Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Lot of Stitches West, 2014 Edition

Stitches West, 2014—FANTASTIC!

That doesn't make for much of a blog post, so I'll try to cover the highlights here. You may remember from last year's Stitches blog post, that I went by myself and only spent Thursday and an hour or so on Friday morning at Stitches. This year I had lots of company, and I got to spend almost three full days there. My friend Nancy and I shared a hotel room, and Sarah and Martha also came and were only three floors below us in the Hyatt.

We knew it was going to be a good day on Thursday when we looked out our hotel room window and saw this spectacular sunrise:

Like last year, Barb (knittybarb) and her daughter Tracie (alittleposy) arranged to meet us first thing on Thursday and we attended the opening spotlight together. This year, the speaker was Myra Wood, and she gave a fascinating talk, based on her new book, Knit in New Directions.

Then we moved on to the "speed-dating" luncheon, where the Stitches instructors move from table to table every five minutes and do a short presentation on their classes, designs and other interests. Sarah and Martha, who had just arrived from the airport, joined Nancy, Barb, Tracie, me and two of Barb's friends, Pat and Mary, at our lunch table. We had a lot of fun, and got a lead on some cool project bags, which you will see later in this post. After lunch, Martha took a photo of (left to right) me, Sarah, Barb and Nancy, and Nancy texted the photo to Sharon (SheKnits) Dreifuss. We all listened to her former podcast, and met through the She-Knits group on Ravelry. Thanks to Nancy for sharing the photo with me.

In the afternoon, I took a class on lace edgings from Myra Wood, and she was just as interesting as she had been in the morning. I learned some new skills for shawl knitting, too.

Thursday evening was the Market Preview, which is open only to people registered for classes or events. Just like last year, it was huge and overwhelming, but amazing, at the same time. Unlike last year, however, I was not  prepared with a good list of what I wanted to look at and buy, and that was a mistake. I spent too much time just wandering, and that contributed to the feeling of being overwhelmed. I did buy some yarn, though, which I'll share at the end of this post. I also managed to take a photo of one of the vendors at the Verdant Gryphon booth:

On Friday, I took a class entitled "Disaster Recovery" from J.C. Brier. It, too, was an excellent class, and I learned how to (finally) drop down and pick up dropped stitches, something that I had never learned how to do in all of my years of knitting. Hooray! 

Friday evening, Nancy, Sarah, Martha and I attended the fashion show, and Nancy and I attended the dinner afterwards. We saw some amazing knitted garments, some of which I would never in the world consider knitting myself (too difficult) but I would love to own them!

On both Friday and Saturday mornings, I took a walk on a walking/ bicycle trail that runs behind the hotel and convention center. It was wonderful to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. On Saturday, Martha and Sarah joined me.

Speaking of sunshine, it was so beautiful that we were able to eat our lunch outside on both Friday and Saturday. Here is a little corner of the hotel's courtyard, where we ate our lunch:

When I wasn't in class or the market, I was busily knitting on my final Halos of Hope hat for Knitters Brewing Company's team in the podcaster throw down. The deadline for turning in hats was Stitches West, and I bound off my final hat on Saturday morning, and immediately took it to the Knitters Brewing Company booth in the market and turned it in to Wendy:

It was such a treat to meet and talk to both Wendy and Kelie, who host the Yarn on Tap podcast, one of my favorites. I bought some of their yarn, too, as you will see at the end of this post.

My last event at Stitches, and one of my favorites, was the podcaster meet-up, which was held in the Hyatt bar on Saturday afternoon. It was lots of fun to hang out with my knitting friends. Here is a photo of Nancy with fellow She-Knitter Debra (Javanut). It was so nice to see Debra again this year!

It was also fun to meet and hangout with some of the podcasters that I've been listening to over the past six years. I got to talk with Dr. Gemma from Cogknitive, Gayle and Sharlene from The Yarniacs, and of course, Barb and Tracie, the 2 Knit Lit Chicks. I also sat and knitted with Seattle podcaster, Erin, from Doubleknit, who I seem to run into at almost every fiber event that I go to. I even remembered to take a couple photos of the meet-up:

So that is my time at Stitches for this year, except for one thing: my market purchases. Here is the promised photo of what I bought:

Clockwise, from the top: nesting bags (4) from Neece's Pieces, Knitters Brewing Company Zebra sock kit, two skeins of self-striping sock yarn from Invictus Yarns, Miss Babs Yowza, What a Skein in the Prince colorway, Knitters Brewing Company Brewski in the Framboise colorway, and a Della Q interchangeable needle case.

I'll say it again—Stitches West, 2014—FANTASTIC!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Little Bit Madrona, 2014 Edition

You may remember that last year I wrote a post with a similar title to this one about my adventures at Madrona and Stitches West. This year, I was able to attend both events again, but because I was at Stitches West for almost three full days this time, I am going to talk about each event in separate posts.

First up was Madrona. Unlike in previous years, this year I decided not to stay in the hotel, and when registration rolled around last November, none of the three- or six-hour classes appealed to me. So instead, I decided to go down to Tacoma for only one day, Thursday, February 13. I also signed up for two 90-minute mini-classes when they were opened for registration in January.

The first class was "Original Lace Design". I took the class solely to experience the legendary Evelyn Clark. She was wonderful, and I learned many new things about lace in the class, although I don't think I'll be doing a lace design anytime soon.

My second class was "Knitting with Your iPad", taught by Debbi Stone. Again, an excellent class. Even though I use knitCompanion, there are times when I don't want to go to all the trouble to set up a pattern in kC, and Debbi showed us some cool apps that will provide me with some other options to use with simpler patterns.

When I wasn't in class, I hung out in the beautiful Hotel Murano. The hotel is located a short walk from the Museum of Glass, so there are amazing glass art pieces located throughout the hotel. Here is the spectacular blown glass chandelier in the lobby:

I'm sure you are wondering if I spent any time in the Madrona marketplace. Of course I did! It seemed a bit smaller this year, with one favorite vendor, Blue Moon Fiber Arts, missing. (Sadly, Tina has given up vending at shows.) I made only one purchase, and I bet you can guess what it was:

Hazel Knits, of course! The colorway is Heartthrob, and it is a slightly more deep pink-red than the photo shows. Those reds can be so hard to photograph!

As we did last year, my friend Sarah and I met for dinner and went to our favorite Japanese restaurant. Then we went  to the third annual Teacher Talent Show, a Madrona highlight, which I still can't tell you about. Remember: what happens at Madrona stays at Madrona. We had a great time, and laughed a lot. When the talent show was over, I didn't have to do the hour-long drive home; I got to stay in Sarah's cozy upstairs guest room and drive home in the morning. Thanks, Sarah!

So that is Madrona in a nutshell. Up next is the much bigger Stitches West, which happened only a week later. That post will be coming up in a few days, so stay tuned.