Monday, August 15, 2005

Stitches Midwest 2005!

This weekend was Stitches Midwest 2005 in Rosemont, IL. I had the pleasure of taking 3 classes and I did some serious damage in the Market.

Saturday morning was my first class. After a quick stop at the nearest Starbucks (Venti Skim No Foam Latte), I made my way on to the expressway heading toward Yarn! I was a little nervous/hesitant -- I would be going to the conference alone and I didn't know what to expect. As I drove I began to get excited and soon I was pulling in to pay my $11 parking fee(!) at the convention center.

My first class was "Design Your Dream Sweater" with Leslye Solomon. Of course the first thing I realized when I walked in to the quiet classroom where a handful of women were knitting -- I forgot to bring anything to knit! So, I read the registration packet very thoroughly until more people arrived and class began. What a great class! First of all, I met Jon of coloradoknits -- a blogger celebrity! He and I sat next to each other and chatted a bit before Leslye started. He's very funny (as you can tell from his blog) and I was happy to get a chance to meet him as we would have two more classes together. So, Leslye started the class and it was wonderful! I learned a lot about sweater construction and she also impressed upon us the importance of not only making a swatch, but washing it, too -- she had some terrifying examples to show us of what can happen if you don't wash your swatch first. Very enlightening. My only complaint about this class was that it was too short! It could have easily been a few hours longer.

So, on to the Market! I was very excited about the Market. Months ago, when I registered, I took my birthday money and hid it away -- saving it for this weekend. That was to be my budget for Stitches. I had good intentions. I really planned on being economical. Really. So I walked into the gigantic room filled with knitters, fiber, color, noise...I started a slow walk around and almost immediately ran into Jen and Kara from my knitting group! They had already been shopping and Jen showed me the awesome yarns she had picked out. As we were headed in different directions, I continued on. For the first hour I bought nothing. I swear! I was almost hesitant to buy. I had a money burning a hole in my pocket, but I was being cagey about what to spend it on. But then, then I found Malabrigo (a weakness of mine...only rivaled by chocolate and coffee). It was in colors I had not seen was was like colorful cotton was had to be mine! I picked out two colorways -- Little Lovely (deep pinks) and Melilla (pinks, greens) and then added the cutest little tape measure to the pile.

My first purchase was completed. That was easy....and then the dam broke! I couldn't stop myself after that moment. And my yarn stash will never be the same :)

Next booth, I found two colorways of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn that I had been eyeing online. They are even prettier in person -- Gray's Corner and Embers. I also picked out a beautiful deep red sock yarn from Mountain Colors. Then the next booth, a little more Lorna's Laces leapt out at me -- this time in one of their new colors, Safari.

Then I circled back (like a shark?) to the pretty fibers I had passed up previously...Let's just say that I am officially, completely smitten with Brooks Farm Yarns -- amazing colors and textures! But, at that time, I left empty handed.....

At this point I realized I had very little time left before my next class and I hadn't eaten lunch yet! I had to decide between food and shopping....So, I found a great sale on more sock yarn (I love to knit socks!) in some great colors.

Then I went to my next class: "Learn to Knit Cables" with Edie Eckman. Ok, here's the deal with this class. I know how to knit cables. I've cabled on a couple projects before. I thought this class would teach me a bit more and maybe I'd learn how to cable without a cable needle. Well, this class was very very basic. Edie was very nice, but essentially what she did was talked briefly about what cables are and then gave us some practice cable charts to work from which we did for 3 hours! Luckily, Jon was in this class and we chatted and competed to see who was faster -- that would be me :) (just kidding, Jon)! Overall, I think I do understand cables a little better now, but if I had it to do over again, I would not sign up for this class.

Back in to the market -- this time I did not leave Brooks Farm Yarns without acquiring some of their beautiful silky yarn!At this point my stomach insisted I had to leave so that I could go home and eat dinner -- so I left for the day.

Sunday a.m. another trip to Starbucks. This time driving to Stitches, I was not nervous, I was a little sad that the conference was almost over. I had been looking forward to this event since April and now it was just a few hours away from being over....and I had spent all my cash:(

My third and final class was "Sweater Finishing" with Leslye Solomon. Fantabulous class! Just like her design class, my only complaint is that I wish it had been longer. Again, Jon was there and so was Claire, from my knitting group. Jon mocked my cotton-ease yarn I used for my sample (we were told to use crappy yarn). I touched it to his arm and he did not recoil and hiss, so I think he was just being melodramatic:) I loved this class! Leslye taught us so many things. I think my mattress seaming will finally look decent now. She also showed us different grafting techniques -- I had no idea you could do a modified kitchener stitch using waste yarn....Wow!

So....the last class was over and I headed into the market with Claire. I wanted to check out a fair isle booth Jon had mentioned so we headed over. I picked out a cute hat pattern and yarn after having the seller/knitter assure me that I could knit fair isle:)

Claire and I went different directions at this time -- We ran into each other a couple more times in the next hour or so-- it looked like she was having a great time and had found some gorgeous ribbon yarn! I continued on to my beloved -- Brooks Farm Yarns -- Ah, Brooks Farm, how do I love thee. Let me count the ways! I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach... Again, I did not leave empty-handed...I owe my mom a bit of money since I used her credit card Mom: If you are reading this, I'll be sending you a check:) Such Beautiful Yarn!

I then found a book on aran and fair isle knitting -- Perfect! I also found a few really nice patterns for lace shawls (I've been wanting to try my hand at lace) and a couple sock patterns.

All in all, I may have gone a little overboard, but the way I justify it (and I can justify anything) is that most of the purchases were made with my birthday money. Anything that wasn't is most likely going to end up as a holiday gift for the loved ones in my life. So....there! Justification! And really, how often does Stitches Midwest happen? Once a year! That's it! So, I think my massive stash enhancement is completely justified. Oh, and the final, most awesome justification -- This weekend was my one month smoke-free anniversary -- M and I have been smober for over a month! Wow! If that doesn't justify a yarn binge, what does? :)


Chicago Jen said...

OMG!! Alyssa! Such beautiful yarn!! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE bring your Brooks Farm treasures (and all others) to Group next week! Group: I swear it sounds like an addiction group meeting. Course in a way I guess it is! :D


Knit Chick said...

A month of being smober definitely calls for a big ole yarn binge! You deserve it. I think we're all going to be carting in our SMW loot to the next knitting group! See you then!

Kathy said...

Love your post. Going to meet Jon's blog now.

Jon said...

OMG! You sooo sound like a stalker in your post. I know you took those classes so you could be near me....bawahahahahahahaha

I had fun. Let's do it again next year!