On Saturday night, I was standing around in my kitchen when Mr. Kninja, who is a lovely and caring spousal unit, said to me, “Hey, when is Stitches West, anyway?” and I shrieked, “Oh my goodness! Tomorrow is the last day!”
On Sunday, I got up not so early, thanks to a wonderful night spent tossing and turning with a sore back, and proceeded to sit around for a bit before driving out to the Santa Clara Convention Center. Let me first say that when knitters are out in number it’s a serious thing. I spent half an hour circling the parking lot, and eventually took to stalking people who appeared to be walking to their cars. I was, in this pursuit, mistaken every time, and it was around and around the lot again for me. Finally, and mysteriously, an empty space was found and not one other car was in sight. It was odd, but I wasn’t going to argue with it, since I had just been considering going home.
Inside the convention center, I waited in line for a bit and bought a ticket. I could just see the inside of the marketplace from where I stood, and a display of items from Victorian Lace Today. I had no real idea of what to expect, having never been to anything of the sort before. Putting down my $8 for a ticket was basically an act of faith that within would be untold of knitting nirvana.
I did thoroughly enjoy myself, but I have to tell you that I found the experience largely overwhelming. Imagine a maze of booths, all crammed close together, an indoor flea market of almost exclusively fiber related products and demonstrations and samples. (I say almost because I also saw a booth that was selling make up. I guess they figured, correctly, that most attendees would be female.) I had no idea where to start, and there were so many temptations to spend money that I ending up spending very little, simply because it was hard to feel like it was a good idea to spend $40 at one booth when the next one might have something even better.
I turned into one booth and found myself faced with all of my favorite socks from Knitty. I’ve never knit a pair of socks, and most sock patterns leave me cold, but everything that Cookie A. has designed has me absolutely gaga. I want to knit socks when I see the ones she’s made. Then I turned again and saw Cookie A. I feel like such a knitting dork for admitting this, but I was a little starstruck. Like, “Oh em gee! It’s a sock star!” starstruck. She’s very nice, as are the rest of the representatives of the Bay Area Knit Co-op who were there to represent their crew. I bought a skein of teal Louet Gems from them, one half of what will eventually be a pair of Eunny’s Endpaper Mitts. There were all kinds of gorgeous socks on display, including some chunky cabled knee highs that I’d very much like to make. The Co-opers asked about Maude Louise, too, which made my day. It was nice to be able to say that it’s my own pattern.
It’s all blurring together a bit now, but while I didn’t see anything spectacularly bad, there were definitely a number of sweaters knit more for showing off skills or yarn than for wearability. I saw a lot of mitered squares made into vest and sweaters, and while I love mitered squares in their rightful habitat, i.e. a blanket, shawl, purse or the like, I have yet to see a sweater composed of them that really makes me think, “Yes. It is right and just.”
I got to try out a knitting machine with the help of a very nice lady from a knitting machine guild, and I am already hooked (so to speak). I read a recent blog entry at Mind of Winter that touts the virtues of owning a knitting machine. Julie speaketh the truth. It was so fast, so easy, and so pleasurable to whip out stockinette stitch with great ease. When I’m knitting now, although I still enjoy hand knitting in any form, I like to have some sort of challenge to it as well, and stockinette can be very boring when it goes on and on for ages. The idea of whipping out very quick wardrobe staples is very, very appealing.
My other purchases were not huge, but I didn’t feel justified in buying a lot of yarn when I already have so many skeins awaiting sweaterdom. I got three gorgeous skeins of Misti Baby Alpaca (worsted weight) in red, orange, and a gorgeous heathered red brown. They’re ideal for Fair Isling, and gad do I love the feel of baby alpaca. They feel like feathers. They were an incredible steal – I spent under $13 for the lot of them. An unexpected bonus of going on the last day of the event! I also bought a pattern from afghans for Afghans – the Afghan Socks for Children. I need to get on some charity knitting, but in the meantime, I know the proceeds from the pattern are going to a good cause.
Another stupid knitting fangirl siting occurred when I saw Cirilia of Skrilla Knits over at the WEBS booth. I love her One Skein Stirling Cloche pattern, and I was going to say so, but she seemed busy, since the WEBS booth was one of the most crowded in the whole place. Ah well. I looked for the Stirling to make said cloche – I want to make a gift for a friend, but it was nowhere to be seen.
There was a fabulous felting exhibit by the good folks at Pick Up Sticks. I’ve never seen their stuff before, but it was gorgeous! They are masters of color. So many good knits are made ugly before their time by a poor sense of color or texture on the designer’s part, but Pick Up Sticks seems to be based around a very few simple but attractive color combinations. I can’t tell you how enamored I am of this hat. They also had the very adorable Bell Hat on sale there, and I nearly bought the pattern (and some Cascade 220 to make it) but I decided to wait until I have more time to actually knit a hat. I’m glad I did, actually, since I prefer their Bow pattern.
Altogether, I had a wonderful time, and I’m so glad I went. There’s more I want to share, but this is getting long enough as it is. Look out for the Maude Louise pattern later this week – it will be up, error ridden or no – and take care!