my hope that I would suddenly vanish in a puff of smoke. She got me unhooked, moved the stand so I could get turned around, and we began a very long conversation about all kinds of things. She was delightful, and when she found out who I worked for, that opened the conversation up to all kinds of things. I was there for a good half-hour before I finally drove off, a little slower and lot sheepisher. That was the one and only accident, though.

I'm always in the market for new bags, so I was delighted to find my very favorite rolling monster yarn container at Purlescence, a lovely store next to Silicon Valley which I must visit some day soon. I bought a new khaki one, stowed it under a table at their booth, and took off to see what else I could find. And therein lay the problem.

It's difficult to buy shit when you already own every gadget known to man. I didn't find one single toy to buy, one single pattern that justified paying close to $10 for, or book which I didn't already have. Hubster wasn't coming until 4:00 p.m. to get me, and it was... 12:30 p.m. Oh shit.

Fortunately, I was able to kill some time at Anna's Yarn Shoppe, which is the place I used to hang out at in Elk Grove before we moved. It was SO nice to see Anna! She looked fabulous, and I was able to catch up on some gossip. It also made me miss home all over again and wish that things had turned out differently. But I tried not to dwell on that and just enjoyed being there again. I hope to go see her at the shop one day soon. When we get new tires on the truck, then I can drive over, but until then...

So now it was about 1:30. I started trolling the aisles, looking for things which I might have missed. That's when I ran into a woodworker who had drop spindles, shuttles, all kinds of other knitting/felting/weaving/spinning items, and... yarn bowls. I have a serious fondness for yarn bowls, and since I didn't have a wooden one, I had to go in there.

Did I find anything? Does a bear shit in the woods? I got this absolutely gorgeous, huge, heavily spalted bowl made of maple. Ken Ledbetter is the artist, although I don't have his card in front of me to tell you the company. It turned out that he knows the good folks at Buffalo Gold, so I wound up spending a good half-hour at his booth, first deciding which bowl to buy, and then talking about people we knew. It was a lovely time, and I highly recommend you look him up if you're in the market for any of the mentioned items. He's out of Tucson.

I went outside for a cancer stick and saw a lady with the coolest boots on. They had long, curly white hair covering them (like my alpaca boots), but looked different, so I struck up a conversation with her. It turns out they were Uggs and the covering was cashmere. I have to get myself a pair. Anyway, during the course of our conversation, it came out that I do what amounts to professional knitting. She asked me to come to her booth when I was done. So I finished my smoke and went in search of her. Her company is called "The Knitting Ranch" out of Colorado, and she asked me if I would begin knitting all new store and show samples for her. This is going to be a long-term project, and it will give me the opportunity to knit all kinds of things out of several different yarns. So I picked up a new gig. I think we'll work in trade, at least until there isn't anything I really want. She has a shitload of good stuff, though, so this will go on a long time. I'm sure you can Google her if you're interested.

When I was done there, it was actually getting close to time for me to go, so I went outside, had another smoke, came back in, went to pick up my yarn caddy, and almost made it to the booth. I ran into this new yarn vendor I hadn't seen before, so I had to check it out. Again, I don't have their company name on hand (I'm so very wel prepared), but their yarn selection is quite large, and the bases they use are absolutely lovely. It seems that they have almost all tonal colors, which is good, since I have very little of them. I was good and bought only one skein. Then I went across the aisle to get my cart and drove outside. Fortunately for me, Hubster came a little early, so I didn't have to wait long. It was beginning to get chilly, and my ass was absolutely killing me. Hubster loaded up the scooter, I climbed in the Jeep, and off we went to the hof brau in Livermore. French Dip for me, beef stroganoff for him. It was a good dinner. Then it was home to the buffalo robe and dozing off while I was watching TV. All in all, it was a good day.

I do have to say, though, that I think the show was better last year. Maybe it was because I went on Friday last year, or maybe it was because Rabbitch was there and I got to visit with her. Regardless, some vendors I was looking forward to seeing weren't there, and one in particular, The Oregon Woodworker, either never showed up or left early, because his space was completely empty. There also wasn't a yarn winding station. But I did run into a lot of old friends, found out that I seem to have a reputation for my knitting (several vendors knew who I was), and just enjoyed being out of the house. I realized it was the first time in a month I had gone outside. That was a bit depressing, but once Hubster gets his pre-tax medical spending card, we're buying a scooter. Then I can at least tool around town, go down the bike path next to the Delta (if I'm not up to riding my bike), and have a bit of freedom. I think that next year, I'm going to go on Friday, which is the day I usually go on. There's a larger selection of things (for ins trance, several colors of the yarn caddy were sold out), and perhaps there will be additional vendors. No matter what, since I'm back in the Bay Area, it's a show not to be missed.

Here's a picture of the completed sock for Buffalo Gold:

I hope to have the other one done by Friday, so I can drop them off in the mail. I also have another pair underway for them, and for the new shop, she wants me to start with... socks. I've got enough Shibui and Lana Grossa to make a couple of pairs. It'll seem weird to use a commercial yarn after all this time using nothing but indies. The nice thing about those is that she gave me the Shibui pattern book, picked out a couple she liked, and told me to make a medium. For once, I won't have to rewrite the pattern. They're also very simple, so maybe these will go faster than the lace ones I'm working on.

And maybe that imaginary hell will freeze over, too.


Vicki said...

So good to see you post again. Stitches South here in Atlanta is in April. I have that Friday off - I cut a deal with my boss for that day off every year. The socks are gorgeous! I still can't knit socks, but I have been on a serious cowl bender. I've knit 5 now and haven't been able to wear a single one of them. Atlanta has had the warmest winter I can remember. Here it is the end of February and the trees are in full bloom and the tulips are up. Today it is 72 degrees! Take care and post again soon! Vicki

Vicki said...

So good to see you post again. Stitches South here in Atlanta is in April. I have that Friday off - I cut a deal with my boss for that day off every year. The socks are gorgeous! I still can't knit socks, but I have been on a serious cowl bender. I've knit 5 now and haven't been able to wear a single one of them. Atlanta has had the warmest winter I can remember. Here it is the end of February and the trees are in full bloom and the tulips are up. Today it is 72 degrees! Take care and post again soon! Vicki

Karen W. said...

Hi! I wanted you to know that I found the blog, like I said I would. I have lots of catching up to do but I did see some pictures of Emma, she is a doll. It was nice getting to spend time talking to you. I love those "small world" moments where you run into someone from years before in an entirely different place. Well ok, to be fair it WAS wool related but still in another state!

Funny thing happened too... I was telling my husband about getting to talk to you, how we had first met and he actually remembered how much I loved the chapstick I got from you. I always get really dehydrated working at shows. Too much chatting and not enough fluids. My lips were SO chapped. I decided to search my night stand (all my crap from the show, including chapstick was downstairs and I was much to tired to even contemplate going down) so I open the top drawer and there in the first place I looked was a brand new stick of yours! Strange and cool, made me smile.

Syd said...

OMG! I love Ken and his woodwork! I have a serious problem with his drop spindles...I keep collecting them. Couldn't even tell you how many I have! They are balanced so perfectly and each one is more beautiful than the next. I also have other tools he has made and love each and every one! His web site is www.kclwood.com

Glad you were able to make it so Stitches West!

Laura Neal said...

Your sock is gorgeous!

One of my customers said she went to Stitches and couldn't find a yarn she loved so, she said it was a waste of her time. Not sure if the economy had something to do with it or if she is really picky.

Glad to see you are getting out and about and with a scooter.

Rabbitch said...

I'm so sorry I wasn't there -- I'm just not big enough, funded enough or organized enough to do big shows any more. In fact, after my last smack-down, I'm only doing one or two a year from now on. That doesn't mean I won't be showing up at a fest near you soon ... I'll just be spending, not vending :)

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